'Harry Potter' Spinoffs: What To Expect From 'Fantastic Beasts'

J.K. Rowling's new movies set in the 'Harry Potter' universe will expand the Wizarding World without help from the Boy Who Lived.

The Boy Who Lived is retired, but the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will live on without him — all thanks to "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," a brand-new movie series penned by "Potter" author J.K. Rowling.

News of further cinematic adventures set in the "Potter" universe took fandom by surprise on Thursday (September 12), even if Rowling's eventual return to witchcraft and wizardry was always expected.

"I thought Rowling would return at some point through an encyclopedia, not with a full-blown movie series," Andrew Sims of Hypable.com, a respected voice among the "Potter" fandom, tells MTV News. "At first I was in denial, then in shock, then ecstatic."

That's a sentiment shared by many other "Potter" lovers, due to one key factor: Rowling is writing the films herself.

"This is her baby," says Sims. "This isn't someone else's idea with Rowling uninvolved. She knows what we want in a new 'Harry Potter' spinoff series and she's going to make it happen for us."

Rowling released the book "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" in 2001 as a charity benefit. Told from the perspective of fictional author and Magizoologist Newt Scamander, "Fantastic Beasts" appears in the "Harry Potter" films and novels as required-reading for Hogwarts students. Indeed, according to Rowling's own writing, Newt eventually served as a Hogwarts headmaster.

Despite these connections to the "Potter" universe, fans should not expect too much crossover between Newt and Harry's stories. In announcing the movie, Rowling revealed that "Fantastic Beasts" takes places 70 years before the events of "Harry Potter," but isn't a "Potter" prequel. (An imperfect comparison: "Fantastic Beasts" is to "Harry Potter" as "Prometheus" is to "Alien.") In other words: don't expect to see Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson or Rupert Grint in the new film.

"To be honest, I'd rather not see too many familiar faces in this film," says Zap2It.com staff editor Terri Schwartz, another regular commentator in the "Potter" community. "Sure, familiar last names or family members or the like will be a nice way to tie these series together, but if Warner Bros. really wants to create a new 'Harry Potter' franchise, it should do so by immediately allowing this to stand on its own two legs."

Another question surrounding "Fantastic Beasts" involves the story, or lack thereof. Rowling's book is presented as an encyclopedia without much of a conventional narrative to speak of. That makes the silver-screen take on Newt and his journey a difficult one to predict.

"I highly doubt that the movie is going to be based on the 'Fantastic Beasts' book as it is written ... it's more of an encyclopedia with anecdotes," says Schwartz. "It sounds like this isn't going to be an adaptation, but rather a new story inspired by what Rowling created in the 'Fantastic Beasts' book."

Countless unknowns surround the development of "Fantastic Beasts," from questions about casting and director choices to release date information and beyond. However, there are at least some certainties fans can count on.

"They can look forward to a similar tone, similar themes, and similar feelings that Rowling made them experience when reading and watching the original series," says Sims. "'Harry Potter' fans know that Rowling is an amazing writer, and she knows that fans expect only perfection when it comes to the new film series. I don't think she'll disappoint."