Harry Potter's Unclear Future

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Published July 15, 2005

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Harry Potter | Owen Wilson | Odds and Ends

Harry Potter Kids Not Signed

Scary news: The kids from the Harry Potter movies are not signed up to do any more sequels after the fourth film is released this fall.

Agreements for Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson only extended through the first four movies. That's thanks to British law, according to Warner Bros. chief Alan Horn.

The fourth movie, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," directed by Mike Newell, is due out in November.

There are three more books by J.K. Rowling, however, that have yet to be made into movies, including the new one, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," which will be available tomorrow. The seventh, final volume is still untitled.

Horn told me that he believes the studio will be able to re-sign Radcliffe, Grint and Watson to finish the series.

"But you never know," he said, shrugging.

Warner's Harry Potter movie series was revived last year by the magical direction of Alfonso Cuarón in episode three, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban."

Horn told me that Newell delivers a different Harry Potter in "Goblet of Fire," one who's maybe a little more mature and definitely more eccentrically British.

"It's not as funny visually as the last one," Horn said, "but Mike Newell, because he's from that same school background as Harry Potter, gets it very right."

The next Harry Potter movie, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," goes to a young director named David Yates, who just had a success with the cable movie "The Girl in the Café."

Don't ask Horn, who's sunk tens of millions of dollars into the films, what the new book is about or how the series ends.

"I went to England for J.K. Rowling's birthday," he said, "and she wouldn't tell me anything. I have to wait like everyone else."

But Horn does know the outcome of a bigger cliffhanger: how the summer 2005 box office ends. Unlike the other majors, Warner has done pretty well. "Batman Begins" was the beginning.

"Batman 3 and 4 were awful." That's a direct quote from Horn, which is what makes the "new" Warner Bros. so refreshing.

As the studio releases its second big hit of this summer season today, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," Horn doesn't mind admitting to have made mistakes.

At the premiere this week of the much less good "The Island," which Warner made as a co-production with Dreamworks, Horn was happy to talk about how well the studio has begun to fare.

"Batman Begins," he said, had to be "about Batman's dark side, about the Dark Knight. We couldn't go back to what had happened before."

He meant to "Batman Forever" (1995, starring Val Kilmer) and "Batman and Robin" (1997, with George Clooney).

"They were terrible," he said. "But we're also the studio that made 'Catwoman' and 'Pluto Nash,'" he said with a chuckle. "Everybody makes mistakes."

Next up, by the way, is a romantic comedy that Horn greenlighted for a "mere" $30 million: "Must Love Dogs," starring Diane Lane and John Cusack.

"It's written by Gary David Goldberg, who did 'Family Ties,' 'Brooklyn Bridge' and 'Spin City.' I've known him for 30 years. He showed me the script and I said, 'I've got to do this.' Diane Lane is so vulnerable, she's like Diane Keaton in 'Annie Hall.' She and John Cusack are great together."

Finally, I did ask Horn how the new Superman movie, "Superman Returns," is going.

Newcomer Brandon Routh, he says, "looks just like Superman. But we knew we had to overcome the fact that Chris Reeve was so beloved and that everyone thinks of him in the role."

The solution?

"We're going to dedicate the new movie to him. I haven't told [director] Bryan Singer yet, but we'll put it at the beginning or the end, 'In memory of Christopher Reeve.'"

Classy.

Owen Wilson: Polo Crasher?

By Saturday afternoon, Owen Wilson (aka "The Butterscotch Stallion") will know if his movie "Wedding Crashers," is a hit. But he won't have to crash the Mercedes-Benz polo matches this weekend.

Wilson is the guest of honor at the opening game, which commences at 4 p.m. EDT. It's hard to believe this is the 10th anniversary of the polo matches in Bridgehampton.

This year, the famous tent — which attracts an A-list crowd of folks who mostly ignore the actual polo game — will be a little different though. Wilson and other guests like Kyle MacLachlan will find two new "lounges" — one called the Panasonic Experience and the other from Yahoo Music!

In addition, there will be the usual high-end items provided by Intermix and Sergio Rossi. There's also a charity raffle for a $4,800 Nokia phone (yeah, you read that right).

What's with all the glitz? Former famed New York party promoters Jason Strauss and Noah Tepperberg, aka Strategic Group, have taken over (they also run the hot Marquee nightclub).

Every week of the six-week season will feature a theme, including South Africa (Week 3) and a grand finale (Week 6) from Hamptons magazine's Jason Binn.

And ... Documenting 80 Years in Film

Miranda July's "Me and You and Everyone We Know" picks up 50 more theaters this weekend for a total of 97. I don't know where they are, but I'll bet if you're reading this you're in a city where it's playing. Go. ...

In bookstores now: Claire Fordham's witty "Plus One: A Year in the Life of a Hollywood Nobody." Claire is the talented sister of the phenomenal singer-songwriter Julia Fordham, who recently welcomed her first baby into the world. ...

This fall marks the 58th anniversary of Memphis's famed WDIA Radio, the home of soul music. It's just released an outstanding compilation of music and comedy, some of which features Rufus Thomas , on a two-CD set called "WDIA: History, The Music, The Legend."

You can pick it up on Amazon.com or read it about at www.am1070wdia.com. Among the many gems: rare releases from The Climates, a Memphis group that is just about to put out its first album in about 40 years. This is real R&B. Anthony Hamilton, Alicia Keys, John Legend, take note. WDIA is where it all began. ...

Last: Happy birthday to famed documentary filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker. 'Penny' — as he is known — celebrates his 80th today. Of course, he looks at least two decades younger, so no one believes it!

Pennebaker, who I think deserves an honorary Oscar, along with fellow documentarians Richard Leacock and Albert Maysles, has given us "The War Room," "Don't Look Back," "Monterey Pop" and "Moon Over Broadway," not to mention the Emmy he won last year with his partner and wife Chris Hegedus for "Elaine Stritch: At Liberty." (The pair also made a film I co-produced: "Only the Strong Survive.")

On Sunday, Penny's eight kids and countless other relatives and friends will regale him with a gala in Sag Harbor. It's the hottest party of the weekend, and Paris Hilton is not invited.

In the next couple of months, Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue will devote its windows to Pennebaker, inspired by his landmark 1953 short film called "Daybreak Express." And don't miss a forthcoming piece about Pennebaker and Hegedus on National Public Radio. ...

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