SAN DIEGO — It was 10 o’clock Wednesday night and the San Diego Convention Center had just closed down the Comic-con festivities for the night, and yet mothers were setting up sleeping bags on the sidewalk as their daughters settled under blankets, snacking on chips.

When asked what they could possibly be waiting for outside the entrance to the convention center’s massive Hall H entrance, the reply was unanimous.


They would wait 16 more hours.

“Twilight” was released in 2005, and has spawned two sequels: “New Moon” and “Eclipse.” Collectively, the series has sold more than 5.5 million copies worldwide.

Taylor Lautner, who plays the character Jacob Black in the upcoming movie adaptation of the books said, “The fans are the driving force behind this thing.”

The series tells the story of 17-year-old Bella Swan, who meets the intriguing yet elusive Edward Cullen upon her arrival at Forks, Wash. Edward, as well as the rest of his family, turn out to be a secret coven of vegetarian vampires; they don’t kill humans. Bella and Edward’s inevitable love is doomed from the beginning as her being a human draws various “bad” vampires to come and kill her. In “New Moon”, a second love interest is introduced in the form of Jacob, Bella’s best friend who just happens to be a werewolf.

For the August 2 release of  “Breaking Dawn,” Meyer’s fourth and final book in the series, distributors have printed more than 3.2 million copies; more than half the copies of the rest of the series now in print, and a record first-printing for “Twilight” publishing company Little, Brown and Company.

“Breaking Dawn” will answer the big Twilight questions: Who will Bella choose, and will she become a vampire?

Meyer’s saga has become a cultural phenomenon, though this year is by far its biggest yet. In addition to the release of “Breaking Dawn”, a movie adaptation of the novel will be released December 12 starring Kristen Stewart as Bella and Robert Pattinson as Edward.

This year’s San Diego Comic-con hosted a special event Thursday to promote the upcoming film. Meyer, director Catherine Hardwicke, and some of the movie’s cast attended the panel. Waiting anxiously for them were thousands of screaming fans, though only about 6,500 were admitted to the hall.

“I saw the book as a film before I saw it as a book,” said Meyer of her excitement for the “Twilight” movie.

The Comic-con event was the first experience the cast had of the true intensity behind the “Twilight” fan base, and it was clear from their faces and the nervous hitch in their responses that none of them were prepared for the thousands of girls, women and even men who were screaming their hearts out for the characters that had captured their hearts.

“I fell in love with [“Twilight”] just like you guys did,” said Hardwicke to the audience. “I wanted to see Bella and Edward living, breathing. You know we tried to do the best we could [for the movie].”

Stewart said that, as a “sappy, sensitive girl”, she took the role of Bella to try to depict the “perfect-but-not-perfect-but-perfect-in-its-ideologicalness love” felt between Bella and Edward.

“Bella and I are really different if you get inside my head,” said Meyer, who said she gets just as frustrated with Bella’s decisions as the rest of her fans. “I’m actually a lot more like Edward.”

Meyer was able to confirm that a song by Muse; her favorite band and some of the inspiration behind the series, had been signed for the movie soundtrack, while Hardwicke confirmed that two songs written by Robert Pattinson will be included in the soundtrack of the movie, and that his spontaneous piano playing during filming might be used as Bella’s Lullaby.

The three “bad vampires” were a large part of the panel; Cam Gigandet as James, Rachelle Lefevre as Victoria and Edi Gathegi as Laurent.

“I wanted to be a part of [Bella’s] world in every way I could,” said Lefevre. “If that meant I had to terrorize her than so be it.”

Trailers and clips of the film, especially the extended “ballet studio scene” aired at during the panel, show the movie version of “Twilight” focusing more on action than the novel did. This is good news for Gigandet, Lefevre and Gathegi because that means more screen time for them before their inevitable deaths. For Gigandet, his comes at the end of the first movie.

“We don’t actually die because you’re stuck with us on DVD forever,” joked Lefevre.

Fans have been initially hesitant about how the cast compares to the characters, and none have felt this sting more than now-“Twilight”-golden-boy Robert Pattinson.

“I just wanted to play [Edward] because he’s the hottest vampire in the world,” said Pattinson with a laugh, causing a deafening scream from the crown.

“[Vampires are hot] because that’s how I write them,” Meyer added, which turned the screaming into a deafening roar.

Although movie adaptations of “New Moon” and “Eclipse”, the second and third novels in the series, have not yet been confirmed, the idea that the “Twilight” fan base will not cause “Twilight” to be a box-office smash, regardless of the quality of the film, seems nearly impossible.

“I would love to be in [a sequel]. Love to,” said Gathegi .

“So would I,” said Gigandet wistfully.

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