The 'Twilight' at midnight experience: tears, screams, heavy medication

Thursday Evening: We’re going to see the midnight opening of New Moon. The theater is already half full at 10 pm. Lots of teenagers, lots of females. High school-ers are snapping pictures of each other. The girls sitting in front of us are watching the first Twilight on an iPhone. Across the aisle, a teenage blonde girl in sneakers reaches into her purse and starts counting prescription pill bottles: “One. Two. Three. Four. Controlled. Controlled.”  The girl behind her (a brunette in boots) opens her own purse. “I have five,” she says. Teenagers are weird.

The theater is selling T-shirts by the snack stand: Team Edward (Rob Pattinson wearing his constipated James Dean frown) and Team Jacob (Taylor Lautner modeling his cocky roid-rage sneer.) Me: “I’m from Entertainment Weekly. Which shirt is selling more?” Theater employee: “We’re actually not allowed to talk to anybody from the media.” You and everyone who works on Avatar, dude!

Two hours race by. The theater reaches capacity. The lights go down. You can immediately tell that this is one of those Great American Midnight Opening Night audiences: A gang of teen girls chant “Edward! Edward!” How energetic was the crowd? They even yelled during the previews. And based on that yelling, I conceive three grand sweeping cultural theories:

1. Pierce Brosnan is Sean Connery for people born in the ’90s: he appears in two previews, and gets a big applause both times.

2. As far as teenagers are concerned, Steve Martin is a bigger star than Alec Baldwin or Meryl Streep; he gets all the laughs during the It’s Complicated trailer.

3. Something called Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is going to be a monstrous hit, because the applause that follows the preview is deafening.

Finally, New Moon begins. The Summit Entertainment logo flashes onscreen. People cheer. (Let’s be fair: we used to do the same thing for the LucasFilm logo.) The first couple of scenes are greeted with hushed silence, as if the audience can barely believe they’re finally watching this movie. Then Rob Pattinson strolls toward the camera through the school parking lot, in slow-motion. Loud applause, cheering, and I think I hear someone crying.

Curiously, though, that first scene is the peak of the night for Edward. As pretty much everyone knows (SPOILER ALERT for anyone who lives under a rock), Edward takes off about 20 minutes into the movie, and most of the second act is devoted to Jacob’s transformation from a non-threatening 15-year-old with Christian rock hair into a perpetually shirtless action hero with a magical Native American werewolf gene.

In the process, Jacob completely makes the audience forget about Edward. The turning point comes after Bella has fallen off her motorcycle, and is bleeding from her forehead. “It’s just blood, no big deal,” says Jacob, who nonchalantly pulls off his shirt. Readers, there are screams!

And that’s just the prologue. The first time we see Jacob in his wolfpack uniform (shorts, shoes, no shirt, standing in the rain with steam literally rising from his body), the scene in the theater is like those old Beatles concert films, with girls descending into paroxysms of panic-attack joy. It’s becoming clear that we’ll only hear half the dialogue in any scene featuring Shirtless Jacob.

By the time (another SPOILER ALERT) Jacob and Bella have a soap operatic almost-kiss, the audience has decisively turned to Team Jacob. “Yes! Do it!” screams one lady. “Auuugh!” screams another. Edward can’t compete: when he takes his shirt off during a climactic moment in Italy, the theater is silent, except for one teenager speaking for all of us: “No, that’s nothing!”

The midnight audience loves the movie and applauds when it’s all over, but I definitely sense some minor disappointment with (SPOILER ALERT again) Bella’s final choice of male companion. Does this represent a sea change, Twilight fans? Are there any Edwardians out there who changed their allegiance after this movie to Team Jacob? And does anyone else have any good stories from a midnight show?

Comments (72 total) Add your comment
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  • Darcelle Jones

    God damn — this is a good review. Atmospheric. Nabakovian.

  • Bee

    My experience was very, very similar. Everyone was excited for Robert at his first appearance, and then it was the Taylor show from then on!

    • BilbrosB4Hos

      That happened in mine too, was shocked that there was so much ruckus for Jacob, but then Edward took his shirt off in Volterra, total silence!

      • kristine

        Yes, same here. In the theatre everyone was a bit shocked and then cheered the first time Jacob showed his abs :lol As much as I have always loved edward, I am not surprised that he didn’t get any hoopla when he showed himself in the sunlight.

  • James

    In the UK, I have to say our film screenings are generally very reserved affairs. While I have heard of this sort of mass hysteria at films in the states, I’ve never witnessed it for a UK film release – our midnight screenings usually won’t sell out one whole screen, and if it does, its like the biggest film ever.

    Last night, my local cinema sold out 14 screens at midnight, and every screening today (there were 12) was also sold out.

    I went earlier today, and literally, you could HEAR the collective gasp as Jacob tears off his shirt at the bike crash.

    And the collective glee at the scene in the cinema was equally epic.

    I went in expecting to HATE this movie – I really disliked Twilight, and only sorta liked the book. But I didnt. It wasnt a masterpiece, and if I was to have seen it on my own I’d probably have hated it.

    But purely for the atmosphere…this movie was worth seeing, and it actually felt QUITE good. Like I say, not amazing, but nothing like the massacre of filmdom I was expecting

  • Carrie

    My university rented a theater for us so we got to see the film at 6:30pm on Thursday and the audience was hilarious throughout. You could tell where the “teams” were sitting and when Taylor took off his shirt the first time the audience broke into cheers and clapping no joke! And speaking as a die hard team Edward fan, even I couldn’t help but drool over Jacob, and Edwards topless appearance in Italy just couldn’t overthrow it!

    • kristine

      I know, I have always been an edward fan and thought edward exposing himself in the sunlight would trump any scene just like it did when I read the book. But jacob was so distractingly cut that I couldn’t help but drool as well :lol

  • Heather

    Girls on team jacob, let Bella have Edward, Jacob is free for you all then.

  • raingods

    Good God, what a sad commentary on today’s society that crap like this gets so much attention and publicity.

  • Marlene

    Great review, very amusing. I’m kind of on the fence about watching the movie in the theaters because the clips look kind of stupid. But I enjoyed the books. But I see the fun will be watching it with all the Twilight lovers!

  • soph

    I am a devout team Edward, and still am after the movie, but Jacob in the movie was SO good, i was worried id get bored with so much less Edward in this film, but Taylor & Kristen did such a great job, i forgot all about Edward until Alice showed up. But then seeing Rob, jumped right back on the Edward train. This has nothing to do with a shirtless comparison of the two, where Taylor would most definitely take the cake.

  • just my opinion

    we had a group of 20 or so moms and kids, and all thoroughly enjoyed it. And yes, there were definite converts to “team Jacob”…the funniest part was when Taylor took off his shirt the first time, moms throughout the theater let out a collective, deep sigh, even though we were all old enough to be his mom! Great time, great movie, fun experience with my kids and friends!

    • ghostwriter

      old enough to be his mom? yes you are creepy. that’s like your husband getting wood watching hannah montana

  • macy

    when i read it i just kept on reading it!!!!!!!!!!

  • macy


  • Snarf

    Much screaming with Edward, lots of “awwws” whenever Bella & Jacob hugged. As for Lautners shirtless scenes, which thankfully were many, I kept thinking he should have been wearing Abercrombie & Fitch underwear.

    • marissa :)

      i know!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • marissa :)

    i love the first movie so i will love the second

  • Amy

    I think it’s creepy that anyone of legal age is lusting after someone not yet of legal age. Openly lusting! Ick.

    Thankfully the girls at our theater didn’t scream or cry during the movie. Hopefully people realize that not ALL Twilight fans are unable to control themselves.

    Eclipse is my favorite book and as such, I can not wait for June. Seven months to go!

    • Nona

      Um but yet it’s ok in society for men to lust after teenage girls. least with the women they wont actively try to pursue those lusts. Ever watch Dateline….I don’t recall seeing any women getting busted for soliciting a minor.

      • Paul

        who says it’s okay for men to lust after teenage girls? it’s just your imaginations lady; creepy things are creepy things, just because many men do that it doesnt make it okay. Glad women are not following men into this hell.

      • Anony

        Maybe you should take a look at the National Sex Registry! There are women who pursue underage guys. In fact, there was Mary LeTourneau, a few teachers over the past years.

      • Anony

        correction “National Sex Offenders Registry” aka Megan’s Law

      • dave

        Nona, maybe you missed that little story Taylor Lautner told earlier this week about a middle-aged woman asking him if she could take off her Team Jacob underwear so he could sign it. Creepy and completely inappropriate.

    • Philboy

      Hey Amy,
      BTW less than 3 months until Taylor is of legal age. Most women are counting the days!

    • ghostwriter

      totally agree a woman lusting over a boy (literally a boy) is appalling. screaming for a guy taking his shirt off? I have never been at a movie where a girl gets undressed and all the guys moan and certainly not for a underaged girl

      • Paul

        haha yeah, they just get wood in their pants, no screaming and stuff.

  • CaliGirl

    I had a very similar experience. I missed a ton of dialog from all of the screaming in the theatre (1300 people). While waiting outside for them to open the doors, people were acting out scenes from Twilight – one guy even climbed a tree and quoted lines from the meadow scene – and people waved cardboard cutouts in the air, while everyone screamed when camera crews showed up to capture the moment. All in all it was a fun experience, even if I did miss portions of the film.

    • ghostwriter

      twihards make trekkies and star wars nerds look cool

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