Aside from Rowling and the producers' involvement, there are no other names announced as yet, though the studio has reportedly already met several potential directors, including former Harry helmer Alfonso Cuarón.
Cuarón, who scored a huge hit and a mantelpiece troubling haul of awards for Gravity (2013), was responsible for giving the Potter franchise a stylish new breath of life with Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (2004), opening up the wizarding world and injecting a dash of fresh energy that carried the series through two more directors and five further films. His return to the wizarding world – albeit for an adventure that takes place decades before the young hero ever arrives at Hogwarts – would be welcome, given that he has shown a clear grip on the material.
The film, which will be very loosely based on Rowling's universe expanding textbook about magical creatures, will be set in the wizarding world. It will feature creatures and characters both new and familiar to Potter fans and, promises Rowling, will be "neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world" set 70 years before Harry sets foot in mighty halls of Hogwarts. That puts the setting somewhere around 1921, when Magizoologist and credited author of the book Newt Scamander would have been about 24 according to in-world chronology.
"It all started when Warner Bros came to me with the suggestion of turning Fantastic Beasts into a film," Rowling explained in a statement when the adaptation was first announced. "I thought it was a fun idea, but the idea of seeing Newt Scamander, the supposed author of Fantastic Beasts, realised by another writer was difficult. Having lived for so long in my fictional universe, I feel very protective of it and I already knew a lot about Newt. As hardcore Harry Potter fans will know, I liked him so much that I even married his grandson, Rolf, to one of my favourite characters from the Harry Potter series, Luna Lovegood."
So far, the new movie has that date to itself. The question is, will studios be quick to challenge the Potter behemoth? While it's true that a spin-off won't have the same cache as more adventures with Harry and the rest, we doubt competitors will bet on tackling the pent-up years of demand for more magical mayhem.