'Harry Potter' vet David Yates to direct JK Rowling trilogy kickoff 'Fantastic Beasts'
The British filmmaker, who directed the last four installments in the blockbuster fantasy-film series, is returning to helm the forthcoming spinoff "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," according to Variety. Inspired by J.K. Rowling's 2001 book of the same name, the "Potter"-adjacent project is slated to be the kickoff to a new trilogy of movies, with Rowling set to make her screenwriting debut on the first installment.
Though it's not technically a prequel to the "Harry Potter" series, the film will be set in New York 70 years prior to the events of first "Potter" installment "The Sorcerer's Stone." It will center on Newt Scamander, the author of the "Fantastic Beasts" textbook that is required reading for first-year students at Hogwarts. No actor has yet been cast as Scamander, described as a "magizoologist" in his early 20s.
According to Variety, Warner Bros. had wanted a filmmaker who was familiar with the "Harry Potter" universe to take on the movie, and Yates has helmed more installments of the film franchise than any other director. The project was first announced last September.
Yates' post-"Potter" projects include directing the pilot for FX series "Tyrant" and helming Warner Bros.' upcoming "Tarzan" film starring Alexander Skarsgard.
For the record, the eight "Harry Potter" films have grossed over $7 billion worldwide.
"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" is slated to hit theaters on Nov. 18, 2016.