EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 16, 2008

GATHERING 'TWILIGHT'

Fans gearing up for saga's big-screen debut

By Rosemary Ford

How hot is "Twilight"?

How many films do you know that inspire a near riot?

Last Monday, 3,000 fans showed up at a San Francisco mall to see Robert Pattinson.

The virtually unknown 22-year-old British actor is starring in "Twilight," which opens Friday, as the steamy vampire Edward Cullen.

Pattinson was at the mall to sign T-shirts for the first 500 fans. But a shoving match at the mall — leading girls to get trampled and one to break her nose — led the event to be cancelled.

If you're not a teenage girl, you might not have heard about the "Twilight" saga. The New York Times best-selling romances by Stephenie Meyer have sold 17 million copies worldwide. That's far below the 400 million copies the seven "Harry Potter" books have sold, but still quite respectable.

Though its fans may not equal Potter-heads in numbers, they definitely equal fans of any series in terms of their devotion. And that passion extends to the Merrimack Valley as well.

Haverhill 13-year-old Rosemary Kann has followed every development about the film online, and has already purchased tickets to see "Twilight" later this week.

"Everyone I know has read the books and can't wait to see the movies," Rosemary said.

Many fans have already weighed in on the film based on the few trailers that have been released. While sentiment was originally mixed over the casting, most have warmed up to Pattinson and his costar and love interest Kristen Stewart, the actress last seen in "Into the Wild" who plays Bella.

"I think it's going to be amazing," said 18-year-old Gwendolynn Scott of Lawrence. "They are so into what the fans want."

Over the last few weeks, new Web sites and forums have exploded with interest, adding to the film's buzz even among those who haven't yet read the books, according to fan Amber Lucas of Newton, N.H.

"I have even convinced two guys to read 'Twilight,'" the 20-year-old said.

National Amusements spokeswoman Wanda Whitson couldn't release advance sales figures for the chain, whose theaters include the Showcase Cinema Lawrence. But she did say that fans have been vocal about wanting to the see the film as soon as possible.

"For several months, we have been receiving requests for information about the film and if we were planning midnight screenings," Whitson said. "After all, what better time than midnight to see a vampire movie? Advance ticket sales are showing great promise for a strong box office."

In addition to Showcase Cinema Lawrence, the AMC Loews theater at The Loop in Methuen and the Apple Tree Cinema in Londonderry, N.H. are planning midnight showings of "Twilight."

According to national movie ticket retailer Fandango.com, hundreds of screenings have already sold out for the film nationwide.

"Ticket sales for 'Twilight' are outpacing those of 'High School Musical 3' at the same point in the film's sales cycle on Fandango," said company spokesman Harry Medved. "Currently, the film accounts for 58 percent of all sales on (our) site."

About the books:

"Twilight" (2005)

About a lonely girl, Bella, who moves to the misty town of Forks, Wash., to live with her dad. She meets and falls in love with a vampire named Edward, described as the most beautiful man ever. Edward has been dead nearly 100 years, and attending high school with his "sibling" vampires for the last three. They've given up dining on humans in favor of animals. However, just as things heat between Edward and Bella, another vampire comes into the picture trying to make her his latest meal.

"New Moon" (2006)

Bella and Edward continue their romance, until Edward realizes that being around his family is too dangerous for Bella. He breaks up with Bella, sending her into a downward spiral of depression.

"Eclipse" (2007)

Edward and Bella are back together. They plan for graduation and eventual marriage while trying to eliminate a new threat.

"Breaking Dawn" (2008)

Edward and Bella get married, and embark on their life together as the undead.

With an unforseen consequence from their wedding night throwing a wrench in their plans, Edward, Bella and their vampire family must face a new threat to secure their future.