Hollywood gave way to the magical, post-apocalyptic world of Panem Monday (March 12) at the world premiere of 'The Hunger Games'
. To honor the occasion, fans flocked to downtown Los Angeles en masse to stand outside the Nokia Theater and await famous arrivals.
Decked out in branded t-shirts and armed with cameras and "Hunger Games" memorabilia, aficionados of the sci-fi trilogy came prepared to be autographed. Had they read the books? Um, yeah, like 10,000 times. They didn't miss the mall tour last weekend either. Their primary goal this evening? Josh Hutcherson
The crowd was predominately female -- tweens to young adult -- most hoping, first and foremost, to catch a glimpse of Hutcherson, who plays "Peeta" in the move. Peeta makes up one corner of a love triangle completed by Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss and Liam Hemsworth's Gale.
Ideally, they'd walk away with Hutcherson's hand in marriage, too. One fan even showed up in a wedding dress and veil. The craze was so frenetic that when some random actors from the movie showed up early to sign autographs, the crowd went manic snapping photos despite not knowing who they were.
"I'm curious to see how the cast members think the movie turned out. Also, I wonder if I'll get to see them up close again, and if they'll remember me," said 22-year-old Melanie Williams when asked why she came out for the event. "I met them at the mall tour last week and after two hours, when I was leaving, I passed Jennifer [Lawrence], and she was like, 'Oh hi Melanie!'"
Lawrence plays Katniss in the movie, which hits theaters nationwide on March 23. She drew a rousing cheer when she arrived in a sparkly gold Katniss-appropriate gown, but it was Hutcherson who was front and center in the minds of those waiting hours along the sidewalk.
Some admirers were draped in "Hunger Games" logos -- like the distinctive Mockingjay -- while others wore fancy dresses just in case the charming star should come their way. Together, the young and restless stood with their posters raised, their hearts dangling from their branded sleeves, waiting for their heroes.
"I'm excited to see the movie, I have tickets to the premiere," commented Mary Lopersta, 18, whose friend won a contest to attend. "I'm really hoping to see Josh Hutcherson... He's been a year-long obsession of mine."
A mix of die-hards and a few curious wanderers who'd meandered over from the nearby Clippers game, the crowd was overwhelmingly Team Peeta, with only one honest gawker admitting she was originally a fan of Gale, but wised up halfway through the book.
"I'm very excited about the movie because they said they're going to bring justice to it, so I hope it's a good adaptation," 17-year-old Chris Palacios tells Zap2it
, "I really hope they do the cave scene well because there's so much character development in it."
Despite similar obsessions with adapted series such as "Harry Potter" or the "Twilight Saga" novels, the "Hunger Games" diehards believe the adventures of the books in which teenagers are forced into gladiator-style games to the death totally trump the rest. In fact, even mentioning a comparison could get a reporter in trouble.
"Okay, I'm going to go on a rant now," says Williams. "I hate it how people sit here and say team this and team that; I'm like it's not 'Twilight.' There are no teams."
Regardless, Williams' friends forced her to lay claim to one true alliance: Team Peeta.
Added the Margolis sisters, standing nearby in matching "Hunger Games" tees, "You have to love, Peeta. He's everyone's dream guy...He's just so perfect."