“Jo got word of that”: JK Rowling Saved Fantastic Beasts by Shooting Down an Idea That Could’ve Tanked the Harry Potter Spinoff in No Time

The Fantastic Beasts would have gone in a completely different direction if Rowling had not stopped it early.

"Jo got word of that": JK Rowling Saved Fantastic Beasts by Shooting Down an Idea That Could've Tanked the Harry Potter Spinoff in No Time

SUMMARY

  • The Harry Potter film series captured the imaginations of a generation that grew up with the books by JK Rowling.
  • After the end of the film series, the studio wanted more with the franchise and began thinking of a spinoff film.
  • While the Fantastic Beasts franchise was the brainchild of Rowling, the producers reportedly had another idea which was nipped in the bud early by the controversial author.
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JK Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise is one of the highest-grossing film franchises in the world. Based on seven novels in the series, the films starred Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint as the leading trio and saw fans grow up along with the children in the films. The films and novels were an international phenomenon at the time of release.

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While the main storyline ended with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, the studio reportedly wanted to begin a spinoff franchise to expand the franchise. The producers reportedly initially had an idea that involved Newt Scamander finding new beasts, which JK Rowling shot down in favor of her iteration of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.

JK Rowling Rejected An Initial Pitch For Fantastic Beasts

A still from JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
A still from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The Fantastic Beasts franchise seems to be stuck in a state of limbo after the less-than-stellar performance of the third film in the franchise Secrets of Dumbledore. Though the films could never capture the magic of the original Harry Potter films, they had their own moments of nostalgia and wonder as Eddie Redmayne headlined the films.

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The films were based on a ‘textbook’ named Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them written by JK Rowling as a companion piece for the Harry Potter novels, which chronicled Newt Scamander’s quest to find magical creatures. The textbook was mentioned in the novels and films as well. The spinoff franchise, however, acted as a prequel to the main series.

Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander in the Fantastic Beasts franchise
Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander in the Fantastic Beasts franchise

However, the franchise could have gone in a completely different direction had the studio greenlit an initial idea that one of the producers had for it. After the ending of Harry Potter, the producers reportedly began to brainstorm about the future of the franchise, when producer Lionel Wigram had an idea. Producer David Heyman said to Collider,

“He was thinking about what we could do and he had the idea of maybe doing a documentary about Newt. But ultimately I think Jo got word of that and sort of—I mean, we wouldn’t have done it without Jo’s permission or also a lot like, not sure we could’ve, but most certainly wouldn’t have done even if we could’ve [without her blessing].”

JK Rowling reportedly sort of shut down the idea of a documentary on Newt Scamander and the producers mentioned that they would not have gone ahead without her blessing. However, Rowling reportedly had her own Scamander-related story at the ready.

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The Producers Were Apprehensive About JK Rowling Penning The Screenplay For Fantastic Beasts

A still from Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore
A still from Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore

JK Rowling penned the screenplay for the first film in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them franchise. The film was her first attempt at writing a screenplay, which the makers of the film were reportedly hesitant about in the beginning. Producer David Heyman told SlashFilm that after they pitched their Newt Scamander documentary idea to Rowling, she said,

“Pitched that idea to Jo, she said, you know, it’s funny, I’ve been thinking about Newt Scamander myself, and I have this whole story about him…And she says, so yeah, and I’d like to write the screenplay. And [we had] mixed feelings about that, because she’s a novelist, she’s never written a screenplay before. So when the screenplay arrived — she handed it to me. And I read it. And as soon as I opened it, I felt [dramatic sigh] relief.”

Heyman mentioned that though the first draft of the screenplay was rough, Rowling had included a lot of details and character traits in the script and had also made it extremely engaging. However, Heyman mentioned that the first draft was a lot more light and whimsical and did not have the darkness that the later films in the Harry Potter franchise had.

Hence, when they hired David Yates as the director, they reworked the screenplay but it was a lot more darker. Heyman mentioned that the abuse faced by Credence in the next draft was far too dark and explicit which was toned down in the final draft. Heyman praised JK Rowling for her work and called her ‘voracious’.

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Written by Nishanth A

Articles Published: 1169

Nishanth A is a Media, English and Psychology graduate from Bangalore. He is an avid DC fanboy and loves the films of Christopher Nolan. He has published over 1,000 articles on FandomWire. When he's not fixating on the entire filmography of a director, he tries to write and direct films.