Who Should Direct the ‘Twilight’ Sequel – ‘New Moon’?

Director Catherine Hardwicke, star Kristen Stewart and author Stephenie Meyer
Photo: Summit Entertainment

Whether you love or hate Twilight it is impossible to ignore the fact it is a phenomenon, and a female phenomenon at that. For so long genre films have satisfied fanboys and their lust to see men dressed as spiders, bats, flaming skulls and giant green men, but we now have our first bonafide fangirl film. Sure, there have been the Hannah Montana’s and High School Musical king of films, but those always skewed younger. Twilight captured an audience Sex and the City couldn’t even fulfill. Back at the end of May Sex and the City opened to $57 million and the headlines ran rampant insisting women could spur a film on to box-office success; the film ended up making $152 million.

Less than two months later came Mamma Mia! and its opening weekend of $27 million. It was a smaller number than Sex and the City by almost half, but it has since earned $143 million domestically and another $422 million in the foreign markets making it the 48th highest grossing worldwide feature ever. Yet again women prove to bring a film to box-office glory. Oh, and it just became the fastest selling UK DVD ever, beating Titanic‘s previous record.

On November 21 Summit released Twilight to the tune of $69.6 million in its opening weekend giving it the fourth best opening weekend of 2008 behind the likes of Batman, Iron Man and Indiana Jones (not bad company) and ahead of Will Smith, Pixar, Hulk and Narnia (can someone say “pwned“?).

However, even with nearly $70 million to its name you can’t overlook the 44% Rating the film received from critics as compiled by Rotten Tomatoes. I am of the opinion that even the majority of Twilight fans realize it was not a very good movie, but they love it regardless. I can understand this, but just imagine if it was actually a good movie. Imagine if it wasn’t only tweens and their mothers chomping at the bit to watch Edward and Bella fall in love. $70 million would be embarrassing compared to what the film could earn.

With news breaking that both Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson will be bringing in $12 million each for the sequel, New Moon, Summit has already committed 68.5% of Twilight‘s reported $35 million budget to its two stars, one can only assume they will give the same kind of monetary bump to the production. However, money isn’t all that matters. Actually, it doesn’t matter at all if you don’t have the right people in place to make it.

With Stewart and Pattinson in place as well as screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg there are several more slots to fill, but one in particular intrigues me. And as much as we may learn in the next few days that Catherine Hardwicke will be brought on to direct once again I can’t help but think (hope) a new director will be brought on to helm the second installment. In my opinion the primary problem with the first film was the script and the direction. I can’t really blame Rosenberg too harshly for the script considering she only had five weeks to write it as she was working on a deadline as the writer’s strike loomed. On top of that Rosenberg has proven she isn’t a hack with her recent work writing eight episodes of Showtime’s “Dexter“. I am also confident she will do a much better job on the script for New Moon as she will have more time to write it and a good idea of what worked and what didn’t in Twilight. This leaves Hardwicke.

In my opinion there should be one major prerequisite when it comes to the Twilight franchise – the director must always be female. It’s a female fueled franchise and 2008 is proving to show females can make movies too, and movies that make money, but wouldn’t it be nice if they were better?

Hardwicke certainly fills the female requirement, but I don’t know why everyone is so high on her as a director. Outside of Thirteen what has she done? And Thirteen, while a good movie, wasn’t great. Several people lavish praise on Hardwicke as if she has accomplished some high status in the world of film, but looking at her RottenTomatoes score and seeing a 55% on Lords of Dogtown, 38% on The Nativity Story and the previously mentioned 44% on Twilight I am wondering what people are praising.

Therefore, I tried to figure out who may be best to fill the gap. There are several ways to go about this depending on what kind of film you want to deliver. Do you want a film that will have an intense edge to it as well as the lustful tension between your two leads? If so, then lets recruit either Kimberly Peirce or Kathryn Bigelow.

Peirce directed Hilary Swank to her first Oscar in Boys Don’t Cry in 1999 and since then has only helmed 2008’s Stop-Loss, a film with a trailer that features Drowning Pool’s “Bodies”. Yeah, I think she is a director that could take things up a notch. As for Bigelow, well her next film is already set up at Summit for a summer 2009 release and word out of the festival circuit says The Hurt Locker is one hell of an intense and amazing film. Jeff Wells at Hollywood-Elsewhere said watching it is “like having your heart operated on by a construction worker wielding a power pneumatic nail-driver.” Bigelow also directed Point Break for you action fans out there. Hmmm, action, now there is something Twilight lacked even when it tried.

Personally I think those two are terrific helmers but aren’t quite right for the project.

I started thinking about Sofia Coppola, but for starters I don’t think there is any way she would come within 100 yards of the project and on top of that she just doesn’t fit.

My top four ultimately end up being Niki Caro, Patty Jenkins, Julie Taymor and Mira Nair. Of the bunch I think Mira Nair would be the most likely choice. Nair was offered the job of directing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and also directed the coming of age story The Namesake. Julie Taymor directed the Oscar-winning film Frida, the visual and musical adventure Across the Universe and the Oscar-nominated Titus. Taymor would definitely bring a different approach to the story that I would probably compare to the shift the Harry Potter franchise took when Alfonso Cuaron turned it into bonafide filmmaking with Prisoner of Azkaban. However, I am not sure such a shift would sit well with fans just as a lot of Potter fans look down on what Cuaron did with Azkaban even though a lot of critics consider it to be the best film in the series.

Patty Jenkins would be an interesting pick, primarily because I would assume her involvement would ramp up the attention to the dialogue as she has directed episodes of both “Arrested Development” and “Entourage”. She also has a bit of Academy cred after directing Charlize Theron in Monster earning Theron a Best Actress Oscar. With Jenkins’ filmography including both high profile television work and film work she may be a perfect choice for a film that felt far too much like a made-for-TV movie, but still needs to remain in that middle ground making sure it doesn’t abandon its core audience.

Personally, I would love to see Niki Caro at the helm. I love Caro’s work on both Whale Rider and North Country and think she has just the right mix of serious as well as a fun-loving approach to her films. Whale Rider was a gem and with Caro also serving as writer on Whale Rider as well as her upcoming feature The Vintner’s Luck, an adaptation of the Elizabeth Knox novel, I think she has a better ear for what works and what doesn’t. Watching Twilight I felt the film stuck too closely to the book, a book that primarily focuses on the inner thoughts of a love struck girl, a hard task to put on the big screen, but Hardwicke took it to task with long swooning shots which were supposed to be grand but came off flat.

Of course, these are just my thoughts and who knows, with a little more time to work on the script and perhaps getting Hardwicke intimately involved with the script (she co-wrote Thirteen with Nikki Reed) New Moon could be a completely different story. A lot of emphasis has been placed on the money spent for Twilight, but you have to remember not a single vampire fang was seen and outside of a lot of fast forward and wire work all the effects went into Edward’s shiny skin, an effect pulled off by ILM, so of course it’s the best effect in the feature.

So who should direct New Moon? My suggestions are above, but what do you think? Cast your vote in the poll and add your comments below.

ONE NOTE: Let’s tone down the negativity in the comments please. Yes, this is a Twilight related article but I think we can all act mature enough to have a discussion about it without negativity. There is a way to argue without calling people names and also remember, Twilight is the fangirl’s Dark Knight, everyone deserves to have their geek out movies.

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