Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them takes place in 1920s New York City, but the events of the prequel film are significant for J.K. Rowling's entire Potterverse, even impacting the modern-day British wizarding world introduced in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
The movie follows magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) — the author of a Hogwarts textbook — who arrives in the Big Apple with an enchanted briefcase full of magical creatures and the desire to complete a global research expedition. However, when several of his beasts accidentally escape, he finds himself embroiled in the political tensions surrounding the American magical community.
Much of the trouble stems from discord over how witches and wizards should interact with their non-magical counterparts, a divide that has been strained further by the actions of Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). At the beginning of the film, the dark wizard — who has a complicated relationship with Albus Dumbledore — is revealed to have disappeared after orchestrating a series of terrorist attacks across Europe.
While the movie's plot revolves around Scamander, Rowling has said that the remaining four installments of the franchise will take place over a period of 19 years, meaning the series will conclude in 1945. As this is the year Dumbledore famously defeated Grindelwald in a duel, it seems to indicate that the pair will play a large role in the coming films.
Take a look at the Potterverse timeline to see how the events of Fantastic Beasts are likely to come into play:
1899: Grindelwald meets Dumbledore in Godric's Hollow after being expelled from Durmstrang Institute. Months later, Dumbledore's sister, Ariana, is accidentally killed during a three-way duel between Dumbledore, his brother Aberforth and Grindelwald, prompting Grindelwald to flee.
1900-1926: At some point in this time period, Grindelwald steals the Elder Wand — one of the three Deathly Hallows — from wandmaker Gregorovitch.
December 1926: Newt Scamander arrives in America. Tom Riddle Jr. — who later becomes Lord Voldemort — is born in London.
1927: Scamander publishes Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
1938: Voldemort begins attending Hogwarts.
1943: Voldemort creates his first horcrux.
1945: Voldemort leaves Hogwarts and disappears. Dumbledore defeats Grindelwald in a duel, winning control of the Elder Wand and ending the Global Wizarding War. Grindelwald is sentenced to life in Nurmengard prison.
1956: Dumbledore is appointed headmaster of Hogwarts.
1970: The First Wizarding War begins.
July 1980: Harry Potter is born in Godric's Hollow.
October 1981: Voldemort's soul is ripped from his body when he attempts to kill baby Harry, ending the First Wizarding War.
June 1995: Voldemort regains his physical body and the Second Wizarding War begins.
June 1997: Severus Snape kills Dumbledore.
March 1998: Voldemort kills Grindelwald in Nurmengard in an attempt to gain control of the Elder Wand.
May 1998: Harry defeats Voldemort during the Battle of Hogwarts, ending the Second Wizarding War.