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Last Updated: Monday, 31 May, 2004, 05:32 GMT 06:32 UK
Potter casts new spell over UK
Fans at the European Harry Potter premiere in Leicester Square
Hundreds of fans gathered to glimpse the stars at the premiere
Hundreds of fans turned out for the European premiere of the new Harry Potter film, The Prisoner of Azkaban.

The film, directed by the Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron, was shown at the Odeon Leicester Square in London's West End.

Stars attending the event included Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley).

The premiere followed enthusiastic reviews for the film.

US fan Amy Sanmann, 20, from Oklahoma, said: "I've read all the books and it's really exciting.

"This is where the books are set so it's more real and special to be here."

Olivia Dixon, 15, from Hereford, said she was there to see the stars: "I love the films and I love the books. I want to see the people who make it.

Fans at the European Harry Potter premiere in Leicester Square
Some fans made every effort to get into the spirit of the film

"It's an amazing story and it's nice to see it on film."

And nine-year-old June Lovitt from Torquay said her favourite character was Hermione because "she's really brave and nice".

The film has been described as the best of the series so far, with a much darker atmosphere, a view shared by Watson who said it had a "cold, eerie feel to it".

Radcliffe told BBC News Online at the event that he could never get over the crowd reaction: "It's amazing, it's strange but great."

HAVE YOUR SAY
Well adapted for the big screen and with fantastic special effects
Lorna Mockus, Hailsham, England

For Gary Oldman, who plays Sirius Black, acting in the film had given him "street cred from every pore", he told BBC News Online.

He particularly found it strange that his own children were wearing T-shirts with his face on the back.

Sir Michael Gambon said the occasion was "overwhelming", adding: "I normally do quite cheap English films, and not one of them gets a premiere in Leicester Square."

Positive reviews

BBC News Online's review said it was "far darker in tone than its predecessors but still stays true to the spirit of the book, tempering its scarier moments with some of the most lavish visuals ever to grace the series".

On Friday, newspaper reviewers were universally positive, with The Times saying "you could spend weeks drooling over the artwork in a single scene".

The Daily Telegraph said: "Cuaron clearly wanted to make us feel we'd experienced a proper movie. He succeeded."

The film comes after speculation that the film's teenage stars may become too old to play their characters before the end of Rowling's seven-book series.

Harry Potter
Daniel Radcliffe is back as teenage wizard Harry Potter

In a press conference this week, star Radcliffe said the trio were making the fourth film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, with director Mike Newell, but things were not certain after that.

"I think it's hard for all three of us to look anywhere beyond that. Whatever happens in the future, I'm not sure yet," he said during a press conference.

Radcliffe tried to clarify the issue at the premiere on Sunday, by saying the producer was misquoted.

"What he actually said was there was a possibility they might not be there, but people went and said 'they're definitely not there at the end'."

Radcliffe also said earlier that he believed his character would die in the seventh book - even though Rowling has refused to divulge what happens at the end.

"I'm going to be really unpopular for saying this," he said, "but I've always had the suspicion that Harry might die."

"Harry and Voldemort have the same core in them, and the only way he could die is if Harry dies as well."




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Stephanie West
"The film has a lot to live up to at the box office"



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