Mention the word Twilight, and the image of pale yet glittery vampires with a Pacific Northwest backdrop immediately comes to mind. But if the studio originally got its way, the word “Twilight” might have conjured images of Jet skis, CIA agents and an all-star athlete named Bella. Wait, what? Original Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke recently explained to CinemaBlend:
The [initial] script that I read had gone through the whole development process at MTV and Paramount. And you get all these notes — nobody’s fault or anything — but you get notes, and you try this, you try this. So it had veered very far from the book, and so I did not like it at all. And no studio wanted to make it. And so Paramount put it into it turnaround.
[Bella] was a track star in the first scene, not an every-girl kind of awkward and clumsy [kid]… she was like a bad ass, and then it escalated into this whole thing where there were CIA agents on jet skis trying to find the vampires, you know. It really went, ‘Whooooo!’ She was not working for the CIA, but it was a different movie.
This sounds something more in line with the Charlie’s Angels reboot that Kristen Stewart currently is filming, and not at all in line with Twilight, the story of a shy and reserved teenage girl named Bella who finds her voice in a relationship with a vampire, Edward. And certainly not in line with what Twilight author Stephenie Meyer conceived in her initial book.
Published in 2005, Twilight introduced readers to the star-crossed couple of Bella and Edward, soul mates destined to met even though she was a timid high schooler and he was a 104-year-old vampire. The series, over the years, has sold more than 120 million copies, proving that Meyer’s vision for this passionate romance had support.
What would that fan base have thought if the drastic changes made to the Twilight concept had remained in the initial script? Likely, there would have been riots, and instant rejection of the feature-film adaptation. And that would have instantly unplugged a five-movie franchise that eventually totaled a whopping $3.3 billion in global ticket sales.
This can all be traced back to Catherine Hardwicke, who stood firm and fought to return the script for the original Twilight to the roots of Stephenie Meyer’s novel. During our exclusive chat, she told CinemaBlend:
When I read the book, I said, let’s go to the heart of why people love his book, you know? It’s this romantic, crazy, out of control, you know, the first time you fell in love, stupid passion that you have for somebody that’s totally wrong, but she doesn’t give a shit! And that’s what makes us alive. Let’s find that life force, where you will do reckless, crazy things because you know, you’re somebody. So that’s what I wanted in there. So we got rid of the jet skis. [laughs]
That was the right decision. Twilight connected with a massive audience, leading into numerous sequels including Twilight: New Moon and a two part Breaking Dawn. When did Catherine Hardwicke realize that she had touched a nerve? She tells CinemaBlend that it happened on opening weekend, as she recalls the reaction of the audience, and of a famous fan. Said Hardwicke:
I just heard from Eli Roth, because I’m working on a project with him, that Quentin Tarantino, on camera, said in an interview that Twilight made him feel like he was like a 13 year old girl, and that he loved it. That is awesome. That’s kind of funny and hilarious. And that’s exactly what I was trying to do. …
Opening night, I was in Austin [on opening weekend] at the Ale house and they were like, ‘Oh yeah, just pop in to the different screenings.’ And so I started to pop into one, and then I was mobbed. I mean, I’m not even an actor. I’m like, ‘Why am I being mobbed?’ A girl fainted in my arms, that I was there. I was like, ‘Oh Gosh. Oh Wow. Okay. This is a big deal!’
And it continues to be a big deal. We spoke with Catherine Hardwicke as Twilight was returning to theaters in celebration of its 10th anniversary. As such, Twilight will play in more than 450 movie theaters nationwide Sunday, October 21, and Tuesday, October 23, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. (local time). Want to go, and be reminded — like Tarantino — how it feels to be a teenage girl? Tickets for the 10th-anniversary screenings can be purchased online at www.FathomEvents.com or at participating theater box offices. Bring your own glitter, though.