At 12:01 a.m. Friday, Dan Sweeney of Massapequa probably became the first person to celebrate his birthday with a "Hunger Games" theme -- he and sister Heather entered the movie's inaugural showing at the Farmingdale Multiplex just as Dan turned 15.
They dressed for the occasion. Heather, 18, wore two braids, donned a Mockingjay pin on her white button-down shirt and sported a name tag reading "Prim." Dan used makeup to paint a black, geometrically shaped beard onto his face, a la game-maker Seneca Crane.
Moviegoers knew who they were supposed to be: Prim is the 12-year-old sister of protagonist Katniss Everdeen; Katniss volunteers as a contestant in the brutally violent Hunger Games in Prim's place. And Crane is the twisted mastermind of the games, in which 24 teenagers must fight to the death until just one "winner" is left.
Crowds started to gather at the theater by 10 p.m., even though moviegoers had already purchased tickets for one of the theater's seven scheduled showings between midnight and 12:30 a.m. Brittany Biegen, 18, of Lindenhurst, said she was thrilled to be seeing a movie that promises to be followed by two sequels; "The Hunger Games" is the first book in a trilogy. "It helped me get over my post-Harry Potter depression," she said of the series.