Twilight is one of those movies that attract extremes – on one hand, there are the die-hard Twilight fans who love it to the point of near-obsession, if not obsession; on the other hand, there are the haters whose vitriol make it seem like the movie’s the worst thing to come since, well, Hitler himself. But love it or hate it, the movie has gone back to the screen for a limited screening and, in the process, tapped into a new fan base.
Twilight, the first in a series of movies based on Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling novels of the same name, was released on November 21, 2008, a time when the Internet was just gaining momentum and was set to become a forum for the lovers and haters of the movie. Such was the success of the original – it grossed nearly $400 million worldwide and counting considering its re-release – that its main cast became household names. Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart may have distanced themselves from the franchise more than a few times in the past but they cannot deny that it was the movie that catapulted them to stardom.
Reaching Out To New Audiences
On October 2018, Twilight was re-released in over 450 theaters nationwide – perhaps it was shown in your neighborhood Cinemark or Carmike – while special screenings with a new short feature from Catherine Hardwicke and Jackson Rathbone were also made. There’s even a Twilight 4K Ultra HD release for good measure.
These opened the four-book series authored by Stephenie Meyer to a new audience, the contemporary tweens and teens, as well as tapped into its old audience who are now college students and young professionals. The former will likely still be taken in by the romance between a thousand-year old vampire and a human teenager because, hey, the concepts of teenage crush, love and lust don’t change at their core. The latter is another story because with age comes experience, heartbreaks and cynicism although many will still watch the movie for nostalgic reasons.
The books already had its fan base even before these were turned into movies, of course. The movies, however, increased its fan base ten-fold – or if the obsessed fans are to be the judge, a hundred-fold – and Pattinson’s and Stewart’s fan base also increased.
Tapping into Extreme Emotions Again
This is Hollywood, people, so naturally hate followed on the heels of love – and what unprecedented level of hate Twilight was subjected to! The books themselves, which Meyer wrote from the perspective of a love-struck, clueless teenager dealing with her first taste of lust, also attracted ire from more mature readers but most it was under the radar.
But when Twilight movie was released, the hate increased, too, which was both surprising and not-so-surprising. It was surprising because the movie wasn’t meant for a mature audience yet it was the adults who lambasted the tweens’ and teens’ obsession with the film and its characters. It wasn’t so surprising because with great success comes great envy and, often, it comes at a great price.
The critics and haters lambasted Twilight on one of two things: it wasn’t as scary as expected of a vampire-themed movie and it wasn’t as sexy as expected considering the central theme of lust and love. But that wasn’t all as Twilight was also criticized for poor performances, oversimplification of love and lust, and sappy dialogues that would make an adult cringe with embarrassment.
In all the vitriol directed at it, most critics forgot that it wasn’t intended to be an Oscar-winning drama movie that cinephiles will clamor to be put into the Library of Congress. Instead, it was made for tweens and teens so that they have a handsome protagonist to swoon over – Pattinson, obviously – and a beautiful love interest with them they can identify with, and Stewart fit the role perfectly. Here were two people in love, living in a fantasy, and getting their happy ending, all of which pandered to their own teenage romantic fantasies.
Roger Ebert, the preeminent movie critic, may have been the only critic who understood Twilight for what it was. He wrote that while Twilight isn’t for him, it will surely mesmerize its target audience and he respects the people who love it.
We respect him, too, for his position. After all, the beauty of a movie still lies in the eye of its beholder because it is an art form despite its commercialized approach nowadays. There’s also the undeniable fact that Twilight established once and for all that tweens and teens are as powerful as tastemakers and trendsetters as the celebrities and bigwigs of Hollywood.
You can’t argue with the success of a movie franchise that 10 years after it was first released still has the power to bring in the crowd. You can’t say, too, that Twilight didn’t change the movie industry as we knew it then, and perhaps it will continue to change it in the coming years. There’s little we can do to put a movie monster that big.