Laura Byrne-Cristiano is a co-owner of The Twilight Lexicon, the longest continuously operating Twilight Saga fansite on the web. You can read her Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn column here on Movies.com every other Thursday.
Camping out for events has become practically synonymous with The Twilight Saga. This is especially true if the event involves limited seating/viewing and “The Big Trio”, Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner. Camping has become so pervasive that Summit Entertainment has issued camping guidelines for the second year in a row, just to keep it all going smoothly and to ensure fan safety. So, let’s take a look back at the whole premiere camping experience.
When the original Twilight came out in November 2008, fans started showing up in the Westwood area roughly two to three days before. At that time, the film had its premiere in the Mann Theatres that are paired across the street from each other. Reporters took note of the intensity of the red carpet, discovering that fans had slept out over two nights; something that never happens when it comes to independent films. There was definitely a passionate presence and a level of screaming on the red carpet that was new to many. Veteran actors in the cast like Billy Burke quipped, “I’ve never f***ing seen anything like this.” At one point, when I was trying to communicate with the Twilight Lexicon staff reporter on site, I had to resort to text messaging because I couldn’t hear her over the non-stop screaming.
Well, if people thought Twilight was crowded, a year later New Moon produced a veritable swarm.
For New Moon the line actually started a week in advance, and thanks to Twitter everyone knew. With the original movie, Twitter was a novelty. No one really understood what it was; however, a year later it became the live communication method of choice for Twilight fans. Never mind the moniker of “mico-blogging”; it was text messaging to the world. More and more people started to show up early so as not to miss a chance to line the red carpet. When I walked the line two days before the premiere, it zigged and zagged over 20 blocks. I encountered fans from as far away as Australia. In fact one memorable group from the Philippines had deer antler headbands and a sign on their tent spoofing the beef industry commercial. It read, “Deer, it’s what’s for dinner.”
Everything changed when it came to the Eclipse camping experience. For starters the venue and timing were different. Instead of having the premiere in November in Westwood, Eclipse was making its premiere in June as part of the annual LA Film Festival (LAFF) at the Nokia complex in downtown Los Angeles. Instead of winding through the sidewalks of public streets, the camping was in a clearing defined area on private property with specific rules as to tent sizes, gear, etc. The site was quickly dubbed “Tent City”. It had its pros and cons. On one hand, fans were more compact. There was bigger camaraderie among people who had never had an opportunity to meet before, and it was easier for actors who dropped by to see many fans at once. On the other hand, camping out on a concrete plaza for over four days in the blazing June sun with jumbotrons blaring into the wee hours made things a little rough. Sweaty and sleep deprived people tend to get a little cranky.
The key thing is Twilight fans have learned to roll with the punches. We might complain about conditions or regulations, but we aren’t about to resort to physical violence that has plagued other highly popular fan events. The things we do well are band together when it counts, and look out for each other. We play Twilight trivia and the latest Twilight Saga board game together. When the Laker parade practically marched through Tent City we took it in stride and cheered them on. When fans camping out for Water For Elephants were faced with the most brutal nor’easter of 2011, they huddled together and protected each other, @IAm_ECHELON reported that she slept in the pouring rain for 16 hours and woke up shaking so hard from hypothermia. That didn’t stop her. She was back for more “…getting frost bite on my cheeks sleeping on the frozen NYC streets in December to see Taylor on SNL.” It’s that kind of dedication and support system that keep people coming back year after year.
Is the Breaking Dawn Part 1 experience going to live up to the previous ones? Here’s what one fan who is coming all the way from Honduras, @Laury4Rob had to say, “I am getting ready for Breaking Dawn Part 1 premiere in LA that is 2,287 miles of traveling and I am nervous but the thing that I most excited about is meeting new people that I share this love with... THANK GOD FOR TWITTER really…just the chance to meet the cast.... and Stephenie Meyer...the creator of it all well it gives me strength to embark on the camping in TENT CITY and everything that may be thrown my way!”
So my fellow Twilight fans, will you be among the campers? Do you need Twilight camping advice from the experts? What is your camping story?
Just 28 days left until The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 is in theaters.