Back in 2001, Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling released a slim Potter spinoff book called Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them, meant to replicate one of the textbooks that the young wizard-in-training studies at his school, Hogwarts. Last year, Warner Bros. announced that it was keeping the Potter movie franchise alive by producing a new trilogy set in Potter’s wizarding world, with the first film to be written by Rowling and based on Fantastic Beasts. This set off waves of speculation about who might direct these films, with the most popular rumor being that Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban helmer Alfonso Cuarón would return to the series. (Alas, this was not to be.) Today, Variety shut that speculation down by reporting that David Yates has won the Fantastic Beasts gig.
Thanks to his work on the final four Potter films (The Order Of The Phoenix, The Half-Blood Prince, and both parts of The Deathly Hallows), Yates may be the most successful contemporary director who’s not a household name. And while he’s not as sexy a pick as Cuarón, he did do a solid job with that last stretch of Potter movies, and is clearly someone with whom Rowling feels comfortable—which is important, since Fantastic Beasts will be her first screenplay. At the moment, Yates’ return has not been confirmed by any of the main parties involved, and the full details of the trilogy (beyond the release date for part one) remain vague. The movie will reportedly be set decades before Potter’s birth, and will have to do with the international community of wizards and Muggles, but as far as the actual plot, that’s still a mystery worthy of a novel all its own. Call it J.K. Rowling And The Attempt To Turn A Novelty Textbook Into A Major Motion Picture.