Between 25 million books sold worldwide and a $70 million opening weekend, it’s safe to say Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books are now more than just a cult phenomenon. Twilight‘s big box office week saw New Moon, the second book, announced as a done deal for the screen … and yet that doesn’t necessarily mean that the other books will be made into films — or, for that matter, be made well. What are some of the challenges facing everyone’s favorite star-crossed couple Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) in the drive to create the next three Twilight films?
1) Is the Movie Already Over?
Some show-business watchers are suggesting that Twilight‘s opening-weekend office is going to face a huge dropoff; every fan of the book came out to the theaters last weekend, they say, and the film simply isn’t good enough to jump the gulf between Twi-hards and civilians. But online ticket-sales company Fandango is telling us that this weekend, Twilight ticket sales make up 23% of their business this week — far more than Four Christmases or Australia; of course, last weekend, 92% of Fandango’s transactions were for the film. Twilight‘s also playing on a colossal 3,600-plus screens (contrast that with the 3,200 screens for Four Christmases and 36 screens for Milk, just for comparison’s sake); with that kind of saturation, some industry experts suggest a steep dropoff’s inevitable. The question is, how much will Twilight falter at the box office? And will fans going for a second, third and fourth time be enough to sustain the film if it doesn’t cross over?
2) Is Kristen Stewart Tired of Being Bella?
Stewart’s easily the best thing in Twilight; if you don’t buy her journey as Bella, you won’t buy into the movie, but Stewart sells it superbly. Stewart’s a real actress, which means she may not be prepared for the life of a movie star; in just the past week, Stewart’s gone from being off the paparazzi radar to being an A-list target …. resulting in some photos of Stewart enjoying some, uh, herbal relaxant making their way into the tabloid press. If Stewart didn’t want to return the second role — or had some misfortune where she couldn’t — could any actress step into the role without wounding the franchise? And, considering the love-loathe relationship series fans have had with Stewart since the day her casting was announced, would any other young actress want to step into the role and onto the firing line?
3) Is Meyer the Brand, or the Barrier?
Stephenie Meyer is hailed as the American J.K. Rowling, a first-time author who tapped into the zeitgeist and turned her dreams into a best-seller through hard work. But as Meyer’s gone from would-be writer to best-seller, she’s been coming under a lot of scrutiny; some culture critics are challenging Twilight as a big, bold metaphor for conservative ideas about teen desire — noting that in the books and the film, abstinence is the only way to keep Bella and Edward’s love alive, and, more specifically, keep Bella living. The success of the film has brought Meyer’s ideas under much greater scrutiny … and Twilight may be destined to become just another front in the culture wars. But there’s a bigger problem, namely. …
4) … Are the Rest of the Books Actually Any Good?
Breaking Dawn, the last Twilight book, was roundly hammered by reviewers and fans alike for over-the-top violence, and some fairly gory stuff; add in the fact that later books in the series are going to require much more of a special effects budget than the first one did to make it to the big screen (the sight of people turning into giant wolves won’t come cheap) and there’s a question of if all the books in the series will make it to the screen. Add in the fact that Meyer herself thinks Breaking Dawn is ‘unfilmable’ because it would require a perfectly realistic all-computer-generated character; also, Breaking Dawn‘s grisly gore and vampire cesareans would probably earn it an R rating … and keep away the audience who it most needs to reach.
New Moon, the second book in the series, has already been given the green light as a film — but that press release said nothing about the third and fourth books, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn. Twilight‘s teen heroine has to face vampires, werewolves and hard-hearted humans; the books themselves have a very different –and much tougher — set of obstacles to overcome. …
(Do you think Twilight will drop off at the box office this week? Do you need more Twilight on-screen, or are you one of the many who just doesn’t get the hype? Let us know below …)