6 questions about 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,' answered

Kelly Lawler

We all should have gone to Hogwarts with Harry Potter.

With Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (in theaters Friday) bringing us back to J.K. Rowling's wizarding world, even the most devoted of Potter fans may have some questions about how this new story fits into the world we already know.

Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston in 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.'

If you're confused about Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and his fantastic beasts, fear not, we have answers to your most pressing of questions, so you can sit back and enjoy the magic of Rowling once again.

1. How is J.K. Rowling involved?

She wrote the screenplay. Unlike with the eight Potter movies and the recent play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Rowling didn't just come up with the story, she supplied all the dialogue and action of Fantastic Beasts. Which is almost like getting another Harry Potter book.

2. OK, so is it a prequel to Harry Potter?

Dan Fogler, from left, Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston in 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.'

Sort of. Unlike The Hobbit or the first three Star Wars episodes, Fantastic Beasts isn't a direct prequel to the story of the Boy Who Lived. It takes place 70 years in the past on a different continent. You'll hear some names you heard in the seven Potter books and eight movies, but this isn't directly about Harry, Hermione and Ron. Your new heroes are Newt, sisters Porpentina "Tina" (Katherine Waterston) and Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol) and Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler).

3. It's based on an existing book, right?

You remember this book. It's in your parent's basement, probably.

Again, sort of. The original Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was published in 2001 as a gift book, along with Quidditch Through the Ages. Both were short (Fantastic Beasts clocks in at 42 pages) and framed as actual textbooks from Harry Potter's library, with authors listed as "Newt Scamander" and "Kennilworthy Whisp," respectively. Fantastic Beasts contains annotations "from Harry." You learn, for instance, that young Harry circled the "bum" in Glumbumble.

Of course, the books were both written by Rowling, and the proceeds went to British charity Comic Relief. In a note at the beginning of the original Fantastic Beasts, Rowling wrote, "I have always had a sneaking desire to write Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages."

4. So what's the new version of Fantastic Beasts that's being published?

It's a copy of the screenplay that Rowling penned. The script to Cursed Child was likewise published earlier this year, although since many fans couldn't get tickets to the limited London run of the play, that was the only way they were able to experience the story. The Fantastic Beasts script-book is exactly what you see on screen.

5. I heard the name "Dumbledore" in the trailer, didn't I?

Yes, you did. Dumbledore will come up in the Fantastic Beasts series, as will another wizard you heard a lot about in the Potter books: Gellert Grindelwald. Grindelwald was a dark wizard in the vein of Lord Voldemort. Before he turned to the dark arts, he was friends with Dumbledore, who famously defeated him in a duel in 1945. But at the time Fantastic Beasts takes place, Grindelwald is terrorizing the wizarding world.

6. What if I'm still confused about things?

Rowling would like to help you. The author has published dozens of stories and essays on her Pottermore website designed to expand your basic knowledge of the wizarding world. You can read about the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA), the history of how magic evolved in North America up until the 1920s and more.