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David Yates in talks to helm Harry Potter spinoff 'Fantastic Beasts'

'Harry Potter' veteran David Yates is reportedly in talks to direct 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them'

It seems David Yates still has the magic touch.

The British filmmaker, who directed the final four "Harry Potter" movies, is in negotiations to helm the first installment of the franchise's new spinoff trilogy for Warner Bros., "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," according to a Variety report.

Warner Bros. declined to comment on the report, as did a spokesperson for Yates' agency.

Announced last September, "Fantastic Beasts" will mark the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, author of the hit "Potter" series. "Beasts" is based on Rowling's fictional Hogwarts textbook chronicling the adventures of "magizoologist" Newt Scamander, the book's ostensible author.

When the project was announced, Rowling said "Beasts" would function as "neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world." Scamander's on-screen adventures will begin in New York 70 years before the events of the first "Harry Potter" novel.

The first film in the new trilogy is set to hit theaters Nov. 18, 2016.

Yates came aboard the "Harry Potter" film series with 2006's "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" and provided a steady hand for a franchise that had previously bounced between multiple directors. All four of Yates' "Potter" films were critical and box-office hits.

According to Variety, Warner Bros. had always preferred to go with a director familiar with the "Harry Potter" world for "Fantastic Beasts," and also approached Alfonso Cuaron ("Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban").

With the eight "Harry Potter" movies having sold more than $7.7 billion in movie tickets worldwide, Warner Bros. has a vested interest in keeping the franchise alive and in good hands.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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