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Monday, 25 March, 2002, 22:15 GMT
Fans boo Britney at première
Britney Spears
Spears arrived almost an hour late
Britney Spears left fans disappointed at the UK première of her debut film on Monday when she declined to meet dedicated followers who had waited for hours to get autographs and chat to the star.

Some of the 3,000 fans - who had come from as far away as South Africa - booed and hissed the star when she was whisked into the screening of Crossroads just moments after arriving at the Odeon Leicester Square in London's West End.

All I saw was a flash of sequin and that was it

Fran Handley, 16
Despite a re-appearance on the cinema's balcony, some fans were left in tears after hopes of meeting their idol were dashed.

One banner made by fans proclaimed that its owner had "come all the way from South Africa to see you", while others carried messages like: "Britney I want to be you - you're the best."

But Spears was almost an hour late for the première and did not have time to go on a walkabout, as many stars do.

Britney Spears with Anson Mount
Spears and co-star Mount later appeared on a balcony
Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz famously spent an hour talking to fans before a recent première - even agreeing to talk to friends and family on fans' mobile phones.

But the booing is a blow for Spears' acting hopes as she tries to promote her first cinema appearance to fans.

One fan, 11-year-old Gemma Willis, had queued with mother Jane since 1530 GMT to see the star.

"Gemma's crying her eyes out because she couldn't see a thing," Mrs Willis said.

"How does Britney expect people to go and see her film if she can't be bothered to say hello to her fans?"

S Club 7's Rachel Stevens was at the première
S Club 7's Rachel Stevens was at the première
Fran Handley, 16, of Uckfield, East Sussex, had waited for nearly six hours in the hope of getting an autograph, but said: "It wasn't worth my time."

"All I saw was a flash of sequin and that was it."

Singer Charlotte Church, S Club 7 member Rachel Stevens and TV presenter Dani Behr were among the other stars who turned up.

Earlier in the day, Spears gave a hint that rumours of her split from Justin Timberlake may be true.

She told reporters that she was not in "an intense relationship" - but refused to discuss her private life further.

Britney Spears in Crossroads
Crossroads is released in the UK on Friday
She also said she wanted to concentrate on acting rather than singing in the immediate future.

"Music is my heart and soul and that's what I'm going to do, but I think right now acting is so much fun, it's a whole new ballgame and a new territory and I want to focus on that right now," she said.

Asked if an Oscar was one of her ambitions, she said: "That would be very nice, that would be something I can dream about."

She has two new films in the pipeline, it was revealed.

"One of them is an intense relationship movie, and the other is an ensemble dramatic piece which is multi-generational," according to the Crossroads producer, Ann Carli.

Resolve problems

Spears, 20, has been on a European promotional tour that has also taken in Holland, Spain and Europe's most popular TV game show, Wetten Dass...?! (Want to bet...?!), in Germany.

Crossroads sees Spears play Lucy, a young woman who goes on a trip across the US with two friends to resolve problems in their life.

Her acting has been praised by many critics, and the film has taken more than $36m (£25m) at US box offices - three times the amount it cost to make.

It also stars Sex And The City actress Kim Cattrall as Lucy's mother and Dan Ackroyd as her father.

The film opens in the UK on Friday.

The BBC's Lizo Mzimba
"She didn't sign any autographs"

BBC News Online reviews Britney Spears' movie debut Screen debut
How Britney Spears fares as a movie actress

Britney Spears has cleverly constructed her image, but says she still tries to keep her feet on the ground
Britney's image slip-up

See also:

12 Feb 02 | Film
Red carpet debut for Britney
11 Mar 02 | Showbiz
Britney denies split
18 Feb 02 | Film
Denzel's Q for success
18 Jan 02 | Music
Britney starts TV blitz
26 Mar 02 | Showbiz
In pictures: Britney's première
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