Steve Daly
March 19, 2007 AT 10:41 PM EDT

Holy Hogwarts! Is it true that Emma Watson, 16-year-old child star of the Harry Potter films, will not be coming back for the final two installments of the multi-billion-dollar-grossing movie franchise?That’s what more than one British tabloid reported over this past weekend. But, as with stories filed by the hideous journalist character Rita Skeeter in the Potter books, the so-called “news” about Watson turns out to be untrue.

Watson plays the spirited, super-talented young witch Hermione Granger — the girl who, along with Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), is best pals with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe). The kerfuffle over Watson’s alleged defection blew up into a bit of a media circus after several tabloids, including News of the World, claimed in print and online that Watson was definitely nixing the last two films. But within hours, Warner Bros. spokesfolks had countered this so-called news, telling the BBC’s website that the movie studio is “extremely confident that Emma will be back for films six and seven.” A contact at the movie production company confirms to EW that final details of Emma’s agreement simply are not quite ready yet, but that it’s very likely she’ll have that settled shortly. (Meantime, costars Dan Radcliffe and Rupert Grint are all set for films 6 and 7.)

addCredit(“Emma Watson: Dave Hogan/Getty Images”)

What’s behind Watson being the last of the three kids to sign on thedotted line, as she’s done on earlier films? The care she’s taking tonurture her educational future, most likely. She turns 17 in April, andshe reportedly did terrifically well on exams last spring that couldplace her in a top university this fall. But the sixth Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,is scheduled to go before cameras starting in September. Watson islegally only allowed to work 4 hours per weekday until she is 18 yearsold, so the shooting schedule on Half-Blood Prince, as with all the earlier Potter films, is likely to take 8 to 10 months.

The seventh and final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,comes out this July, but the movie version of it wouldn’t begin filminguntil at least fall of 2008.That means that by agreeing to finish out the films, Watson has tojuggle shooting demands with school until at least the fall of 2009,when she’ll be 19. (Costar Grint, who’s already 18, has said he has noplans to go on to university. Harry Potter himself, Dan Radcliffe, hasalready completed the equivalent of US high school, and took this yearoff from studies. He may or may not begin university part-time whilestill filming the finale of the series.)

So, Potter fans, if you were Emma Watson, what would you do? Wouldyou quit the movies to go to college unencumbered? Would you just makeboth work at once, as Watson appears poised to do? Would it really beso bad if Hermione did have to be replaced in the last two films? Afterall, they’ve already had two Dumbledores. Get those quills scribblingand weigh in. Meantime, don’t believe everything you read in a Britishtabloid.

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