Catherine Hardwicke Not Directing Next Twilight Film

Catherine Hardwicke will not be directing the Twilight sequel.
"Twilight" scripter Melissa Rosenberg handed in a draft of "New Moon" the weekend that "Twilight" opened. Hardwicke wanted more time to work on it; Summit announced it was going ahead with "New Moon" on November 22, with no director attached. Negotiations lasted two weeks before Hardwicke formally passed on the film Saturday.

As word spread through Hollywood agencies that the talks might not result in Hardwicke's return, reports surfaced that Summit was checking out other directors for the "Twilight" franchise while they insisted they were still negotiating with Hardwicke, who delivered the biggest opening weekend ever for a woman. (CAA denies that they were soliciting other directors.) The movie is still going strong as the director and cast promote it overseas; it came in second this weekend with $13.2 million, grossing a total $138.6 million.

The problem that stalled negotiations was that Hardwicke had strong opinions about what to do with the next installment, and so did Summit. The debate was how to focus the adaptation of the second book, which deals more with giant werewolves than vampires, as well as the long depression of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), after her vampire lover (Rob Pattinson) leaves her. One issue was how to get more of teen heartthrob Pattinson into the film. (Rosenberg has figured out a device to achieve this.) But Hardwicke, burned out from her "Twilight" labors, simply wasn't willing to jam this movie with a script that still needed months of development.

"I am sorry that due to timing I will not have the opportunity to direct 'New Moon,'" said Hardwicke. "Directing 'Twilight' has been one of the great experiences of my life, and I am grateful to the fans for their passionate support of the film. I wish everyone at Summit the best with the sequel -- it is a great story."
Summit issued a nice statement about how unfortunate it is that scheduling conflicts will keep Catherine from directing, but Nikki Finke says that Summit fired her because they found her "difficult" and "irrational" during filming. They also thought she was terrible at filming action sequences, which there will be many of during the next film. Other rumors say that Summit thought the film was too arty and that they want a director who can give it more mainstream appeal.

Nikki also reports that Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass, About a Boy, American Pie) has been offered the director's chair for the next two films in the series. Twilight had the biggest opening box office numbers for any female director. We certainly don't recall another situation where a film did really well, so the studio immediately turned around and fired the director. But perhaps it's true that the studio's and Catherine's visions (and timetable) for the next film were quite different. No doubt Summit wants the sequel to be released as fast as possible.

Posted on December 9, 2008

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