why hollywood is full of dumbasses and why catherine hardwicke is not one of them

November 14th, 2009

So, I was just reading this very interesting piece in Time magazine about Twilight. If you don’t know about the  road that the book has traveled, from modest dream of Mormon housewife to cultural phenomenon, it’s a fascinating read.

Me, I’m a little obsessed with things like these, so I knew most of the backstory. I knew, for instance, that initially, the book did modestly well, but was not a ginormo megasensation like it is now. I knew that Stephenie Meyer started writing because she dreamed about Edward and Bella in the meadow. I did not, however, know, that she was only 29 at the time!

I also knew that Paramount had optioned the book (option=Hollywood speak for the right to film the story), but had let the option lapse, even though by the time they’d let the option expire, Twilight was already outselling Harry Potter on the bestseller lists. Piece of evidence #1 that Hollywood, is, as a rule, Idiotic and out of touch.

What I did not know, and what drives this point home even more, comes from the article, from what Paramount planned to DO to Twilight. In the Time article, Catherine Hardwicke explains that the Paramount script for Twilight was basically unrecognizable:

“It had Bella as a track star,” Hardwicke remembers. “Then there were FBI agents — the vampires would migrate south into Mexico every year, and FBI agents in Utah were tracking them. They ended up on an island chasing everyone around in jet skis.”

Catherine tossed the script, started from scratch with screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg who stuck to the story, and we all know how that worked out. Catherine also handpicked starts Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, the latter of whom was apparently was a tough sell to Summit, the studio that nabbed rights to Twilight once boneheaded Paramount dropped the ball (oh, and the billions of dollars).  Per Catherine:

The studio head said, ‘You want to cast this guy as Edward Cullen?’ I said yeah. And he said, ‘Do you think you can make him look good?’ I said yes, I do.”

Luckily, Summit’s studio head, smarter than the average guy, because Pattinson was cast, and we all know how that worked out.

This whole story is so illuminating to the retarded way that Hollywood works. And to why so many movies SUCK. And why so many book adaptations suck. I have to say, I never thought that If I Stay would be made into a film and when it got optioned, I assumed a film version would suck. Both of those are both still very real possibilities.

But you can see why when Summit bought the rights to If I Stay and then I saw (and swooned over, like four times) Twilight and then when Catherine Hardwicke came on board to direct If I Stay, I suddenly felt very different. A little optimistic.

Now, having read this article, it’s so easy to see how easily Twilight could’ve tanked, how easily it could’ve devolved into FBI agents and monsters and ridiculousness that had NOTHING AT ALL to do with the book that people loved. I highly doubt that movie would’ve grossed close to $400 million! I highly doubt that film would’ve had moviegoers buying their tickets to the sequel two weeks in advance (I highly doubt there would even be a sequel).

Complain all you want about the sparkliness of Edward, but that movie was a blockbuster for the same reason the book was: Because it captured the incredible yearning incredibly well. The movie gave me a fluttery feeling in my stomach, even more than the book, because it was so concentrated into two hours. That is what movies are supposed to do. That is smart filmmaking! That is what Hollywood is missing.

And that is why Catherine Hardwicke rocks!

  1. I did not know any of that. I’m really surprised at just how much they wanted to change the story.
    For me, the movie wasn’t amazing, but I did buy the DVD and I watched the scene in Bella’s room where they kiss, many times over–Love that fluttery feeling. The casting was perfect for that film.I’m really looking forward to seeing who they cast for If I Stay!

  2. yeah, i read that too…i can’t believe they tried to do that to the twilight movie, haha, can you imagine?

    i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again – i LOVE catherine hardwicke. i was totally obsessed with lords of dogtown when it first came out (i loved heath ledger so much…) and did a project for grad school about the movie thirteen…so i really, really loved the twilight movie. i feel like catherine hardwicke’s biggest talent is how she puts her audience right in the middle of everything – which will be veryyyy good for if i stay! also, the look of her movies are beautiful…i love when you’re watching a movie and you forget that you’re looking at a movie set. her character’s houses looks like people actually live there, and i’ve read that she’s really hands on with how she designs everything, from the sets to her character’s outfits. just think about it! she’s probably sitting around right now thinking about what mia’s cello is going to look like, or buying options for adam’s jacket online! haha, ahh movie magic.

    also, her movie soundtracks are always sick nasty, i heard she picked a lot for twilight herself, so there you go, gayle! if i stay will be a great movie and have a killer soundtrack!

  3. Well, I guess this is as good a thread as any to tell you that I received my (signed!) sample of If I Stay from my wonderful rep. at Penguin, and I’m still not sure I’m collected enough to write about how much I love, love, loved it! I read at rapid speed for a whopping one night and 30-minute lunch break; I haven’t laughed, cried, and commiserated with the characters in a novel that freely in a long time. You write with a soulful, yet strikingly realistic, voice that captures the readers’ attention from the first line to the last. I cannot praise your work enough! I am now officially a member of the un-official Gayle Forman Fan Club haha. I will be in the company of some other wonderful YA (and children’s) authors this weekend at NCTE in Philly, and I only hope I get the opportunity to gush about this novel with some of them. You’re the (wo)man, Gayle!

    – Katie

  4. Hi Gayle! I had to comment because I just saw “Twilight” for the first time. I haven’t read the books and probably won’t, but Cora was urging me to see the movie so I did. I loved it! Not because of Bella and Edward, etc, I must confess I don’t care for teenagers or vampires, but what I loved was the BEAUTY of the film. Oregon! Oregon! Catherine Hardwicke did an AMAZING job making that movie practically smell like Oregon. Moss, giant trees, 40 shades of grey. It was lovely and I can’t WAIT to see what she does with your story.
    xoxoxo Diney

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