Even before director Alfonso Cuarón wraps production on ''Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,'' director Mike Newell will start preparing the next installment, ''Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.'' Warner Bros. has confirmed the trade reports of a couple weeks ago that it has chosen Newell (''Four Weddings and a Funeral'') to helm the fourth Potter picture. The franchise's first British director, he'll start shooting in April 2004, working from a screenplay by Steve Kloves, who has adapted the three previous J.K. Rowling novels.
Cuarón has said he wanted to make just one ''Potter'' movie, and the franchise's production schedule made it too hard for him to finish ''Azkaban'' while preparing to shoot ''Goblet.'' Producer David Heyman said in a statement, ''When Alfonso made the decision to focus on completing 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,' we were faced with the daunting task of finding a director to handle the complex challenges of 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' and to follow in the footsteps of Chris Columbus and Alfonso Cuarón. Mike's rich and diverse body of work show him to be the perfect choice. He has worked with children, made us laugh, and had us sitting on the edge of our seats. He is great with actors and imbues all his characters, all his films, with great humanity. I'm thrilled.''
While Newell is best known for adult work (''Four Weddings,'' ''Donnie Brasco,'' this winter's ''Mona Lisa Smile,'' with Julia Roberts and Kirsten Dunst), the 61-year-old director has also made kid-friendly fare, including several installments of TV's ''The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles'' and the 1992 feature ''Into the West.'' It's still not clear whether Newell and the studio plan to shoehorn the voluminous ''Goblet'' into a single film, but Warners says the result will be in theaters in late 2005.