The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them franchise has expanded from three to five films, and David Yates is on board for all of them.
The director, who also helmed four Harry Potter installments, told The Hollywood Reporter that he has committed to Warner Bros.' entire prequel series, which stars Eddie Redmayne as magizoologist Newt Scamander. The first film, set in New York City and hitting theaters Nov. 18, also stars Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller, Colin Farrell, Ron Perlman, Alison Sudol, Carmen Ejogo and Dan Fogler.
"I love making films, and I've got a great team, all of whom are like family," Yates told THR at Thursday's world premiere. The commitment is not official, and it isn't daunting to him, either: "I only look at it movie-to-movie."
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, whose Fantastic Beasts screenplay is her first ever, plans to pen the remaining four as well. She's "putting the finishing touches" on the sequel, which Yates says "feels so different from this [first film]. Much more haunting, like a dream. What she's doing is really interesting; she's not repeating herself." Meanwhile, Yates is in preproduction for the second film, for which they're building sets of Paris and Watford, England. It will introduce a young (and openly gay) Albus Dumbledore and expand on his rival, Gellert Grindelwald, played by Johnny Depp. The sequel is scheduled to hit theaters on Nov. 16, 2018.
Though Rowling said the most difficult part about writing her first screenplay was learning to do so altogether, she isn't intimidated about the four that follow. "I'm never complacent - I'm always feeling like I gotta do my best work, and I'm always pretty hard on myself," she told THR. "We've set ourselves an ambitious story to tell in five movies, but it's going to be challenging and exciting - all the things I like."
What's seen onscreen is Rowling's third draft, finessed with input from Yates, as well as producers David Heyman and Steve Kloves. "The first draft was quite whimsical and lyrical, but it felt it didn't have any heft, and we weren't sure what it was about," recalled Yates. "Then Jo took a left turn, and it was right up my street: It was really intense and dark. Jo and I loved it, but David Heyman and Steve Kloves very wisely said, 'Whoa, hang on, guys, this needs to get some of the lightness back.' It was after that dark second draft that Jo suddenly found the melody; then, she was away to the races. It was a struggle to keep up with her because she knew what it was: a balance between light and shade."
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them hits theaters Nov. 18.
Nov. 12, 6 p.m. Updated with clarified headline and unofficial status.