Three months ago, 21-year-old Brittany Allen bought tickets to the midnight showing of “Eclipse.”
She describes herself as a “hardcore twihard” — a diehard fan of the “Twilight” series.
She’s not the only one.
Fans like her fuel a hugely successful film franchise; according to Box Office Mojo, the first “Twilight” film made more than $190 million in North America and its sequel, “New Moon,” earned nearly $300 million.
“It’s kind of like an epidemic,” Allen said.
Allen, of Bowling Green, saw the first “Twilight” film eight times in theaters.
She only saw “New Moon” twice, though, so she would be more excited about the DVD release.
“I didn’t want to ruin that feeling!” she said.
Some of her friends are also “Twilight” lovers. Once they watched an entire show just to see the “Twilight” previews. They also record anything that comes on TV about the series and watch it over and over again.
Allen once spent an entire school vacation reading “New Moon.”
“I remember my dad getting so mad because all I would do was read,” she said.
Some of her friends tease her for being such a huge fan.
Jodie Cole, left, and Julie Beam.
“They call me a nerd, but I’m proud of it,” she said.
Her mom is also a “Twilight” fan. Both are members of a minority group that believes Bella should have chosen Jacob instead of Edward.
“I told her, I was like, ‘Mom, he’s way too young for you!’” she said.
She saw “New Moon” in theaters with her mom and best friend. Allen said her mom was glued to the screen through the whole movie.
She added that when the pack of werewolves came onscreen with their shirts off, her mom said, “Shush, the wolfpack’s on, don’t talk to me!”
Allen said her older sister wants nothing to do with “Twilight” and her father does not understand why they like the series.
“He just thinks it’s weird,” she said. “He just rolls his eyes.”
Another fan, Beth Sander of Sylvania, was incredulous when her young daughter told her she needed to read “Twilight.”
“I thought she was nuts,” Sander said. “I couldn’t understand why she even enjoyed it.”
The premise seemed ridiculous: A clumsy, homely girl and a handsome young vampire named Edward Cullen fall in love.
Sander thought vampire books were for horror buffs, not teenage girls.
Her friend Sally Russ, 61, shared Sander’s skepticism.
“It was for teenagers, and I had nothing in common much with teenagers,” she said. “I thought, what could I be interested in with their book?”
Despite their initial disdain for its subject matter, Sander read the first book and Russ saw the first film.
And just like Jacob fell for Bella, they fell for the series.
Since then, Russ has read each of the four books in the series about five times. Each reading takes about two days.
“I become addicted and don’t want to stop,” she said.
Sander has read each book in the series two or three times and spread the word about “Twilight” to many of her friends.
Her co-worker Julie Beam started reading the books because of Sander’s recommendation. She said she liked them immediately and liked them even more the second time. She has seen each movie more than 10 times.
These fans’ enthusiasm goes beyond reading the books and watching the films, though.
Sander hosts a party to celebrate the release of each DVD. She starts planning for the party months in advance. Beam helps her.
They said they love finding the perfect decorations for the parties on eBay and the Internet.
The parties have featured red Jell-O shots labeled with blood types, twinkling lights (just like at Bella’s birthday party), lots of posters, bowls of apples reminiscent of the first book’s cover, Red Truck wine (because Bella’s dad has one), goody bags for the guests and, of course, a showing of the film. Sander plays the movie on two TVs so all the guests can get a good view.
At the first party, Sander wore a black cape, vampire-style. Her costume was incomplete, though.
“We couldn’t find good fangs anywhere,” she said.
Between 20 and 30 people have attended each party.
Many of the fans buy “Twilight”-themed T-shirts to wear to parties and the movie theater. Sander’s says “Peace, Love, Twilight.” She also has a sweatshirt that says “Isle Esme,” after one of the vampires in the series.
Beam has a T-shirt with the symbol of the pack of werewolves.
Russ started getting ready for the midnight showing of “Eclipse” in March when she attended Sander’s party for the “New Moon” release.
At the party, she got a temporary tattoo that said “Bite Me” with a heart around it. Russ saved it to wear to the first showing of “Eclipse.”
The love story — not the hot young movie stars or the media hype — keeps these fans devoted to the series.
“Edward loves Bella so much,” Sander said. “He would do anything for her.”
“I read the book and I was hooked,” she said. “It was the wonderful love story, and it was so innocent, and I think it’s how every woman would like to be treated — and yet it was a story, it was a wonderful story.”
She said that the books helped her deepen her appreciation for the romantic aspects of her relationship with her husband.
“I think that it’s because I’ve read the books so many times that maybe I’m more aware that I’m holding his hand in a more romantic way than I was,” she said.
They will celebrate their 40th anniversary this year.
“I don’t know if he would say I’m any different, but I feel like I’m a little different,” she said.
Allen said she agreed that the love story was the reason for the series’ popularity. Despite the story’s fantastic elements, like dueling vampires and werewolf packs, she said she thinks readers understand the romantic challenges Bella faces.
Michelle Pan, who runs the popular fan site www.bellaandedward.com, said many readers can relate to Bella, an average high schooler who is not particularly popular or pretty.
“I think a lot of girls can identify with that and put themselves in Bella’s shoes,” she said.
The books’ suspense also keeps readers interested, according to Pan.
“You never know what’s going to happen next,” she said.
“You’re always on the edge of your seat,” she said.
The books’ intergenerational appeal has also drawn some families closer together.
Allen said sharing a passion for the stories with her mom has helped the two grow closer.
Beam said she takes her daughters to see the movies, though she will watch the next two movies before them to make sure they are appropriate.
Tags: Eclipse, Twilight