Within the Harry Potter universe, Newt Scamander's "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" was first published in 1927, and became a massive bestseller, as well as an approved textbook at Hogwarts. By the mid-1990s, when the Harry Potter series is set, it was in its 52nd edition. Scamander also has the distinct honor of having his own Chocolate Frog Card.
The gray and yellow scarf that Newt has in his suitcase and wears in the film's last scene, as well as in promotional materials, is an allusion to the fact that he was in Hufflepuff while attending Hogwarts (a fact that J.K. Rowling has confirmed in supplemental materials).
A scene was filmed with a shirtless Newt Scamander, which showed off all the scars he had collected on his body during his work with dangerous animals. Eddie Redmayne had worked out considerably before filming, just for that one scene. However, unfortunately for him, the scene was deleted from the final print.
J.K. Rowling has stated that this film "is neither a prequel, nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world. Newt's story will start in New York City, seventy years before Harry gets underway."
One of the characters exclaims "Mercy Lewis!" At another point, Tina Goldstein exclaims "Why in the name of Deliverance Dane did you let that thing loose?" Mercy Lewis and Deliverance Dane were both among those accused of witchcraft by their neighbors during the Salem witch trials.
It is possible that house elves are free in America, as some elves are seen wearing regular clothing and being openly insolent towards humans without fear of reprisal. In the British wizarding world, house elves are enslaved until their owners give them proper clothing, and are forbidden to own wands (although they can perform magic without them).
When Mary Lou asks Newt, "Are you a seeker?" he answers by saying, "More of a chaser." This has a double meaning, since seekers and chasers are both positions in the game of Quidditch, and it also alludes to the fact he is continuously chasing creatures.
J.K. Rowling wrote this book in 2001, with most of the profits benefiting the charity Comic Relief. Over eighty percent of the cover price of each book sold go directly to poor children in various places around the world.
If you look closely in the scene where Newt is showing Jacob all the fantastic beasts he's collected for the first time, you will see a Grindylow in a bubble of water. These creatures are featured in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), in the underwater task of the Triwizard Tournament.
In the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows novel, Xenophilius Lovegood is in possession of the horn of an erumpent, which he insists is the horn of a crumple-horned snorkack. Hermione mentions to her friends to be careful around it, because she is not fooled, and knows that an erumpent horn is prone to exploding. In the novel, they find out that she is indeed correct. An erumpent appears in this film, as one of the beasts Newt needs to recapture (the one that resembles a rhino that escapes to Central Park), and the species' explosive, and generally destructive nature, is portrayed on film for the first time.
In the 1920s, "muggles" was U.S. slang for marijuana cigarettes. This may explain why members of the U.S. wizarding community don't use the term to mean non-magical people, but call them "no-maj" instead.
Because so little architecture from the decade still exists, it was decided not to shoot the film on location. Instead, the production designers created, from scratch, their own painstakingly detailed version of 1920s New York City as a practical, physical set.
Carmen Ejogo insisted that her character Seraphina Picquery be left-handed, as left-handedness has been associated with dark magic and sorcery for centuries. Ejogo suggested creating emphasis on her dominant hand by adding rings to it. Costume designer Colleen Atwood loved the idea, and several rings were created from scratch.
According to J.K. Rowling, Alison Sudol came up with the words for the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry school song. Originally, there is a scene set before the climax, where Tina and Queenie sing part of the song to Newt and Jacob. The scene was, however, deleted from the final film.
Although they are excluded from the film versions, Harry and his classmates study both bowtruckles and nifflers in their Care of Magical Creatures class in the novels Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This film marks the first time they are seen on-screen.
J.K. Rowling has announced that this is first of a series of five, and has stated that she will be writing the screenplay for all of the films. Two of the sequels have already been announced and been given the release dates of 2018 and 2020. No dates have been announced for the other two sequels, so there is no knowing how long this series will go on, although Rowling has announced that it won't continue on for as long the Harry Potter series.
The film takes place in early December 1926, which is only a couple of weeks before Voldemort, the main antagonist of the Harry Potter films, was born in the books (December 31, 1926). Whether this is also his date of birth in the movies is unclear, since the timeline in the movies has been altered somewhat from the books.
The magical law to which Newt, Queenie, and Tina allude, which promotes segregation of and prohibits fraternizing between magical and non-magical persons, is a clear reference to the racial segregation laws that were in effect in the USA at the time. In the movie, it is called Rappaport's Law, named after Emily Rappaport, the fifteenth President of MACUSA. According to J.K. Rowling, the law was enacted in 1790, as a result of the breach of International Statute of Secrecy due to the indiscretions of Dorcus Twelvetrees (the daughter of the Aristotle Twelvetrees, the American Magical Secretary of Treasury) and Bartholomew Barebone (a Nomaj, and a Scourer descendant). However, the law is heavily criticized, due to its intense segregation and punishments inflicted upon violation. It is likely that Mary Lou Barebone is a descendant of Bartholomew. In addition to non-fraternization, wands carried by foreign wizards must be registered (seen during Newt's first visit to MACUSA), and students at Ilvermorny must surrender their wands at the school before leaving for their holidays. The law would only be repealed in 1965.
When Tina shows her MACUSA card to Newt, several details are visible. Most importantly, it shows her middle name: Esther; her MACUSA ID number: 240274; and her date of birth: August 19, 1901. Details of Newt's passport are much harder to see, but the following can be discerned: born in 1897; middle names Artemis Fido; last departed Britain on June 16, 1923; passport number #600427.
In her first scene, Queenie is dressed in a style reminiscent of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). Queenie's love interest is named Kowalski, which is also the name of Blanche's brother-in-law in that play.
The brightly colored books seen on the shelf behind Jacob during dinner at Queenie and Tina's apartment are the seven volumes of Chadwick's Charms, the American equivalent of The Standard Book of Spells used in Hogwarts. An interesting connection with the Harry Potter series is that the author of the book, Chadwick Boot, was the elder brother of Webster Boot, who became an ancestor of Harry's schoolmate Terry Boot upon his return to England as a pioneering Auror. The brothers were the adopted sons of Isolt Sayre and her husband James Steward, founders of Ilvermorny.
The record of Newt's expulsion from Hogwarts is very similar to Hagrid's in 1942, as detailed in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002). Both involve "accidents" regarding a dangerous magical creature, although it is possible that Newt was justly accused, unlike Hagrid who was framed by Tom Riddle. A further connection between the two characters might be inferred, in that Hagrid refers to himself as Norbert the dragon's "mummy", and when Newt approaches the nest of occamies, he says, "Mummy's here." Both characters are also close confidants of Albus Dumbledore who objected strongly to their respective expulsions.
It was revealed in November 2015 that the American wizarding community in the movie does not use the word "Muggles" to refer to non-magic people, but instead use their own word "No-Maj", short for "no magic".
Alison Sudol, singer in the band "A Fine Frenzy", was working on a new solo album while filming. On her days off from the film set in London, she would take the train to Bristol to continue working on the record.
Eddie Redmayne cut his wig himself, and did it in the dark. He did so because Fae Hammond (hair designer for the film) believed Newt would often need to groom on ships and other less-than-ideal circumstances. Hammond handed a bewildered Redmayne a pair of rusty kitchen scissors and instructed him to use them in a nearby closet.
In an interview with Vulture, Alfonso Cuarón, director of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) expressed interest in directing this film: "'Azkaban' was fun to make, and when I did it, I was invited to do the next one, but I didn't want to overstay the welcome, because it was such an experience. But now? Why not? I do have stuff that I want to do (next), but a J.K. Rowling thing... They haven't called me yet! They haven't decided to invite me! Looking forward! At least to see it, because nobody's invited me".
First film in the Harry Potter film franchise not to be based on one of the major novels. The novel was created to benefit Comic Relief in the U.K. and is inspired by the fictional textbook of the same name featured in the Harry Potter novels.
In the opening scene, as the Warner Bros. logo appears, the first series of notes is the familiar musical motif used throughout the Harry Potter movies (called 'Hedwig's Theme' by John Williams) before it changes into an original composition.
In 2011, producer Lionel Wigram had the idea of doing a one-off fake documentary special, featuring Newt, in the style of documentaries by famous naturalists like David Attenborough, Steve Irwin, and Jane Goodall. When Wigram proposed this to fellow producers David Heyman and J.K. Rowling, it inspired Rowling to write a feature screenplay. Furthermore, she already had in mind several new stories from the magical world (at one time she considered doing an anthology of animated shorts based on The Tales of Beedle the Bard). Heyman said this around September 2016: "So, Lionel had this idea. Jo got wind of it. She said, 'Well, funnily enough I'd been thinking about something already,' and she had this whole idea in some form. I mean, it's changed and developed over the course of the year and a half and two years that's been going on. But she knows how each part connects with her universe".
In the Comic Relief version of "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," the About the Author section mentions that Newt graduated from Hogwarts. However, in the movie Graves mentions that he was expelled.
The film's "mooncalves," while generally very cute and benign, have a name with a somewhat unfortunate origin. A mooncalf is a "monstrous birth," usually associated with the abortive fetus of a cow or other farm animal. The mooncalves in the film somewhat resemble what, in real life, would be a deformed calf that would likely be aborted, or would otherwise not survive birth. "Mooncalf" is also slang for a foolish or naive person, which could also be part of the reason for naming the large-eyed, naively innocent-looking creatures as such.
Samantha Morton marks another connection between the Harry Potter world and Middle-Earth. J.K. Rowling worked in references such as Bathilda Bagshot (named for Bagshot Row, a street in Hobbiton) and Neville Longbottom (Longbottom Leaf is a type of pipe weed). Morton is the daughter-in-law of Ian Holm, who not only played Bilbo in Peter Jackson's films but also voiced Frodo in the BBC Radio drama, in which Bill Nighy (Rufus Scrimgeour) voiced Sam, and Robert Stephens (former husband of Dame Maggie Smith (Minerva McGonagall)) voiced Aragorn. Also, Sir John Hurt, who played Garrick Ollivander in the Harry Potter movies, voiced Aragorn in the 1978 film The Lord of the Rings (1978).
When Jacob Kowalski is showing the bank manager his plans for his bakery, there is a quick glimpse of the prospected shop, and you can see that the name of the bakery on the plans is J. Kowalski, which some believe resembles the logo of J.K. Rowling.
The term "squib" is used in most of the Harry Potter universe. Unlike other made-up words, a squib is a term for a malfunctioning firearm that misfires so the bullet gets stuck in the barrel. Also used in football, for a kick that goes low and kind of flops around.
During the early scene in the bank, where the Niffler is causing commotion, Newt uses the spell "Alohomora" to open the vault, and "Petrificus Totalus" to incapacitate the bank manager. Both spells were also used by Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001).
It was hinted that there would be a deleted scene that would show Newt's many scars and injuries from his time looking for creatures. However, this scene did not surface in the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the film.
Tina's MACUSA ID number is 240274. This is the birthdate of Eduardo Lima, a wizard on whom the Ministry of Magic kept tabs while it was under Death Eater control in 1997. Eduardo Lima is also the name of a graphic designer who worked on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) and succeeding films.
One of the musical themes played throughout the movie contains the same melody that was used several times in Peter Pan (2003), which was also scored by composer James Newton Howard. That film starred Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy) as George Darling and Captain James Hook.
The bartender house elf at Gnarlak's Speakeasy scoffs at Jacob's claim that his uncle was a house elf. Jacob doesn't realize that house elves are a different species, and thus can't be related to humans. Harry Potter enthusiasts will also scoff at Jacob's blunder. In America, when people feel awkward about situations like this, people often say "My uncle's a..." which is what Jacob does, as an American. His mistake is also understandable, because he's a No-Maj (muggle).
Colin Farrell had a deleted scene in which his character was "cramped down in a corner" of his office, having a vision while partially unclothed. This vision was later touched on Fantastic Beasts and the Crimes of Grindelwald. Ultimately, that scene was also deleted.
The pendant that Graves gives to Credence is the mark of the Deathly Hallows, as is the pendant worn by Xenophilius Lovegood in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010). It foreshadows the reveal that Graves is actually Grindelwald in disguise. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Grindelwald and Dumbledore are described as obsessed with the Deathly Hallows. In the book, it is specifically identified as Grindelwald's mark during his reign of terror.
J.K. Rowling confirmed on her Twitter account, on June 4, 2015, that Tina is short for Porpentina. In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, in the "About the Author", Newt Scamander is noted as "now living in Dorset with his wife Porpentina and their pet Kneazles: Hoppy, Milly, and Mauler."
Frank, the giant hawk-like bird Newt shows to Jacob while touring around his menagerie of fantastic beasts, is a Thunderbird. Thunderbirds are mythical birds that create, and are summoned by, lightning in Native American folklore. This explains how Frank is summoned in his first appearance in the movie, and how he flies into the storm cloud during the climax.
Credence presumably died when his Obscurus form was destroyed by the Aurors at the end of the movie. However, according to David Yates, they shot a scene in which Credence was still alive in the aftermath, but then deleted it, because the other filmmakers have yet to decide on the direction of the character in the sequels. However, in the finished film, Newt still sees a small black thing escape during the aftermath, suggesting the Obscurus isn't completely gone. In 2018, Ezra Miller confirmed he would be returning as Credence in the sequel film Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018).
The form of execution that Tina was about to experience, being seated on a chair and submerged into a pool of water, is based on an execution/punishment/trial method used during the Salem witch trials. A person accused of being a witch would be strapped to "the dunking chair" and submerged underwater. If the person sank, they were pronounced innocent; if the person floated, they were pronounced a "witch".
The subway stop at the end of the movie is supposed to be the old City Hall stop, which closed in 1945. The station still exists, and can be seen if one rides the 6 train to the last stop (the current City Hall stop) and then stays on the train as it loops around to go back uptown. There are also tours of the station a few times a year.
There are several clues to Percival Graves being Gellert Grindelwald in disguise: 1. The hair styles of Graves and Grindelwald are similar. 2. In the interrogation, Graves pays particular attention to the fact that Albus Dumbledore holds Newt Scamander in high regard. According to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Dumbledore and Grindelwald were close friends and equally obsessed with the Deathly Hallows. 3. It is later revealed that the point-of-view shots of someone gliding through the city are of Graves travelling as smoke. Travelling as smoke in the films is associated with the dark arts, as the only other people that have been seen traveling in this way in this fictional universe are Death Eaters and Voldemort. 4. In one secret meeting between Graves and Credence Barebone, Graves gives him a charm which can summon him, should Credence need help. The charm is the symbol of the Deathly Hallows. In the Harry Potter books, it is also understood to be the mark Grindelwald, once identified with in his anti-muggle terrorism campaign of the 1920s-1940s. 5. Dumbledore's sister Ariana is rumored to host an obscurus, which is why, in the books, she was prone to lash out with strong magic after attempting to suppress it. Save Scamander, Graves appears to be the only one knowledgeable about obscurials in this film - at least enough to think he could use Credence for his nefarious ends. 6. Believing Credence to be non-magical with magical lineage, Graves refers to him as a squib. Given that the magic community refers to non-magical people without magical lineage as No-Majs instead of muggles, it is entirely possible that they have another term for squibs. If so, Graves-Grindelwald slipped up and exposed his European origins. 7. Graves' first name is Percival. Percival is one of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore's middle names. Grindelwald might have, consciously or unconsciously, recalled "Percival", and used it for his alias.
Some have questioned the fact that Graves can sentence Newt Scamander and Tina Goldstein to death on the spot for mere negligence, with no objections from other ministerial employees; yet Grindelwald, who has committed far more serious crimes, only gets jailed. But it is very likely that Graves (who is Grindelwald in disguise) simply acted on his own, and made this spontaneous decision to get rid of Newt and Tina quickly, knowing they were also on the trail of the Obscurus. Note that the wizards and witches present during the sentencing and the execution attempt seem to behave atypically relaxed given the situation, making it likely that Graves had put a Confundus or Imperius spell on them to ensure their unquestioning cooperation.
The magical inhabitants of America refer to non-magical people as "No-Majs". The American name for a Squib (an individual born into a wizarding family with no magical powers of their own), however, is unknown. Graves/Grindelwald calls Credence a "squib", but as Grindelwald is actually from Europe, this reveals nothing, as he is the only one to use a term for a non-magical person born into a magical family in this film.
According to the cast, in a interview for Entertainment Tonight for the comic-con in 2018, they didn't record any actual scene with Johnny Depp for this movie and didn't know that he was cast as Grindelwald until it was revealed later in the post production.
Johnny Depp - being an American - portrays Gellert Grindelwald who's a European (probably German), whereas Colin Farrell - who's Irish, and therefore European - portrays Grindelwald's American disguise Percival Graves.
Credence Barebone's character is similar to the title character of Carrie (1976). Both characters are considered outcasts in their societies and live with an abusive parent or guardian (adoptive mother in Credence's case, and biological mother in Carrie's case). They also possess powerful, if horrifically destructive magic, which is unleashed when stressed or enraged (fueled by suppression and the Obscurous in Credence's case, and fueled by rage in Carrie's case).