THE PHENOMENON CONTINUES
The Twilight Saga film series stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner and tells the story of 17-year-old Bella Swan who moves to the small town of Forks, Washington to live with her father, and becomes drawn to Edward Cullen, a pale, mysterious classmate who seems determined to push her away. But neither can deny the attraction that pulls them together…even when Edward confides that he and his family are vampires. To complicate matters, Bella's best friend Jacob Black is a
werewolf, designed solely to kill vampires.
The action-packed, modern day vampire love story TWILIGHT, the first film in the series, was released in theatres on November 21, 2008 to a blockbuster reception. The second installment of the film franchise, THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON was released November 20, 2009. The franchise has grossed over $1.1 billion in worldwide box office ticket sales to date.
Both films set subsequent home entertainment records: The Twilight Saga: New Moon sold over 4 million DVD units in its first weekend of release in March of 2010 - a tally surpassing Twilight, which sold 3.8 million DVD units in its first weekend in 2009, and went on to be the top selling DVD title of the year with 9.2 million units sold.
Thousands of retails locations nationwide took part in midnight release events for insatiable Twi-hard fans, who are eager for more of the continuing story in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
Like the novel, the movie sees the love triangle between Bella Swan, Edward Cullen, and Jacob Black reach a turning point; while the Cullens and the Wolf Pack must unite against a common danger. "When we started to make these movies a lot of people would say that the third one's going to make the best movie," says Wyck Godfrey, one of the producers of all three films. "I think a lot of people feel that way because Eclipse has the most action with the climax involving a huge battle between wolves and vampires and newborns. Plus, you know that the Bella/Edward/Jacob relationship is going to come crashing in Eclipse."
"But to me, Eclipse is really about Bella having come to the decision that she is absolutely going to become a vampire and she begins to really evaluate what that's going to cost her," adds Godfrey. "She must weigh the pros and cons of the ramifications of choosing to become Edward's eternal lover."
Author Stephenie Meyer agrees, "For me the biggest theme was always about having to face the consequences of your choices, and that even the right choices have consequences, and not making a choice has a consequence. One of the biggest things about growing up is that grownups realize, if I do A then I have to deal with B, and they take that into account. Bella has to become a grownup and start dealing with the consequences of her actions."
The complicated relationships between the multitude of characters intensify in her story. "Jealousy and trust play into any human relationship. It's an interesting thing for me to explore and when I'm writing, I find that I just get really tightly wound up in the intricacies of human relationships and that's what always brings me back," comments Meyer. "There's so much story with Victoria, Riley, and Bree that wasn't in the book.
When we were working on scripting Eclipse, I had to sit down with Melissa and a bunch of people at Summit, and just explain to them blow by blow exactly what Victoria was doing, so that we could make sense of it all. That was a lot of fun because there's so much to that story that nobody knows because it's not in the novel. So that was cool and I'm glad that some of that is in the film, so that people get to see some of the back story that was going on that Bella wasn't aware of."
"I rely enormously on Stephenie and have so increasingly on each movie, and Eclipse more than the other two," confirms screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg. "For Eclipse, we traveled beyond the book and went deeper into the mythology that Stephenie had already developed. She shared some of that with me and enabled me to flesh out the movie and to give us some different perspectives on some of the other characters."
The mysterious new character Riley is highlighted in the film. "Because the books are all from Bella's point of view, you're only introduced to Riley when she's introduced to Riley. But Stephenie had, of course, thought of how Riley came to be, so I got the opportunity to flesh Riley out as a character, so we're not just dropping him into the third act," reveals Rosenberg.
"Eclipse was the hardest of the three to write," adds Rosenberg. " I thought it would be the easiest because it has all this great action. When I actually got into writing it, I realized that the action's only in the third act. So, it was about pulling the action and the tension into the rest of the movie. So it actually ended up being the most challenging of the three and actually maybe my favorite script."
Following in the footsteps of Catherine Hardwicke and Chris Weitz, director David Slade was selected to lead the filming of the action-packed third installment of The Twilight Saga.
"We always wanted to shake up the styles of the various movies, so we always thought that we would have different directors for each movie," explains Godfrey. "For Eclipse, we wanted somebody who showed an ability to work with young actors and get great performances, but also someone who had a larger visual style with a bigger scope and an ability to shoot great action. David Slade emerged as a fantastic candidate.
Plus, he was somebody who loves myth and the supernatural. His movie Hard Candy was totally reliant upon performance, and his second film 30 Days of Night, displayed that visual style. He came in and really presented his vision for the movie and we realized he could really give us what we were looking for, especially with the action that we want for the climactic scenes."
"What attracted me to this project was that it is a great story and a tremendous challenge for me as a filmmaker. I don't like doing the same thing over and over again, because I learn from being challenged. On one level this was the biggest challenge out there - to make a film of this scope, in this amount of time, and to go into a different genre essentially. Yes, I've done a vampire film, but Eclipse is a very different kind of thing. This is a romantic story, which swings from a darker more abject feeling to very pure romantic scenes. To do very emotional scenes was a huge challenge and fun and a way to grow. But most importantly, I'm always looking for a great story and now, having read all of the books, Eclipse is my favorite story. So I think we're blessed with the best story, and directors like good stories cause we know that most of our job is done already," laughs Slade.
"Eclipse is one of the broader stories. I think that New Moon was very sophisticated in its involvement of emotions between the three characters," comments Slade. "But what I wanted to do with Eclipse, because it had so many larger scale stories, was to go for a more cinematic approach to the film. Eclipse is packed with story and a lot of epic things that happen. It's a big thick book. So, I felt that this particular film had to have a really cinematic edge to it."
Slade collaborated closely with the creative team - producer, screenwriter, author, actors - already in place on the series. "David's truly an artist with a really odd, dry sense of humor, which I totally connect to," comments Godfrey. "He approaches every scene with an idea visually of what he wants to accomplish, and he can describe and present his vision really clearly."
"If I'm going to shoot a certain way, it's important to, wherever possible, write it into the script. I would show my storyboards to Melissa and she would incorporate those storyboards into the writing," says Slade. " Sometimes we'd talk about character and the specifics of ideas and back story. Melissa has a tremendous understanding of story and character, and she is just really fast and smart, really got an idea very quickly when I'd be trying to describe something aesthetically. Then we'd all get on the phone with Stephenie Meyer and run these ideas by her and she'd give us great insight. Melissa was really a great brainstorming partner to get this epic story told. When we received Stephenie's approval, we felt like that's the last word on the subject, because this is her universe."
"Every movie has been a little bit different on the screenwriting process," shares Meyer. "With Twilight, I got to see the script pretty close to the final draft and I gave them some notes. Nothing really in depth, because I was worried about overstepping so I just pick the things that were really a big deal. With the first one, we had this girl party going on with Catherine and Melissa and me, and it really felt cool just to have all the ladies together."
Meyer adds, "With New Moon, it was cool because Chris is a writer/director. He understood my side and I understood his. He was great about saying, 'What do you think?' With one scene in particular, I know that he just said, 'Let's just do this right out of the book.' As a writer you love to hear that."
"With Eclipse we were all back and forth even after we started filming. It's a very long book with a lot that goes on. I think we kept trying to fit things in and then pulling things out... it was complicated. So I worked with Melissa a lot on that. She read a short story that I was working on and was able to put some of that in. Melissa and I worked together really well just going over the different information and late nights and dinners.
It was fun! Melissa's great and it's kind of like a slumber party whenever I'm with her."
"Each experience has been so different with each different director there's been a whole different feeling. David's great and we have really bonded on the subject of music. We tend to listen to the same things and he's directed some of my favorite bands' music videos," reveals Meyer. "We really have this connection on that level and I think that his sensibilities in the videos and that sense of movement really serve him well with Eclipse. On set he's so nice and chipper. I think he's really fun to work with."
The returning stars agree. "I think it's awesome that we actors have the opportunity to work on the same story, with the same actors, and yet work with a different director, and be able to mold to their different styles. It's awesome for us. I'm so thankful we had that opportunity," says Taylor Lautner. "I think this film is definitely going to be darker. We're at war and Victoria's looking for revenge. We got werewolves and vampires fully involved now. There's not a better choice out there than David Slade for that."
"It is much more action-oriented," adds Pattinson. "New Moon is a very internal film and moves at a very different pace. Eclipse is much more frantic and there needs to be more immediacy about everything, which David likes. Plus, I think the tone is a lot harsher. The fight scenes in this are much more scrappy and feral. Even when people are talking to each other, everything seems like it's much more immediate. I think people will be quite shocked at the quicker pace."
"Oddly enough I think this has been the easiest of all three. It's not been hard to get back into this at all. Especially coming out of New Moon, which was such a cerebral experience in terms of what Bella had to go through. Bella's much more industrious in this movie - she's got a lot more to do. She's called upon to actually deal with things that don't necessarily have an emotional drain on her. I've been in this horrifying lifethreatening situation a million times, I think I can handle it a little bit better this time," laughs Stewart,
"Eclipse was my favorite book and audiences are going to love the film because you still got the romance element at its strongest - we got Bella, Edward and Jacob," comments Lautner. "But we're also at war, so the action level is through the roof. David Slade's bringing a darker cool tone to it. This just might be my favorite… so far."
"Stephenie's been here a lot more in this one than on the other ones. She's not really directly intimidating, but just knowing she's watching the monitor can be quite intimidating. But in a lot of ways, it is handy, especially if you want to win an argument with someone. Stephenie - can you just say that this happened in the book? That can be helpful," laughs Pattinson.
Godfrey adds, "Stephenie has had more opportunity to come up on Eclipse, since she's not selling a book right now. In fact, she lives in my trailer, when she's visiting," laughs Godfrey. "What's great about having her is that as we're shooting a scene, she'll see things that we don't see, because she's lived with these characters and these books for much longer. At times, she'll say 'you might want to think about this.'
Ultimately it always enriches the scene that we're shooting. So, having that extra set of eyes is fantastic. She's really involved deeply in the development of the screenplay and making sure that we're getting all the important parts of the books in. She's even involved in the casting, because they're described so clearly in her books. We show all the auditions to her and get her feedback, so in a sense she's almost really a producer on the movie."
"I am in a really fortunate position where I work with Summit and we're friendly with each other and we get along and we shoot ideas around. That's not the norm--generally a writer signs the contract and then that's it… you don't hear from anyone until your movie comes out," relates Meyer. "I'm really lucky because I find the whole movie making business fascinating. I've learned a ton and I've met some really cool people. So I'm really grateful that they've let me be involved and that I get to have the experience of
making sure the movies reflect my vision. I love that. I get overruled sometimes and I
understand why that has to be, not everything can fit in. But just to be a part of the
conversation is great."
Godfrey believes the fans will embrace what the filmmaking team has done in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. "It's the culmination of everything that they've been waiting for. I feel like it's been a slow buildup to the explosion of all of these external elements crashing in on Forks, Washington - all because of Bella's decision to become a vampire."