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Bay Area workers hustled all week in transporting ‘Harry Potter’ to theaters

The Associated Press
Saturday November 17, 2001

UNION CITY — As would-be wizards hustled this week to track down tickets for “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” warehouse workers were hustling to deliver the film to theaters in hundreds of hefty metal canisters in time for its premiere. 

In Northern California, a pair of warehouses were abuzz as workers sorted and labeled all nine reels of the 2 1/2 hour-long film to prevent the calamity of theaters receiving two endings and no beginning, or vice versa. It took extra hours to load the canisters into vans that sped through the state to get the film out by Thursday night. 

“I’ve never seen anything anywhere near to this,” Dan Emmrich, a local film delivery man with 32 years in the business, told the Contra Costa Times. “I lost more sleep Sunday and Monday just worrying if everything was going to be in on time.” 

Emmrich, 46, helps run his family’s Theatre Transit Company, the largest movie delivery business in Northern California that was charged with delivering 372 copies of the Harry Potter film to 100 theaters. 

At Entertainment Transportation Services, the region’s largest film distribution center, workers also were exhausted by week’s end. 

“We had to work full days last Saturday and Sunday and I came in a couple of days at 4:30 a.m.,” said ETS general manager Mitch Morgan. “It’s killing me.” 

A record 3,672 theaters will splash the boy wizard’s adventures on their screens this weekend, breaking the previous record of 3,653 for “Mission: Impossible 2.” And it will play on a record-shattering 8,200 movie screens, about 1,600 more than “Mission: Impossible 2” and “Shrek,” the previous widest film releases. There are about 36,000 movie screens nationwide. 

All the extra hours were the result of unprecedented orders from theater managers and the size of the film. The nine reels come packed in three canisters that weight about 100 pounds. Emmrich said a typical delivery has him lugging nearly a quarter-ton of Pottermania between his van and the theater lobby.