Sources tell Variety that Yates, who directed several Harry Potter movies including the final “Deathly Hallows” pics, has agreed to return for the first installment of the Harry Potter spinoff trilogy “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”
No deal has been made but insiders confirm both sides are in negotiations.
Warner Bros. had no comment on this story.
The studio announced the new Harry Potter series last September with J.K. Rowling, author of the global phenomenon, making her screenwriting debut.
Set in New York roughly seven decades before Harry Potter’s saga starts, “Fantastic Beasts” is based on the Hogwarts textbook of the same name and follows the adventures of its author, Newt Scamander.
“Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for seventeen years, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world,” Rowling explained of the trilogy.
No actor has been cast for the lead role of Newt Scamander, a “magizoologist” in his early 20s, but it’s certainly one of the hottest parts in town.
Daniel Radcliffe, meanwhile, recently said he has no plans to reprise his Harry Potter role, adding that WB hadn’t approached him for the series.
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“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” hits theaters Nov. 18, 2016.
A production schedule for “Beasts” has yet to be worked out. Yates, who also has a first-look deal with WB, is currently filming “Tarzan” until November.
According to sources, the studio had always wanted to approach a person who was familiar with the “Harry Potter” landscape and Yates, director of the last four films in the franchise, was a no brainer for WB. The move draws comparisons to other filmmakers like Peter Jackson returning for “The Hobbit” and Sam Mendes on “James Bond,” who, after insisting they were done with a certain franchise, ultimately came back to a piece of material they were comfortable tackling again.
The eight “Harry Potter” movies -– which began in 2001 and concluded in 2011 –- grossed more than $7 billion worldwide for Warner Bros., making it the highest grossing film franchise of all time.
The studio has already said “Fantastic Beasts” would be developed across the studio’s digital, consumer-products and gaming units, including links to Pottermore.com, Rowling’s digital online experience built around the Potter books.
Yates is repped by CAA.