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Magic, Wizardry, Witchcraft Return to the Big Screen

By Ed Brock

James Dinkins and his friend Jonathan Wheeler are ready to go back to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry with Harry Potter and his friends.

"They have a game called ?quiddage' and they get to do spells on people," 10-year-old Wheeler said.

"I like how they do spells," Dinkins, 11, added.

"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," the third movie based on the series of best-selling children's books by J.K. Rowling, opens on Friday. The AMC Southlake Pavilion 24 theater is expecting big crowds and plans to play the movie on five screens, AMC spokesman Rick King said, starting with a midnight showing tonight if the crowds are big enough.

"We'll have extra staff on duty for the weekend and we're popping lots of popcorn," King said.

In the third movie Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) must once again escape the torments of his non-magical, or "muggle," caretakers, the Dursleys, to return to the magical world of Hogwarts. This time his menace is the wizard Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) who has escaped from Azkaban prison and who was apparently the one who led Harry's archenemy, the evil wizard Lord Voldemort to Harry's parents who were killed in the ensuing battle. They say he means to do Harry in as well.

Wheeler, of Atlanta, and Dinkins, who lives in Hampton, are members of a book club that meets once a month at the Barnes & Nobles book store on Mt. Zion Road in Morrow. The members of the club love the books, said James' mother Victoria Dinkins, who organized the club and who plans to take members of the club to see the movie on Friday.

"I think it's really exciting when books like this are made into movies," Victoria Dinkins said. "It helps them see what the characters and scenes look like."

Both boys also said that they like the movies better than the books because, as James said, "They're more visual."

And they ready for some differences in this movie. There are some new characters, like Oldman's character, Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher Professor Remus Lupin played by David Thewlis and Divination Professor Sibyll Trelawney (Emma Thompson). Also, the actors playing the lead characters, Radcliffe as Harry and Rupert Grint and Emma Watson as his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, have grown older.

Perhaps the most noticeable difference will be that a different actor, Michael Gambon, will be taking over the role as Hogwarts' Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, played in the first two movies by the now deceased Richard Harris.

Both boys will certainly know the difference, Victoria Dinkins said, but James and Jonathan said it wouldn't make a difference to them.

"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" is rated PG for "frightening moments, creature violence and mild language," according to the press information on the film.