Debunking a Rumor: Stuart Baird Not Slated to Direct Fifth “Harry Potter” Film
December 17th, 2003
For all it has done to transform the modern landscape, the Internet can sometimes still resemble the children’s game of “Telephone.” Take the recent case of rumors circulating that director Stuart Baird would helm the fifth installment of the “Harry Potter” franchise, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." So how did this happen and what is the reaction from Warner Bros., the distributor of the film?
The rumor began circulating when Baird’s name was suddenly found on the "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" page at the Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com), with Baird's name there since at least December 14. Since that time, a half-dozen news articles – along with speculation found on many a film message board – have appeared.
Baird is known as the director for the box office bomb “Star Trek: Nemesis,” as well as 1998’s “U.S. Marshals” and 1996’s “Executive Decision.” In addition, he has served as the editor of more than 20 films, dating back to 1975. He has been twice nominated for an Academy Award, in the category of best editing, for 1988’s “Gorilla in the Mist” and 1978’s “Superman: The Movie.” He has also earned the distinction of being the first director of a "Star Trek" movie not to come from North America.
The reaction from the press department at Warner Bros.?: “We are not even thinking about a director for the fifth film yet...we have not started the fourth film. No choices have been made at this time and it's too early for any type of official statement.”
Another person from within Warner Bros., who asked that he not be named: “I haven’t heard that name mentioned internally, and, with the interest and talent interested in directing the franchise, I really doubt they would bring in someone whose last film killed off the “Star Trek” franchise, although it was hardly his fault alone.”
And another person, who also asked not to be named and perhaps put it the most succinctly: “Not happening.”
Released in bookstores this past June, “Order of the Phoenix” is expected to hit cinema screens in June 2007. In April, Chris Columbus – the director of the first two films – told the BBC that he is considering returning to the franchise with this fifth movie.
So how could something like this happen? IMDB.com is mainly a user-generated information database. As the site says in its Frequently Asked Questions area, “Though we do some active gathering of information, the bulk of our information is submitted by people in the industry and visitors…Given the sheer size (over 380,000 titles and 1.6 million names) and the nature of the information we list, which is often subject to change especially on yet-unreleased films or long-running TV series, occasional mistakes are inevitable and, when spotted/reported, they are promptly verified and fixed.”
As for how it came to be put on IMDB.com? That’s a mystery not even able to be solved by students at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.