Word is getting around this evening that Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke has been cut loose from the franchise. As both Nikki Finke and Harry Knowles are reporting, Summit Entertainment has decided to find another director for New Moon, which will begin shooting in March 2009. This from Nikki Finke’s source:

“Summit didn’t like her. They’re saying the [director of photography] Elliot Davis is the one responsible for the film’s sumptuous visual look, that the editor Nancy Richardson had to save the film in post-production, and Summit thought Hardwicke’s [CAA] agent Beth Swofford was alternately ineffectual and hysterical.”

Another inside source added that Hardwicke was “difficult and irrational during the making of Twilight.” Further word from the inside is that Summit has already been talking to other directors this past week. As one other insider points out this isn’t exactly putting Catherine in a great position, “To add insult to injury, Hardwicke can now look forward to being grilled by the press for days on end, in front of the cast, about why she’s getting shit-canned.” Grilled, indeed.

The grilling will take place across the pond, where Hardwicke is currently in Europe promoting Twilight, which has grossed approx. $140 million at the box office since its release on November 21st. Twilight’s $70 million dollar opening weekend marked the highest ever opening weekend for a film directed by a woman, besting Mimi Leder’s Deep Impact, which grossed $41 million in its opening frame back in 1998. 

While it is sad to see Hardwicke, someone who clearly had a lot of passion for the material, exit the franchise I can’t say that I’m surprised. It was clear from the outset that while Hardwicke had the indie sensibility that Summit was looking for the first time around, she was completely out of her element with some of the effects-driven elements of the Twilight saga. In fact much of my own criticism toward the film was rooted in its less than impressive visual effects work.

It is hard to say whether or not a replacement will be named in the short-term, but in order for Summit to keep with New Moon’s 2009 timetable they will have to choose someone soon. I would tend to agree with Harry Knowles, who suggested the franchise be handed to Kathryn Bigelow, whose most recent film The Hurt Locker was recently purchased by Summit. Bigelow is one of those directors with a much better eye for action, something that would be useful with the Twilight sequel, one that I’m told sees much more action.

Who would you hire to direct the next movie in the Twilight series?


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