Line-ups snaking out the door, crowded stands filled with rambunctious fans, some wearing team-supporting shirts, but all excited and anticipating the show ahead of them.
It sounds like the description of a sports game, but it actually details the scene that many cinemas saw this past weekend with the opening of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2. Theatres across Toronto saw enormous amounts of business during the pre-screenings on Thursday evening, and the subsequent Friday and Saturday.
But life does not play out like a movie, something that Cineplex employee Sebastien Petrovic knows all too well. He works part-time at the Cineplex at Eglinton Town Centre (ETC) and says that all three Thursday screenings were completely sold out.
“It was hectic; line-ups were going out the door. The biggest challenge was trying to manage all these people,” he said. “They all want good seats and are arguing over nothing so we tried to keep it under control as much as possible.”
The General Manager of the ETC cinema said the demand that comes with these kinds of attendance levels can be stressful.
“It gets a little challenging when films sell out, you have people coming who don’t realize that the film is sold out and there aren’t enough seats or they don’t get the seats they ideally wanted so there is a lot of back and forth with changing films,” George said.
And the numbers prove this too.
Thursday night alone saw Twilight gross an estimated $30.4 million dollars just from midnight showings in North America while the weekend box office raked in approximately $141.3 million.
So while this isn’t the franchise’s biggest opening weekend blockbuster, which goes to 2009’s New Moon clocking in at $142.8 million, it’s better than its first half which earned $138.1 million on opening weekend last year.
It wasn’t just Twilight that gave Cineplex cast members a headache. Skyfall, Lincoln, Flight and Jab Tak Hai Jaan all saw sold out auditoriums this past weekend at ETC. But management staff and workers alike say that the Twilight goers were harder to cater to.
“You will find a lot more of the demand in Twilight just because you are going to be dealing with a lot more aggressive people… Versus Skyfall where we didn’t feel that pressure where we felt we had to open the doors early.
“Once you start dealing with the younger kids, and being female, you are going to have to adjust your usual business levels,” explains George.
Merve Yaman, a long-time Twilight fan, experienced the madness from a different angle over the weekend. She got her tickets for a Thursday night screening the week prior to the show and opted for an AVX theatre, which allowed her to reserve her seats.
Despite not having to deal with the lines, the high attendance still affected her viewing and wishes that theatres would monitor their auditoriums better.
“It’s a popular movie and people are excited so there’s a lot of chatter that goes on during the film that can be distracting,” she said.
But aside from that, Yaman enjoyed the film and said that she will miss the Twilight series now that it is over.
George on the other hand is happy to see the light at the end of the tunnel; with the first weekend of Twilight out of the gates she anticipates that things will be easier. But business never stops she says.
“Usually Twilight is a one-week wonder, by the second week you usually see it trickling down and becoming a little lighter whereas Skyfall has had two very strong weekends,” George says.
The first weekend may be over, but George says she is preparing herself for the first Twilight Tuesday.