J.K. Rowling’s screenwriting debut, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, had all the ingredients to brew a potent prequel franchise, but its double duty of existing in the wizarding world while differentiating itself from Harry Potter put some unique challenges on the project.
Now, its sequel, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, can capitalize on the first film's efforts to lay the groundwork for the kind of world-building Rowling enjoys. In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, executive producer David Heyman promises that the sequel will plunger "deeper" into Rowling's wizarding world, but also offer a different feel from its predecessor, with a “thriller quality."
“We delve deeper into Jo’s wizarding world — we’re in Paris, we’re in London and New York — the world is expanding," Heyman explained, adding: "The new film has a very different feel than the first. It’s got a thriller quality. And it’s also a story about love and passion and all its forms — paternal, romantic, political... We took all we’ve learned from one and just expanded that and created a richer, deeper and more thrilling film which I’m excited to be a part of.”
This makes sense, as the plot hinges on young Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and his former student Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) hunting the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) across Paris, London, and New York. Having a more focused chase and more established leads will enable the film to shed much of the exposition that bogged the first film and, though there are still a slew of characters (as seen in the new cast photo), Heyman is confident director David Yates has kept everything tight.
Yates, who directed the first Fantastic Beasts as well as the last four in the Harry Potter franchise, will be taking a more “cinematic” approach with this film, as the saga transitions from lighthearted romp to world-saving manhunt.
Fans and critics have maintained positive buzz for the film series, despite the controversial casting (and insistence on keeping) Johnny Depp as Grindelwald. The best of the Harry Potter films were those more focused on tense narratives (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’s time-based storytelling only lags behind the final film among Rotten Tomatoes's top-scoring Potter films ), so it speaks volumes that the second film in the franchise will be focused on “a more contemporary cinematic approach” saturated with passion.