The “Twilight” series has not yet had a stake through its heart. The fourth installment, “Breaking Dawn Pt. 1” was as big as ever, and the fifth, “Breaking Dawn Pt. 2” is still five months from release with a new trailer is set to debut on Wednesday. It’s still a major cash cow for Summit (recently acquired by Lionsgate for $400 million, with the franchise as the crown jewel of the buyout), even as the parent studio’s “The Hunger Games” has arguably eclipsed it in returns and press of late.
But the trouble is, that stake is a comin’: Stephenie Meyer wrote a definitive end to her four-book saga, and once the last film hits in November, there’s no more material to adapt. At present, at least, there are no more “Twilight” books, and no way of continuing Bella and Edward’s story. The cash cow is running dry. The goose is no longer laying golden eggs. Stop your weeping at the back, it’ll be alright.
But it wouldn’t surprise many to learn that contingencies are already in operation: Bloody Disgusting reported over the weekend that internal discussions have already begun at the studio as to a continuation of the franchise. According to the site, it could take the form of a spinoff, a sequel, or possibly even a remake/reboot of the series, with new actors and a new take. There are clearly no firm plans in place, and Summit have already denied it, telling Deadline that, “We are not remaking ‘Twilight.’ We will happily support Stephenie Meyer if she decides to proceed in any way. But this will be the last one unless that should change.” This would not, however, be the first time that a studio has denied something, and it’s almost unthinkable that Lionsgate/Summit are sitting around crossing their fingers waiting for Stephenie Meyer to write another book. It may be a few years off, but we’d be very surprised if we didn’t see a sixth “Twilight” film of some shape and form wasn’t announced in the next few years.
But the question is, what should it be? The potential for a spin-off is already there. The novella “The Short Second Of Life of Bree Tanner,” focusing on a minor supporting character for third novel “Eclipse” was released in 2010, and Meyer was working on a book called “Midnight Sun,” which retold the events of the first novel from the perspective of Edward Cullen, until an internet leak of the first twelve chapters caused her to cease all work on both it, and any other “Twilight” novels that might have been in the works. Either — a spin-off focusing on Bree, or an adaptation of “Midnight Sun,” should it ever be finished — could plausibly form the basis of another book, even if the latter in particular sounds like the single most pointless endeavor in the history of literature.
But a remake or a reboot? With the original still fresh in the mind (let’s not forget, the first film was released less than four years ago at this point)? Once could certainly argue that there’s a creative argument to be made for it — none of the films to date have scored over 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, and have been widely mocked outside the fervent fanbase. Put it in the hands of a top-class filmmaker (“Hunger Games” sequel “Catching Fire” certainly tried to go in that direction, with names like David Cronenberg, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Bennett Miller on the company’s wishlist), and you could end up with something interesting — it’s not like there haven’t been plenty of great vampire movies in the past.
But landing a filmmaker of real clout might be tricky for a number of reasons, not least the series’ reputation to date, and the added stigma of a quick reboot. And then there’s the problem of the source material. Plenty of great films have been made from poor source material — hell, “The Godfather” isn’t exactly “War & Peace” — but it’s hard for water to rise above its source, and the “Twilight” novels aren’t just badly written, they’re lousy storytelling, dragging a thin plot across four increasingly long books. To make a film work, you’d likely need to start with the basic premise, rip everything else up and start again — as the most successful reboots, from Christopher Nolan‘s “Batman Begins” to J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek,” have done. We’ve already spoken at length about the problems of staying too close to the source material. But Meyer, like “The Hunger Games” author Suzanne Collins and J.K. Rowling, has creative approval on the movies (she’s also moved into movie producing, with rom-com “Austenland” on the way). And she’d be unlikely to take kindly to anyone straying too far from her template.
Perhaps most importantly, there’s the question of how soon is too soon to reboot a property. These days, all it takes is one mildly disappointing entry, or an aging/too expensive star, and studios are happy to press Ctrl-Alt-Delete on a franchise. After all, the James Bond series has been doing it for 40 years (although in theory, they simply swap out the lead, keeping the other elements intact). But when it does work, it’s generally been with a respectable amount of time. There was seven years between “Batman & Robin” and “Batman Begins,” seven years between “Star Trek: Nemesis” and “Star Trek” — which bodes well for next year’s “Man Of Steel,” which follows seven years after “Superman Returns.”
But within a shorter timeframe, it’s been a less happy experience: “The Incredible Hulk” followed five years after Ang Lee‘s “Hulk,” and it only barely outgrossed its predecessor, “The Punisher: War Zone” followed four years after “The Punisher,” and made only $10 million worldwide, 20% of what the Thomas Jane version of the character took. Neither film was especially well received. And while it doesn’t hit theaters for another couple of weeks, and this writer hasn’t yet seen, advanced word on “The Amazing Spider-Man” — which controversially swapped out Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire for younger models Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield — is that the film’s an uninspired retread of the same old origin story, and there seems to be a notable unenthusiasm among most movie fans (although it’s tracking reasonably well at this point). With Collins presumably reluctant to let filmmakers do much but tell the same story again, would audiences really go so soon? And given that the target audience will pretty much be in the same demographic, would they take well to the replacement of their beloved Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson? They obviously couldn’t play the roles forever, given the whole never-age thing about vampires, but it would risk burning goodwill from the fanbase if they tried it.
We suspect it’ll happen, but probably not in the near future. We are, however, convinced that we’ll see at least one more “Twilight” movie, most likely when Meyer gets around to writing a fifth book of some kind. Perhaps even more likely is a TV version — Lionsgate, unlike Summit, make TV, and CEO Jon Feltheimer said when they bought the smaller company that he “would certainly hope” that “Twilight” will end up on TV. So good news for Twihards, bad news for the Twi-haters, but either way, we’re likely to get a bit of a break for the franchise for a little while: we’re not going to see Elle Fanning and the kid from “Modern Family” in “The Amazing Twilight” in the next few years, at least.