They were 99.9% sure they were going to love it.
The reason they were so certain was that, first, they had been standing in line under a bright shaft of beaming signs for hours at Universal CityWalk Cinemas -- and second, they were about to look at newly buff Jacob and broodingly dreamy Edward.
In a scene played out at theaters across Southern California and beyond, hundreds of fans lined up at CityWalk -- some since early that morning -- for Thursday midnight screenings of "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," the sequel based on the second novel in Stephenie Meyer's bestselling vampire series. If critics have been largely lukewarm on the film for being too faithful to the book, you wouldn't have known it from many of the Twi-hards, both before and after seeing it.
Michelle Medina, a 20-year-old student at Cal State Fullerton, bought her tickets for the 12:01 a.m. screening Friday months in advance.
"Hello. It's 'New Moon!' " said Medina, while tugging on her black shirt emblazoned with an image of Robert Pattinson as the vampire Edward Cullen. "It's my favorite book from the series. I totally relate to the way Bella felt when Edward left. It's heartbreaking. If I could have bought the tickets last year, I would have."
That seemed to be the prevailing sentiment as "Twilight" mania hit theaters. The Summit Entertainment film sold out hundreds of midnight screenings nationwide weeks before its opening. Fandango sold out more than 1,000 midnight shows, and Summit's official estimate for ticket sales was about $26 million.
Many moviegoers weren't simply intent on seeing the film; they wanted to live it.
Scores of fans donned "Twilight"-inspired T-shirts -- some homemade with phrases such as "Take your shirt off, Jacob" or "Be my lion, Edward" scrawled with markers. There were fan buttons on jackets and caps. Key chains. Posters. Even "Twilight" panties were being circulated. The uninitiated had the option of purchasing merchandise inside: shirt, $20; tote bag, $18; poster, $8.
Some passed time by rereading the bulky book. Many listened to iPods. Others played cards. And a few, including Ari Gruys, studied.
"I have part of my midterm for a history class tomorrow," said Gruys, who sat bundled up outside with her textbook. "You do what you have to do."
Shortly after 2 a.m., the tweets were in. "denniscn23" said, "Watched 'New Moon' few hours ago . . . omg unbelievably thrilling! Soo much beta than twilight . . . sooo tired." Another user, "dudesrslyx3," was more biting (no pun intended): "I lovedddd New Moon! The critics can go die! :)"
But the buzz on Twitter wasn't all positive, especially when it came to the ending. "michelleashleyx" posted "all in all, new moon kind of . . . and i didnt like how they ended." "itxmzsBEBAx" echoed the sentiments: "new moon was good didnt really like the ending, cant wait for eclipse =D."
Still, Summit hopes to match the success of the first film, which grossed more than $383.6 million worldwide. With fans like 13-year-old Emily Lamb, it seems likely.
"It was amazing," said Lamb, a student at Jordan David Starr Junior High in Burbank. "The scene toward the end with Bella and Edward -- oh, my God. I can't wait to see it again. And again."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times