'Breaking Dawn': Bill Condon to Direct Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart

Robert Pattinson faces Kristen Stewart Twilight
Robert Pattinson's Edward Cullen faces Kristen Stewart's Bella Swan in Catherine Hardwicke's Twilight (2008)

Writer-director Bill Condon, who won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for Gods and Monsters (1998), has been named the director of the last installment(s) of the The Twilight Saga series, Breaking Dawn, which will bring back Robert Pattinson's Edward Cullen, Kristen Stewart's Bella Swan, Taylor Lautner's Jacob Black, and at least one new – and highly unusual – character to boot.

“I'm very excited to get the chance to bring the climax of this saga to life onscreen,” Condon was quoted as saying. “As fans of the series know, this is a one-of-a-kind book — and we're hoping to create an equally unique cinematic experience.”

Other Oscar-pedigreed filmmakers previously under consideration for Breaking Dawn were Sofia Coppola, Gus Van Sant, and Stephen Daldry, who has recently been announced as the director of the screen adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer's novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Catherine Hardwicke directed the first movie, Twilight, which wasn't too warmly received by critics. Even so, the “indie” effort caught everyone by surprise when it became an international box office hit.

Chris Weitz, whose grandmother Lupita Tovar starred in the Spanish-language version of Dracula back in 1931, directed the second, New Moon. That also failed to impress most critics, but it went on to become an even bigger worldwide blockbuster.

David Slade handled the third installment, Eclipse, which opens in the United States next June 30. (The world premiere will be held at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles on June 24.) Slade is supposed to have brought a “darker” feel to Eclipse; and approach that can be clearly seen in the film's official final trailer.

Also, by emphasizing physical over emotional conflict in the trailer – a war pitting an army of nasty new-born vampires against “vegetarian” vampires and werewolves – Summit Entertainment has been desperately trying to erase the “teen girl” stigma attached to the Twilight series. However idiotic, “real men,” won't be caught dead walking into a theater showing a “chick flick.” That would be not only socially unacceptable, but might also lead to myriad fates worse than death.

Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, who has been criticized by numerous Twilight Saga fans, has penned each film adaptation and is reportedly writing The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn as well.

Twilight Saga novelist Stephenie Meyer will co-produce the movie, along with Wyck Godfrey and Karen Rosenfelt.

Breaking Dawn, perhaps the darkest of the Twilight Saga novels, may or may not be turned into two movies that may or may not be filmed in 3D. Curiously, some quite vocal Robert Pattinson fans don't want Summit Entertainment to stretch Breaking Dawn into two flicks. It seems that they're afraid the lengthy shoot will tie Pattinson down, when he could be doing more challenging work elsewhere.

By the way, because of the success of this blog's Twilight posts, I've decided that as the site's publisher it was time I checked out Stephenie Meyer's novels. I'm currently reading Twilight and – even though I'm neither a teen nor a girl – I'm finding it thoroughly engrossing. In truth, I've been having a lot of trouble putting the damn book down.

Photo: Twilight (Kimberley French / Summit Entertainment)

Bella and Edward, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in Twilight
Bella and Edward in love: Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in Catherine Hardwicke's Twilight

Bill Condon, who will be guiding Twilight Saga leads Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner in Breaking Dawn, is best known for the three feature films he directed in the last twelve years.

Gods and Monsters (1998), was a fictionalized account (based on Christopher Bram's novel Father of Frankenstein) of the twilight of director James Whale's life. Additionally, Condon wrote and directed the Alfred Kinsey biopic Kinsey (2004), starring Liam Neeson, and the musical Dreamgirls (2006), starring Beyoncé and Jennifer Hudson.

James WhaleAs I've mentioned in a previous post, James Whale (right), the subject of Condon's Gods and Monsters, would have been an ideal choice for a project like Breaking Dawn. In fact, Whale would probably have been ideal for any of the Twilight saga film adaptations.

Among his quirky character studies disguised as horror movies are Frankenstein (1931), The Old Dark House (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). All of those feature themes found in the Twilight stories: love, sexuality, revenge, powerlust, social ostracism, the nature of life and death, and what makes a living being “human.”

Boris Karloff's monster, for one, comes across as more human than most warm-blooded men and women out there; by the same token, so does the lovestruck vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight series.

Unfortunately, James Whale has been dead for more than five decades. Else, the Twilight movies would have been quite different.

Now, the good news for Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, and their fellow Breaking Dawn players is that Bill Condon is a solid actors' director.

The three feature films he has directed in the last twelve years have earned Academy Award nominations for four performers (Ian McKellen, Lynn Redgrave for Gods and Monsters; Laura Linney for Kinsey; Eddie Murphy for Dreamgirls) and one Oscar victory (Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls). Whether or not he'll have similar success with Summit's tentpole franchise remains to be seen.

Breaking Dawn is expected to begin filming in the fall.

Note: This is an edited / revised version of an article originally posted in April 2010.

Photo: Twilight (Summit Entertainment)

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