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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Under a glaring California sun, "Twilight" fans took shelter in camping tents on Tuesday, as they awaited their date with Robert Pattinson and other stars from the latest film in the vampire romance series.
Some 550 devotees of "The Twilight Saga," many of whom have camped out since Sunday night in downtown Los Angeles, are being rewarded for their patience with guaranteed spots on the red carpet for the Thursday movie premiere of "Eclipse."
"It's just worth seeing all the stars. They bring the characters that we love so much to life, so we want to see them in person and cheer them on," said Yolanda Rodriguez, 36, an unemployed graphic designer who came from San Francisco for the event.
The fans, virtually all female, are living on the concrete plaza of an entertainment complex, surrounded by blankets, tents, umbrellas and cardboard cut-outs of the film's stars.
The "Twilight" books by author Stephenie Meyer have been a publishing sensation and spawned a Hollywood movie franchise.
"The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" opening June 30 and starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, will likely be one of 2010's biggest blockbusters. The first two films made over $1.1 billion combined at box offices worldwide.
Jen Yamato, film critic and "Twilight" expert with Movies.com, compared fan fervor to the emotions caused by The Beatles in the 1960s.
"It's really akin to Beatlemania back in the day, in terms of how ardently 'Twilight' fans really love the property, and camping out outside of the premiere is just one way to celebrate that love," Yamato told Reuters.
Melissa Rivett, 25, came from Chicago to Los Angeles to wait for the premiere. That is not the only sign of her devotion to "Twilight."
On her calf is a tattoo of the fictional crest of the Cullen clan of vampires, the same group of bloodsuckers that Edward belongs to. Her arm bears the American Indian-inspired emblem of the "Wolf Pack," the group of werewolves Jacob runs with. On her wrist in black are the words "Be safe," which was the advice that Edward had for shy student Bella Swan.
Rivett, who said she saw the 2008 "Twilight" film 15 times in the theater, calls herself a "spoilers-free girl" because she has not watched any trailers for "Eclipse," not wanting to ruin the experience of seeing it.
Dawn Sirtak, who met Rodriguez camping out for a previous "Twilight" movie and has remained friends with her since, said waiting for the premiere has been fun.
"It's a giant slumber party, what's not to love?" she said. "You get to visit with your friends from all over the country and even from other countries and you make new ones."
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Jill Serjeant