Well, the first show is at Midnight here in L.A. I imagine it’s opening around the country at midnight as well. That would mean that, for anyone on east coast time, it will likely open just as I’m finishing this post. Twilight has become a phenomenon. My daughter is on “Team Jacob”—the werewolf.
No we’re not going to the opening tonight, but she did insist I drive by the theater to see her comrades camped outside. They’ve been there all day (some probably all night). They must be the first in the seats to see it. She wanted to be with them—wearing her New Moon shirt, gushing over a guy who, only a few years ago, she didn’t even notice when he was in movies. Amazing to watch as new stars are born.
I want to write something that big so bad. I want to have teens and their parents and grown people who should know better camped outside the theater talking about which is their favorite character. As one now successful actor I interviewed in What I Wish I Knew Before I Moved to Hollywood said, “I remember, years ago, I was in Gelson’s Market with only a couple bucks in my pocket when in walked this big movie star. I said to myself, ‘That’ll be me one day.’”
There’s something much deeper about this movie phenomenon we are experiencing. Stephanie Meyer took the traditional characters of vampires and werewolves and turned them into the Capulets and the Montagues. She then took a pale, blood-sucking, night crawling, serial killer and turned him into a diamond-skinned, superhero with a powerful love Jones for the only girl in high school whose mind he can’t read.
High school? What’s Count Dracula doing in high school? Seriously, this guy is a couple hundred years old. So what if he’s young looking? What kind of perv is that? I mean, when I was 17 I thought I was too mature to date 16 year-olds. This is a guy whose obviously never heard the words to Steely Dan’s Hey Nineteen—“We got nothing in common. No we can’t talk at all.” And that guy was only 15 years older than the young girl he was considering.
But alas… love.
But since when do werewolves actually turn into giant Wolfwolves? What is this? Do silver bullets even work anymore? Vampires have superhero powers? They can come out in the sun? They don’t drink human blood? They don’t turn into creepy bats? They can’t be killed with crosses, holy water and garlic? They don’t have fangs? What the hell? Are they trying to put Blade out of business?
I think I understand why my daughter is on Team Jacob. I think Jacob represents, for girls, the best of both worlds. On one hand, you’ve got this cute boyfriend with a great body that everyone thinks is hot. On the other, you’ve got this big shaggy dog to protect you. Girls and their fantasies.
The point of this blog is for writers and film makers. The Twilight Saga represents the best of all worlds for the Hollywood movie machine and at the same time manages to be fresh, new and young. Vampires are among the most produced characters in Hollywood. From the dawn of moving pictures, vampires have creeped across the walls of theaters. From Nosferatu to Dracula to Blade, the basic makeup and character of vampires has remained unchanged.
What Meyer’s did so brilliantly—and if she is to be believed from her interview on Oprah, so accidentally and luckily—is figure out how to combine genres in a commercially viable way. Romance/Horror/Fantasy/Adventure.
BUT… Good thing she wrote it as a book. If she’d pitched it as a movie or screenplay before it was a successful book, no one in Hollywood would have touched it. How do I know? Because Nosferatu came out in 1921 and no one touched it since—not successfully anyway. I should say not seriously. There may have been comedic takes on vampires or werewolves that did pretty good, but they didn’t change the nature of those archetypes. This is a prime example of a movie that only got made because of the book.
Hollywood will happily film a successful book, video game, TV show, stage play, fairy tale or an endless number of sequels, prequels and remakes; but when it comes to putting millions of dollars into original stories movie studios, more often than not, pass.
What’s that say to you about your new, original story that no one’s ever seen before? If no one’s ever seen it before, don’t expect Hollywood to make it.
But sell it as a book first or turn it into a successful stage play, and if you’re sales figures back it up, Hollywood will come to you.
Please tell me what you think. Do you agree? Disagree? Did I miss something? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Thanks for reading.