24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Amanda Seyfried

'Twilight' director Catherine Hardwicke has no regrets about leaving the franchise

March 10, 2011 |  5:22 pm


Director Catherine Hardwicke's lavish movie retelling "Red Riding Hood" will open in theaters Friday. Although there will be some inevitable comparisons between the new Amanda Seyfried-starrer and Hardwicke's previous film, the 2008 smash hit "Twilight," Hardwicke says she has no regrets about leaving behind the franchise adapted from Stephenie Meyer's wildly popular young adult novels about high school student Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and the two supernatural hunks vying for her affection.

"I'm not really a sequel person," she says, though she admits to loving both "Godfather II" and "Aliens." "I like the first ['Twilight'] book the best. Then it went into Anne Rice land. I wasn't that into the other ones."

Hardwicke, though rumored to have been fired from the 2009 "Twilight" follow-up "New Moon," which was directed by Chris Weitz, says it was impossible for her to be let go since she had the first right of refusal on the sequel built into her contract.

She adds that both Weitz and David Slade, helmer of the third movie, "Eclipse," had many more constraints put on them than she did, remembering that when "Twilight" was filming it was still an under-the-radar project and not nearly the juggernaut it is today.

"There was a massive amount of pressure on them," she says. "I had a lot more freedom. Half of the stuff in my movie is not in the book... I got to put a lot of my imagination and my own fingerprints on it. That's not the case anymore. Now they are watched like a hawk."

As to whether Hardwicke liked the other directors' adaptations, she is more diplomatic.

"Like I said, I think the directors had a lot more obstacles.... I'm not a good judge. Even when I was a designer, I didn't want to do a sequel. If I got called for a job that was a sequel, I didn't go to the interview. Why would I want something that somebody else had already done, even if that somebody was me?"

-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: Director Catherine Hardwicke, right, with actress Amanda Seyfried on the set of "Red Riding Hood."

Credit: Warner Bros.

Amanda Seyfried likely to don 'Red Riding Hood'

March 5, 2010 |  6:33 pm

A few weeks ago, we reported that Amanda Seyfried was on the studio shortlist for the Catherine Hardwicke-directed, Leonardo DiCaprio-produced "The Girl With the Red Riding Hood" at Warner Bros. Sources now say it's looking likely Seyfried will come aboard the dark adaptation of the fairy tale for Hardwicke.

Seyf The Times' Rachel Abramowitz also recently caught up with Hardwicke, who acknowledged the Seyfried discussions. Hardwicke tipped a few more details about the "Twilight"-esque project (based on an idea from DiCaprio), which she described as being about a “village plagued by this wolf."

"It’s wild with all these different secrets and lies, and a murder mystery," she said. "It’s super-sexy.”

“Red Riding Hood” has never lacked for modern cinematic re-interpretations, including Neil Jordan’s “The Company of Wolves,” which explored the innocent Riding Hood’s sexual awakening, and the 1996 “Freeway,” in which the story was refracted through the lens of a serial killer (Kiefer Sutherland) and an abused girl (Reese Witherspoon).

Hardwicke adds that she thinks a green light will happen on this one. "We’re on track, and it looks pretty positive," she said.

Photo: Amanda Seyfried. Credit: Stephen Shugerman / Getty Images

Can a studio create a new 'Twilight' (and could someone like Amanda Seyfried be the new Kristen Stewart)?

February 17, 2010 | 10:28 pm

Maybe the only people who embrace "Twilight" and "New Moon" more than Twi-hards are Hollywood executives, who have been feverishly trying to develop the next "Twilight," or at least re-position movies they have as the second coming of same. (Universal tried that a few months ago with a movie called "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant," which didn't work out so well.)

Twi Now Warner Bros. appears to be making strides toward getting its own Gothic story of werewolves and young-woman-in-peril closer to the screen -- and with the director of "Twilight," no less.

The company has been developing a movie called "The Girl With the Red Riding Hood," a modern-day spin on the Brothers Grimm story from Leonardo DiCaprio's production company, since last year. In December, the studio entered a holding deal -- basically an arrangement in which the director and studio commit to each other exclusively for a set period of time -- with Catherine Hardwicke, the filmmaker behind "Twilight" who parted ways with the studio for "New Moon."

As that deal comes due this month, it's increasingly looking like "Girl With the Red Riding Hood" will move forward with Hardwicke. There's also plenty of other momentum:  The studio has a new version of the script, which "Orphan" writer David Johnson has been working on the last several months. And producers are starting to go out to cast, with Amanda Seyfried -- fresh off her "Dear John" turn and with at least one girl-oriented dark role, "Jennifer's Body," under her belt -- one of the few names the studio would like to hook.

Hard The story is an update of Little Red Riding Hood, with the requisite dark/dangerous/romantic elements that can appeal to "Twilight" fans -- while also attracting audiences who simply like the fairy tale. (The script has gotten high marks from power players around town, who describe it as elevated genre material a la this weekend's "Shutter Island.") True, "Riding Hood" doesn't have Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner or Robert Pattinson playing Bella, Jacob or Edward -- but then those stars were made by "Twilight," not the other way around.

The biggest thing working against the Warner Bros. movie may be that that it doesn't derive from Stephenie Meyer's global bestsellers but from the work of a couple of German academics circa the early 19th century. But when it comes to finding the next "Twilight," these may be mere details.

--Steven Zeitchik

Photos: Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in "Twilight." Credit: Summit Entertainment. Catherine Hardwicke. Credit:  Stefano Paltera / Los Angeles Times

Nicholas Sparks has to be feeling lucky

February 1, 2010 |  6:47 pm

ChGet ready for more messages in more bottles.

The adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' tearjerker "Dear John" is already tracking well at the box office, with the tissue industry bracing for the attendant surge in demand. Now another Sparks-derived romantic drama could be making a leap forward.

Producers on the Sparks adaptation "The Lucky One," which has been percolating along nicely in development at Warner Bros., are closing in on a director. Scott Hicks, best known for the 1996 hit "Shine," is the front-runner to direct the picture, with the director and executives at  Warner Bros. scheduled to meet and come to their decisions shortly.

"Lucky One," which is produced by longtime Sparks collaborator Denise Di Novi, involves a Marine who, while on a tour of duty in Iraq, finds a photo of a mysterious woman. He stashes away the photo for good luck and then uncovers a group of secrets when he eventually seeks out the woman. The latest version of the script, written by Will Fetters (who wrote the upcoming Rob Pattinson romantic drama "Remember Me"), is said to be in very good shape, and the project is considered a priority for the studio.

There's no actor attached yet, though producers have previously had preliminary discussions with James Franco about the lead role.

If the movie reaches the screen, it could create a veritable Sparks bonanza -- three movies based on the author's work in a very short span.

"Dear John," the military-flavored romance starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried, premieres tonight in Hollywood before opening this weekend. (The movie, for those who haven't snuggled up with the book and a cup of cocoa, is about a U.S. soldier who meets an activist college student and has a long-term, at times long-distance, relationship with her.)

And in early April, Sparks could expand his core demographic when Disney releases "The Last Song" as a feature vehicle for Miley Cyrus. Sparks wrote "Song" initially as a screenplay with Cyrus in mind (he later adapted it into a novel), crafting a story of a teenage girl who reconnects with her estranged father over a music-filled summer.

Studios are wise to look to Sparks. Adaptations of the author's work may not be racking up Academy Awards, but he has proven a fan favorite -- and a reliable author to lean on for mid-budget romances. Each of the four movies based on his books ("Message in a Bottle," "A Walk to Remember," "The Notebook" and "Nights in Rodanthe") has earned at least $40 million domestically, while one ("The Notebook") doubled that number and earned $81 million. And Sparks has written at least one book every year since 1998, giving studios plenty of material to draw from.

As for Hicks, he's recently moved between more commercial comedies and artier films. Nominated for two Oscars for the piano-player drama "Shine," he most recently directed Clive Owen in the single-parent drama "The Boys Are Back," but before that mined relationship territory with "No Reservations," the restaurant-set romantic comedy starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart.

--Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried in "Dear John." Credit: Scott Garfield/Screen Gems


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