SHELBY, NC (WBTV) - Fans of the much anticipated release of "The Hunger Games" flock to theaters in the small town where much of it was filmed.
The doors to the Carmike 10 theaters along Highway 74 in Shelby swung open for a special midnight showing Friday of what could quite possibly turn out to be the biggest movie of all time.
What makes this such an event, was that many of the pivotal scenes from the movie were filmed in the town.
Many of the attendees to the movie premier were also cast as extras in the film.
"I was a reaping official in the movie." said Ronald Baughn, who was among over eight-hundred people who crowded in to see the movie.
"It was great. The movie was more than I anticipated it to be."
Kindale Bridges, who also shared some valuable screen time, was blown away by how well everything worked together.
"It was overwhelming, but meeting all the stars and everything was awesome." Bridges said.
Other fans who weren't on the big screen, still gave it rave reviews.
"It was yummy." said a young Sam Baker. "I mean amazing!"
The biggest controversy with the film is that it is being compared to another blockbuster hit "Twilight". To fans in Shelby, there is no comparison.
"Twilight in my opinion is just about a girl who can't find love and make up her mind." according to Stephanie Watterson. "Whereas Katniss is fighting for her life. It's more substantial than Twilight."
"I cried, I laughed, it was amazing." exclaimed Hannah Roland. "It was just like the book.
Others liked "The Hunger Games", but said the comparison between what appeared on screen and between the pages of the novel were worlds apart.
"It was exciting, but it wasn't as good as the book." said a somewhat deflated Sierra Croft. "The book is more in-depth, and some things are changed."
Parts of the movie were also filmed in Cabarrus County at the old Philip Morris plant. In Kannapolis at the historic Gem Theater, crowds flocked to the midnight showing, and owner Steve Morris expected steady business through the weekend.
"I think we are probably going to be busy all weekend long," Morris told WBTV. "We've already sold quite a few advance tickets for the 7 show tonight, nothing like last night, but a lot of phone calls coming through and I assure people that I would be very surprised if we don't have plenty of seats available for everybody."
Morgan Meno was first in line for the 4 pm show on Friday.
"I think that when this movie is over I'm going to be a changed person," Meno laughingly told WBTV.