“Twilight” and “New Moon” mania sends flood of fans to Forks, Wash.
As the people of Forks, Wash., can attest, it takes just a movie to transform a town into a tourist attraction.
Since the release of “Twilight,” based on Stephenie Meyer’s popular novels about a hunky vampire and the teen girl who loves him, the rain-drenched hamlet of Forks has seen a veritable flood of fans.
They’re young. They’re hungry. And they’ve turned the tiny Olympic Pennisula town, once known for timber and trout fishing, into a bloodsucker’s paradise.
The irony, of course, is that little of “Twilight” or its sequel, “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” was filmed in Forks.
Locations along the Columbia River Gorge stood in for Forks’ lush forests and grassy glens. A St. Helens, Ore., house was substituted for Bella’s home. Even Forks High School, her alma mater, was cobbled together from footage shot at Madison High School in Portland and other area schools.
So many of the movie’s scenes were shot in Oregon and southwest Washington that they’ve inspired a bevy of bus tours.
That hasn’t stopped the Washington state tourism board from setting up a Web site that promotes Forks, La Push and Port Angeles as “Twilight” hotspots — or Forks gift stores from hawking fake vampire fangs and Robert Pattison posters. (Britain’s Daily Mail claims that “Twilight” and “New Moon” have boosted Forks’ tourism “1,000 percent,” an inspiring if somewhat suspect figure.)
All this “Twilight” mania might seem a little strange to the people who have spent their lives in and around Forks. But it makes utter sense from the perspective of a film aficionado.
People want to have a concrete connection to the people and places they’ve only read about in books or glimpsed on screen. They want, more than anything, for the fantasy to feel real.
This summer, I made a pilgrimage to Astoria, Ore., for the selfsame reason. I wanted to see the spots where some of my favorite movies — “The Goonies” and “Short Circuit,” to name a couple — were filmed.
The Astoria area served as a scenic backdrop for “The Black Stallion,” “Kindergarten Cop,” both “Free Willy” movies, “Teenage Mutant Turtles III,” “The Ring II” and “Into the Wild.”
Parts of “Point Break,” “1941″ and “Twilight” were shot in neighboring Cannon Beach. The nearby communities of Gearhart, Ilwaco, Nehalem and Warrenton have also seen their share of stars.
Most of these movies were shot in the 1980s and early ’90s, a filmmaking boom time for the Pacific Northwest. But every now and then, fans come looking for a bit of Hollywood magic.
Although I wonder how many “New Moon” buffs will come searching for their own Hollywood haunts 20 years later, I’m willing to bet a handful will return to Forks year after year. They’ll come searching for the familiar names and places, for the hidden clues that make Forks, Wash., much more than a town.
Image courtesy of MovieWeb.com.
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