'Twilight' fans gear up for 'Eclipse' premiere


Not since "Star Wars" has fandom been, well, so fanatical about a single movie, putting down stakes in the heart of L.A.'s asphalt jungle days ahead of a world premiere.

But an ever-swelling coterie of vampire lovers, most of them female, have been braving the California sun for days now to get the best chance of seeing the stars of "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" grace the red carpet at the Nokia Theatre on Thursday night.

Some 550 devotees among the thousand or so assembled downtown for this celebratory sleepover will be rewarded for their perseverance with guaranteed spots on the carpet.

"It's just worth seeing all the stars. They bring the characters that we love so much to life, so we want to see them in person and cheer them on," Yolanda Rodriguez, a 36-year-old unemployed graphic designer who came from San Francisco for the event, told Reuters.

The fans have festooned themselves on the concrete plaza of the L.A. Live entertainment complex, surrounded by blankets, tents, umbrellas and cardboard cutouts of the film's stars. Food vendors and trinket sellers are having a field day.

"Eclipse," which stars heart-throbs Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, opens nationally June 30 and is expected to inject much-needed blood into a slow-starting summer boxoffice. The first two installments of the franchise grossed $1.1 billion at the worldwide wickets and put indie producer-distributor Summit Entertainment on the map.

The fervor of the fans is already being compared to the frenzy that surrounded the Beatles when they hit America in the '60s.

"This gathering is the kind of promotion that money can't buy," one veteran marketing maven not connected to the movie said. "With all the cameras and commentary, it could turn the picture into a must-see event across the country, at least for the younger set."

On Tuesday night, Summit coordinated the entertainment downtown by having a San Fernando Valley concert featuring three artists on the "Eclipse" soundtrack -- Eastern Conference Champions, Cee-lo and Metric -- streamed live on the courtyard's big screen.

Also whetting the fans' appetites: A screening of "Twilight: New Moon" and a few of the actors mingling with the faithful.

One question will be how many young men during the long Fourth of July frame will be enticed to (or dragged along) to see the feature, which will be up against the likely more male-skewing "The Last Airbender."

The first two installments of the "Twilight" series grossed $69 million and $143 million, respectively, during their three-day weekend openings, both in November. "Eclipse" should better the latter number, and during its six-day opening frame (Wednesday through Monday) eclipse, as it were, the $200 million marker.

The six-day domestic record holder is Warner Bros.' "The Dark Knight" with $222 million.
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