Originally written as a young-adult series of novels, the “Twilight” saga has turned into a cultural phenomenon spanning generations across the globe that has spawned movies and boatloads of merchandise.
Late Thursday night at theaters across the country, the pull of the supernatural soap opera drew fans to midnight screenings of “New Moon,” the second movie based on the books.
“I understand, because it’s such a good book and such a good movie,” said 13-year-old Emily Allen, of Laurel.
Emily and two friends, Rylee Schultz, 13, and Emily Haskill, 12, joined hundreds of other people at Carmike Shiloh 14 for a midnight screening of the movie, which focuses on teenage humans and their relationships with vampires and werewolves in the Pacific Northwest. While there wasn’t much of a line by 10:30 p.m. — about 75 people huddled inside the theater’s spacious entryway — Shiloh 14 had sold 900 tickets, out of 1,700, for the screening, which was being shown on a dozen screens, by 5 p.m.
Emily, Rylee and Emily started reading the books late last year and caught the Twilight bug. But it doesn’t just apply to teenagers. Judy Morgan, a grandmother who lives in Billings, came with her daughter and daughter-in-law because she’s read the series about a half-dozen times.
“The way the author wrote them, I love the way she did it,” Morgan said.
Even before people started lining up for the movie, “New Moon” mania had hit Billings. After school ended Thursday, 175 students attended a “Twilight”-themed party in the Senior High library.
“It’s still a very, very popular series and we love to be able to tie into popular culture things that tie into books,” said head librarian Lyn McKinney.
As for the series’ draw on teenagers, that’s simple.
“The main characters are high school-aged,” she said. “What really struck me was how authentic they are as far as describing the school setting, describing how kids feel. I think they can really relate to all of that.”
While fans waited to get in, Carrie Rigney, a representative from United Blood Services, talked to them about ways to donate blood. UBS gave out about 70 tickets to donors and one of its mobile donation centers was parked outside the theater.
“We feel this is a great way to educate a younger generation about donating blood,” she said.
New Moon is the second movie based on Stephanie Meyer’s four-novel “The Twilight Saga.” Twilight, the first film, has grossed more than $380 million worldwide, earning almost $70 million on its Nov. 2008 opening weekend, and has been the top selling DVD of 2009 so far.
According to a Thursday Los Angeles Times article, New Moon is expected to gross about $90 million. It is showing in4,024 theaters this weekend, and about 87 percent of them scheduled midnight screenings.