The “Twilight” Effect

If only we could enjoy our successWell, there you have it: “Twilight” pulled in $70.6 million over the weekend, stomping both Disney’s “Bolt” and the Bond movie to declare itself a proper phenomenon.

As a result, Summit greenlit a sequel — oh, yippee — and we are now stuck with Catherine Hardwicke, Voice of Today’s Youth.

One thing I haven’t really seen in any of the frothing media coverage of the New! Hot! Thing! is an acknowledgment of the brilliant way Summit orchestrated the marketing campaign on what’s essentially a niche picture: Though Stephenie Meyers’ books are virtually unknown to anyone above the age of 17, Summit’s been percolating interest among the faithful all year, dribbling out stills and clips and posters with a steady stream of targeted media releases. I was sick of seeing the “New Twilight Image!” subject line in my inbox by, oh, April. Can’t say it didn’t pay off at the box-office, though.

Serious-minded media analysts are going to make a face, but “Twilight” is essentially following the same model as “The Passion of the Christ” — a small, independent production of a beloved text, marketed directly to the rabid fan base with little or no regard for people who aren’t part of the culture, explodes onto the scene with startling force. It’s all about getting the fundamentalists to the theater.

I also find it interesting the quality of the product is ultimately irrelevant. The people who want to see their favorite story told on a big screen get exactly what they want; it doesn’t matter if the execution is dull or hackneyed. (This is the lesson Hardwicke learned on “The Nativity Story”: Directorial incompetence doesn’t matter if you’re working with material people already cherish.)

So, yeah, “Twilight” is a tedious slog through teen-movie cliches with laughable performances and a ridiculous abstinence metaphor — hey, girls, chastity is teh awesome, but it has to be your boyfriend’s choice! — but it doesn’t matter. Edward + Bella 4-ever, right there on the screen!

Just wait until they get a little older and discover “Buffy” …

13 thoughts on “The “Twilight” Effect”

  1. I hate to tell you, but tons of adult women read Meyer’s books. I haven’t, but I run a bookstore and get lots of requests from women who aren’t buying for their daughters. Ebert’s review said some interesting things about the movie thematically…the whole abstinence thing you mention, and also how much girls seem willing to give up for love…they’d be willing to “give it up”, whether sex or life itself, for the guy they love. Not that that’s a good thing, just way too common among girls.
    And yes, we must hope that they mature and find Buffy. Joss Whedon could solve a lot of self-esteem issues for girls. Personally, when I “grow up”, I want to be Zoe!

  2. Norm, I have to agree that you’re under-estimating the appeal of Stephanie Meyers’ novels. My wife is obsessed with them, as are all of her friends, none of which have children old enough to read books like this.

  3. So how does this work? Is it like “The Bridges of Madison County”, where the simplicity and appeal of the story makes up for the appalling prose style?

    Or is it like “The DaVinci Code”, where the thrill of a subversive genre narrative makes up for the appalling prose style?

    Either way, ick.

  4. Okay…mini lesson in the romance genre. The latest trend in romantic fiction is supernatural romance…vampires, werewolves, etc., replacing the last trend of romantic suspense. Vampire romances written for adults tend to be very sexual. From what I’ve heard from customers, the appeal of the Twilight series is that they are romantic, not sexual. For what it’s worth. (And at least Bridges of Madison County made a good movie, but it had Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood going for it.)

  5. Kristen Stewart is the perfect Bella .. All around the casting was perfect, everyone had so much so much angst that they fit the story perfectly

  6. Twlight is really a great movie and i watched it several times. I love Kristen Stewart and also the rest of the cast of Twilight, they are really superb.

  7. i will watch every sequel of Twilight because i find this movie so good. the graphics is good, the cast is good and of course the storyline is great.

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