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'Harry Potter' Spinoff 'Fantastic Beasts' Nabs David Yates to Direct

Yates directed four "Harry Potter" movies

"Deathly Hallows Part 2" Premiere | London, July 7
Julian Makey/Rex/Rex USA/BEImages
David Yates

Just when he thought he was out, David Yates is back in the world of Harry Potter.

Yates, who directed four of the eight Harry Potter movies for Warner Bros., is in negotiations with the studio to direct Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the new Potter-based franchise the studio is hoping to launch with author J.K. Rowling.

Rowling is writing the screenplay for the movie, which is set 70 years before the events of the Potter series, and centers on a fictitious author named Newton Artemis Fido Scamander. In Potter lore, Scamander compiled a reference guide to magical beasts, and the movies will follow his adventures after he is commissioned to write the tome. Unlike the Potter stories, which kicked off in London, Fantastic Beasts will begin in New York.

Fantastic Beasts is a massive undertaking for Warners, which is keen on keeping the magic of Potter alive beyond the initial eight-movie franchise, which grossed more than $7.6 billion worldwide. When announcing the Fantastic Beasts partnership with Rowling in September 2013, Warners said the property was being developed across video game, consumer product and digital initiative businesses.

Warner Bros. had no comment.

Yates directed the acclaimed British miniseries State of Play (later turned into an American movie starring Russell Crowe) and several TV movies before making his feature debut helming 2007’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Half-Blood Prince and parts 1 and 2 of Deathly Hallows followed.

Rowling was heavily involved with the movies and developed a strong relationship with the director, so he is a natural choice to take the reins on Fantastic Beasts.

Yates is currently shooting Tarzan, with Alexander Skarsgard and Margot Robbie, for Warners. He is repped by CAA.