By Jill Serjeant
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A nervous J.K. Rowling said on Thursday she hoped fans would like her new wizarding movie "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," even though it does not feature beloved characters like Harry Potter and his Hogwarts friends.
Speaking ahead of Thursday's New York premiere of the first of five planned "Harry Potter" spin-off films, the British author hinted that familiar names would appear in future "Fantastic Beasts" movies.
"We have done the very best job that we can. I have told a story I really wanted to tell. I hope that people love it," Rowling told a news conference.
"It's true that Harry is not in the movie, because he's not born yet, but this (film) is very much of that world. There are characters you will learn more about," she added.
"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" takes place 70 years before the events in the first Harry Potter books and features a new cast of characters with magical powers. Set in 1926, it centers on Newt Scamander, a "magizoologist" who arrives in New York with a case full of strange creatures that quickly escape.
No reviews have yet been published.
The Warner Bros film arrives nine years after the last of Rowling's seven Harry Potter books was published and five years after the last of the movies that made $7 billion at the global box office.
Rowling said she was aware of the hunger for more Harry Potter stories, but said she was done with the boy wizard.
"I had some ideas about Newt (Scamander) and I was intrigued by Newt, and when I was asked 'will you write more?', at the back of my mind was Newt," she said.
"This is what I really, really wanted to write. This hasn't been created in response to a need."
Rowling said that Albus Dumbledore, the beloved elderly headmaster of Hogwarts School, would be featured as a younger and "quite troubled" man in the second "Fantastic Beasts" film that she is writing for release in 2018.
The author had previously said that Dumbledore is gay, and said Thursday, "as far as his sexuality is concerned, watch this space."
The movie, opening worldwide on Nov. 18, follows a sold-out London production "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," featuring a grown-up Harry and school friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.
Rowling said on Thursday she hoped that "Cursed Child" would be staged on New York's Broadway in the future.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Tom Brown)