Tuesday, November 19, 2013
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The latest "Hunger Games" are yet to begin, but the fans have already arrived in force.
Seven hundred fans of the popular book trilogy spent the weekend camped out on the concrete in front of L.A. Live plaza, and they were rewarded with games, celebrity meetings and tickets to Monday's premiere of "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire."
"I'm floored!" said Alyce Kozar, 24, who said she just joined the fan camp "to be with those sharing my fandom."
The Los Angeles resident bonded instantly with 23-year-old Jemmie Yamson of Minneapolis, whom she met when the camp began, and now the two are planning to travel to Comic-Con together.
Fan camp participants won their spots in an online lottery. The camp began Saturday morning, when fans were split into "districts," echoing a tenet from the books. They were responsible for their own tents and sleeping gear, but Lionsgate, which also hosted a fan camp for the first "Hunger Games" film, provided diversions such as cast visits and contests. Director Francis Lawrence and star Josh Hutcherson were among the stars who dropped by during the two-and-a-half-day campout.
Lawrence said fans' passion vitalizes the cast, who unveiled their film in Berlin, Madrid, Rome and Paris before the Los Angeles premiere.
"When you hear the crowds go nuts and they're so excited about the material and about the movie and about the cast, it's really energizing and exciting," he said. "And it makes it all worthwhile."
Fans brought their own hand-made posters to the premiere, and many carried copies of the second book in the series by Suzanne Collins.
Danny Hernandez of Azusa, Calif., was among those with book (and Sharpie) in hand. He applied for the fan camp so he might get a chance to see the film early, but found connecting with fellow fans even more rewarding.
"The coolest thing was meeting all of these people," the 29-year-old said, adding that he had come alone but now belonged to a group of 10, who planned to watch the film together.
Cheyenne Deen of Las Vegas convinced her mom and sister to travel to Los Angeles for the camping adventure. The 22-year-old and her friend, 19-year-old Michelle Mota, came to the first "Hunger Games" fan camp and also slept on the sidewalk for the "Twilight" premieres.
They have a tip for fan-camp folks: "Never leave the camp because there's always something going on."
The two participated in a scavenger hunt and collected autographs from Hutcherson and others.
Deen's mother, Elaine, who'd never attended a fan camp before, was dazzled to near speechlessness.
"I'm star-struck," she said.
"The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" opens Friday.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .
AP Entertainment Writer Mike Cidoni Lennox contributed to this report.