'Twilight' franchise to switch directors

December 7, 2008 (The Hollywood Reporter / Steven Zeitchik) -- "Twilight" director Catherine Hardwicke won't helm the next picture in the Summit vampire franchise. Hardwicke had until recently been thought a candidate to helm the sequel, titled "New Moon," but word began to circulate in the industry that the relationship between Summit and the helmer has not always been smooth.

On Sunday, Summit confirmed that Hardwicke won't direct the film.

The studio said in a statement that its targeted end of 2009 or early 2010 release of the film does not work with Ms. Hardwicke's required prep time to bring her vision of the film to the big screen. Thus, as has been done before with many successful film franchises, the studio will employ a new director for "New Moon."

The picture, whose start date has not yet been set, will nontheless reunite writer Melissa Rosenberg and actors Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. Summit has not named a new director, but it is likely to want to move relatively quickly on the sequel after the original earned nearly $139 million in three weeks of release.

Hardwicke had initially been considered a bold choice for romantic-actioner "Twilight." The CAA-repped director made her name with indie breakout "Thirteen" and also directed period religious tale "The Nativity Story" for New Line. The combination proved winning, though, as the midrange-budgeted "Twilight" became one of the fall's biggest hits.

"New Moon" is the second installment in Stephenie Meyer's four-book series and also centers on vampires in a small town in Washington state, this time with a more prominent role given to a teenage werewolf.



'Twilight' sequel speeds ahead for November 2009

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- "Twilight" fans have a short wait for the next installment of the vampire saga.

Summit Entertainment spokesman Paul Pflug says "New Moon" is following just 12 months after the first movie, opening Nov. 20, 2009, over the same weekend as "Twilight" this year.

Summit has tapped Chris Weitz ("The Golden Compass") to direct "New Moon," based on the second book in Stephenie Meyer's best-selling series about the dangerous romance between a teen (Kristen Stewart) and a vampire (Robert Pattinson) fighting his bloodsucking instincts.

Weitz is taking over the franchise from "Twilight" director Catherine Hardwicke. "Twilight" has shot to $150 million at the box office since debuting Nov. 21.


director picked

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter / Steve Zeitchik) - Chris Weitz will direct "New Moon," the sequel to the smash vampire romance "Twilight," after that film's director Catherine Hardwicke failed to reach a deal with producer Summit Entertainment.

The hiring of Weitz, whose credits include "About A Boy" and "The Golden Compass," prompted a carefully calibrated campaign of reassurance on the part of creators.

Stephenie Meyer, the author of the four-book series about young vampires and werewolves, wrote a letter that sought to calm fans nervous about the midstream switch.

"I'm sad that Catherine is not continuing on with us for 'New Moon,' she wrote on her Web site, but then noted that, with Weitz: "Torches and pitchforks aren't going to be necessary." The director "is excited by the story and eager to keep the movie as close to the book as possible," she wrote. "He is also aware of you, the fans, and wants to keep you all extremely happy.

It's rare for the director of a successful first picture not to continue on with the sequel. There have been conflicting reports about Hardwicke's departure, with some noting creative and other differences. Summit has said it was a matter of scheduling.

Weitz has not directed a girl-oriented project before but has been involved in movies that encompass elements featured in "Twilight," producing the coming-of-age tale "American Pie" and directing the fantasy adventure "The Golden Compass."

Still, the director was taking few chances.

"I promise to remain responsive to your hopes and fears," he wrote in his own letter to fans Saturday. "I thank you for this opportunity and for your faith."

Weitz said he had been "in a whirlwind romance" with the series over the past few days, and, in a particularly careful phrasing, said he is "very grateful to have received (Meyer's) permission to protect 'New Moon' in its translation from the page to the screen."

Both Weitz's and Meyer's letters represent rare attempts to communicate with fans on issues often left mostly to the industry, and speak both to the intense insider interest of fans as well as the importance of that group to the franchise's success.

Summit a week ago had faced a public-relations challenge when some fan bulletin boards began to worry about Hardwicke's departure.

"Twilight" stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart are returning for the sequel, as is screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg. The picture, like the first, centers on the ordinary teenager Bella and the vampire Edward but adds Jacob, a werewolf character who figured less prominently in the first film.

The budget for "Moon" is expected to be slightly higher than that of "Twilight," with a release likely for late 2009 or early 2010. "Twilight," which cost $37 million to make, has earned about $150 million at the North American box office after four weekends.


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From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

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