Twilight - Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan & Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen

Teenage girls were whooping and squealing with delight at yesterday’s first UK screening of Twilight – the teen vampire movie based on a series of best-selling novels by US author Stephenie Meyer. And that was before the film had even started.

There were even more yelps of pleasure from the stalls when the movie got underway and the yips and screams and shrieks reached a peak of rapture at the first appearance of British actor Robert Pattinson as vampire hero Edward Cullen, a smouldering hunk with pale skin, red lips and cheekbones so sharp you could slice open a vein on them.

Actually, there is no gore – and no fangs – in the movie, which is closer to high school romance than horror and tells the story of an awkward, out-of-place teenage girl, Kristen Stewart’s Bella Swan, who falls for the coolest guy in school (Pattinson, previously best known as Cedric Diggory in two of the Harry Potter movies), who just turns out to be a vampire.

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Bella and Edward’s forbidden love, with its yearning emotions and unfulfilled desires, has clearly struck a chord with teenage girls (and their mums, apparently) – the books have sold zillions and the film has just had an astonishingly successful opening weekend in the States, taking a staggering $70.6m (£47m) and outstripping both High School Musical 3 and Quantum of Solace in the process.

Yesterday’s preview screening was my first exposure to the Twilight phenomenon, but on the basis of the weekend’s box-office takings, and the weekend’s fan hysteria, I think I’d better get used to Bella and Edward’s turbulent passion being a cinema fixture for some years to come.

Twilight has its Leicester Square premiere on 3 December and goes on general release in the UK on 19 December.