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So Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is another Harry Potter universe movie coming up this year. The movie is based on a different era, 70 years before the story of Harry Potter.

So is this new series going to be a prequel to the Harry Potter story? I mean to say that is this series going to set the background of what happened 70 years later with Harry and Voldemort? Or will it be a different story about Newt Scamander only?

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The movie is roughly based on the book of the same name, which is a fictional textbook that's used by Hogwarts. The movie is essentially the story of the guy who wrote the textbook, and is not directly related to the main Harry Potter story.

Rowling has specifically said that the movie (which is supposed to be a trilogy) is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the main series.

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    Actually, the movie will be the first entry to a pentalogy (compound work that is made up of five distinct works, like a trilogy but 5 instead of 3), confirmed by JK Rowling. – Ghoti and Chips Nov 21 '16 at 13:15
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    Seeing the whole Dumbledore/Grindelwald thing people keep talking about, I can't see how this is not at least somewhat of a prequel to the first series. You can call The Hobbit as much its own story as you want, it's still The Lord of the Rings Episodes I-III and I doubt Warner Bros. would waste the chance to spill thousands of references to Harry Potter into those films, especially the later ones, to make it at least seem like a prequel, independent main storyline notwithstanding. – Napoleon Wilson Nov 21 '16 at 13:32
  • @NapoleonWilson Agreed, though in Mike's defence (and Rowling's apparently), the definition of "prequel" being absent doesn't help things, either. In my answer (below), I took the time to define it and explain whether it is or isn't a prequel, but if one's Answer lacks a definition, it's hard to say what they meant (this applies to Rowling too). If one has a strict definition, I can see why Fantastic Beasts wouldn't be considered a prequel perse, especially with the 5 movies news, because then it's a prequel to the second episode, not HP1. – Ghoti and Chips Nov 21 '16 at 14:48
  • @NapoleonWilson [cont.] The way I see it, Fantastic Beasts is certainly a soft prequel, the same way Hobbit 1 is a soft prequel to LOTR trilogy, but it is not strictly a hard prequel (I use hard and soft to denote degree of vagueness or strictness), seeing as Hobbit 1 is really a prequel to Hobbit 2 Desolation of Smaug, which is a prequel to Hobbit 3 Battle of Five Armies, which is definitely a prequel to Fellowship, considering the ending of Hobbit 3 starts where Fellowship begins – Ghoti and Chips Nov 21 '16 at 14:51
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Now that the movie has been released, we can complement KutuluMike's answer.

Tl;dr : the new Fantastic Beasts saga is more a

Dumbledore origins

than a prequel to the Voldemore saga.

As said in the accepted answer, the 2016 movie is independent from the Harry Potter saga. In particular, people that never watched or read Harry Potter can fully enjoy the movie.

However, it has now been announced by JKR that it will be a 5-parts story and that

a young Albus Dumbledore will feature heavily in the other movies.

Indeed, the main villain in FB

is revealed to be Gellert Grindelwald, the dark wizard that tried to create a wizarding empire and enslave Muggles, which lead to the global wizarding war. Albus Dumbledore has been very close to Grindelwald in his young age, developing feelings of love towards the dark wizard.

It is not a detail that he is portrayed by a A-lister. The main character of FB, Newt, does not seem connected at first to the main Harry Potter saga. But the family name of a supporting character of Harry Potter is dropped during the movie:

He had a relationship with Leta Lestrange.

It may just be an Easter Egg. More importantly, Newt has been expelled from Hogwarts before the events of the movie, for unknown (at least to me) reasons. He got support by only one professor,

Albus Dumbledore.

  • Great answer @Taladris. I wanted to mention that, since you said "for unknown (at least to me) reasons", JK Rowling has come out and said (in an interview) that he got expelled taking the blame for something someone else did (which we can safely assume means that he took the fall for something his love interest, Leta Lestrange, did), and then insisted that "that's significant, but I can't tell you why" – Ghoti and Chips Nov 21 '16 at 13:34
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To answer this question properly, we have to have a really clear understanding of what exactly a prequel is.

In the question What makes a movie a prequel?, discussing whether Prometheus is a prequel to Alien or not, we get the following:

Prequel: A story or movie containing events that precede those of an existing work.

According to this rather vague definition, we can say that the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is at least a soft prequel, given that it takes place in the same universe as the Harry Potter movies, and certainly contains events that not only precede them, but are even referenced in Harry Potter. Not only that, the events in the Fantastic saga (pentalogy) will no doubt influence and shape events and characters in Harry Potter, specifically Albus Dumbledore.

That being said, we can't say that it is stricly speaking a hard prequel, because the events that happen throughout the film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, do not directly lead up to the first chapter of the Harry Potter series, so the most we can say is that it is a soft prequel, since it takes place in the same universe, before events of the existing work.

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