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Final "Twilight' chapter packs 'em in at Worthington cinema

Moviegoers stand in line Friday night for "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2" at Northland Cinema 5 in Worthington. The film, the last in the "Twilight" series, has already been forecast by some to eventually become one of the top-grossing movies of all time, and the local line grew even longer Friday as the 7 p.m. showing neared.

WORTHINGTON - It isn't just the vampires that come out after dark, judging by the number of fans and curiosity-seekers lining up for the opening shows of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2" movie at Northland Cinema 5 Thursday and Friday nights.

"We sold out the 10 p.m. [Thursday] show, and then sold out the 7 p.m. show tonight [Friday] before 6:30 p.m.," noted theater manager Eric Reisdorfer during a brief respite from selling tickets and scooping popcorn Friday evening. "By 7:15 p.m., we had about 50 people waiting to get tickets for the 9:20 p.m. screening.

"I think this could be the biggest show we've had in the five years I've been working here -- I'm loving the business."

And people of various ages appear to love the excitement the last theatrical installment of "The Twilight Saga" series is generating.

"There are a lot of different ages of people in here," reported Worthington High School (WHS) freshman Lauren Martin as she awaited curtain time inside the crowded theater. "I'd say it's about half kids, half adults."

Martin was among the lucky ones Friday; a few of her friends, as well as WHS senior Helen Escoto, arrived too late to gain entry at 7 p.m. Escoto said she would likely settle for the James Bond thriller "Skyfall" instead.

Getting in wasn't a problem for Worthington Middle School eighth-grade friends Janet Hernandez, Tania Pineda and twins Briana and Bridget Castro. They secured seats by having Hernandez queue up at 5 p.m.

"I've seen all the 'Twilight' movies," smiled Hernandez.

Added Bridget Castro, "We've been seeing these movies since the first one came out -- and we've noticed we have to come early."

The four middle-school girls have read parts -- but not all -- of the four books in the "Twilight" series written by Stephenie Meyer. Millions upon millions of copies have sold worldwide, with readers lapping up the saga of awkward Bella Swan and her pale vampire boyfriend, Edward Cullen.

After the publication of "Twilight" in 2004, movies based on the books followed in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, with the culminating movie released this weekend.

Initial U.S. showings of "Breaking Dawn -- Part 2" at 10 p.m. and midnight raked in a franchise-best first-night take of $30.4 million. Even before this newest release, the "Twilight" movie series had brought in more than $2.5 billion worldwide.

No wonder, then, that local lines stretched to the doors of Northland Mall, and a 70-something couple more familiar with a quiet entry to Friday night movies at the Worthington location queried aloud, "What is going on here?"

Sarah Schmid, a 16-year-old Southwest Star Concept sophomore, could have explained. She was volunteered by her group of 10 friends to hit the mall around 7 p.m. to purchase tickets for the 9:20 p.m. show.

"I live the closest," she shrugged.

Schmid, who is a triplet, said her sister, Hannah, initially got her hooked on the "Twilight" movies -- but their brother, Dakotah, has not joined in the fun.

"I haven't read the books, but the movies are good because they have a lot of action and there's never a dull moment," Schmid detailed. Schmid freely admitted to being a fan of the werewolf Jacob, portrayed in the film series by Taylor Lautner, because, in her words, "He's hot."

However, the quartet of middle school girls was giddy at the thought of ogling Edward Cullen, played by Robert Pattinson.

"Woo-hoo," they shrieked in unison at the mention of the handsome vampire's name, clapping their hands.

Cooler customers were WHS senior Dana Kingery, chilling in line for 9:20 p.m. tickets with friends and 2012 WHS alumni Casey Fletcher and Alicia Sauer.

Despite professing she is not a "huge fan" of the "Twilight" movies, Sauer acknowledged she had already seen "Breaking Dawn -- Part 2" at 10 p.m. the night before, so was preparing for her second viewing in less than 24 hours.

"I just had different friends to go with at different times," she justified.

Kingery, an avid reader of the entire "Twilight" book series, hasn't missed a "Twilight" movie yet and admitted to being a Taylor Lautner/Jacob enthusiast.

"He's very attractive," she blushed. "But I liked him in the books, too."

Fletcher, outnumbered by the females in the line, is studying landscape architecture at South Dakota State University. He said Billy, the wheelchair-bound father of werewolf Jacob, is his favorite "Twilight" character. Overall, though, Fletcher preferred the initial "The Hunger Games" movie to "Twilight" -- and "The Hunger Games" series seems likely to provide the next national cinematic surge, once the "Twilight" craze has died down.

Confirmed Reisdorfer, "'The Hunger Games' is probably the next best thing after this, but the 'Twilight' movies have been excellent for business. We are doing really amazing so far tonight."

Screenings of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn--Part 2" at Northland Cinema 5 are at 1 p.m., 3:25 p.m., 7 p.m. and 9:20 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m., 3:25 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday. Next Wednesday through Friday -- including Thanksgiving Day -- matinee showings of all movies currently playing are scheduled. For more details, call Northland Cinema 5 at 372-7469 or visit