They screamed for his manager and his security guard up on the 3-D screen. They screamed for his best friends and his mom. They screamed for his swagger coach and his swagger coach's assistant. The hundred or so teenage girls packed into the Regal E-Walk theater in Times Square for the premiere of Justin Bieber's "Never Say Never" on Wednesday night were nothing if not comprehensive in their vocal chord-shredding mania.
But before the movie started (introducing the rest of us to people like Bieber's swagger coach's assistant but apparently reuniting the teens with familiar faces), Justin himself bopped into the theater. The pandemonium that then unfolded can be neatly summarized by the behavior of a girl seated behind me, who wailed at her friend — in a voice more reminiscent of demon-possession than happy-go-lucky adolescence — "Oh my god, give me those tissues now, I'm about to die!!"
It almost didn't happen at all. Minutes before the screening was set to begin, girls were still racing around the theater, snapping photos of Diggy Simmons, Jay Sean and Bieber's manger Scooter Braun. Half the seats remained empty. Scooter had to commandeer a microphone and announce to the crowd that if everyone didn't sit down in four minutes, security wasn't going to let Justin come inside. Some girls bolted to their seats; others raced toward Scooter, hoping to be the first to catch a glimpse of Bieber.
Scooter pleaded with the girls, but second grade teachers on the final day of school have had more success getting kids to calm down than Scooter did. He resorted to calling out individual girls and shaming them into finding their seats. Fifteen minutes after the scheduled start time, Scooter finally succeeded in his usher-duties, and in sauntered the man of the hour.
Justin Bieber thanked everyone for coming, introduced director Jon Chu, and said he couldn't be more excited to debut the film. Then the lights went down and the 3-D extravaganza began. I can't say much about what I saw, so I'll just say this: "Never Say Never" is a work of devious genius. It gives fans exactly what they want, with its mix of Bieber biography and Bieber concert footage. The 3-D looks great and the storytelling is expertly handled. Oh, and Justin doffs his shirt more times than Taylor Lautner in a "Twilight" flick.
Ever the showman, Bieber stayed around after the credits rolled to answer fan questions. The girls ate it up. If he'd offered to play the entire movie over again, their only complaint would have been, "But, why can't you play it two more times?" There is no cure for Bieber fever. As I took an escalator down to the street, a gaggle of teens not lucky enough to gain entry to the screening asked if they could have my used ticket.
"You want my ticket?" I said, holding it up.
They bum-rushed me as their parents looked on helplessly, apologetic looks on their faces.
"You know this won't get you inside," I told them.
The girls didn't care. "Please, please, please can we have it?"
So I handed the ticket over, then pulled out an extra pair of purple "Never Say Never"-branded 3-D glasses. The girls clutched one another, as if fighting to remain conscious. The last thing I heard as I headed out were the girls' competing claims of, "He gave them to me!" and "What are you talking about, he gave them to me!!"