LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," lovelorn character Bella Swan gets dumped by her vampire man, sinks into depression and later flies to Italy to pursue him. While that may sound too extreme, actress Kristen Stewart thinks Bella is setting a good example to girls.
"New Moon" debuts in theaters on Friday, and the sequel to last year's "Twilight" is expected to have an opening weekend as extreme as its storyline, judging by early interest.
It is the top advance ticket seller of all time for online outlet Fandango.com, and by Tuesday afternoon, MovieTickets.com was reporting nearly 2200 sold-out shows.
At a Los Angeles premiere, thousands of fans screamed and waved signs for their favorite actors. Social networking website MySpace carried a live stream of the event and lured nearly 3 million viewers.
The first "Twilight" made $384 million at worldwide box offices with its tale of high school student Bella (Stewart) falling in love with vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). But in "New Moon," he breaks her heart and leaves for Italy.
Months pass as Bella sits despondent at her window during the day and screams in her bed at night. In between, she finds solace with her friend Jacob Black, a werewolf.
Later, when an unexpected visitor tells Bella that Edward is in danger, she hops on a plane to Italy to save him.
When asked if Bella's actions set a bad example for the 13 year-old girls who will be a big part of its audience, Stewart said she thinks the film's message is a good one.
"Be extreme," Stewart said. "Go for it. I think that's the point. I know that this is a movie about immortality and mortality but, like, you live once."
The "Twilight" film series, of which "New Moon" marks the second installment, is based on a series of best-selling books by author Stephenie Meyer, which her publisher says have sold 85 million copies worldwide.
Many fans of the four "Twilight" books are girls in their teenage years and younger. Bella, who narrates the books, is the character with whom they identify.
"She has a lot of really innate female qualities," Stewart said. "For a character in literature, I think it's awesome that so many girls can look up to her, because she's fickle and unabashedly (so)."
In the books and the movies, Bella and Edward debate whether he should bite her and transform her into a vampire who will live forever, like him.
While Stewart has her view on the film's message, "New Moon" director Chris Weitz, who made 2007 fantasy "The Golden Compass" and teen comedy series "American Pie," differs.
"I'm going to use this word: sexuality. Which is OK to use, because really the message of these films is that it's a very important thing, and these are actually quite traditional in their values," Weitz said.
"When Edward is thinking about whether to turn Bella into a vampire, he's taking this issue very seriously, the way that you might take sex seriously, or that you might ask teenagers to take it seriously," he said.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte