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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: the Movie

More waiting, new director

by Melissa Sogard

This article was posted on August 8, 2003.

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Harry Potter fans who have finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix can breathe easy. While they may have to wait yet another couple of years for the sixth installment in J. K. Rowling's immensely successful series, there will be a few more opportunities to get a good dose of the wizarding world. According to a recent article in Newsweek, the filming of the third Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, is reportedly near completion and a release date for the film has been set as June 4, 2004.

The previous two movies, The Sorcerer's Stone and The Chamber of Secrets were released in consecutive years near Thanksgiving. So why the wait? Special effects could play a part in it. The film's new director, Alfonso Cuaron, is making the next of Harry's adventures much darker than the first two films and has a very different filming style than previous director Chris Columbus. In fact, the book itself has a considerably darker plot than the first two in the series. Azkaban centers on the escaped murderer Sirius Black's attempts to gain entrance to Hogwarts where everyone believes he is planning to attack Harry. If that wasn't bad enough, Harry must learn some very difficult magic in order to defend himself against the soul-stealing Dementors that have been stationed at Hogwarts allegedly for his protection. Cuaron's team has spent 6 months alone working on the Dementors.

Prior to Azkaban, Cuaron directed the Oscar nominated Y Tu Mama Tambien and 1995's A Little Princess. Columbus has stayed on with the project to serve as producer, and with the exception of Michael Gambon, who replaces the late Richard Harris as Dumbledore; the rest of the cast is back too. New additions include Gary Oldman as Sirius Black and David Thewlis as Professor Lupin.

What lies beyond Azkaban? Naturally Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The project has not been made official but there have been talks of a 2005 release for the film. Cuaron will not be back to direct, he is bowing out after Azkaban, but negotiations with other directors have begun and the film's main trio, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, who play Harry, Hermione, and Ron respectively, have all expressed in interest in sticking around.

If June 4, 2003 is still too long to wait for another dose of Harry Potter, there is always the alternative of reading the series again. The addition of the 870-page Phoenix brings the total count of the five books to 2,689 magical pages.



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