I forgot to mention one other thing about Preview Night —not everyone was inside exploring the Exhibition Hall. Some people were outside, setting up camp and getting in line to secure a spot in Thursday’s Summit Entertainment panel.
Why? Well, Summit holds the theatrical reins of a little thing called the Twilight saga.
I didn’t see the line for myself until Thursday. Waking up bright and early, we left our hotel and make the block-and-a-half trek to the convention center. The crowds were already amassing, as none of the door had opened yet. We made our way down the length of the building to the far end which houses the second largest room at the con, Hall H. Hall H is reserved for the major panels because it can hold up to 6,500 people. It’s also a popular hangout for the fire marshal, because it’s notoriously always full.
By the time we reached Hall H, the line already stretched from the building, wove back and forth across a plot of green grass beside the building and then started back towards the bay. We crossed the street and the line kept going, we finally found the end down by the waterfront and as we waited the line kept growing.
The line was populated by two kinds of people. Obviously the first kind: Twilight fans. They were out in their Team Edward and Team Jacob finest and appeared blissfully ignorant to the second group of people, people like my little Rochester entourage, those who were trying to stake out a spot in Hall H for everything else BUT Twilight. There were also some truly anti-Twilighters too; sporting shirts that said things like “… and then Buffy staked Edward. The End” or “I’m A Girl At Comic-Con And I Hate Twilight”.
See, Comic-Con doesn’t clear out rooms between panels. So you can sit there all day if you want. Or to make sure you see something popular, you can get there early and secure a seat. Twilighters were vying for a choice location for the 1:45 Summit Panel. The rest of us were losing hope that we’d make it into the 10:30am Disney 3D panel and keeping our fingers crossed that we’d have a shot of getting in for James Cameron’s Avatar at 3pm.
Standing in line, we were part of a captive audience that wound around the waterfront of San Diego Harbor. A Burger King street team walked up and down, passing out their famous paper crowns (though this time themed around either of Twilight’s male leads). Twilight fans wore them proudly, which was most likely the intention of the giveaway. However, some turned them inside out and wrote their own thoughts about the movie on the blank side of the crown. While pretty funny, it was probably not what BK had in mind.
What’s mean and green and on wheels? A roller derby squad on the move… promoting a movie. Even in a crowd of people in street clothes or dressed as the Joker, these girls and their coach stood out. They stayed in character, ran drills talked with people and handed out branded wristbands for Drew Barrymore’s upcoming flick, “Whip it!” For hundreds of people standing outside on a rather muggy San Diego morning, it was a fun shake-up to the slowly moving line.
When Disney started, we were in the front of the line, but the hall was full. From the lobby we could only hear the shrieks of delight as Johnny Depp make an unnanounced appearance to talk about Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Other updates about what was happening inside came from checking Twitter feeds on our phones; including the tweeted reports that Twilight moms were offering hundreds of dollars to people with great seats to get them and their daughters closer to the stage.
When some people trickled out at the end of the Disney panel, we were finally inside.
Hall H boasted a new feature this year, in the form of 3D glasses that were handed to us upon entering. We saw clips from a 3D showcase of upcoming films Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, The Hole (by Gremlins director, Joe Dante) and The Final Destination (or Final Destination 4, for those keeping count).
This showcase was the buffer, the chance to breathe before insanity erupted as a new moderator approached the podium and welcomed everyone to the Summit Entertainment panel. Cue the screaming.
But Twihards (hardcore Twilight fans) had to exercise patience, as New Moon wasn’t the only movie the studio had to show. We saw clips of the upcoming Astro Boy (pretty neat looking) and I-Know-What-You-Did-Last-Summer-esque Sorority Row (Awful. Carrie Fisher.. whyyy?). The moderator took the stage again and the screaming resumed as he introduced the director Chris Weitz and four cast members of New Moon: Taylor Lautner (Jacob), Kristen Stewart (Bella), Robert Pattinson (Edward) and Ashley Greene (Alice).
It’s weird to be on the outside of something like Twilight when you’re in the thick of one of the most rabid of fan bases, yet not completely alone because just about every round of screaming and cheering was countered by anti-Twilighters booing. Clips were shown and the moderator asked some softball questions. Taylor Lautner couldn’t stop talking about how much he worked out to keep the role of Jacob, Kristen Stewart looked like she just rolled out of bed and maintained a steady show of disinterest in her own movie, RPats had to wait for the fans to quiet down before he was able to speak and Ashley Greene seemed fortunate to get a few questions sent her way.
The open mic questions from fans went better than I expected. There were a few oddballs or fangirls gushing so much that the moderator had to reform whatever he thought they were trying to ask so the panel could respond. Two anti-Twilighters snuck into the line and gave the world my favorite line of the day, “My name is Twilight and I’m a dracula.”; they were quickly removed from the mic.
The people who were there for it, seemed to enjoy it. The people who weren’t tolerated it. It was interesting to hear Chris Weitz voice his displeasure with the way his last movie had been treated by its studio (The Golden Compass) and Kristen Stewart’s Joan Jett hair and Minor Threat t-shirt made me chuckle. And when it was over, two-thirds of the room vanished. I’ve never seen a mass exodus like that before. I’m not complaining, we got to trade up out seats in the back of the hall for a row in the middle just in time for Avatar to begin.
Some Comic-Con goers claim that Twilight ruined Comic-Con. While it’s not my cup of tea, I don’t know that the assertion is completely fair. If someone wants to buy a four-day membership to the con so they can go whatever day the Twilight panel is, that’s their $75 dollars to spend. If they want to camp out overnight in line, that’s their evening, not mine. I don’t think I like anything enough to sleep on the sidewalk for it. Did people miss out on panels they wanted to see because of Twilighters filling Hall H early? Yes. But we had seats through the Summit Panel and were really there for Avatar.
So while it can be annoying and personally, I don’t get the appeal of the books/movies —it’s a fandom. The convention is built upon them. Besides, there’s only two more books waiting to be made into movies. Two more years and then the next trendy, tween fandom can be the nerdcore pariah.