Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Catherine Hardwicke|
|Screenplay by||Melissa Rosenberg|
by Stephenie Meyer
|Music by||Carter Burwell|
|Edited by||Nancy Richardson|
|Distributed by||Summit Entertainment|
|Box office||$407.1 million|
Twilight is a 2008 American romantic fantasy film based on Stephenie Meyer's 2005 novel of the same name. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, the film stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. It is the first film in The Twilight Saga film series. This film focuses on the development of the relationship between Bella Swan (a teenage girl) and Edward Cullen (a vampire), and the subsequent efforts of Edward and his family to keep Bella safe from a coven of evil vampires.
The project was in development for approximately three years at Paramount Pictures, during which time a screen adaptation that differed significantly from the novel was written. Summit Entertainment acquired the rights to the novel after three years of the project's stagnant development. Melissa Rosenberg wrote a new adaptation of the novel shortly before the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike and sought to be faithful to the novel's storyline. Principal photography took 44 days and was completed on May 2, 2008; the film was primarily shot in Oregon.
Twilight was theatrically released on November 21, 2008; it grossed over US$393 million worldwide. It was released on DVD March 21, 2009 and became the most purchased DVD of the year. The soundtrack was released on November 4, 2008. Following the film's success, New Moon and Eclipse, the next two novels in the series, were produced as films the following year.
Bella Swan, a seventeen-year-old outcast, leaves Phoenix, Arizona and moves to Forks, a small town located on Washington state's Olympic Peninsula, to live with her father, Charlie, the town's police chief. Her mother, Renée, is remarried to Phil, a minor league baseball player whose career often keeps the couple on the road.
Bella becomes re-acquainted with Jacob Black, a Native American teen who lives with his father, Billy, on the Quileute Indian Reservation near Forks. Bella makes friends at her new high school, but finds the mysterious and aloof Cullen siblings particularly intriguing. Bella is seated next to Edward Cullen in biology class on her first day, but he seems repulsed by her. After a week's absence from school, Edward returns and socializes normally with Bella. A few days later, Bella is nearly struck by a skidding van in the school parking lot. Edward instantaneously covers a distance of over thirty feet, putting himself between Bella and the van, stopping it with only his hand. He subsequently refuses to explain his actions to Bella, and warns her against befriending him. Jacob tells Bella about a long-standing animosity between the Cullens and the Quileutes, and says the Cullens are not allowed on the reservation.
After much research, Bella concludes that Edward has mysterious powers that resemble a vampire's. He eventually confirms this, but says that he and the other Cullens only consume animal blood. The pair fall in love, and Edward introduces Bella to his vampire family. Carlisle Cullen, the family patriarch, is a doctor at the Forks hospital. Esme is Carlisle's wife and the family matriarch. Alice, Jasper, Emmett, and Rosalie are their informally-adopted children. The family's reaction to Bella is mixed, concerned that the family's secret could be exposed.
Edward and Bella's relationship is jeopardized when three nomadic vampires--James, Victoria, and Laurent--arrive in the Forks area. They are responsible for a series of deaths being investigated as animal attacks. James, a tracker vampire with incredible hunting instincts, is excited by Bella's scent and becomes obsessed with hunting her for sport. Edward and the other Cullens protect Bella, but James tracks her to Phoenix, where she is hiding with Jasper and Alice. James lures Bella into a trap at an old ballet studio. He attacks Bella and infects her with vampire venom. Edward arrives and, after a ferocious battle, subdues James just as other Cullens arrive. Alice, Emmett, and Jasper kill James, decapitating and burning him, as Edward removes the venom from Bella's wrist, preventing her becoming a vampire. In the aftermath, Bella has suffered a broken leg and is hospitalized. Upon returning to Forks, Edward accompanies Bella to the high school prom, where he refuses her request to transform her into a vampire. They are unaware that James' mate, Victoria, is secretly watching them, plotting revenge for her lover's death.
Stephenie Meyer's paranormal romance novel Twilight was originally optioned by Paramount Pictures' MTV Films in April 2004, but the screenplay that was subsequently developed was substantially different from its source material. When Summit Entertainment reinvented itself as a full-service studio in April 2007, it began development of a film adaptation anew, having picked up the rights from Paramount (who coincidentally had made an unrelated film with the same title in 1998) in a turnaround. The company perceived the film as an opportunity to launch a franchise based on the success of Meyer's book and its sequels.Catherine Hardwicke was hired to direct the film and Melissa Rosenberg was hired to write the script in mid-2007.
Rosenberg developed an outline by the end of August, and collaborated with Hardwicke on writing the screenplay during the following month. Rosenberg said Hardwicke "was a great sounding board and had all sorts of brilliant ideas.... I'd finish off scenes and send them to her, and get back her notes." Due to the impending Writers Guild of America strike, Rosenberg worked full-time to finish the screenplay before October 31. In adapting the novel, she "had to condense a great deal." Some characters from the novel were not featured in the screenplay, whereas some characters were combined into others. "[O]ur intent all along was to stay true to the book", Rosenberg explained, "and it has to do less with adapting it word for word and more with making sure the characters' arcs and emotional journeys are the same." Hardwicke suggested the use of voice over to convey Bella's internal dialogue -- since the novel is told from her point of view -- and she sketched some of the storyboards during pre-production.
The filmmakers behind Twilight worked to create a film that was as faithful to the novel as they thought possible when converting the story to another medium. Producer Greg Mooradian said, "It's very important to distinguish that we're making a separate piece of art that obviously is going to remain very, very faithful to the book.... But at the same time, we have a separate responsibility to make the best movie you can make." To ensure a faithful adaptation, Meyer was kept very involved in the production process, having been invited to visit the set during filming and even asked to give notes on the script and on a rough cut of the film. Of this process, she said, "It was a really pleasant exchange [between me and the filmmakers] from the beginning, which I think is not very typical. They were really interested in my ideas", and, "...they kept me in the loop and with the script, they let me see it and said, 'What are your thoughts?' ... They let me have input on it and I think they took 90 percent of what I said and just incorporated it right in to the script." Meyer fought for one line in particular, one of the most well known from the book about "the lion and the lamb", to be kept verbatim in the film: "I actually think the way Melissa [Rosenberg] wrote it sounded better for the movie [...] but the problem is that line is actually tattooed on peoples' bodies [...] But I said, 'You know, if you take that one and change it, that's a potential backlash situation.'" Meyer was even invited to create a written list of things that could not be changed for the film, such as giving the vampires fangs or killing characters who do not die in the book, that the studio agreed to follow. The consensus among critics is that the filmmakers succeeded in making a film that is very faithful to its source material, with one reviewer stating that, with a few exceptions, "Twilight the movie is unerringly faithful to the source without being hamstrung by it."
–Twilight author Stephenie Meyer
However, as is most often the case with film adaptations, differences do exist between the film and source material. Certain scenes from the book were cut from the film, such as a biology room scene where Bella's class does blood typing. Hardwicke explains, "Well [the book is] almost 500 pages--you do have to do the sweetened condensed milk version of that.... We already have two scenes in biology: the first time they're in there and then the second time when they connect. For a film, when you condense, you don't want to keep going back to the same setting over and over. So that's not in there." The settings of certain conversations in the book were also changed to make the scenes more "visually dynamic" on-screen, such as Bella's revelation that she knows Edward is a vampire--this happens in a meadow in the film instead of in Edward's car as in the novel. A biology field trip scene is added to the film to condense the moments of Bella's frustration at trying to explain how Edward saved her from being crushed by a van. The villainous vampires are introduced earlier in the film than in the novel. Rosenberg said that "you don't really see James and the other villains until to the last quarter of the book, which really won't work for a movie. You need that ominous tension right off the bat. We needed to see them and that impending danger from the start. And so I had to create back story for them, what they were up to, to flesh them out a bit as characters." Rosenberg also combined some of the human high school students, with Lauren Mallory and Jessica Stanley in the novel becoming the character of Jessica in the film, and a "compilation of a couple of different human characters" becoming Eric Yorkie. About these variances from the book, Mooradian stated, "I think we did a really judicious job of distilling [the book]. Our greatest critic, Stephenie Meyer, loves the screenplay, and that tells me that we made all the right choices in terms of what to keep and what to lose. Invariably, you're going to lose bits and pieces that certain members of the audience are going to desperately want to see, but there's just a reality that we're not making 'Twilight: The Book' the movie."
–Twilight author Stephenie Meyer
Kristen Stewart was on the set of Adventureland when Hardwicke visited her for an informal screen test that "captivated" the director. Hardwicke had trouble finding an actor otherworldly enough to play vampire Edward Cullen. Then she got a call about a guy in London. "I looked at a couple pictures and was like, 'I'm not sure,'?" Hardwicke says. "He had been fired from his last job, he was unemployed, he was in debt." Pattinson flew to Los Angeles on his own dime to read with Stewart.Shiloh Fernandez, Jackson Rathbone, Ben Barnes, and Robert Pattinson were the final four up for the role of Edward. Meyer had imagined Henry Cavill in the role while she was writing the book, but he was deemed too old by the time production began. Hardwicke did not initially choose Robert Pattinson for the role of Edward Cullen, but after an audition at her home with Stewart, he was selected. Hardwicke said, "Kristen was like, 'It's got to be Rob!' She felt connected to him from the first moment. That electricity, or love at first sight, or whatever it is." Hardwicke gave him the part, but he had to make a promise. "You've got to realize that Kristen is 17 years old," Hardwicke told him, "She's underage. You've got to focus, dude, or you're going to be arrested. I made him swear on a stack of Bibles." Pattinson was unfamiliar with the novel series prior to his screen test but read the books later on. Meyer allowed him to view a manuscript of the unfinished Midnight Sun, which chronicles the events in Twilight from Edward's point of view. Fan reaction to Pattinson's casting as Edward was initially negative; Rachelle Lefèvre remarked that "[e]very woman had their own Edward [that] they had to let go of before they could open up to [him], which they did." Meyer was "excited" and "ecstatic" in response to the casting of the two main characters. She had expressed interest in having Emily Browning and Henry Cavill cast as Bella and Edward, respectively, prior to pre-production.
Henry Cavill, Meyer's original choice for Edward, turned down the role of Carlisle. Peter Facinelli was not originally cast as Carlisle Cullen. "Hardwicke liked me, but there was another actor that the studio was pushing for," Facinelli said. For unknown reasons, that actor was not able to play the part and Facinelli was selected in his place. The choice of Ashley Greene to portray Alice Cullen was the subject of fan criticism due to Greene being 7 inches (18 cm) taller than her character as described in the novel. Meyer had also stated that Rachael Leigh Cook resembled her vision of Alice.Nikki Reed had previously worked with Hardwicke on Thirteen, which they wrote together, and Lords of Dogtown. Reed commented, "I don't want to say it's a coincidence, because we do work well together, and we have a great history. I think we make good work, but it's more that the people that hire [Hardwicke] to direct a film of theirs [have] most likely seen her other work."
Kellan Lutz was in Africa shooting the HBO miniseries Generation Kill when the auditions for the character of Emmett Cullen were conducted. The role had already been cast by the time that production ended in December 2007, but the actor who had been selected "fell through"; Lutz subsequently auditioned and was flown to Oregon, where Hardwicke personally chose him.Rachelle Lefèvre was interested in pursuing a role in the film because Hardwicke was attached to the project as director; there was also "the potential to explore a character, hopefully, over three films"; and she wanted to portray a vampire. She "thought that vampires were basically the best metaphor for human anxiety and questions about being alive."Christian Serratos initially auditioned for Jessica Stanley, but she "fell totally in love with Angela" after reading the novels and successfully took advantage of a later opportunity to audition for Angela Weber. The role of Jessica Stanley went to Anna Kendrick, who got the part after two mix-and-match auditions with various actors.
On a bed in Catherine Hardwicke's house is where Pattinson kissed Stewart for the first time for the Twilight screen test. "That bed made Pattinson who he is right now," says Reed. That's also where Hardwicke auditioned Evan Rachel Wood, when she had her get into her bed with Nikki Reed for the film Thirteen. When asked about her lair, Hardwicke says, "MTV came and did an episode in my house filming the bed. It's legendary." Principal photography took 44 days, after more than a week of rehearsals, and completed on May 2, 2008. Similar to her directorial debut Thirteen, Hardwicke opted for an extensive use of hand-held cinematography to make the film "feel real". Meyer visited the production set three times and was consulted on different aspects of the story; she also has a brief cameo in the film. Cast members who portrayed vampires avoided sunlight to make their skin pale, though makeup was also applied for that effect, and wore contact lenses: "We did the golden color because the Cullens have those golden eyes. And then, when we're hungry, we have to pop the black ones in," Facinelli explained. They also participated in rehearsals with a dance choreographer and observed the physicality of different panthera to make their bodily movements more elegant.
Scenes were filmed primarily in Portland, Oregon. Stunt work was done mainly by the cast. The fight sequence between Gigandet and Pattinson's characters in a ballet studio, which was filmed during the first week of production, involved a substantial amount of wire work because the vampires in the story have superhuman strength and speed. Gigandet incorporated mixed martial arts fighting moves in this sequence, which involved chicken and honey as substitutes for flesh. Bella, the protagonist, is unconscious during these events, and since the novel is told from her point of view, such action sequences are illustrative and unique to the film. Pattinson noted that maintaining one's center of gravity is difficult when doing wire work "because you have to really fight against it as well as letting it do what it needs to do." Lefèvre found the experience disorienting since forward motion was out of her control.
Instead of shooting at Forks High School itself, scenes taking place at the school were filmed at Kalama High School and Madison High School. Other scenes were filmed in St. Helens, and Hardwicke conducted some reshooting in Pasadena, California, in August.Twilight was originally scheduled to be theatrically released in the United States on December 12, 2008, but its release date was changed to November 21 after Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was rescheduled for an opening in July 2009. Two teaser trailers, as well as some additional scenes, were released for the film, as well as a final trailer, which was released on October 9. A 15-minute excerpt of Twilight was presented during the International Rome Film Festival in Italy. The film received a rating of PG-13 from the Motion Picture Association of America for "some violence and a scene of sensuality".
The score for Twilight was composed by Carter Burwell, with the rest of the soundtrack chosen by music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas. Meyer was consulted on the soundtrack, which includes music by Muse and Linkin Park, bands she listened to while writing the novels. The original soundtrack was released on November 4, 2008, by Chop Shop Records in conjunction with Atlantic Records. It debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200.
Twilight grossed over $7 million in ticket sales from midnight showings alone on November 21, 2008. The film is fifth overall on Fandango's list of top advance ticket sales, outranked only by its sequel the following year, Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009). It grossed $35.7 million on its opening day. For its opening weekend in the United States and Canada, Twilight accumulated $69.6 million from 3,419 theaters at an average of $20,368 per theater. The film grossed $192,769,854 in the United States and Canada, and $214,417,861 in international territories for a total of $392,616,625. Its opening weekend gross was the highest ever of a female-directed film, surpassing that of Deep Impact (1998).
Based on 219 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 49% and a weighted average score of 5.41/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "Having lost much of its bite transitioning to the big screen, Twilight will please its devoted fans, but do little for the uninitiated." On Metacritic, it has a weighted mean score of 56 based on 38 reviews from film critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".New York Press critic Armond White called the film "a genuine pop classic", and praised Hardwicke for turning "Meyer's book series into a Brontë-esque vision."Roger Ebert gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, "I saw it at a sneak preview. Last time I saw a movie in that same theater, the audience welcomed it as an opportunity to catch up on gossip, texting, and laughing at private jokes. This time the audience was rapt with attention". In his review for the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan wrote, "Twilight is unabashedly a romance. All the story's inherent silliness aside, it is intent on conveying the magic of meeting that one special person you've been waiting for. Maybe it is possible to be 13 and female for a few hours after all".USA Today gave the film two out of four stars and Claudia Puig wrote, "Meyer is said to have been involved in the production of Twilight, but her novel was substantially more absorbing than the unintentionally funny and quickly forgettable film".Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "B" rating and Owen Gleiberman praised Hardwicke's direction: "She has reconjured Meyer's novel as a cloudburst mood piece filled with stormy skies, rippling hormones, and understated visual effects".
The film was released on DVD in North America on March 21, 2009, through midnight release parties, and sold over 3 million units in its first day. It was released on April 6, 2009 in the UK. Bonus features include about 10 to 12 extended or deleted scenes, montages and music videos, behind-the-scenes interviews, a "making-of" segment, and commentary featuring Hardwicke, Stewart, and Pattinson. The Blu-ray disc edition of the film was released on March 21, 2009, in select locations, but was made more widely available at further retailers on May 5, 2009. As of July 2012, the film has sold 11,242,519 units, earning $201,190,019.
The film and the next two installments of the Twilight Saga was rereleased as a triple feature with extended cuts on January 13, 2015.
Since its release, Twilight has received numerous nominations and awards. In January 2009, Carter Burwell was nominated for Film Composer of the Year by the International Film Music Critics Association.Robert Pattinson won Bravo TV's A-List Award for A-List Breakout. At the 2009 MTV Movie Awards, Pattinson, who was nominated alongside Taylor Lautner, also won an award for Male Breakthrough Performance, "Decode" was nominated for Best Song from a Movie, Twilight won an award for Best Movie, Kristen Stewart won for Best Female performance, Stewart and Pattinson were awarded Best Kiss, and Pattinson and Cam Gigandet won an award for Best Fight.Christian Serratos won a Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film: Supporting Young Actress. For the 2009 Teen Choice Awards, held on August 9, the film and its actors received a combined total of 12 nominations, nine of which the film won. At the 2009 Scream Awards, the film was nominated for nine awards, four of which it won. The film won two ALMA Awards for makeup and hairstyling. It also won the Public Choice Award at the World Soundtrack Awards, where Carter Burwell was also nominated for Composer of the Year.Catherine Hardwicke received a Young Hollywood Award for her directing. In addition, the film was nominated for Best Fantasy Film at the 35th Saturn Awards and two Grammy Awards.
In 2015, Lionsgate released an Extended edition a bit over 4 minutes longer. It edits into the movie scenes already released as "Deleted Scenes" on previous DVD releases.
MTV reported in February 2008 that Summit Entertainment intended to create a series of at least three films based on Meyer's books. The studio had optioned New Moon, the second book in the series, by October 2008, and confirmed their plans to make a film based on it November 22, 2008. Because Catherine Hardwicke had wanted more preparation time than Summit's schedule for the production and release of the sequel would provide,Chris Weitz was selected to direct it in December 2008.