Twilight 101: An Introduction to the Next Big Thing?

Twilight Movie

Although news of Twilight has swept across the internet, there are many still out there who have no idea what this movie could possibly be. So, in order to get people up to speed, we here at FSR are pleased to offer an introduction to what could possibly be the next big adaptation. Don’t worry, we’ll take it nice and slow, there’s a lot of story to get through and there seem to be quite a number of twists and turns to navigate and details to include. Usually, there wouldn’t be such pressure to include as much information as possible but when it comes to adaptations from the page, fans tend to get a little obsessive, and the officially dubbed (and self-proclaimed) “Twilighters” are no different. Over at /film, the poor guys had to add an official disclaimer when a wrathful swarm descended upon the site, littering it with thousands of comments when the authors claimed that Twilighters were only teenaged girls (and their moms), and I have no intention of drawing them down upon us. So, without further ado, let us begin the teaching.

Twilight Movie PosterTwilight is the first in a series of novels by Stephanie Meyer (“Twilight”, “New Moon”, “Eclipse” and the forthcoming “Breaking Dawn”, due to be released on August 2nd), following the story of Isabella “Bella” Swan and Edward Cullen, two people who definitely were not meant to get together. When Bella moves to a small town in Washington State to live with her dad, she becomes intrigued with Edward, the mysterious senior whose brooding gaze catches her eye. Of course, it being a book, there’s a catch, the lovers can’t simply be happy together and that catch just happens to be vampirism. Edward’s vampirism, to be precise. Contrary to his senior smoldering looks, he’s actually 100 years old, and doesn’t really want the attachment to a human girl, but even though he knows he shouldn’t, he goes and falls for Bella anyway. Happily unlike his brethren, Edward and his clan hunt animals for their food, rather than turning on humankind, so Bella’s safe from his thirst, but when a rival clan of vampires comes to town, things all change. Add to this werewolves and high school politics and you have the perfect mix for your next big thing! Or will it be?

Well, lets consider the evidence. You have the already enormous internet buzz, which seems to have been solely generated by MTV’s movie blog and has stretched to include mention on many of the biggest movie blogs out there. Then there’s the legions of bloodthirsty (c’mon, you gotta give me at least one) fans willing to kill over the minute details and inaccuracies, but that will of course view it repeatedly, even if everything about it is incorrect. After all, it’s better than nothing, right? Not to mention that most of these fans have at their disposal plenty of cash for cinema tickets, unlike the fans of “His Dark Materials”, for example. Finally, there’s the mass market appeal. A story such as this appeals to almost every girl at some point in her life, and if there’s as much action as there should be, then it could hook a lot of the guys in too. That’s a pretty big initial audience to tap into!

Take the Harry Potter franchise (slash cash cow) for example. An enormous audience of nit-picking fans who will pay for cinema tickets over and over again, buzz generated from the sales of the books alone, not to mention religious objections (check out the returns on The Da Vinci Code or The Passion of the Christ) all led to amazing returns and a pull and drive that’s sustained an amazing series of movies. Others that have been touted as the “next Harry Potter” such as The Golden Compass, Chronicles of Narnia and Eragon have all hugely underperformed, leading to indicate that the buzz isn’t always enough to get the returns up and certainly shows that making the first in a series doesn’t guarantee the entire series will be made! However currently, Twilight ticks all the boxes as the “next Harry Potter” and certainly there are many parallels which can be drawn between the two. In fact, Meyers herself considers J. K. Rowling as a kindred spirit, but believes that Twilight and Potter are vastly different stories, with Potter appealing to a far broader range of fans. This may be true, but a good portion of Potter fans are too young to be repeat custom for each movie, a point on which Twilighters hold the advantage.

Twilight MovieWhether Potter’s torch will pass to the young Bella and far older Edward remains to be seen, and with another 7 months until Twilight’s release (December 12th in the US) it’ll be a while before the verdict is in, but with MTV doing weekly bulletins (Twilight Tuesdays!) and multiple interactive competitions and stories, there’s buzz aplenty to be had. Mind you, with such a small studio producing this movie (has anyone out there heard of Summit Entertainment?) it’s understandable that they’re pulling with MTV to keep the cast interacting with the fans. After all, if you had input into a movie about one of your passions, wouldn’t you be guaranteed to go see it, along with a flock of friends in tow?

So, there you have it. Twilight has the noisy fanbase, it has the buzz, it has the angst-ridden storyline. It’s got the appeal of The Dark Knight, but to a non-geek/comic movie fan audience. It’s a movie that girls and young women can latch onto, the way males around the world are latching onto Iron Man. It has the promise of sequels, something studios, new and old, love. It has young people dressing as high school kids and vampires and werewolves fighting it out. For a story springing from a 30 year old woman’s dream of a vampire and a young girl, sitting in a meadow, that’s quite a lot to have going for it! However, there really does seem to be no way to predict these things (of course, if The Dark Knight actually ends up being crap, I’ll probably fall down dead at this point) and so I leave the question completely up to you, the FSR readers. Is Twilight really the next big thing that the buzz is attempting to point to? Will it live up to the hype? Is there really anything that can carry the Potter torch, or is the mere attempt to label something as the next big thing what damns it? And finally, will Twilight actually make enough of an impact for the series to get off the ground?

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