By Open Book
While Summit Pictures is quickly plugging away at the last two films of the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn 1& 2. A storm has been brewing over the last two years. Breaking Dawn 1 the fourth film in the franchise is slated to come out by the end of 2011. However, the negativity surrounding Twilight is unavoidable these days. Why did Summit continue given many franchises big profits begin to wane after the third film? As some of you know, Breaking Dawn was the last novel of author’s Stephanie Myer’s successful Twilight series. The first book Twilight appeared in bookstores in 2005. It became an instant New York Times bestseller and the rest is history. However, the Twilight fandom, which today is a cultural phenomenon, has started a revolt due to the disappointing last two films and media oversaturation. So we will try to unravel what went wrong and if Breaking Dawn has any chance of success?
In the beginning, the major complaint was the low production value of the first film. However, what the first film lacked in technical savvy it delivered (to fans and non-fans of the book) in fantasy. Catherine Hardwicke the director of Twilight captured the intimate ambiance and nature of the first book. In the end, fans and non-fans alike forgave the low-tech visual effects in favor of relishing in the romance between the two main characters Bella and Edward. Yet, what transpired after has resembled a volatile media blitz bigger than any film campaign to date. Everywhere from fans and non fans expressing hostility and anger against the franchise and actors, harassment, film leaks, public outburst by actors against the fans and press, promotional material stolen, computer hacking, stalking, death threats and the list goes on. It makes you wonder, how did all this get so out of control? What occurred after Twilight to cause this kind of frenzy?
Innocently enough it’s understood film studios need marketing campaigns to promote and sell their films. Popular films like Twilight and Harry Potter, which cater to teens, get a ton of advertisers looking to capitalize on the success of these teen films. So PR campaigns are a necessary evil to stimulate interest. However, with Twilight and Harry Potter there was already a huge fan base due to the books. Was it necessary to over sell the Twilight franchise to consumers and risk potential burn out or worse a backlash? From apparel, books, technology, fast food chains, beverage, automobiles, travel, music and more. It was more than obvious the Twilight franchise story and characters were the props for product placement.
The PR campaigns had fans and non-fans in suspense after the success of the first film. Fans could only imagine good things were in store for New Moon and Eclipse (the next two books in the series). However, Summit decided to go with a different approach and fired director Catherine Hardwicke. The rumors surrounding Hardwicke’s abrupt departure cast a negative shadow on the franchise that still exist today. After New Moon opened there was a definite improvement regarding the visual effects but the intimacy between the two characters seemed rushed and obscure. Then, rumors circulated about an off screen romance, which took center stage over the films. The two lead actors eluded the press and fans questions as to the real nature of their relationship. The song and dance worked out well for the Twilight franchise but did very little to keep the actors from cracking under pressure. Kristen Stewart’s negative outburst created the impression she was fed up with the franchise and fans. Although, the film studio denies any part in the “are they aren’t they” campaign the well-timed public appearances before a films release became too obvious for fans to deny it was PR.
Unfortunately, the constant back and forth created jaded and cynical fans to split up into groups. A whole new vernacular was born to identify the assemblage. From Robsten: who believe Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart are dating. Krisbian: like Kristen and not Rob, Nonsten: are against PRsten, (which means they dislike any propaganda about Kristen and Rob’s romance). The list goes on but this is just a sample of the groups formed as a result of the “are they aren’t they” PR campaign.
What further broke down the loyal fan base was the decision to get rid of actress Rachelle Lefevre (who played Victoria) in favor of Bryce Dallas Howard. Here’s what some fans had to say in an article in 2009 by RadarOnline.com it states:
“Cullenboysanonymous.com YES WE ARE SO OUTRAGED!!!! There I got that out of my system. I run a TW fansite but I am a Twilight fan first & foremost. I am not concerned about being politically correct where Summit is concerned. Yes I am mad at them & once again feel like the Twilight movie franchise is run by Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dumb. I think it’s totally unfair…”
Although fans were disappointed, they were willing to move on given the promise Eclipse was going to deliver in the end. Yet, rumors surfaced the highly anticipated film was in trouble. Director David Slade (who was hired to produce an action film to attract male consumers) editor Art Jones was fired half way through post-production. The negative press about Kristen Stewart was at an all time high, as well as rumors about Rob and Kristen’s so called “off screen” relationship. They played their elusive role perfectly on Oprah dodging “the question” for the zillion time, which temporarily distracted fans from the films problems. However, after Eclipse opened it was clear fans were once again mislead to believe the film studio could deliver a worthwhile film. After it was all said and done, the carnage was deep. It was apparent Summit’s decisions over the last two films were futile, the marketing campaigns were overly obtrusive, bad mishandling of firings in the press, caused further bitterness to root among fans.
Today, any mention of Twilight films, books or cast on blog sites gets met with hissing and hostility. The actor who gets the most resistance is actress Kristen Stewart due to her bad press and complaints in the media. There are just as many negative blog sites dedicated to Twilight these days than ever before. One seems to pop up every day. In 2010 New Moon was nominated in three Razzie categories, in 2011 Eclipse was nominated in nine out of ten Razzie categories. Harry Potter by comparison has repeatedly been nominated for Oscars. The backlash is strong and the animosity is even stronger. Any semblance to suggests producers of the Twilight franchise are trying to regain fans support seems to fall on deaf ears. The recent plea (in the media to fans) about leaked Breaking Dawn stills was believed to be a publicity stunt to win back fans. So do you think Breaking Dawn will be able to succeed given the negative climate that exist for this franchise today?