Summit hires new 'Twilight' director, right? Wrong!
I hate to be the skunk at the picnic, but Summit Entertainment has not -- I repeat NOT-- hired "Orphanage" director Juan Antonio Bayona to direct "Eclipse," the third film in the wildly successful “Twilight” series. That would be the exact opposite of the "news" you read earlier today, first in Nikki Finke’s post on Deadline Hollywood and later in Dave McNary's seemingly authoritative Variety story, which baldly stated that Summit "has tapped Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona to direct 'Eclipse.' "
By sheer coincidence, I had lunch today with Erik Feig, who’s president of production at Summit and the man most involved with managing the hit series of films. ("New Moon," the second film in the series, begins production later this month with Chris Weitz at the helm.)
Feig was shocked to see the media reports saying Summit had hired Bayona, since -- ahem -- they’re not true. "The 'Eclipse' directing job hasn’t been offered to Juan Antonio or anyone else," he told me. "We’ve met with three or four talented filmmakers and we’ll be meeting with three or four more other candidates before we make any decision. No one has been offered the job."
Feig added that no one even bothered to call to check out the rumors before printing them, something that has become an all-too-often occurrence in the Wild West free-for-all that constitutes today’s Web-based entertainment coverage. "Nikki never called Summit or any of the producers, and Variety ran it off her blog without calling us either, which I find doubly irresponsible." (In fairness, McNary did call Summit’s PR rep, who would not confirm the story.)
The fact that the initial stories were erroneous didn’t stop everyone else on the Web -- including many of my favorite blogs -- from not only linking to them, but rewriting them in a way that repeated the falsehood. That includes everyone from the Vulture, whose post was headlined "Juan Antonio Bayona to Direct 'Twilight 3,' " to our own Hero Complex, which led its account by saying: “It’s official, according to the trades, the filmmaker behind the hypnotic horror film, 'The Orphanage,' will be brought in for the third 'Twilight' film."
I mean, if you can’t trust the Hollywood trades, who can you trust, right? As it turns out, Bayona was in town and had a Wednesday meeting with Summit execs, who are certainly impressed by his resume. Bayona has also met with "Twilight" author Stephenie Meyer, who has a lot to say about any key creative choices made on each film in the series. On the other hand, Bayona has told friends that he isn’t sure he wants to tackle the film. Though he also admires the series, he's concerned about how much creative involvement he would have coming in to direct the third installment in a series, where most of the casting and character development is already in place.
The real lesson here: The madcap pace of the Web, where everyone gets hits by linking to newsie items about cultural hot buttons, is creating an environment where you have to check stories out before you reprint them -- or you end up with egg on your face. (Trust me -- it's happened to me too.) This is just the latest example of a story that was good but, alas, too good to actually be true.