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.
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)
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.
As 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.”
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)
April 9 post
Bill Condon may be the Chosen One to direct the last installment(s) of the The Twilight Saga franchise, Breaking Dawn, which will bring back Robert Pattinson's Edward, Kristen Stewart's Bella, and Taylor Lautner's Jacob. Plus an assortment of unusual characters and equally unusual relationships.
Catherine Hardwicke helmed the first movie, Twilight; Chris Weitz directed the second, New Moon; and David Slade was the man behind the camera of the third, Eclipse, which opens June 30. Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, who has been criticized by numerous fans of Stephenie Meyer's novels, has penned each film adaptation.
Bill Condon is one of the Oscar-pedigreed filmmakers approached by Summit Entertainment to tackle The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, perhaps the darkest of the Twilight Saga novels. To date, it's still unclear if Breaking Dawn will be split into two movies – perhaps shot in 3D, perhaps not.
Other filmmakers under consideration at one point or another 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.
Bill Condon won an Academy Award for his (adapted) screenplay for the 1998 psychological drama/fictionalized James Whale biopic Gods and Monsters, which also earned Oscar nominations for Ian McKellen (in the role of the 1930s filmmaker) and Lynn Redgrave (as Whale's maid). Though dramatically uneven, Gods and Monsters had a number of memorable sequences, chiefly thanks to McKellen's and Redgrave's performances.
Condon's Kinsey (2004), a biopic about sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, was equally uneven from a dramatic standpoint. Admittedly, it's nearly impossible to make an effective movie about sex when you can't actually show much of it, while some of the film's “audience friendly” concessions diluted the power of Kinsey's no-holds-barred real-life story. Yet, Kinsey featured several good performances, including those of Liam Neeson in the title role, Academy Award nominee Laura Linney as his wife, and especially Lynn Redgrave in a very touching cameo.
Dreamgirls earned Jennifer Hudson a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award in early 2007, but the much-anticipated musical ended up disappointing both at the box office and the Oscars. A shoo-in for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, Dreamgirls was shut out in all three categories – though it did get no less than three nominations for Best Song. But that was little consolation.
Also, early in his career Condon directed the cheapo horror flicks Sister, Sister (1987) and Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995), and a handful of made-for-TV thrillers.
So, would Bill Condon be a good choice as director of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn? Well, he could indeed be the right guy in case he has absorbed and retained some of James Whale's vibes after having written and directed Gods and Monsters.
Among Whale's classics are Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Old Dark House, and The Invisible Man. None of these is an out-and-out horror film; in fact, they're all quirky character studies dealing with complex themes such as sexuality, madness, revenge, megalomania, powerlust, social ostracism, the nature of life and death, and what makes a living being “human.”
Considering the plot elements found in Breaking Dawn – even if they must be bowdlerized and dumbed down so the film can get a PG-13 rating – Whale himself would have been ideal for the project. Too bad he's been dead for more than five decades.
Photo: Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Summit Entertainment)