“This Is Us,” the upcoming One Direction documentary, follows the boy band on a world tour as they incite millions of teenage girls into frenzy.
So perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that an advance screening of the film, held at the Grove’s Pacific Theatres on Saturday morning, created pandemonium at the outdoor shopping mall.
Things began calmly enough. Fans who had obtained free tickets on gofobo.com lined up outside TopShop. The event was first-come, first-serve, but even with hundreds in line, most remained hopeful they would get in. The first 100 patrons -- some of whom said they had arrived at 3:45 a.m. -- were admitted to the theater and surrendered their cellphones to theater staffers and submitted to brief security checks.
The screening was set to begin at 10 a.m., but 15 minutes after that time, there were still empty seats in the auditorium. That’s when a frenzied usher began yelling at the audience to stay calm, alerting everyone that fans outside were rushing the theater. He said the police had been called, and requested any staffers go outside to help him deal with the masses.
Still, it was unclear how serious the threat was. Many in the crowd began laughing. Was this some sort of prank? Were Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles actually about to surprise the audience? (Sadly, no.)
Shortly after the usher’s warning, a trailer for “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” began to roll and the crowd settled into their seats. Meanwhile, chaos was unfolding just outside the theater doors.
Just as Lizette Van Patten, her 13-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old friend were about to enter the theater, hundreds of mostly young female fans who had been turned away burst through the theater entrance.
“They charged and went straight past the ticket takers for the doors of the actual theater screaming, ‘Let us in! Let us in!’” recalled the 40-year-old San Pedro resident. “It took about a half an hour before a police car came with two policemen in it. They started palming kids down and shoving them outside.”
A Los Angeles Police Department spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.
Allysa Mae De Guzman, 16, was part of the mob. She said that when she and her friends were told they wouldn’t be able to see the movie, they all began running toward the theater anyway.
“When I got inside, the red ropes that block the entrance to the theater were on the floor,” she said. “It was pretty scary because people were tripping on the floor and pushing and stuff like that.”
Van Patten said her daughter was so upset she didn’t get to see the movie that she left the Grove with mascara streaks running down her face.
“I’ve been to plenty of premieres and have seen people go crazy over Johnny Depp and Tom Cruise,” she said. “But nothing like this. Now I’m really convinced that One Direction is like the Beatles of this generation.”