Love it or hate it - and judging by your comments, most of you are in the latter camp - there's no escaping the fact that Twilight is already one of the most anticipated movies of the year, and may become one of the most successful, as well. Because we know that you're all about keeping up with the zeitgeist, we're giving you five things you need to know about the emo vampire series that's already taken over bookstores, MySpace, and the heart of your little sister.
1: The Books Are Popular. Very Popular. Sure, we're not talking Harry Potter levels yet - despite the many comparisons that Twilight has drawn to the wizarding series, mostly because it's a popular young adult series of novels that's transcended its target audience - but 17 million book sales in the three years since the release of the first book is still nothing to be sneezed at, and the books have collectively topped the New York Times bestseller list for close to a year. Face it; more people have read this than anything that inspired Iron Man. Not to put to much pressure on the movie, but people are already writing about the way in which Twilight The Movie unites women of all ages in their lust for the franchise:
Let me introduce you to one of the most powerful new groups in Hollywood. It's not a group of actors, producers or directors. It's the rather interesting hybrid demographic who are getting their knickers in a twist over Twilight, due to be released in the UK next month... Teenage girls, young female adults and their mums converged at the Twilight conference at Comic-Con back in July, filling Hall H to capacity and rupturing tonsils at the appearance of their hunkalicious hero. Believe me, this demographic is out there. They just don't have a name yet.
They're naming themselves, however; there are fansites called Twilight Moms (and its related site, Twilight Teens - and also Twilight20Somethings, just in case you don't fit into either of the previous two) as well as Team Jacob, Team Edward, Team Switzerland and even Team Twilightist amongst many others out there, each one a demonstration of obsession with the novels' familiar tale of a boy, a girl and the unspoken love that dare not speak its name. 2: The Books Aren't Very Good. Critical reception to Twilight, the first book in the series was marginally positive (Booklist's "There are some flaws here—a plot that could have been tightened, an overreliance on adjectives and adverbs to bolster dialogue—but this dark romance seeps into the soul" being essentially the tenor of most mainstream reviews), but each successive book received poorer reviews, with Breaking Dawn, the final book getting drubbings from the LA Times ("The problem is Stephenie Meyer is no J.K. Rowling... We would have much preferred the whole thing to end in book three, "Eclipse," with yes, some happiness for Bella, but also some angst, some heartbreak, and a dark, ominous future looming"), Publisher's Weekly ("[G]randeur is out. This isn't about happy endings; it's about gratification") and Entertainment Weekly ("[You'll] abruptly lose all patience when... Meyer takes her supernatural love story several bizarre steps too far"). We may be biased, but sister site Jezebel came up with our favorite review:
It's 754 pages long, its heroine's dominant personality trait is low self-esteem, and, as Amazon reviewer Eventide points out, nobody really has to give up anything. Even the tedium of immortality is glossed over - these vampires just keep busy with their hobbies. If I had an eternity to read, I still might never pick up this book again.
3: The Writer Can Be A Bit Of A Prima Donna. Although the Twilight series officially finished with the fourth book, Breaking Dawn, there was a fifth book planned, Midnight Sun, that would've retold the events of the first book from the hero's perspective. But then a first draft of the book's opening appeared online, and author Stephenie Meyer posted this response on her website:
I did not want my readers to experience Midnight Sun before it was completed, edited and published. I think it is important for everybody to understand that what happened was a huge violation of my rights as an author, not to mention me as a human being... So where does this leave Midnight Sun? My first feeling was that there was no way to continue. Writing isn't like math; in math, two plus two always equals four no matter what your mood is like. With writing, the way you feel changes everything. If I tried to write Midnight Sun now, in my current frame of mind, James would probably win and all the Cullens would die, which wouldn't dovetail too well with the original story. In any case, I feel too sad about what has happened to continue working on Midnight Sun, and so it is on hold indefinitely.
(She's since recanted slightly, telling Entertainment Weekly that "[t]he funny thing about that statement is I didn't actually write the majority of it... in the end only the one or two sentences written by me seem really jarring [compared with everything else], and people didn't get that there was sort of a joke in there." Midnight Sun, however, is still on hold.) Nonetheless, she's kept a tight hold on the movie, only agreeing to the project in the first place when teeth size met her approval, and having final say on casting and the length and passion of final clinches. "It's been good for me just in general to have to speak up because I am so invested in this," she's explained.
4: VINOs: Vampires In Name Only. The vampires in the Twilight books don't have elongated teeth, and they have no problem going out in daytime in their Pacific Northwest hometown, because it's so foggy (I can't tell if that's actually funny or just a kind of crappy dodge). They also, as almost every example of vampire fiction since, what, Anne Rice's Interview With A Vampire (or maybe Marilyn Ross' Barnabas Collins?), are tragic souls afflicted by a curse that don't really want to sink their teeth into humanity - and so, they eat animals and go on "hunting trips" to take care of their bloodlust. Yes, it's the Pacific Northwest Hipster Rural Lifestyle turned goth. Whatever happened to the good old days of Nosferatu and vampires who were unafraid to be vampires? I mean, if they have his pallor, why can't they have his mannerisms? 5: Remember The Golden Compass. Summit Pictures, the studio behind the movie may be nervous about saying that they've got a hit on their hands ahead of the movie's release, but the movie is estimated to make somewhere between $20million and $50million in its first weekend, depending on how optimistic your sources are. It's worth remembering the fate of The Golden Compass, however; last year's "The New Harry Potter" had a similar amount of buzz pre-release, and a similarly impressive opening weekend... before audiences realized that the movies didn't live up to the books. Ultimately, the movie wasn't successful enough to warrant filming the second of the three His Dark Materials novels. The same thing may happen to Twilight. The figure to keep in mind is rumored to be $150 million; if Twilight makes less than that, you can forget about seeing New Moon, Eclipse or Breaking Dawn in theaters anytime soon. We can only hope. Twilight is released in theaters November 21st.