Harry Potter and the big hype
Story in full HARRY Potter fans have been given a sneak preview of the latest movie with the release of the first stills from Order of the Phoenix, the fifth film in the series based on JK Rowling's books.
In one image, Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who plays the young wizard, is seen crouching in an grimy alleyway as he attempts to defend himself from an attack by the Dementors.
In another, Imelda Staunton, who plays Dolorees Umbridge, the latest teacher of the dark arts, stands in Hogwarts school wearing a pink tweed poncho. Maggie Smith, as Minerva McGonagall, clasps her arms round Emma Thompson, looking uncharacteristically frumpy as Sybil Trelawny.
David Bradley is also back as Argus Filch, the caretaker and bane of Harry's existence, in a role he has played since Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 2001.
The images are the first officially sanctioned stills from the film, which is set for release next July. Their release comes just weeks after Warner Brothers executives fought to remove grainy home video from the internet showing Radcliffe and his co-stars Rupert Grint and Emma Watson filming a scene at King's Cross station in London.
British settings for the film have ranged from the Leavesden Studios near Watford to a Buckinghamshire park where the village of "Hogsmeade" was created. The movie has also been shot at locations in Scotland including Glenfinnan, Glencoe and Glen Etive.
Tantalisingly, there was nothing offered of Harry's first kiss with Cho Chang, his fellow Hogwarts pupil played by Katie Leung, the 18-year-old actress born in Motherwell. Crew members who have worked on all five films looked on sentimentally as the two played out the scene - again and again.
"We probably got it on the 30th take. My God, it was fun," said Radcliffe recently. "We were awkward and nervous at first but once we got it, it was fine."
Nor was there any news of Helena Bonham-Carter, who has been enlisted in her first Potter film to play Bellatrix Lestrange, a fanatical "death eater" devotee of the evil Lord Voldemort.
Grint is again at Radcliffe's side as the teen wizard Ron. Now 18, and fresh from premiering his film Driving Lessons in Edinburgh, he insists he will see out the Potter films in the part. Watson returns as their friend Hermione, having recently earned straight As in her GCSEs.
The other returning talent includes Robbie Coltrane, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman and Julie Walters.
George Harris, who appeared in the British gangster film Layer Cake, will make his first appearance in the Potter film franchise as the wizard Kingsley Shacklebolt.
Closely watched will be the performance of Evanna Lynch, 14, who was picked from among 15,000 candidates in a contest to play Harry's ally Luna Lovegood.
For the latest episode in the seven-story series, Warner Brothers is gambling on a British director, David Yates, whose background is in television films such as The Girl in the Caf, Sex Traffic and State of Play.
The sixth instalment in the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, is to follow in November 2008.
• J.K Rowling official website: www.jkrowling.com
• Warner Brothers Harry Potter website: harrypotter.warnerbros.com