It creeps up on you. First it’s just a single, seemingly innocent poster near the ticket counter. Then there is the slow but steady trickle of release date enquiries from well-meaning mothers and reluctant but dutiful boyfriends. Even after this, as more and more pictures and banners go up and crates of merchandise gets delivered, the inevitable havoc and the chaos seems far off.
Before you know it, though, the big weekend has arrived, the place is jammed and you are being furiously shouted at from all sides because the novelty Edward Cullen popcorn buckets have sold out. There is nothing quite like working in a cinema over the Twilight season.
It has been an annual tradition since 2008 but even so, you never quite feel prepared for the release of the latest film. They say that the female body purposefully forgets the pain of childbirth so that the human species doesn’t die out. Similarly, there must be some chemical force at work that makes all cinema staff forget the horrors of Twilight opening weekend.
Working here you get a unique perspective of the phenomenon. Should you ever wish to see a packed room full of people staring wide-eyed and absolutely captivated at rolling end credits, then a cinema usher during a screening of Twilight is the job for you. Rigging assistants and lighting supervisors have never got such appreciation.
Then there is the sobbing. The idea of a crying Bella Swan-wannabe is nothing new – in fact it’s almost become a cliché upon itself – but it really is too hard to ignore, both in terms of prevalence and volume. What is surprising is that this grief is not just restricted to teenage fan girls but also overcomes actual adults with grown-up jobs, as well as the occasional shame-faced but openly weeping man.
For me and my colleagues it is a tough time, and during the first few days the team room takes on the feel of a football changing room before a big game, or even a trench in some horrific far-flung battleground. Staff members sit silently on their own, getting themselves mentally prepared in whatever way they find best. Every so often someone will break down in tears, overcome by a jolting memory from Twilights past. Any attempts to comfort or sympathise will be met with desperate shouts of, “You weren’t there, man! You didn’t see what I saw. So much sparkling…”
It’s a scary and worrying time. Thankfully though, providing that Stephanie Meyer doesn’t doom us all with another book, we have nearly made it through.. Before long the posters will come down, the weeping will quieten and the team room will go back to being a place to gossip about the newbies or to watch Come Dine With Me on your break. Twilight fanatics will leave the cinema and go about the rest of their lives, and we staff members will take a deep breath, smile weakly, and tiredly pat ourselves on the backs for surviving the mania in one piece.
Just in time for The Hobbit.
By Joey Millar