Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.
When it comes to the Twilight franchise I’ve always been up front in admitting that I’m not a fan in any aspect. I’ve seen them mainly in passing and briefly, if only to at least know what some of my cousins are yammering about when they talk about the series. When one is the cousin who is into film you should know what happens in one of the biggest films of the year for the past several years, I think, and I know just enough about Twilight to know that I’m not the type to be a fan. I mock it ruthlessly, of course, but I’ll admit that it functions as a summer superhero blockbuster for women and wimpy men.
Guy who flock to this film won’t be hitting up The Expendables at any point, most likely, or anything that resembles quality cinema. Seriously … any guy who’s a fan of the series or is excited to see another Twilight film leaves a number of questions about them, like what color purse they brought to the midnight screening, for starters … just saying. Guys who are into Twilight occupy that tiny space between hipsters and guys who are into My Little Pony as far as I’m concerned in levels of annoyance.
Kind of like this guy, but sadder
But the thing that interests me about the whole phenomenon is just how popular it’s become. The film had one of the most epic openings of all time this weekend, crossing $140 million without 3D or massive amounts of IMAX screens booked. It opened with a day that was bigger than most films grossed in their entire runs at $70 million without IMAX or 3D to artificially inflate the number. That’s absolutely nuts and warrants looking at.
In the end scheme that has to count for something, I think, and what’s most interesting is that the film’s big trailer moment (of the big brawl at the end) was Elm Street ’d away as “It was all a dream” sort of trope to leave room open. So no one dies and everyone walks away, a total happy ending so that more sequels could be made. It’s the super happy ending that Wayne’s World settled on.
It was amusing to me to see the ending, which I snuck into to see after watching Lincoln if only because I was curious as to how the series would end with the second part of Breaking Dawn. It had been declared beforehand that it would be very different from the novel, whose ending wasn’t all that cinematic from what I’ve read. You get the big wolf and vampire fight with all sorts of death happening but you doesn’t have to pay the long term consequences of it cinematically. If you ever want to continue the series you have the whole gang back to give you some more Twilight. And don’t doubt it’ll happen at some point in the near future.
Listen to me now and hear me later.
You don’t give the whole “kill a crap ton of main characters and then dream it all away” ending if you aren’t experimenting with continuing the series as a whole. It’s a test and one imagines there’s an alternate ending somewhere where there’s some soliloquy from a character talking about the consequences of that battle, et al.
So far the series has averaged well over $200 million a picture in total grosses, so far clearing $1.2 billion in box office domestically alone, and even with the sequels costing more they’re in the red before foreign box offices and DVD sales (which are absurdly phenomenal as well) are even factored in. Even the shadiest of Hollywood accounting couldn’t be designed to show that these films are somehow losing money; Summit’s been able to finance a whole plate of films because of their Twilight profits and one imagines that more Twilight films could be made after this.
There’s too much money lying on the table for there not to be, especially with an ending that gives everyone a super-happy “love conquers all” sort of ending, that’s why. It’s there will be more Star Wars film and why plenty of franchises that felt completed over the years have been resurrected: for the money. Don’t kid yourself if you think Twilight will be immune from this; if anything the franchise is designed for just this.
It’s cheap to make, relatively speaking, and has a built in franchise waiting to gobble it up. Plus once Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner make films afterward that don’t fail to hit anywhere near the box office returns you’ll see them eye coming back to their characters. Once they experience the inability to gather a Twilight level paycheck because they aren’t packing in the crowds that came out for Twilight films they’ll suddenly become more amenable; it’s why Arnold came back to be the Terminator after Judgment Day. They cut him a massive check to do so and he said “sure.”
Sigourney Weaver came back for Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection and Alien 8: Baby’s Day Out so it’s not out of the question that a cast who hasn’t had nearly the same payday for a while would come back for this one. I can’t imagine that half the actors who’ve made career paydays off this franchise would say no in a couple years when they’re in the same place as the entire cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer besides Sarah Michelle Gellar, who’s not exactly an A-lister herself. How many American Pie sequels have there been now? Exactly.
In that vein where do they go next with a Twilight sequel? Since nothing this week makes me interested in writing I figured this would be a good start. The Twilight sequels could go in any number of directions so I had to go with two things. One, each idea has its own director because every film in the series so far has had a different director. Technically Breaking Dawn was two films but it was designed at some point as one and then split; thus it’s really one long-ass film.
The other caveat is that I’m presuming would be most of the original cast returning. Not that I wouldn’t think that Summit would remake the series anew, of course, but at this point there’s still enough money to be made with the original cast. Stephanie Meyer would probably be coaxed into writing some more novels in her series if The Host flops on the big screen or her next big novel franchise does horribly. If J.K Rowling can discuss Harry Potter sequels then Meyer isn’t beyond doing the same as well.
Heck, I’ll even give them ridiculous names to match, too. Some are a bit comical, of course, and some are legitimate story-telling mechanisms that could be useful given the nature of the franchise. And I’ll even throw in some random pictures to all of it as well, to spice things up.
The Twilight Saga: Crackling Night
Director: Rob Reiner
Premise: It’s been 20 years since the end of Breaking Dawn and things aren’t happy anymore. Happily ever after wasn’t all that it appeared to be for Bella and Edward; after their daughter left for vampire college the nest is empty and their true love isn’t enough to keep them happy. Separated for the time being, a chance encounter with old friend Jacob lets sparks fly. They’re older, wiser and things are a lot different than when they were kids. With a cure for vampirism invented and available for her to embrace her mortality once more, Bella is now left with a choice. Does she go back to the love of her life, spending the rest of time with him? Or does she pursue love with someone new and take that the “Tylenol Flu and Vampirism” pill?
Idea Behind It: If you’re going to pursue a romantic drama still, why not make it about Bella, Jacob and Edward as adults and not as teenagers? True love is a lot different the older you get; the romantic notion of love becomes less romantic and more practical for a lot of people. The “white knight” motif becomes a lot more farcical when you’re not 23 anymore. Imagine what would happen if these three actually had to grow up and things got a lot more interesting if love faded between our star-crossed lovers. Life can change; people wouldn’t get divorced all the time if love and marriage were permanent things.
The Twilight Saga: Onward From Dusk
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Premise: Jacob at age 55 comes back to the events of the first film to find young Jacob. Something grave has happened in the future and old Jacob has a way of trying to rectify it: prevent Edward and Bella from getting together, thereby changing the future for the better. Does young Jacob go along? Gun that sucker to 88 miles per hour and let it rip!
Idea Behind It: No one’s too good for a cheap Back to the Future joke. NO ONE.
The Twilight Saga: Midnight Sun’s Light
Director: Marc Webb
Premise: Renesmee Cullen is now a grown up vampire with an overly emotional attachment to her Uncle Jacob. When she saves the captain of the football team from a truck hitting him, and he subsequently discovers her secret, life changes radically. Can Edward and Bella prevent her from having to make their same choices? Or will they relent and let true love take over?
Idea Behind It: You know what would be interesting? Seeing the now adult parents Edward and Bella as they deal with younger versions of their same story could be something worth exploring; is their love story something Renesmee should eagerly pursue? Or does Bella have some regrets about becoming immortal that she doesn’t want to give to her future son-in-law? Imagine the heart to heart and it becomes kind of intriguing in a way.
The Twilight Saga: The Jackass Version
Director: Spike Jonze
Premise: No real premise, but the Twilight kids have to engage in all the pranks the Jackass guys do alongside the Jackass guys. Every movie would be better if it had 10 minutes of Johnny Knoxville and gang getting their prank on, just saying.
Idea Behind It: Who would want to see Kristen Stewart get taunted into eating cow shit by a bunch of idiots? EVERYONE!
The Twilight Saga: Sunday Bloody Sunday
Director: John Carpenter
Premise: It’s been years since the anti-climatic showdown where the Cullens and the Volturi; things haven’t changed much as the world is still blissfully unaware of vampires, werewolves and their squabbles. But after years of hiding in the shadows, the shadows are fighting back as an unknown killer is hunting down vampires. Both sides are blaming each other and it’s up to Edward and Jacob
Idea Behind It: You’ve had essentially a series about traditional horror movie villains as romantic drama leads, bickering among themselves. Why not turn this formula on its head and introduce a slasher angle to it? You get to have the sort of horror movie violence people have been waiting for, eliminate some characters that this character heavy series has carried over and you make it interesting. You’ve exhausted the romantic drama in a lot of ways; why not turn up the tension? Who’s killing vampires? Is it a werewolf breaking the peace, et al, or is it someone else? It could make for an interesting film, maybe not a good one, but sometimes turning the franchise on its head can bring something out of it we didn’t know before.
The Twilight Saga: The Cold of Blackest Sunday
Director: Kim Ji-Woon
Premise: It’s been 15 years since Breaking Dawn and now Renesmee Cullen is all grown up, a recent graduate of Vampire State and looking to get a job in the vampire industry. When she runs into her father’s friend Edward at a coffee shop, his imprinting of her as a child rears its ugly head as the two proceed to embark on forbidden love between a werewolf and a vampire. The long term consequences have come home to roost.
Idea Behind It: It’s the one thing no one has discussed about the end of Breaking Dawn is that Jacob imprinted upon that little kid that she’s going to eventually fall in love with him or something. Eventually that shit’s going to get real. And when it does … it could be interesting to see.
The Twilight Saga: At First Dusk
Director: Tyler Perry
Premise: Renesmee Cullen has fallen on hard times after her parents cut her off from the family business. Resorting to giving hand jobs for crack in her tenement located on the wrong side of tracks, while also pursuing welfare fraud as a hobby, only one person can save her now: her Aunt Medea!
Idea Behind It: Oh come on, you weren’t expecting me to go through a list like this without a Tyler Perry joke were you?
It’s amazing to me when I ponder one crazy thing about the guy who turned a minor Marvel character into superstardom: there’s a generation of people who will grow up not having lived through Robert Downey Jr. seemingly try to throw away his career through addiction at every turn. They just know him as “Iron Man,” or as “Tony Stark” to be more accurate, and the fact that he had problems with drugs and alcohol is just something that happened to him in the past. Kind of like how in 20 years people will look at Channing Tatum mopping floors at a Wal-Mart in Anaheim and never know he was once a movie star and/or the “Sexiest Man Alive.”
Maybe they will, but asking a janitor to sign a 20 year old People Magazine you’ve still kept would be sad in a lot of ways, like when low level pro wrestlers wind up working at Target and pro wrestling marks recognize them. Granted having Shane Douglas bag your groceries is probably cool for the 13 year old wrestling fan in all of us but still.
For those of us who’ve been film fans for a while Downey was always that great actor who couldn’t keep it together long enough to make an extended mark at the top. But we always wanted to give him a chance because of just how insanely talented he is; the best proof of it was always Chaplin, a biopic of the silent film star that garnered him an Oscar nomination in perhaps the most loaded field of all time in the Best Actor category. You had Pacino in Scent of a Woman, Eastwood in Unforgiven, Downey Junior in this film and Denzel Washington in Malcolm X. Any of the four would be a winning performance in a regular year and yet all four managed to find themselves locked in this particular race in 1992.
The film follows the tale of the star in flashback as an old man, waiting to pick up an honorary Oscar towards the end of his life. He’s discussing his biography with a writer (Anthony Hopkins), a fiction invented for the sake of the film, and through the writer’s conversation with Chaplin we see the world (and his career) through his eyes. Chaplin’s career, mainly occurring in silent films, is focused on as an artist who was so singularly brilliant yet had a personal life that was markedly the polar opposite.
It’s a solid biopic, nothing more, about a flawed man who isn’t into drugs or alcohol: he just loves what my buddy Nick the Stand Up would call “Strange Tang.” Dude loved women, especially the jailbait types, and Little Charlie got him in an awful lot of trouble over the years. Take the usual biopic tale of “and then there was the drug problem” and turn into “and then he knocked someone up” and you have Chaplin in a nutshell. But it has one thing that elevates it to sheer brilliance: Robert Downey Jr.
For one thing he gets everything right about Chaplin; this isn’t just imitation. He gets everything about Chaplin as the man and as The Tramp (his most famous character) and gets them down to an eerie level. At the end, during the highlight clips that showed before his presentation of a lifetime achievement Oscar, the actual clips of Chaplin compared to everything we’ve seen of Downey as Chaplin/The Tramp are indistinguishable on a body movement scale. Downey has Chaplin down on a scary level. This was the film you showed people when they wanted to write him off as another Hollywood junkie; dude is gifted on an almost scary level in this film.
The film itself is fairly unremarkable; it’s the silent film version of Milk in that it’s a pedestrian story marked with a brilliant performance in the lead, the type that makes you think the film is better than it is. Chaplin is a flawed man, of course, and we see that there are two Chaplins really. There’s the artist, the one who just wants to be left alone by the world and perfect his craft. That’s the one the world falls in love with. The other is the man who just has a nasty habit of bedding crazy, underage women.
What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club
Life of Pi – A guy gets trapped on a raft with a tiger or something.
Skip It – A film about the exploration of spirituality and religion, among other things, I don’t think can adequately come out of any cinematic adaptation.
Red Dawn (2012) – North Korea invades. Thor fights back.
Skip It – The original was kind of crappy and don’t expect this to be all that good, either.
Rise of the Guardians – A bunch of imaginary characters get together to beat fear or something.
Skip It – This has bad idea written all over it.
Hitchcock (In limited release) – Alfred Hitchcock’s production of Psycho is chronicled.
See It – Stellar cast and Psycho is a moment in time for the director that deserves to be looked at, I think.
Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .