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At the beginning of the trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, someone (who I think is Newt Scamander) says the spell "Lumos Maxima". The problem is that Lumos Maxima is not a canon spell. The spell that everyone uses in the books is Lumos. (Rowling has said "That's showbiz!" when asked about the movies versions of the spells.)

A fact that further complicated matters is that JKR said on Twitter that she "wrote the entire script".

So why does Fantastic Beasts have Lumos Maxima?

(An out of universe answer is fine, I'm more of trying to figure out where this movie stands canonwise than trying to mesh two incompatible things.)

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    "I consider the films and the books as totally seperate canons mainly due to how little of them came from Rowling. Here, however, she claims to have written the entire script." Just because she wrote it, doesn't mean it was meant to be part of the continuity of the novels rather than the continuity of the films (which are of course different in some ways). She could easily have been writing with the intent of keeping it consistent with the film continuity, since it is in itself another film. – Hypnosifl Jan 13 '16 at 20:51
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+100

As per OP's request I turned my comments into an answer, despite them being somwhat speculative.

The film series is of course an entirely seperate continuity from that of the books, and JKR was always okay with it being this way (films over there, books over here), her "That's showbiz!" comment can be intrepreted the same way.

Just like the books - and any franchise, really - the films try to establish their own continuity by repeating themes (particularly with the score / the music, which despite having been created by different composers, still kept central themes throughout).

This is done to interconnect each new installment with those that came before it and (hopefully) will come after.

Either the screenwriter incorporates those "threads" in his/her script from the start, or is asked to include them later.

Because since the early moments of the third film, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban it has been established that within the canon of the film franchise Lumos Maxima exists, its inclusion in other installments simply uses that established fact.

In her book canon, JKR has never mentioned Lumos Maxima, so it's actually unknown whether it does exist there or not (she could after all very well write another book and establish it as book canon, the unlikelyness of that notwithstanding, since if that powerful a light could be produced someone in the previous books should have used it in a time of need).

Since we have not (yet) seen any script draft, nor the shooting script, nor a transcript, we do not know if she wrote Lumos Maxima into it.

Like all scriptwriters, she will have to live with the fact, that what was written is rarely that which appears on the screen later. The reasons for this are numerous, for instance

  • actors might chance things to make it feel "more natural for the character" (which the author of course created, usually for a reason, but alas);

  • the director,

  • the producer(s) (which in this case JKR is one as well, so maybe this influence may have been not as prominent, although Steve Kloves is also a producer - and a professional screenwriter - and since writing for the page differs from writing for film there were probably discussions there as well)

  • and most of all the studio give notes upon notes upon notes.

Particularly the last one applies in this case. WB are interested in keeping the interconnection within their franchise alive, so if they said "Put a Maxima in here", it went in.

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    I have been informed that the 'Lumos Maixma' line does is not present in the film, therefore one can perhaps assume that it was recorded just for the trailer. – ibid Nov 13 '16 at 2:24
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As a start - there is NO canon reference to the spell "Lumos Maxima" in the books.

However ...

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows chapter 30 Flitwick uses the word "Horribillis" to make a stronger version of Protego:

"Protego Horribillis - the diadem of Ravenclaw?" squeaked Flitwick. "A little extra wisdom never goes amiss, Potter, but I hardly think it would be much use in this situation!"

So it is completely plausible that "Lumos Maxima" is just a stronger version of Lumos.

As noted in the comments - in the movies Flitwick uses "Protego Maxima" instead of "Protego Horribillis". One out-of-universe explanation is that the word "Maxima" is easier to pronounce and to hear compared to "Horribillis".

Source: Harry Potter Wikia page on Protego Maxima. The references inside are OK it is safe to say that it is not a "fan made canon" :)

Why would no one then use "Lumos Maxima" (or "Lumos Horribillis"). Checking the scale that "Maxima"/"Horribillis" gives:

  • Protego shields the caster only and can reflect a single spell or so within a few seconds
  • Protego Maxima shielded the whole Hogwarts castle (in the movie) and stayed for hours. It is unknown what it did in the books but I guess it provided some protection for the castle or at least the gates else Flitwick woudn't care casting it.

Lumos produces light more or less equal to a strong flashlight and comes from the tip of the wand.

If we assume that the scale would be the same for "Lumos Maxima" then it would be as strong as a stadium projector or even stronger. It will actually blind the caster rather than serving as a strong illumination. It is quite useless unless you can change the light source to be somewhere high above you.

From the secrecy point of view "Lumos Maxima" would be also quite discrediting - a big source of light attracts attention.

In the Forbidden Forest Lumos Maxima would be quite useless - a thick forest blocks both strong and weak light. Strong light will be a little more effective, but not too much to make a difference.

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    Highly skilled wizard speaking Lumos? I have always seen Dumbledore non-verbally casting light, and he might not need Maxima. His skill can provide him always with a Maxima :D – prakhar londhe Jan 13 '16 at 7:46
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    @ibid - Can you point out some specific examples where a stronger Lumos would have been extremely useful, but some experienced wizard (other than Dumbledore) just used the ordinary Lumos? And even if there are such examples, isn't it possible that the spell was just little-known for some reason? A wizard can't cast a spell if they haven't read it or been taught it... – Hypnosifl Jan 13 '16 at 8:33
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    @ibid your question is "Why does Newt say Lumos Maxima in the Fantastic Beasts trailer?" and you argue that this is not a canon spell (vs Lumos). The very simple answer is: "because such a spell exists". The Fantastic Beasts movie is not directly based on a story from any of the books so the editors are free to invent new spells. If you ask why did the editors replace "Lumos" with "Lumos Maxima" in the OTHER movies then this is a completely different question. – vap78 Jan 13 '16 at 9:16
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    Where do you get the idea that Protego Horribilis is an enhanced version of Protego? I’ve always read it as being a transitive variant of the spell (“I protect against the horrible”), similar to how Accio can be used both transitively and intransitively. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 2 '18 at 17:27
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    @JanusBahsJacquet - a good point, I think. That said, in the transition from book to movie, it could have been assumed to be an enhanced version - in which case, the movies already had a way to enhance a spell in Maxima, and it's more obviously a "strengthening" additive - Protego Horribilus could be "protect against the horrible" or "do horrible things to protect us". – RDFozz Aug 2 '18 at 17:50
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I answered a similar question over at Movies & TV S.E. which focuses more on film techniques, but considering this question is so similar and asks about film-based canon I'll simply cross-post my answer.


In-Universe

The added maxima at the end of spells denotes a more powerful version of the spell cast by the wizard/witch. Lumos is not the only spell it is used for, another example I can think of is the spell protego maxima used in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Protego is a shield spell used to protect the caster, whereas its more powerful counterpart is used to protect an area (such as the area that the tent is set up when used by Hermione, and Hogwarts by the teachers before the final battle). I don't think this spell is specifically cast in the books or if it was generalized as a "protective enchantment" (As Vap78 says Protego Horribillis is instead used in the books).

As protego maxima is only ever used by the more advanced wizards in the movies, it can be assumed that it is a more difficult spell to cast than its regular counterpart. This is backed up by the fact that Harry is practicing the lumos maxima spell in the opening scene of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and clearly finding it difficult to pull off.

The differing spells clearly also have different applications. One would not use the maxima version of the protego spell to protect oneself in the moment, it would be impractical. In the same way there is a distinction between the two versions of the lumos spell: they have different applications. The minor version produces more directed light like a flashlight, whereas the greater spell will light an entire room.

Out-of-Universe

For the lumos spell that you specify, the distinction between the two is to create differently lit environments for the characters. As stated above, lumos maxima would light an entire room. This would be used in scenarios to show that the characters can see everything lit in a room, as well as allowing the audience to get a full picture of the room.

The lesser version of the spell is used in the same way as a flashlight is used in filming, which has several applications. These are:

  • when a character or the audience has their attention directed towards an object in the scene
  • to ensure a character or the audience do not immediately notice salient objects within a scene
  • to create suspense by not allowing the character/audience to see an entire area so that they can be surprised/shocked by something entering the frame.

All three of these are used in the scene in Prisoner of Azkaban when Harry is following the Marauder's Map towards where it says Peter Pettigrew is within the castle. His wand points towards the map in order to allow the audience to focus on the movements of Peter, and show him coming towards the character.

It is then used as a suspense technique as there is only a limited amount of vision of the hallway, so that it is difficult to see if anyone is approaching. Then when the unseen character is shown to leave in another direction on the map, the limited light ensures that the character and the audience do not have the reveal of who the character is, and why he has shown up on the map, as

Peter Pettigrew is also Ron's rat Scabbers.

This means that within the scope of the movie, both versions of the spell were needed. The original version of lumos used within the book, in order to have this "flashlight" effect lighting technique for this scene (as well as others), and the "room-lit" effect, in order for the audience to see the full scene unfolding instead of a confused mess of limited light.


Therefore in the example of the trailer, it is likely that the character needs to light a large area instead of having a directed beam of light.

  • There are many times throughout the book where it would appear that a "Lumos Maxima" spell would be useful, yet it is never used, even by skilled wizards. Leading to the simple answer that it doesn't exist in the book. My question was concerning the new movie, as Rowling supposedly wrote the entire script, but has gone on record in the past as disapproving of the movies' changes to the spells. (Also, are you sure that you know the difference between in-universe and out-of-universe?) – ibid Jan 13 '16 at 18:18
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    @ibid I don't see anything wrong with this answer's conception of in- and out-of-universe. The in-universe section deals entirely with how these spells are used by the characters in the films. The out-of-universe section deals entirely with filmmaking techniques, which of course are used here in the real world, not in the fictional universe. – recognizer Jan 13 '16 at 19:06
  • @recognizer I guess I had skimmed through the answer too fast (I tend to do that by longer answers.) Still, everyone is giving answers to "What is the difference between Lumos and Lumos Maxima in the movies?", which isn't my question. – ibid Jan 13 '16 at 19:09
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    @ibid I'm actually a bit confused what your question fundamentally is. Does it boil down to "Why is the Fantastic Beasts film in continuity with the other films, instead of the books?" – recognizer Jan 13 '16 at 19:12
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    @ibid I think your fact A may be poorly founded. Is there evidence for her disapproval other than the comment "That's showbiz!"? That comment may imply that she accepts the need for cinematic effects such as the ones described in this answer. – recognizer Jan 13 '16 at 20:12
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The Lumos 'Maxima' spell does not occur anywhere during the actual movie or in Rowling's screenplay. (Nor does the Lumos spell.)

It is probably safe to assume that the voice-over heard in the beginning of the trailer was recorded by the marketing team specifically for that trailer.

  • Haha! You gotta love 'em! – can-ned_food Apr 24 '17 at 5:53

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