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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 July 2007, 21:32 GMT 22:32 UK
Simpsons launch hits Springfield
Simpsons creator Matt Groening (c) with the famous family
Creator Matt Groening spoke to thousands of fans in Springfield

The world premiere of The Simpsons Movie has taken place in the US town of Springfield, Vermont.

The town, which shares its name with the fictional home of the animated family, was chosen ahead of 13 other Springfields to host the event.

Streets were closed off and a yellow carpet laid for a special ceremony held before the film's first showing.

Creator Matt Groening spoke to crowds, a number of whom were dressed as popular characters from the cartoon.

"As Homer would say, 'Woo-hoo!'," Groening told the audience.

Civic pride

The choice of the Vermont town to host the world premiere had prompted an outpouring of local pride in the state in the run-up to the big day.

I think it's quite clearly bigger than Elvis and the Beatles put together
Brock Rutter
Vermont Film Commission

Vermont ice cream makers Ben & Jerry's unveiled a surprise Homer Simpson-inspired flavour - Duff beer and "D'oh-Nut" - for the event.

Brock Rutter, of the Vermont Film Commission, emphasised the cultural importance of the release of the long-awaited movie.

"I think it's quite clearly bigger than Elvis and the Beatles put together," he told the Associated Press.

"We're all very proud," said resident Judi Martin, 56.

Crowds at The Simpsons movie premiere
Thousands of people turned out for the premiere

The town of just over 9,000 residents won the contest to host the event, beating Springfield, Illinois, and other contenders in states including Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio and Tennessee.

The winning town's video featured Homer - played by a talk-show host - running through town chasing a giant pink, rolling doughnut.

Springfield welcomed visitors on Saturday by hanging a banner across its main street, decorated with Homer's favourite doughnuts.

The Simpsons is the longest-running prime-time entertainment series in the US, lasting 18 years so far.

The show is set in a fictional Springfield because its creator, Matt Groening, spotted that it was one of the most common place-names in the US.

The film goes on general release in the US and UK on 27 July.

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