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Old 09-12-2016, 05:00 PM
masterofmystery masterofmystery is offline
Post MACUSA, Zoos & NYC: we tour the 'Fantastic Beasts' film during our set visit (Part 1)

The intersection of Rivington Street and Baruch Place on New York City's Lower East Side during Christmastime 1926 created the setting of one of the key locations for the first installment of J.K. Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The movie itself takes place over the span of two days, Eddie Redmayne confessed, in December 1926 (as noted by all the Christmas decorations around New York City).

This was the first of many Prohibition-era set locations SnitchSeeker and a group of online reporters got to peruse through and walk around this past December during our Leavesden Studios set visit of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, hitting theaters and IMAX November 18, 2016.

Part one of two here will explore the many sets we got to visit, as well as little details about the plots we were able to pick up from props and set pieces. Part two, found here, focuses on the cast, crew and characters brought to life for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Let’s start off by taking a tour of the MACUSA headquarters.

The now-famed entrance of the MACUSA headquarters - the exterior of the Woolworth Building in Manhattan (still around to this day, and a working office building), was chosen specifically by J.K. Rowling, noted production designer Stuart Craig.

Rowling chose the building for its interior “Gothic decoration,” Craig said, including “the big entrance archway.” Rowling, said Craig (and to no surprise), “had diligently researched her New York of that period” to get it just right. At the top of the Woolworth entrance is a carving of a stone owl, and of course knowing the Harry Potter author, she probably wanted the area to represent MACUSA and the wizarding world for that aspect.
• As you walk past the entrance, you’re welcomed to the MACUSA Pentagram. You can liken this to the British Ministry of Magic's large courtrooms featured in the fourth, fifth and seventh Harry Potter movies and books.

• We had a full walking tour of the interior MACUSA headquarters main-level set (the one featured right here), which was squarish in shape and had a raised dais in the middle. There was a floor underneath for lower-level employees. The top floor houses employees in high government positions, and, of course Aurors.

• To the right of the stairs we walked up to visit this foyer, we spotted a long row of wooden file cabinets against a wall, about 50 feet away from the dais. To the right we saw four mauve-colored columns with large, golden phoenixes perched atop them, about 40 feet high; those four create the corners of the dais on which five stone figures stand. Four of the figures are adults (three women, one man - all with their hands bound in rope) and the fifth is a small girl, pleadingly staring at one of the women around her. They are dressed as pilgrims, the same as those who lived (and died) during the first Salem Witch Trials centuries before. The statues are a reminder of what was lost and sacrificed in the American wizarding world.

• Several black pillars lined the rest of the walls of the Pentagram, all with silvery-stoned wizards (all men) standing atop them, some of whom held wands.

• To the immediate right of the stairs we walked up on was a line of seven wooden MACUSA office desks, that had official government files and notes piled on them. Some forms are for wizards to fill out if they’ve used magic around No-Majes, called a “Notice of Contravention.”

• Other papers and documents on the MACUSA desks have the title “Federal Bureau of Covert Diligence and No-Maj Obliviation” and F.B.C.V.N.O., while another belonging to the International Confederation of Wizards revealed a note that stated “Danger level 5, explosion on streets/unexpected magical activity. state of emergency.”

A few other tidbits about the film’s set and plot that should be noted, especially before seeing the movie, can be read below. For now, this report doesn’t reveal TOO much about Fantastic Beasts, but just enough to get everyone desperate to know more.

Stuart Craig wanted to tour the old New York City Subway system, as shown in these photos, but wasn’t granted permission by either the city or the MTA, so they had to rely on old photos to recreate the 1926 set for the underground.

We walked into an entire room full of promotional images and concept art for the film, and of particular note were the gold-walled and furnitured interior of City Hall, as well as 20-30ish storey-tall greyish Shaw Tower (owned by Jon Voight’s character, Henry Shaw Sr.)

While the trailers and previews revealed a few magical creatures, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Dozens of concept art of fantastic beasts dressed the walls of this promo room, featuring the: niffler, demiguise, picket, swooping evil, occamy (which exactly resembles the 'S' in the Fantastic Beasts official logo), murtlap, bits and pieces a creature (looks like a salamander-shaped creature made of lots of parts of other things). fwooper (looks like an upside-down. tear-shaped pink pygmy puff), streeler, mooncalf, doxy, nundo (like a lion with spikes on its mane), baby thestral, kappa, diricawl, billywig, runesears, lethifold (like a large black creepy parachute/sheet), graphon, giant dung beetle and hippocampus.

We’ll finish off by giving a detailed and colorful tour of the wizarding and No-Maj (plural ‘No-Majes’ according to a want ad spotted on the set) world in New York City.
• Several stores were spotted on the lower east side of Manhattan as we walked down Rivington Street and Baruch L. intersection, as well as Rivington and Lewis Street a block over (at the end of all streets were massive green screen boards).

• Some of the shops shown in various promos featured from the films included Mrs. Boswell palmist-medium, L. Caruso Music Store, Painless Dentistry - Dr. J. Clark & Co., Sterberg Brothers (a large tailor shop selling men’s clothing and shoes), Adamsen & Wardle Co. (fine confectionary), Law Offices of Geo. W. Bauer, Tamerlane Hotel (small hotel with Christmas decorations, including wreaths), New York Clarian newsstand on corner of a street, Calton & Swan Publishing, Koeck & Holman Co. - Accountants (district offices of the state of New York), Whitaker Mortgage Loan, Ginzberg Delavney (fancy clothing), Sixth Avenue Photographic Studio Publishing, Rufus J. Rotick Stationers and Mardermolt Distributors.

• There was also Alvin’s Diner, one of the shops we got to go inside of and peruse around, and what a scene it was - the diner was completely ransacked, with dirty tables and the floor covered with food, cups, drinks, utensils, tissues and aluminum foil all over the place. Also spotted were a couple of CGI-blue mats on set floor (for someone to fall on). Undoubtedly some magical-related disorder took place here.

Jacob’s tenement apartment was spotted on the exterior Leavesden set as well (darker brown, two-story houses, lower class), where the windows of the second floor had an explosion-related hole in them. From what we’re told, and was sort of mentioned in trailers, a large and dangerous magical creature made its way out of Newt’s case and destroyed Jacob’s home. This shot of Newt standing around the hole with his wand out is the aftermath of that attack.

• Two blocks of light brown brownstone homes (two floors) could be seen a block off of Rivington Street, where Tina and Queenie Goldstein live. A grocery store was located on the basement/ground floor section of one of the brownstones.

• At the end of the streets was the City Hall set, which had a marble-bound plaza and black benches scattered throughout.

We then walked toward the park and zoo sections, which definitely looked like they had seen better days.
• The Central Park Zoo exterior set featured a large bridge over a grassy area, near a tree (similar to this shot), and this is apparently where Newt and Jacob spot more creatures, and “things occur,” we were told. More CGI-green screens were found in this area.

• The Central Park Zoo set was in complete disarray. The brick-built arch entrance was in pieces, with pieces of bricks scattered across the grassy grounds. The metal gates of the entrance were ripped from their hinges, bent and found on the ground along with the fallen bricks.

The inside of the zoo was an ovalish shape, with animal habitats circling around a central empty grassy area. The cages, whose metal bars and doors were bent and broken as though something large clobbered through them, once contained ostriches, chimps and porcupines; noncaged habitats for camels and llamas looked worse for wear as though they were been destroyed as well. For some reason the baboon and peacock sections were unharmed. There was a sign spotted on one of the cages that said “Do Not Feed or Annoy Animals - $25.00 Fine” - typical J.K. Rowling there.

• The glass-cased areas that once contained reptiles and amphibians, off the main circular area of the zoo, were shattered, as well as the snake sanctuaries. Broken glass was scattered all across the floors.
Well, that’s a look around the sets. Now, head here to see what the main cast, David Yates and David Heyman said about bringing J.K. Rowling’s first-ever script to life.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay book can be pre-ordered now via the following links: (hardcover) | (Kindle) | (UK hardcover) | Warner Bros. Shop (hardcover)
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