Aly Semigran
November 18, 2011 at 02:37 PM EST

Some said they arrived at 5 p.m., a full seven hours before they could hand over their ticket — purchased two weeks ago — to get into last night’s sold-out midnight screening of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1. Or the sold-out 12:06 a.m. screening…or the sold-out 12:11 a.m. screening…or the sold-out 12:16 a.m. screening. The United Artists Kaufman Astoria theater in New York City, like so many other theaters around the country, attempted to accommodate Twi-hard demand with a multitude of options slotted well past midnight. (A tip of the hat to any movie theater employee that works on nights like these. It cannot be easy.)

As a newbie to the Twilight midnight showing experience (and oh, is it an experience), I arrived at 10:30 p.m. It was pretty obvious I had zero chance at getting a good seat — the lobby and theater area (pictured) were packed to the brim with (mostly) girls in their late teens and early 20s (though I spotted a few reluctant boyfriends here and there), all out far past reasonable bedtimes and curfews.

Twilight midnight screening is a group affair. Unless you’re the lone reporter who won’t stop asking everyone questions, you travel in packs with friends and relatives who adore the series as much as you do. For many, it’s a tradition, like it was for Queens resident Faiza Fatimah, who was celebrating her 20th birthday by seeing Breaking Dawn with the same two close friends she’d seen all the other Twilight movies with.

The mood at the Kaufman Astoria was excited, but incredibly well-behaved and patient. (Way to go, youths!) No one was willing to risk missing the premiere of this long-awaited movie by starting a foolish Team Edward-Team Jacob brawl (though there was one group of friends debating inside the theater when someone suggested that Taylor Lautner is an awful actor because Abduction was so awful. That’s a pretty damning argument in support of Team Edward if there ever was one.)

It wasn’t a shock to find that Edward-Jacob allegiances were split, but it was somewhat surprising that everyone I spoke to unanimously, unabashedly loved the Breaking Dawn book. I’d labored under the false pretense that even fans of the franchise hated the Bella-and-Edward’s-baby-gets-imprinted-by-Jacob ending. They don’t. (They also have no problem whatsoever with the book being split into two films.) Katherin Arias of Amherst, N.Y. told me that Breaking Dawn is the best of the series because “it wraps everything up nicely. No questions are left unanswered.” Arias, like so many others, cited the honeymoon scene, in all its feathery, bed-shattering glory, as the one she was most excited to see. One fan simply referred to it as “The Scene.”

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