Fantastic Beasts director says he was left blindsided by JK Rowling comment at first screening

Fantastic Beasts director David Yates has said he was left stunned by a JK Rowling comment at a screening of the first film.

Yates has directed all three Fantastic Beasts films to date, and has now revealed that the franchise has been parked following the release of third film, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, which occurred in April 2022. There are another two films left in the franchise.

However, it was during the release of the first film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, in November 2016 that Yates was blindsided by a revelation shared by the film’s writer, Harry Potter author Rowling.

Yates, who also directed every Harry Potter film from Order of the Phoenix (2007) through to Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011), said he had no idea the Fantastic Beasts franchise would run for five films until Rowling casually mentioned this detail during a press screening of the film.

In a new interview with Total Film, Yates said: “The idea that there were going to be five films was a surprise to most of us. Jo just mentioned it spontaneously, at a press screening once. No one had told us there were going to be five, we’d committed to the first one…”

He added that the production of The Secrets of Dumbledore was particularly stressful due to Covid protocols, stating: “It was enormous fun but it was tough. We were actually filming when there wasn’t a vaccine. Thankfully, no one got sick, but we did have the most detailed protocols in place.”

Speaking about the future of the franchise, Yates said: “I’m sure at some point, we’ll be back. But yeah, I haven’t spoken to Jo, I haven’t spoken to [producer] David Heyman, I haven’t spoken to Warner Bros; we’re just taking a pause. It’s quite nice.”

Mads Mikkelsen in ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore’

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In the sequel, Johnny Depp was replaced by Mads Mikkelsen the role of Grindelwald after the former resigned at the request of studio Warner Bros last year.

The resignation came after Depp lost a libel case against The Sun over a 2018 article that called him a “wife beater”, in reference to his ex-wife Amber Heard.

Fantastic Beasts stars Eddie Redmaye and Katharine Waterston, and Jude Law as a young version of Albus Dumbledore.