Moviegoers seamlessly transitioned from loving “The Hunger Games” book to embracing the film when it premiered at 12:01 a.m. Friday at the Farmingdale Multiplex, cheering for protagonist Katniss Everdeen, crying with her when death struck her ally and relishing her onscreen kiss.
“Instead of the princess that has to be saved, she’s basically the savior,” said Wendy Gil, 19, who came to the premiere dressed as Katniss, wearing a replica of a Hunger Games training jacket with a No. 12 on the sleeve representing the heroine's district.
Although viewers had some quibbles with details that differed from the page to the screen, they were on the whole quite forgiving.
“Because I’m a fan, I give it 10 out of 10,” Gil said as she left the theater after 2:30 a.m. “Technically the day just started, but it’s already the best day ever.”
The “Hunger Games” takes place in a dystopian future in what’s left of the United States. Each year, 24 children between ages 12 and 18 are forced into a reality TV-style competition in which they must fight to the death until just one "winner" is left. The other contender from Katniss’ district, baker’s son Peeta Mellark, is in love with Katniss, as is a teen left behind at home, Gale Hawthorne. The movie is rated PG-13.
The sold-out 12:01 a.m. showing was one of seven scheduled showings at the theater between 12:01 and 12:30 a.m., and it was filled with mostly teenagers – and some parents who were sucked into the hoopla. Spirits were high throughout the theater as moviegoers awaited the dimming of lights.
Chloe Adamczyk, 12, of Lindenhurst, who was wearing a "Team Peeta" shirt, stood up and yelled “Team Peeta – because Gale rhymes with fail!” Her friend, Coral Jacobellis, 11, urged Peeta fans to raise their hands.
Coral’s mom, Karen, said she was surprised her daughter wanted to see the movie, given its violent nature.
“She never even wanted to watch Disney movies that had something die. I was surprised she would have an interest in something like this,” she said.
Brian Mazza, 16, a junior at Farmingdale High School, is writing an article about the movie for his high school newspaper.
“I was impressed with the way they portrayed the Capitol,” Mazza said. “It was exactly what I imagined while reading it. I was a little disappointed with the fighting. I thought it would be more intense. They made it too brief.”
Megan Van Aken, 14, of North Massapequa, wore a Hunger Games T-shirt to the showing and was accompanied by her mom, Brigid, 42. Their whole family – including Michael Jr., 12, and Michael Sr., 42 – read the book at the recommendation of Michael Jr.
Megan said she doesn’t usually follow her little brother’s advice, but this time she’s glad she did. Both Megan and Brigid cried during the movie, dabbing their eyes with tissues while mom put her arm around her daughter.
“It was perfect,” Megan said after the movie. “I thought it was really true to the book.”
Because her brother has a test at school Friday, he has to wait until Friday night to see the movie with dad. At dinner before Megan left for the show, Michael told her: “Megan, you better not tell me anything that happens in that movie.”
Or what would happen to her?
“I don’t want to know,” Megan said.