Published: Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 10AANDE
Last Modified: Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012 – 2:53 pm
On Friday, “Twilight” fans will close the lid on a book-and-movie series that entranced them for seven years, when the final “Twilight” film, “Breaking Dawn – Part 2,” opens in theaters.
In “Part 2,” Bella (Kristen Stewart), the wan everygirl who captivated two super-natural suitors, will awaken as a vampire. She and shimmery hubby Edward (Robert Pattinson) will watch their daughter grow unnaturally quickly.
Teenage and middle-age women will head to theaters in groups to see how it all ends. (“Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer collaborated with filmmakers on a surprise ending). They will do this because it has become a tradition. This tradition helped the first four “Twilight” movies gross $1 billion in the United States and $2.5 billion internationally.
Others might see the film because they were intrigued by the Stewart-Pattinson cheating scandal. Juicier than most Hollywood scandals, it entailed a public apology from Stewart, what appeared to be actual emotion and, best of all, photos.
“Twilight” is its own cultural phenomenon. But it also has served as maker to others.
Or at least its success has.
Those other entertainment endeavors, listed below, will go on long after the “Twilight” films.
So will Bella and Edward, probably. And most of the other Cullens. And the Volturi. But you get the drift.
Since the success of Meyer’s first “Twilight” book in 2005, “supernatural romance” sections have inched closer to the front of bookstores, adults have discovered the appeal of young-adult books, and an unusual number of movies and television shows have highlighted the “blood” or “vampire” in their titles.
Most prominent now are the CW’s “The Vampire Diaries” and HBO’s “True Blood,” each of which feature handsome vamps in gelled hair and fitted jackets, à la Edward.
“True Blood” fans – as loyal to their vamps as Twi-hards are to theirs, if also far more likely to use cuss words – would argue vehemently that “True Blood,” which debuted a few months before the first “Twilight” film and comes from a Charlaine Harris book series introduced four years before the first “Twilight” book, is a true original.
But the show has built and maintained a following, partly from “Twilight” spillover, said Thelma Adams, a contributing editor for Yahoo! Movies.
“The people who originally embraced ‘Twilight’ have aged out,” Adams said of the teens and ‘tweens who first picked up Meyer’s book. “They have gotten hipper … the vampires from ‘True Blood’ are much more urgent than the sparkly, diamond-y Robert Pattinson.”
Adams said she appreciates the chaste, “retro” quality of the “Twilight” love story. But vampire entertainment hunters seeking more kick to go with vampirism’s kink have chosen the more carnal HBO show.
“The Hunger Games”
When author Suzanne Collins’ tale of 16-year-old, post-apocalyptic heroine Katniss Everdeen hit bookshelves in 2008, her target audience was running out of “Twilight” books and ready for more female- centric stories.
“Hunger Games” quickly became known as ‘the new ‘Twilight.’ “
The first “Games” film, released in March, scored big at the box office. “Catching Fire,” based on the second “Games” book, is in production.
“I don’t know if ‘The Hunger Games’ (movie) would exist without ‘Twilight,’ ” said Melissa Rosenberg, screenwriter for the “Twilight’ films. “Not because of the story, but because ‘Twilight’ showed the female audience will come out, and they will buy the DVD and then buy the curling iron.”
“Twilight” did not necessarily inspire the vampire and sci-fi stories that followed, she said.
“Probably these creators already had their ideas,” Rosenberg said. But the success of “Twilight” showed the money people – film producers and publishers who green-light releases – that “people will come out to pay for these things.”
‘Fifty Shades of Grey’
British author E.L. James sort of had her own idea. Or at least 10 percent of an idea, to go with Stephenie Meyer’s 90 percent.
James first wrote a fan- fiction novel that smutted up “Twilight.” Then she crafted a more original tale, of dominance and submission, that happened to feature two lead characters, Christian and Anastasia, with traits similar to those of Edward and Bella of “Twilight.”
“Fifty Shades” took the irresistible essence of “Twilight” – the cool- customer guy pursuing the awkward young woman who doesn’t know she’s special – and stole its innocence, to sometimes erotic, sometimes creepy effect.
But the millions of women and men who have enjoyed “Fifty Shades” probably are not taking in every word of prose.
A planned Focus Features film adaptation seems guaranteed to generate abundant interest among moviegoers. Yet it is difficult to envision the novel, with its awful dialogue, becoming the kind of quality film for which Focus (“Brokeback Mountain“; “Lost in Translation”) is known.
Erotic scenes generally are most effective in movies that are already charged, such as thrillers. In the book “Fifty Shades,” little goes on between sex scenes beside Anastasia admiring Christian’s clothes.
Kristen Stewart, movie star?
Opinions vary on Stewart’s performances in the “Twilight” films. Some people find her charming and relatable; others see her as too mopey.
What’s certain is that the series’ success has thrust the clearly introverted Stewart into the limelight, where she squirms, and into contention for high-profile film roles that can be ill-fitting.
“She is a commodity,” Adams said of Stewart. The window for Stewart to exploit her “Twilight” fame is short, Adams said. Perhaps it was a sense of urgency that motivated Stewart to take the role of Snow White in the 2012 film “Snow White and the Huntsman.”
Longtime film critic Adams said she thinks Stewart can act. But she found Stewart’s delivery of what should have been a rousing speech in “Huntsman” to be “jaw-droppingly bad.”
Adams said Stewart fits as “Twilight” teen Bella, “who is kind of Goth, kind of not, and not really popular” but who clearly holds great appeal to young men.
But more conventional roles, and publicity appearances, don’t suit her.
“She has been trained to wear the dresses and do the red carpet, but she really is not that girl,” Adams said. “She is a cigarette-smoking, hipster girl. … They have to build movies for her.”
Adams said Stewart was best as rocker Joan Jett in “The Runaways,” a 2010 film that played to Stewart’s strengths as more of an outlier.
“Her range is limited, but she can have a career,” Adams said.
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