As anxious fans eagerly await the fifth Harry Potter book from author J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros. is looking for the next director to helm the third film in the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Chris Columbus, who directed the first two installments--last year's top box office grosser Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and the upcoming Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (due for release in November)--has declined to sign on for the third film. Variety reported he told the studio he wants to bring his family home after living in England for more than a year.
Who's on the list, then?
Warner Bros. is looking at a few key choices, including newbie director Callie Khouri (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood) and Kenneth Branagh, who is playing professor Gilderoy Lockhart in the second Harry Potter film.
On the top of the list, however, is Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron, hot off his Spanish-language hit Y Tu Mama Tambien. Cuaron has proven he has an eye for lush visuals as well as an appreciation for children's books in such films as the 1998 modern update of Charles Dickens'Great Expectations and 1995's A Little Princess, based on the children's novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Variety reported Cuaron received the third Harry Potter script from writer Steve Kloves (who penned the first two) and is in conversation with the studio about his ideas.
As far as the fifth book on the continuing adventures of young wizard-in-training Harry Potter and his friends, tentatively titled Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Scholastic Publishing was hoping to have it in the stores this summer, but Rowling has told the company she isn't quite finished. It's now set for release in June 2003.
And so we wait.