People came from as far away as Texas to view the sold-out opening of the newest vampire and werewolf flick, "New Moon," at Lee Hills Cinema Six in Leesville at midnight Friday morning.

A vampire taking tickets at the movie theater might ordinarily be a cause for a concern, but not so Thursday night.

The staff at Lee Hills Cinema Six dressed the part Nov. 19 to welcome crowds who had purchased advance tickets to view the sold-out midnight opening of the newest vampire and werewolf flick, "New Moon."

The second installment of the "Twilight Saga" is being shown on two separate screens at the cinema, and general manager Mike Parker said that every seat in each room had been sold for the midnight opening.

"Altogether we sold 328 tickets," Parker said.

Parker also said that, had there been more seats at the theater, he would have continued to sell more tickets to the premiere. "After we sold out, I probably turned away nearly 500 people," he said.

As a result, the viewings for Friday night's 7 p.m. show also sold out, with tickets for other show times continuing to sell. The movies are based on the best selling series of four books written by Stephenie Meyer.

Tracy Hogue and Amber Lee were two dedicated fans who traveled from Burkeville, Texas just to watch the "New Moon" premiere.

"We bought our tickets three weeks ago for this," Hogue said. "We couldn't wait to see it."

One very enthusiastic group of Leesville fans occupied the first two rows of seats in one movie theater. The Academy FTK (For The Kids) songé competition dancers. a group of eight girls aged 13 through 18, along with their two chaperones, had been waiting for this night for weeks and anxiously took pictures together while waiting for the cinema lights to dim.

"We bought our tickets on Oct. 11," the group declared in unison as they displayed their "Team Jacob" face painting and "Twilight" wardrobe.

The group joined several others in the cinema's earlier viewing of the first "Twilight Saga" installment, "Twilight," which was offered at a matinee price.

"That movie was also playing on two screens and we sold out one auditorium," Parker said.

In anticipation of such a large crowd, the cinema staff decided to turn the event into something positive for the community as well, and sent an invitation to LifeShare Blood Center.

"They knew they were going to have a large crowd, and with it being a vampire movie and all they invited us to bring a bus down and hold a drive," LifeShare blood center recruiter Jennifer Perkins explained.

Perkins and several staff members parked the blood-collection bus outside of the cinema at 8 p.m. By 11:30 they had reached their goal of 15 donors.

"I think we did very good for this location and the time that we held the drive," Perkins said.

"The people of Leesville are phenomenal and we always have a good level of participation when we come here," she added.

The movie began just after midnight, following a raffle of "New Moon" themed items to the waiting audiences.

The crowds vacated the cinema just after 2 a.m. Friday morning.

"It was awesome and so worth it," one member of the Academy FTK dancers said. "We're definitely doing this again for the next movie."

Other audience members have apparently voiced those same feelings, as the Lee Hills Cinema is already displaying posters for the third installment of the saga: "Eclipse" with the posted release date of June 30, 2010.

Leesville Daily Leader