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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Chris Weitz on getting the 'Twilight' gig: The secret translation

Twilight3As any PR pro will tell you, whether you're embarking on an invasion of Iraq or just hiring a new filmmaker for your popular movie series, what counts isn't the actual event so much as the media positioning and rollout for it. Whenever I get a press release these days, I find myself reading between the lines, trying to figure out, once you get past the puffy official prose, what the statement really means. This goes double for Summit Entertainment's announcement that it's hired Chris Weitz (best known for co-helming "American Pie," "About a Boy" and directing "The Golden Compass") to take over its fantastically successful "Twilight" franchise, barely a week after Summit and "Twilight" director Catherine Hardwicke had a messy falling out over various "creative differences," to use a popular press-release obfuscation phrase.

I'm not saying Weitz is a bad choice, even if I happen to be a bigger fan of his brother Paul Weitz's films, which seem more quirky and personal (Paul did "In Good Company" and "American Dreamz"). But Chris is a talented writer-director and, having shepherded "Golden Compass" to worldwide box-office success, clearly can handle the popularization of a franchise property. But what's fascinating, for the moment, is how Chris handled his first big assignment--reaching out and reassuring "Twilight" fans who were upset over Hardwicke's sudden departure, wanted a woman director to get the gig, or crave a absolutely faithful translation of the remaining books in the series, starting with "New Moon," which Summit hopes to have in theaters by the end of next year.

So here are a few excerpts from what Chris said in his letter to fans--and what it really means:

What he said: "In the past few days I have been involved in a whirlwind romance with Stephenie Meyer's  extraordinary books."

What it means: "It's amazing how fast Amazon can rush an overnight shipment of books to your house."

What he said: "I am very grateful to have received [Stephenie's] permission to protect 'New Moon' in its translation from the page to the screen."

What it means: "I passed the audition."

What he said: "For the last decade of my career as a director, I have chosen to make adaptations of complex and involved works of literature."

What it means: "I barely remember being that smart-aleck brat who did all the semen jokes and sexist gags in 'American Pie.' " 

What he said: "When I saw the film of 'Twilight' ... I was struck by the extraordinary passion for the characters, story and theme that was evident in the people sitting in the seats around me."

What it means: "I saw the film in a real movie theater, not in my agent's screening room."

What he said: "Like many of you, I am a fan of Catherine Hardwicke's work. I can't really say much about why she is not doing 'New Moon' because I wasn't involved in those decisions."

What it means: "Don't blame me for her getting the ax. It was those guys over there that fired her."

What he said: "To those of who doubt that as a male director I can capture Bella's experience, I can only say that emotion is universal...."

What it means: "It's not like they hired Michael Bay, OK?"

What he said: "... and my work has often involved working with some of the most talented actresses in the world."

What it means: "By saying 'some of' we're obviously not counting Tara Reid."



Photo of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in "Twilight" by Deana Newcomb / Summit Entertainment

Comments () | Archives (32)

The comments to this entry are closed.

I’m glad I saw the movie, but it was a let down in several areas. So many of the scenes that could have worked, turned out rather awkward. I don’t know if it was because of the directing or editing or both.

Also, I always thought of Bella as a pleasant girl, shy and gawky, but obviously likable. The movie Bella acted too aloof and kind of snobby. What was there to like about her, much less love?

I agree with Arthur Stein, “Chris just needs to make sure that Kristen is able to show EMOTIONS that span beyond a snarl when Edward leaves and then extreme happiness when they are reunited. (My two daughters and I are waiting for her to show that she really "adores" Edward, at least that's what the book says.)”

I have no doubt that Chris Weitz is up to directing the next movie. American Pie was what it was. Since then he has definitely exhibited his aptitude for depicting more mythic themes. The Golden Compass was beautifully directed. If he does as good a job on New Moon, no one will be complaining.

I loved Stephenie's book Twilight and was so saddened and disappointed by the film adaptation. Some of the most important scenes and dialogue from the book were completely altered in the movie, such as the meadow scene. The intensity of Bella's and Edward's love, commitment and passion for each other was not conveyed in the movie. I don't believe it was the fault of the actors...I feel it was due to the poorly written script. There were so many missed opportunities to show how their relationship developed and deepened. All the filmmakers had to do was stay true to the book! There was no need to "simplify" the dialogue or add more "action" scenes. The appeal of the books is the love story and the characters...and not only between Bella and Edward, but with all the characters including the Cullen family. Melissa Rosenberg, Twilight's screenwriter, states in an interview with Twilight Lexicon "I had to bring my own vision to it. I had to see it clearly as a movie, separate from the book." Clearly, this is why the movie failed to capture what so many people have loved about the book. The filmmakers should have stayed faithful to Stephenie's vision. That is why the fans fervently adore her books and that is what they expect to see in the film adaptations.

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