Let 'The Hunger Games' Begin: My Midnight Screening Experience

[caption id="attachment_118977" align="alignleft" width="220" caption="NextMovie"]Phoebe Kingsak[/caption]

The odds were ever in our favor last night. Though I can't say the same for the rest of the theater.

For the past few months, I've drooled more and more with each "Hunger Games" scene or trailer that's hit the web. A die-hard fan of the book series, I had to share this fantastic dystopian story with my friends, all 120 of the NYU Admissions Ambassadors. They were hooked before the Reaping even took place.

When ticket pre-sales started, you bet I booked it to the theater like it was the Cornucopia. When a movie outsells midnight shows faster than sparkly vampires, you know something's afoot. But I wasn't going to leave my pals in the dust. So I bought 34 tickets, as there were that many volunteer tributes willing to join me.

Standing in line at the theater is one of my favorite parts of the midnight screening experience. Everyone appeared to be college-aged or younger (we were at Manhattan's Regal Union Square, conveniently located near NYU), and there were plenty of eccentric and dedicated outfits to snap photos of, myself included. We got in line for our 12:10 a.m. showing up at 9 p.m. sharp. The few of my friends who shunned the book before were hurriedly tearing through the pages to get in the know.

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Fans cheered every few minutes for no reason other than pure excitement. We even got interviewed by College Humor, though we weren't too humored by their warped "Hunger Games" trivia.

[caption id="attachment_118975" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Phoebe Kingsak"]Capitol Citizens at Midnight Screening[/caption]

While "Hunger Games" may not have costumes as recognizable as, say, "Harry Potter," getting in style to honor the film was easy. I donned my "arena Katniss" look, mockingjay pin and combat boots included. I saw a bow-slinging Katniss taking photos with her own Boy with the Bread. There were several Tributes in torn training gear marching around.  And running into a few women from the Capitol (pictured right) was really the cherry on top.

We dominated theater 13 at the Regal - and dubbed it our own District 13, naturally. Nothing like watching the "Games" with 34 of my closest friends! We snatched the best seats in the house and got comfortable very quickly. I even started our own snack Hob, passing around sodas and candy, even refilling the oversized bucket of popcorn again and again as we filled plastic bags. Hey, what would Katniss do?

Last-minute bathroom runs were taken just short of the showtime. At 12:10 a.m., breathing stopped and cheering commenced as the lights dimmed. For once, I wanted the trailers to fast-forward and get to the good stuff. Then ... it began.

[caption id="attachment_118974" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="NextMovie"]Phoebe and friends at Hunger Games Midnight Screening[/caption]

We laughed. We gasped. We aww'd. I even heard a few of my friends sniffling as they wiped away tears (oh, Rue ...). Katniss, Peeta, and the rest of the characters were people that both my guy friends and girl friends could relate to and appreciate.

The movie could have been another three hours and we would've sat through the whole thing without complaints. But Gary Ross and crew: You hit the bullseye. It didn't feel like we were watching some movie adaptation; we were pulled entirely into the experience, like we were District citizens watching our beloved characters fight for their lives. It's like Ross incepted our minds and created everything we pictured the story to be to the tee.

Also Check Out: Fans Take to Twitter to Review "The Hunger Games"

I say without hyperbole, this was easily the best night of my young life. To experience such a cultural spectacle with my best friends -- a story that speaks beyond pages and love triangles and echoes real-life -- was something I wouldn't trade for a million squirrels or tesserae.  Like "1984," this could be a story that will transcend generations and forewarn the dangers of an unknown future.

And as the posters promised, the world was watching last night -- to the tune of a whopping $20 million. Take that, "Twilight"!

NextMovie editorial intern Phoebe Kingsak is a senior journalism/cinema studies student at NYU who seriously is not exaggerating when she says it was the best night of her life. Follow her on Twitter.