At Hollywood’s biggest premieres, reporters are always told to arrive at least three hours before even the least-recognizable celebrity first exits a town car.
For "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" U.S. premiere Monday night in downtown Los Angeles, studio Lionsgate instructed members of the media to line up outside the Nokia Theatre at 3:30 p.m. –- a full four hours before a screening of the much-anticipated Jennifer Lawrence sequel, which of course arrives in multiplexes later this week, was set to start.
By 4:30, hundreds of camera-toting journalists were still standing on nearby Chick Hearn Court, out of view of the red carpet.
Once behind the tarp-covered chain-link fence barricading the red carpet, reporters could see a massive mockingjay lit afire. (The mythical creature plays a key part in the Suzanne Collins franchise, and also serves as the title of the third book in the trilogy.)
Lining the carpet were hundreds of fans, all of whom had spent the weekend camping out on the cold cement in anticipation of Monday evening. To pass the time, some had spent their days creating colorful signs. Allye Nomura, 25, held one addressed to Sam Claflin, the British actor who plays swaggering former Games champion Finnick Odair. "Sam, can I have your sugar cube?" it read, a reference to an item the character offers Lawrence's Katniss at the Tribute parade.
"It's supposed to be suggestive," the San Diego resident said with a grin.
Meanwhile, after spending three days in the tent camp, 33-year-old Jennifer Kelley said she felt underwhelmed by the experience. Kelley, who flew from New York for the premiere, is no stranger to urban camping: She lugged her sleeping bag to LA for the premieres of the final two "Twilight Saga" movies, as well.
"They kept this kind of minimalist," she said, a complaining note in her voice. "There weren't many contests or activities, and there was a DJ at a radio booth who was really annoying."
Plus, when Josh Hutcherson and some of the movie's other stars showed up to greet fans, "they only stayed for, like, 30 minutes," leaving many without a coveted autograph.
Meyer -- who was flanked by two friends she met online -- was still able to muster up excitement for the celebrity arrivals on Monday.
"I can't wait to see Jennifer Lawrence," she said, echoing the evening's most popular fan sentiment.
She might get a glimpse of some other celebs too: In one of the more unlikely gatherings of stars, the guests attending the premiere Monday are Matt Damon, Paris Hilton, Usain Bolt, Kelsey Grammer and Steven Spielberg’s daughter Sacha.