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The Rowling Magazine Issue #20 · August 2018

Fantastic Beasts 3 to be set in China?

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The new Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald trailer brought a lot of clues from the plot of the film, but also what could be a hint about the next location in the film series. In January, David Yates (director) confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that each of the films will be set in a different city. With New York and Paris already visited, we are wondering where J.K. Rowling is taking us in the third installment.

In the recent Comic-Con trailer for Crimes of Grindelwald, a new beast was featured that stirred a lot of interest as well as confusion among fans. Confusion came in identifying the beast, as the ZouWu, a mythical, large, cat-like creature of Chinese origin, which is almost unheard of in English and even very little known in China. The confusion was cleared up by Rowling herself in a clip released by Warner Brothers China. As was first pointed out in one my videos, then later added to with a second video in partnership with @WizardWho, who first correctly identified the beast, the ZouWu’s inclusion hints that the series might next venture to China for several reasons. First, at the end of the first film, a beast with a name of French origins, the Demiguise, played a prominent role, and the second film is to be primarily set in Paris. Now we see that a Chinese beast will feature in the second film. Could Rowling be establishing a pattern of using a beast to hint at where the franchise will take fans in the next film?

Then, from Eddie Redmayne, to Warner Brothers China, to J.K. Rowling herself, the film has taken great pains to make sure we know the name of this beast and that it is of Chinese origin. In the same interview where Redmayne released the name, Katherine Waterston mentioned how much knowledge Rowling had of events around the world in the film’s time period, specifically calling out China.

Also, in the Pentagram Office scene, there are five wizarding world leaders who have speaking roles. One of them is Madam Picquery, the government leader in the first movie. What if Rowling intended these five speaking roles (bolded below) to hint at the settings of the five films? We already know that Crimes of Grindelwald will be set primarily in Paris, with brief stops in New York and London. Where might future movies lead? 2) Paris—by way of the UK to bring in the unnamed British envoy; 3) ChinaMadam Ya Zhou; 4)  Africa—Momolu Wotorson; and 5)  Switzerland or Germany—Heinrich Eberstadt.

Then there is also the symbolism of the ZouWu as a pledge of allegiance from a foreign leader to the Chinese Emperor. Rowling did say in the interview that Newt not only contained the beast, but looked after it as well. As China was a key part of the Allied resistance fighting against Japan in World War 2, it’s possible that Newt and Team could return the ZouWu to its homeland in FB3 as a sign of cooperation and partnership in fighting against Grindelwald’s growing threat. Perhaps to Shanghai as it was invaded by Japan in 1932 and was the site of China’s first active resistance.

Last but no least, Rowling is also known to use her Twitter header to share clues with fans of what she’s currently writing. Recently, as caught by @MrBartolozzi, her header displayed the beautiful Chinese scenery of Mount Sanqingshan.

The choice of China may be not only because of Rowling’s plan in story terms – it may be also a marketing choice. First of all – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them went on to gross $85 million in China, making it the second country in the total gross list. It even earned more money in China than in the United Kingdom (only in the United States did Fantastic Beasts 1 have a greater gross than China). But also, J.K. Rowling appeared on Happy Camp, a popular TV show in China, which has a minimum active viewership of tens of millions. Rowling being interviewed by Happy Camp was a clear way to bring this new series to China and start associating Fantastic Beasts with the success that Harry Potter had there. Note that Rowling did not give any interview to any TV show for Fantastic Beasts, but this was the exception.

Warner Bros also made special posters for China: six posters were created by artist Zhang Chun, inspired by gongbi – a realist Chinese painting technique involving highly detailed brushstrokes that originated around 2000 years ago during the Han Dynasty. This is another proof that Warner Bros sees the asian country with different eyes than the rest of the countries.

What do you think? Could China be the next location of the Fantastic Beasts Series? Do you think we will see Newt visiting the Asian country. Maybe we could even see a Chinese Fireball again on the big screen. We hope!

You are reading an article from The Rowling Library Magazine Issue 20 (August 2018).
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