“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” Premiere in New York City
We had them. After weeks of phone calls and emails, we had tickets to the world premiere of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
I’ll skip the logistics of getting there (12-hour drive from Chicago to New York City) and begin my report on the day of the event.
Sunday, May 23 – Prisoner of Azkaban World Premiere
We (we being myself, my mother, my brother Dylan, and my cousin Kristin) arrived at our hotel at about 10 a.m. We dumped off our stuff, did some sightseeing, and decided to swing by Radio City Music Hall – where the premiere was to be held – to see if anything was going on yet. There was. 1,500 fans were already camped out and screaming at anything that moved. Many of them had made signs, T-shirts, and even a Dementor!
We ate, did some more sightseeing, and went back to the hotel. At 12:15, we grabbed our gear and headed down to the Hall again. The crowd had easily doubled in size since our last visit, which I could tell from the roar I heard even as I was several blocks away.
I met up with Mike (who owns the #1 Eragon site, Shurtugal.com, and is now also working for MuggleNet), who had enthusiastically agreed to do the filming for me.
We had printed 250 MuggleNet stickers for the event and I had given them all out within 20 minutes of arriving. Feeding off the crowd’s energy, I thought it was a perfect time to try to get another wave going, like I had in London for the Book 5 release last summer. So I went in the street and ran/hopped along in front of the railing, gesturing with my arms, trying to get hands in the air. It worked… sort of. I think there was a bit of confusion as to what I was trying to get the crowd to do and half of them threw their hands up and the other half just screamed as I went by. They must have thought I was just trying to get them to make some noise. Which they did. A lot of it. All day.
About 10 minutes later, I did it again, and we got this one on video. Like the last one, it was only partially successful. Either way, it was fun.
It was now 1:30 and press check-in was at 2, so I needed to go back to the hotel and dress. I was told I should dress nice, so I had on black dress pants and a blue dress shirt. It was 90 degrees out, and when I got there, I realized I was just a little overdressed, but I couldn’t know that. I went up to the Warner Bros. hospitality suite like I was supposed to, and Christine of WB told me that we needed to go down to the Hall to get our passes and tickets.
When we got there, it was a zoo.
There were cops everywhere blocking the street and they wouldn’t let me anywhere near the press table. I flexed my muscles and gave them a steely-eyed Steven Segal look, but they didn’t seem frightened and I didn’t want to hurt them. I remembered that I had Darren’s, the WB rep’s, cell, so I rang him up and he came over and waved the cops away. I slipped into the media pit with the other reporters and waited for Mike; he’d had to run to his hotel to change. When he came, the cops wouldn’t let him in either, so I ran out to get him in. There wasn’t any room for us to squeeze into our official station – hot and crowded. Fortunately, the two girls from DanRadcliffe.com in front of me were short and we were able to do everything over the tops of their heads. We got the camcorder hooked up and waited for the Escalades and the limos to roll in.
Each of the stars went from spot to spot down the red carpet. I asked most of them a question (or two), some of them I didn’t, but we got some excellent footage all the same. I want to put together something special with our video after the London premiere, so stay tuned.
After Dan – the last one – went inside, we packed up our gear and followed him in. In a bit of state of shock, we found our seats (we had perfect ones) and got comfortable, waiting for the movie to begin. We didn’t have long to wait. The lights dimmed and Time Warner CEO Alan Horn came onto the stage to make a speech. He introduced the cast and crew in attendance, and they strode onto the stage. It was interesting to observe the independent ways each of them acknowledged the crowd: Some, like Emma Watson, blew kisses, and others, like Jamie Waylett, just waved shyly.
They took their seats and the curtains opened. Showtime.
After the movie ended, we waited for the swell of the crowd to die down before we got up to leave. On the way out, I saw Alfonso Cuarón sitting quietly by himself. As I walked past him, I caught his eye and said softly, “Thank you, Alfonso. You did us proud.” He beamed back. During the movie, the audience had clapped and cheered at all the right times. I could see he was genuinely happy to see that his film had been so well accepted. Harry Potter fans are a tough crowd.
On the way back to the hotel, I stopped off at an Internet café and made a quick news post to announce my enthusiasm for the film.
Monday, May 24 – The Prisoner of Azkaban Press Junket
Today, there would be roundtable interviews with Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid), Alfonso Cuarón (director), and the three producers, David Heyman, Chris Columbus, and Mark Radcliffe. And then later, a press conference with Dan Radcliffe and Emma Watson.
There were about 8–9 journalists present in the room that had been designated for online media. I sat down next to Melissa from the Leaky Cauldron. I also met Geri from HPANA. Both wonderful people.
— Transcripts for all of these interviews coming soon, thanks to Geri and Melissa and not me, who only had enough tape for one interview. —
At 2:15, Robbie Coltrane walked in. (Yes, they were a little delayed.) For several minutes, he chatted with one reporter about iPods and other cool gadgets he likes, and then Melissa pulled an Umbridge and hem hemed him into getting back on topic. After all, we only had 20 minutes with him. Some of the questions asked by the others in the room were so dull I actually found myself tuning out from time to time, but Robbie fielded them like a pro.
Alfonso Cuarón came in next and we got right to business. Most of his time was eaten up with general questions from one of the non-Harry Potter-fan reporters in the room, but we did get a few good questions in.
There was another delay. 20 minutes later, the producers’ publicist came in and told us, “Five minutes.” Things were really running behind – Dan and Emma still had a press conference to do before their appearance on TRL. Fortunately, in that short time, we were able to get some good insight from Heyman, who talked openly about the Ron/Hermione “thing” that’s going on. I stayed back because I needed to ask Chris Columbus what the chances were of him directing any future films. (“A” chance, not a “good” chance.) David Heyman held the door for me on the way out – a class act.
I rode in the elevator with David and Chris to the first floor, and we walked into the conference room. My Mother was in there, making friends with everybody, as is her style, and she told me she had saved me a seat. (Second row – thanks, Mum!) Dan and Emma were chatting nearby. I was really surprised at how relaxed this event was security-wise. I didn’t have to go through any security checkpoints or flash my press pass at all. I don’t even recall seeing any security guards, although I’m sure they were there in full force with their Disillusionment Charms on.
The press conference was uneventful. There were some unique ones, but most of the questions were the same ones we hear in every interview. Most of the questions were very open-ended and difficult to answer, and although Dan answered most of them, he and Emma complemented each other well.
When the conference was over, they were rushed out of the room and into their limos. TRL would be on in just a few minutes, and they needed to hurry so as to not be late.
We stayed and chatted for a little while and then went out with Melissa to this great pizza place. With us both being blatant Ron/Hermione shippers, we, of course, spent the whole time plotting and scheming, brainstorming ways to convert the few remaining Harry/Hermione’ers. Just kidding. TLC editor Megan Morrison stopped by later, and I was able to meet her as well.
When we were stuffed and I had explained that I didn’t know how it was possible for a not-wide person like me to eat an entire large pizza by myself, we said our goodbyes and parted ways. My dad picked us up, and I’m typing this from my cousins’ house in New Jersey.
I’d just like to take a moment to thank Don Varda for letting me use his “real” camera and Darren from Warner Bros. for putting up with me and allowing me to participate in this wonderful event. I learned a lot and had a great time.
London, here I come!