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New Moon pandemonium strikes

BY SARAH LARSON | NOVEMBER 19, 2009 7:21 AM

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At midnight tonight, the sounds of shrieking women will resonate throughout Iowa City.

No, the screaming isn’t because vampires are sinking their fangs into unsuspecting victims. The cries will come from groups of UI women swooning over Robert Pattinson’s flowing hair and Taylor Lautner’s rock-hard muscles.

While Iowa City females will undoubtedly flock to theaters this weekend — Sycamore 12 and Coral Ridge 10 have already sold out seats — one lucky bunch will be able to gaze into Pattinson’s blue-gray eyes without paying a cent. They received free tickets through the Associated Residence Halls for tonight’s New Moon showing.

“I am really excited,” UI freshman Hadley Kluber said. “And I like the fact that it’s at midnight, and it’s something I get to do with all my friends, which makes it that much better.”

She was told by her RA weeks ago that Hillcrest and Burge would distribute free tickets, she said, but she still failed to get there early enough. Luckily, she was able to snag passes when another student gave her some.

New Moon pandemonium isn’t limited to the UI campus. Outside Iowa City, the film is sparking great expectations. According to national statistics, the first Twilight flick grossed nearly $70 million in its opening weekend alone, surpassing its $37 million budget. Exactly one year later, New Moon has sold out theaters long before it arrives. According to Fandango, an online advance ticket box office, New Moon is its No. 1 movie of all time for advance ticket sales.



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But why all the hype? Journalism Associate Professor Don McLeese credits it to author Stephanie Meyer’s ability to formulate a story that resonates with audiences.

“The author has touched a nerve with a particular demographic in terms of creating characters and narrative momentum that young females find compelling,” he said.

McLeese believes communication, both online and off, has played a large role in the rapid growth of the series, he said.

“I think it’s easier for things to attain mass popularity more quickly now because all of these things are generated through word of mouth, buzz, and things like that,” he said. “That’s the nature of our culture now. Things either get very, very big or they get ignored.”

The Twilight series, which centers on a clumsy teenage girl, her stud vampire boyfriend, and her friend who moonlights as a werewolf, has a fan culture of mostly girls and young women who obsess over the characters in the same way in which the media are enraptured by stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson (their rumored romance referred to as “Robsten”), and Taylor Lautner.

But not everyone is buying the hype.

UI freshman Natalie Conway said she thinks the publicity is “a bit over the top,” though she still plans on attending the midnight show.

“I love talking to crazy fans like that,” she said on why she’s joining the masses at the cinema tonight. “People need to simmer down a bit.”

Conway shouldn’t let fellow freshman Nicole Thomas hear that comment. A self-described Edward fan, Thomas has a passion for Pattinson (she said she’s on Team Edward “for sure” and described the vamp as “every girl’s perfect guy”), and all things Twilight.

“I’ve been having a countdown to the movie,” she said. “The books are really draw me in — it’s a really good story line.”


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