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Islanders brave the midnight hour for glimpse of 'Hobbit'

Quinn McMahon, Julian Skotheim, Reynolds Yarbrough, Geoff Arens, Ryder Goodlin attended the midnight showing of
Quinn McMahon, Julian Skotheim, Reynolds Yarbrough, Geoff Arens, Ryder Goodlin attended the midnight showing of 'The Hobbit' dressed up as their favorite characters.
— image credit: Richard D. Oxley / Bainbridge Island Review

Many heard the call and journeyed from their varied regions to middle Bainbridge, in the land of Winslow. Loyal followers braved darkened island streets, battled daunting late-night hours, and suffered long lines stretching through Pavilion hallways.

In the end, they were triumphant.

Islanders came out in force to be among the honored few, first to see "The Hobbit" as it was released for midnight showings in movie theaters across the country. And Bainbridge Cinema's on Madison Avenue wasn't spared from crowds of Tolken enthusiasts for its own midnight opening event on Thursday, Dec. 13.

"We did well with it," said Jeff Brein of Far Way Entertainment, the company that owns Bainbridge Cinemas.

"We were really pleased with the turnout," he added.

The island theater offered the film in both 2D and 3D presentations. Between the two, the theater more than sold out.

The theater only holds a handful of midnight showings each year for films, and is never certain how the showings will go.

"Some of the contributing factors (for the midnight showing) was that is was a school night," Brein said. "But also, it is a three-hour movie."

The 3D option is somewhat new for the theater, Brein said, but the island audience has embraced it well.

"Most of the young people are pretty hip to it, they have seen it before and understand how it visually works," Brein said. "Some of the older folks haven't seen it or remember the old cardboard glasses with red-and-blue frames and pretty hokey treatment. This is a much different experience."

Brein noted that the film has surprisingly drawn a wider audience than expected. "The Hobbit" garnered plenty of support from kids and teens, but it didn't stop there.

"This movie continues to attract a very broad audience," he said. "We've had more seniors than I would have thought — people 50 and above — we've had some really good response from them."

Brein speculated that the response could have something to do with the island culture — literally.

"On Bainbridge we always do well with films that are literature-based," Brein said. "If a movie is based on a book, on Bainbridge Island we always seem to get a really good response."

The film's success wasn't isolated to the island.

The opening weekend for "The Hobbit" raked in an impressive $84.8 million, setting a new opening weekend record for the month of December.

"I Am Legend" previously held the title when it opened on the same weekend in 2007. The Will Smith flick pulled in $77.2 million.

The midnight showings alone for "The Hobbit" grossed $13 million.

It all marks the beginning of a new blockbuster trilogy. The second installment of the hobbit tale, "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" will be released next December.

It will be followed up by "The Hobbit: There and Back Again," in July 2014.

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