'Breaking Dawn Part 2' marks sunset of Twilight Saga

Matthew Lane • Nov 15, 2012 at 9:42 AM

KINGSPORT — “Breaking Dawn Part 2” — the final movie in the blockbuster Twilight Saga — opens in theaters nationwide today, and whether you’re on Team Edward, Team Jacob or perchance Team Volturi, the conclusion aims to bring a satisfying end to the supernatural teen love story.

The latest and final chapter in the series picks up where “Breaking Dawn Part 1” left off, with Bella being transformed into a vampire by her 104-year-old husband, Edward, after nearly dying from giving birth to their half-human/half-vampire daughter Renesmee.

News of Renesmee’s birth soon reaches the Volturi (think Italian vampire royalty), who then travel to Forks, Wash., to destroy the child and the rest of the Cullen coven for violating vampire law.

As with other theaters across the country, cinemas in the Tri-Cities held midnight screenings of “Breaking Dawn Part 2,” and for the most diehard of the “Twi-hards,” some theaters also held all-day showings of the entire five-movie series on Thursday leading up to the midnight launch.

One such “Twi-hard” is Jackie Whittaker, 45, of Bluff City, who spent the day on Thursday watching the entire series at Tinseltown in Bristol with friends. Whittaker, who watched the original movies in theaters nearly 30 times, said her goal for watching “Breaking Dawn Part 2” in the theater is 10 times.

“The last movie will be bittersweet. I’m so excited to be going to see it, but saddened by the fact that there will be no more after this,” Whittaker said. “I’ll only have my DVDs to get my Twilight and Edward fix.”

Fifty-two-year-old Debbie Johnson of Gray took two days off work to attend the all-day showing of the series on Thursday, and like Whittaker saw “Breaking Dawn Part 1” at least 10 times on the big screen. Johnson said she hopes to break that record with the latest movie.

“I’m excited it’s finally here to see the ending on the big screen, but I’m sad it’s the last one,” Johnson said. “I fell in love with all of the characters and can’t believe there will be no more coming out, but I still have my books and all the movies so I can always watch them at home.”

The Twilight Saga consists of five motion pictures based on the four novels by Stephanie Meyer and has been a worldwide phenomenon for millions of fans — called “Twilighters” — since the release of the first film in 2008. The series has also been a merchandising juggernaut that includes a number of albums, graphic novels, holiday ornaments, bookmarks, T-shirts and jewelry.

The movies have grossed more than $2 billion worldwide and “New Moon” — the second in the series — broke box office records as the biggest midnight screening and opening day in history. According to published reports, the novels have sold more than 116 million copies worldwide and have been translated into at least 38 different languages.

Not bad for a teenage love triangle involving an sparkling vampire, a shirtless werewolf and a plain young girl from Arizona.

But a story such as this has been one of the reasons why the series has been so popular among teenage girls and apparently middle-aged women, who have been affectionately dubbed “Twi-Moms.”

Whittaker said she read all four novels in 10 days and can’t picture herself choosing which she likes better, the movies or the novels.

“I love them both for different reasons,” Whittaker said. “I was drawn in by the storyline from the aspect of the ordinary, clumsy girl who was able to attract what she felt like was the perfect guy, who turned out had a very secretive life.

“The fact she was able to share this life and the intensity of their relationship was very intriguing to me.”

Johnson said she got hooked on the novels by her daughter, who was not much of a reader.

“(My daughter) couldn’t put them down, so this piqued my curiosity,” Johnson said. “It’s not your typical vampire movie. I’m a romantic and I think the love story between Bella and Edward just stole my heart.”

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