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Twi-hards could get surprise of a lifetime

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Movie-goers at Mall of Georgia and Discover Mills on Saturday may recognize a familiar face in the crowd -- that of an actor from the recently released film "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse."

An unnamed male cast member is set to make appearances at the two Gwinnett theaters this evening.

The appearance is part of a nationwide promotion in which 20 cast members from the film will be visiting theaters in specific cities throughout the country this weekend.

Fans appear to be over the moon for ''Eclipse,'' which pulled in $68.5 million in its first day to set a new record for a movie debuting on a Wednesday.

The third installment in the vampire romance surpassed the previous Wednesday record of $62 million set last year by ''Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.''

But ''Eclipse'' fell short of the all-time best opening day, a record held by its predecessor, last November's ''The Twilight Saga: New Moon,'' which took in $72.7 million. ''New Moon'' opened on a Friday, which is typically a busier day at theaters than weekdays.

''Eclipse'' opened in a record 4,416 theaters and expanded to 4,468 cinemas Friday for the Fourth of July weekend.

With so much money already in the bank and a long holiday weekend ahead, distributor Summit Entertainment hopes ''Eclipse'' can top the $200 million haul for ''Revenge of the Fallen'' in its first five days, a record for a movie opening on a Wednesday.

In a single day, ''Eclipse'' took in a fraction more than the $68 million the movie cost to produce.

Richie Fay, head of distribution for Summit, said ''Eclipse'' followed the pattern of ''New Moon,'' whose audience was 80 percent female. With generally better reviews on ''Eclipse'' than its predecessors and a marketing campaign playing up the movie's action sequences, Summit executives hope the latest sequel will draw in more males as the weekend progresses, Fay said.

''Eclipse'' continues the story of brooding teen Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), swept up in a love triangle with her vampire boyfriend (Robert Pattinson) and her werewolf best friend (Taylor Lautner). When a revenge-seeking vamp sets her sights on Bella, the vampires and werewolves are forced to set aside a deep-seeded animosity to stand against an army of ravenous newborn vampires.

The franchise will conclude with a two-part adaptation of ''Breaking Dawn,'' the final novel in Stephenie Meyer's best-selling series. Part one of ''Breaking Dawn'' is set to be released in theaters Nov. 18, 2011.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.