Thousands of people headed to the theaters Thursday night to watch the biggest wedding of the year- and no it has nothing to do with the Kardashians.
“Breaking Dawn”, the first part of the final segment in the Twilight series, hit the box office with over 30 million dollars in profit from the midnight premier alone according to reuters.com.
Unable to escape the recent radio hype, I headed to Stadium 10 to see what the fuss was about. It was clear I wouldn’t be finding a parking spot anytime soon, as the entire parking lot in front of the theater, Ashley Furniture and Mad Pita was crammed with cars. A congregation of Christmas trees was set up smack in front of the box office, and an adorned arch and chairs facing the setup reminded me of a wedding ceremony- exactly what the theater had intended for the much-anticipated marriage of Bella and Edward Cullen.
A marathon of the Twilight saga began early Thursday evening, but just as I arrived at 10 p.m. I was swept into the unleashing crowds of grown women, young girls, and even husbands and boyfriends.
Tonya Jesienouski from Washington won two tickets to the Twilight marathon in a Facebook contest for Westates Theater.
“My daughter and I came together and it’s been a fun experience for us,” Jesienouski said. “The theater keeps it exciting.”
Jesienouski said the wedding scene I saw outside was the beginning of the day’s festivities, complete with Bella and Edward lookalikes, wedding vendors and dancing, even Edward and Bella cupcakes and heart-shaped candy.
Inside, a giveaway for a mattress was a big red and black canopy bed– Bella’s honeymoon bed they called it– complete with white feathers strewn about. To complete the feather theme, many Twi-hard fans wore “I was there when the feathers flew” t-shirts.
As the shirts suggest, the opening of Breaking Dawn was definitely a passionate affair.
Theater employee Jamie Singleton said people were getting in line at 8 a.m. Thursday morning, with a near 16-hour wait ahead of them.
“There were a good 200-300 of them out there this morning playing games, bringing huge groups of kids with them,” Singleton said. “They sat outside all day. They were troopers.”
Singleton said 2,600 movie tickets were sold, filling up all the theaters at Stadium 10 and Stadium 8 and one at Stadium 6 as well- 19 theaters in all.
It would seem that ticket sell-outs and limited seating would make Twi-hard fans nervous, but Singleton said the crowd seemed surprisingly unruffled.
“Lines are usually our biggest issue, but everybody’s been so well behaved, we haven’t had any problems,” she said. “After Harry Potter we started getting people in the theater early so they aren’t fight about places in line right before the show starts and it’s worked out well. We haven’t had problems with people getting upset.”
Charlee Phillips from St. George said “craziness” brought her to the midnight showing. She got in line around 10 p.m. to ensure her and her husband got a good seat.
“My husband likes it too, he just doesn’t want to admit it,” Phillips said. “I read all the books so I’d say I’m a fan, but we didn’t go to the events the theater put on– we’re not that big of a fan.”
Singleton said the theater events were a good way to get the community involved with the help of local businesses, radio stations and all the fans. Even local artist Shallow Day performed, singing the popular YouTube video “TWILIGHT (What Have You Done to My Wife?).”
With the anticipation of the Breaking Dawn release now behind them, Singleton said the theater staff is already planning for the release of Hunger Games in March.
“We were hoping for a lot of people so we’re definitely glad we got this many to come out,” she said. “Everybody has loved it. They’ve had a lot of fun.”