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Harry Potter trailer leaked early

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Industrious, Internet-enabled Harry Potter fans managed to get a sneak preview of a sneak preview of the trailer for the latest movie in the Potter series Wednesday evening. The trailer for the third entry in J.K. Rowling’s series, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” was supposed to make its debut at movie theaters Friday night. Instead, links to video started popping up all over the Internet at around dinner time East Coast time.

IT’S NOT CLEAR how the movie trailer got into the hands of Internet fans, but many Potter sites say the file was posted on Warner Brother’s own Web site on Wednesday. The file was quickly removed, but not before it had been copied by viewers, who then made it available on other Web sites. Links to the video, a hefty download at about 14 megabytes, were then plastered on Harry Potter fan sites.

As a choir of Hogwarts students sing “something wicked this way comes,” the 90-second trailer quickly flashes through key scenes in the “Prisoner of Azkaban” storyline: Harry is whisked away by the Knight Bus that comes to the aid of wandering wizards, the notorious prisoner Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) escapes from Azkaban, Neville dresses potions master Snape (or a magical image of him, anyway) in woman’s clothes and the creepy soul-sucking Dementors make their first appearance. Another highlight is Michael Gambon as Dumbledore. In the trailer, at least, Gambon appears to eerily resemble the late Richard Harris, who played the role in the first two films.

Potter fans were ecstatic about the early glimpse.

“Love it!!! love it!! Love it!! Can’t wait, summer is too far away!!” said one fan, posting comments on, which posted links to the video. “I think I just died and went to Heaven.

“I love everything about that wonderful trailer, the music included,” said another.

B.K. DeLong, who operates The-Leaky-Cauldron, said there never was an obvious link to the movie on Warner Bros. site. But he was able to figure out the location of the trailer file at about 3 p.m. ET today, simply by altering the file name from the trailer for the second movie.

“Basically, all I did was change HP2 to HP3 ... and it worked. It was too easy,” he said. “If they really wanted to keep it from people, they wouldn’t have made it that easy.”

DeLong didn’t know how long the file was posted on Warner Bros. site, but he said it was taken down soon after he placed a link on his Web site.

“They noticed the traffic,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Warner Bros. said she hadn’t heard that the trailer had leaked onto the Internet, but she hadn’t yet had a chance to discuss the issue with the company’s anti-piracy team.

For those who haven’t seen it on the Internet, the trailer is to be fed to theaters by satellite on Friday. The movie itself is not scheduled for release until next summer — June 4 according to the leaked trailer.