For a quarter of her life, Taylor Sawyer has looked forward to reading another "Twilight" book or seeing another "Twilight" movie.
But once the fifth and final installment in the teen vampire/romance film franchise opens, that will all end. "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2" is scheduled to open Thursday at special 10 p.m. showings around the country, including Greater Portland.
Although Taylor is excited to see the film, she's sad to see the series end. And there are millions of "Twilight" fans who share her pain.
"I will absolutely miss the movies. I read my first 'Twilight' book when I was 12 years old," said Taylor, 16, of Cumberland. "The books and movies have seen me through my pre-teen years, to my young adult years. It's sad to imagine them ending."
At least two Portland-area theaters are marking the opening of "Breaking Dawn -- Part 2" with marathons featuring all five of the films based on Stephenie Meyer's young adult books about a fantasy world of vampires, werewolves, cliques and young love.
At Nordica Theatre in Freeport, the marathon begins at noon, and the price is $20 for all five films. Or you can pay $9 to see just the latest film at 10 p.m.
(There's also an American Red Cross Blood Drive hosted by Nordica scheduled for Thursday. Although it seems in keeping with the vampire theme, theater managers say the blood drive was scheduled because of blood shortages, not because of "Twilight.")
At Nickelodeon in Portland, the marathon begins at 11:45 a.m. with a cost of $20 for all five films. Or you can pay $8 just to see the latest film.
David Scott, film buyer for the Nickelodeon, agrees with fans who don't want the series to go away.
"I hate to see it end, because every one is an event picture. The fans all read the books, they're rabid, and they want to see all the films," said Scott. "So as a film buyer, I'm on the lookout for the next series that has this kind of drawing power."
All four previous "Twilight" films have been blockbusters, beginning with the first in 2008. The typical fan of the series is usually female, partly because romance is such a huge part of the story arc.
The series focuses on Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), a teenage girl who moves to rural Washington state and falls in love with a vampire, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). Of course, there are love triangles, enemies and rivalries between cliques. Pretty typical teenage stuff.
But then there's the fantasy element, which draws people in. And some parents like the books and films because the relationship between the teen lovers (for the most part) is emotional but not physical until the appropriate time.
"Their relationship is not necessarily healthy, because it's really intense, but it's clean," said E.J. Fechenda, 38, of Portland, who regularly attends the films with her 15-year-old niece. "I see the appeal of the stories for a young adult, because the characters are so impulsive. Everything has to be right now."
And then there's the suspense, which keeps fans yearning for more in much the same way the Harry Potter series of books and films did.
"I continue to read the books and watch the movies, because I am dying to know what happens next," said Taylor. "The romance between Edward and Bella is something that cannot be duplicated in real life, and I think everyone feeds off of the fantasy of having this kind of relationship."
Taylor plans to see the 10 p.m. Thursday opening of "Breaking Dawn -- Part 2" with her sister, Toni Rockwell, 26. Rockwell says it's the romance that has kept her involved in the "Twilight" films.
"The story's main plot is that a gorgeous, smart, rich boy falls in love with a plain Jane-type girl," said Rockwell, who works at Yarmouth Veterinary Clinic. "This beautiful man just can't live without her. Who doesn't want to be swept off their feet?"
Another pair of sisters who usually see the films together are Beth and Katie Kusturin, ages 15 and 13, respectively, of Gorham.
Beth finds that both the books and films hold her attention, but for different reasons. There are some characters she likes better in the book, like Edward, who she says is "happier" on paper than on film.
But she thinks the way the action is displayed on screen -- vampires flying about, battles between werewolves and the undead, and the like -- helps her suspend her disbelief.
"I would love to live in a place where there's magic, so that's a big part of it for me," she said.
Katie says she and her sister will probably see "Breaking Dawn -- Part 2" more than once. She learned with the last film that, for her at least, the excitement of seeing the film combined with the high-speed action and special effects within the film itself made it difficult to concentrate on subtler things like jokes the first time around.
"When we went the second, time, we laughed a lot more," Katie said. "There are a lot of things we missed the first time."
Although the final "Twlight" film will eventually leave theaters, it and its predecessors will live on via DVDs, Blu-ray discs and whatever future home-video technology is yet to come, allowing fans to see them over and over again.
So, in a sense, Edward and Bella will always be with them.
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