By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated July 22, 2002 12:00 PM

The successor to “Harry Potter” movie director Chris Columbus has been discovered. He will be Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron, who is set to take over the viewfinder on “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” the third installment in the movie series about the boy wizard, reports Variety. Production is due to begin in England by the spring of 2003, with release set for the summer of 2004. Cuaron, 40, who had been widely rumored to be in the running for the job, is best known for directing last year’s intelligent and sexy coming-of-age film “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” as well as the widely admired 1995 children’s classic “A Little Princess,” based on the much-read novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Of course, hardly any book is as widely read as those in J.K. Rowling’s “Potter” series, and the author reportedly exercises a strong hand in the movie adaptations of her works. (Critics ran lukewarm on “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” when it was released last Thanksgiving, suggesting that it could have been more cinematic rather than so restrictively faithful to its source.) Columbus, 43, who directed “Sorcerer’s Stone” and the upcoming “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” has said that he and his family are tired of living in England, where the movies are filmed, though he will remain attached to the series as one of the producers.