Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them introduces the Magical Congress of the United States of America, which was filmed on on a mammoth Warner Bros. stage outside London. But there’s all sorts of details in that MACUSA lobby you might have missed. See the full size photo below, or click the above version, and below is your guide to several subtle details:
1. ARCHITECTURAL WIZARDRY: The Magical Congress of the United States of America is hidden from Muggle view inside the very real Woolworth Building (New York’s tallest structure in 1926). Wizards enter through an ultra-fast-spinning revolving door into a grand lobby. While this Fantastic Beasts stage is a rather massive 250 feet long and 50 feet high, the ceiling will be extended with special effects to reach nearly 700 feet to represent “an empty cathedral of light, a hugely impressive, brilliantly lit space,” says production designer Stuart Craig.
2. THE PHOENIXES OF THE ORDER: J.K. Rowling’s screenplay included these four golden phoenix statues (two unseen) that bracket the MACUSA entrance, paying homage to those who died during the Salem witch trials — a major traumatic event in the history of American wizard and No-Maj (a.k.a. Muggle) relations. Notes Craig: “Throughout, the magical world is grounded in the context of the Muggle world, born out of things familiar and real.”
3. GOLD, NOT JUST FOR SNITCHES ANY LONGER: Loosely based on the interior of the Gothic art-deco American Radiator Building in midtown Manhattan, the MACUSA design includes a heavy use of gold to “bring a richness to the decoration. Given that this is the seat of power of the government in the magic world, it’s appropriate that it is gilded.”
4. MAGICAL HERALDRY: The official MACUSA emblem, based on the U.S. presidential seal, includes the etching of an American flag combined with an abstract phoenix.
5. THE CURIOUS CASE OF NEWT SCAMANDER: Intentionally shabby and based on a fiberboard briefcase, Newt’s valise contains a world full of rare and endangered magical creatures and their habitats, which can be hidden from curious Muggles — and U.S. customs inspectors — with the flip of a secret switch in the latch. His wand, too, is deliberately simple and wooden.
Want more Beasts? Fantastic Beasts is EW’s cover story this week, where we’re offering a behind-the-scenes look at the film and interviews with producers and cast. Get your copy here, find out the American word for “Muggle”, here’s which beasts to expect, and see our cast photo gallery. For ongoing Fantastic Beasts scoop, follow @jameshibberd.