By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood November 23, 2009 at 7:40AM
A lot of people are scratching their heads over the whole Twilight phenomenon. When I made a fuss about it before Comic-Con in 2008, many fan boys didn't have a clue. By July 2009 there was a raging Twilight backlash at the male-dominated Con. Even last week, I was amused by all the clueless Dads at the Twilight: New Moon premiere who'd rather be shot than admit to reading one of the books. Why were they there? To check it out.
Rubber-necking is a key explanation for why the second movie did twice as well as the first, opening to $142.8 million, the third-biggest opening ever. Curiosity post-Twilight film and DVD, plus extraordinary marketing on the part of Summit, pushed New Moon into must-see, event-movie, check-it-out status--even though Chris Weitz's film is arguably worse than its predecessor.
Twilight is like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. It's about the franchise, the world, the characters that Stephenie Meyer created. It's about Bella and Edward and Jacob and every fan's membership to that society, the group that shares their knowledge and love and expertise in all things Twilight. The stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, at this stage, are nothing outside the franchise. Because Stewart's a strong actress, she has a shot at crossing over her Twilight fame to such films as The Runaways, in which she plays 70s rocker Joan Jett.
Pattinson will have to prove himself in a good movie. Remember Me, judging from the trailer, looks unlikely to deliver. Bel Ami, opposite Uma Thurman and Kristin Scott Thomas? Hard to say. All Pattinson can do is chase the films he feels comfortable starring in. That one I want to see.
Here's Ad Age's interview with PopStar's Matthew Rettenmund:
Rettenmund: Right now, with Twilight, it's the franchise that is big. The stars' need to make that popularity rub off on them so that they can carry it on into new and different roles. Franchises can't change as easily as actors, so franchises usually wind up being discounted goods eventually. Though a literary series such as "Twilight" has a great chance, like "Harry Potter," of standing the test of time.
The Twilight Saga is also a femme-driven phenom that cannot be denied. Which is why I'm skeptical of Summit's moves to expand the franchise by pulling in men. If David Slade's Eclipse is just another routine thriller without the romantic pulse that drives the Twilight fans, they won't be happy.
[Black-and-white Rob Pattinson/Kristen Stewart photo courtesy EW.com]