The director talks about the second chapter of Stephanie Meyers' mega popular vampire romance series hitting Blu-ray and DVD March 20th at midnight
There's never been a phenomenon aimed at young women quite like Twilight, and its seeped into every aspect of the current pop consciousness. The first film based on Stephanie Meyer's romantic supernatural novel series was a success, and it created a new era of vampire fetishism the world of entertainment had never quite seen before. When the second film in the franchise The Twilight Saga: New Moon opened, it was deemed a box office blockbuster and one of the biggest surprise hits of the year, grossing $706 million worldwide to become the fourth largest domestic hit of 2009. Now, the film is poised to make a killing on DVD and Blu-ray when it is released at midnight to its throng of impatient fans on March 20th. Taking over the directorial reigns from Twilight's Catherine Hardwicke was Chris Weitz, who continued to push this franchise towards cinematic greatness. Best known for his work as a producer on the American Pie franchise and for helming The Golden Compass, the director managed to create a truly epic chapter in the The Twilight Saga, though his tenure as a director on this series has been limited to just one film. To celebrate the upcoming DVD and Blu-ray release, we caught up with the director to find out more about the experience. Here's what Mr. Weitz had to say about The Twilight Saga: New Moon:
I'm sure you've seen the Jimmy Fallon skits. Which begs the most important question of the day: How bothered is Robert Pattinson?
Chris Weitz: How bothered is he? Here's the thing. I am a pop culture moron. You'll have to tell me what happened.
Pattinson climbed into the tree with Fallon for Late Night's Bothered skit.
Chris Weitz: I haven't seen that. How bothered is Robert? He doesn't seem terribly bothered at all. No. I think he will be able to handle it.
What has the transition been like from New Moon to Eclipse? Is David Slade bringing his own style to the project? Or did you guys discuss how to get the look and feel of what both you and Catherine Hardwicke have created into what he wanted to do? Was there a lot of back and forth between you three directors for continuity?
Chris Weitz: I think the continuity is supplied by the actor and the series of books. I can guarantee that David is bringing a new look and feel to it. Just as New Moon looked different from Twilight, I'm sure Eclipse will look different from New Moon. That is good. I don't want to make anybody follow any type of particular aesthetic. The reason he was brought on was to make every movie different. I think Eclipse is much more action-intensive. For instance, I am pretty terrible at shooting action. He is much better in that regard.
Were you disappointed that you wouldn't be continuing on in this world? Or was once enough?
Chris Weitz: That was always planned. David needed to go into prep while I was cutting my movie. Because these films are staggered in terms of their release. There was no disappointment. I miss the cast. I do. I liked them very much. By the time I was done with New Moon, I was completely exhausted. I don't think I could have done it anyway. If that was ever the plan.
I paid attention to the promotional tour for this film, and it looked exhausting. What did that entail for you exactly?
Chris Weitz: It was very strange. It involved a lot of traveling. For a couple of weeks every day, you would show up in a new country, go do a press conference, and then be displayed to what could only be considered a stadium full of Twilight fans. Who were screaming so loud, your ears would short out like a speaker that has its volume turned too loud. It was unlike anything I have ever encountered in my whole life. There is something really wonderful about that. There's also something wonderful about knowing that isn't going to happen every time I step out in public. As for the kids, it's a bit different. They have to deal with the ramifications of this franchise for the foreseeable future.
Did you almost feel like an interchangeable cog? Or do you feel like you were able to bring something out of the franchise that another director may not have found in the material?
Chris Weitz: Let me see. I don't know if that is for me to say. You would have to ask the actors. What I really care about is working with the actors. Giving them free reign to do what comes naturally to them. I would say that our relationship is very, very close. That is what makes it work. That's what the fans care about. Okay? I've done lots of CGI before. That stuff is very familiar to me. And I was able to work with the people who'd get it right. But what mattered most was working closely with the actors.
This may have been one of the most popular yet most critically derided films of the past year. What do you think the fans see in it that the critics just don't get?
Chris Weitz: The critics are probably people that haven't read the books. Thus, they're not attached to the books in a way that the fans are attached to the books. I'm not incredibly surprised that it took a bit of a critical drubbing. There is an adherent disconnect between the fan base of the books and the critical base of people who review movies for a living. No surprises there, really. There aren't many Twihards amongst the reviews working for newspapers and websites. Also, it's a very female driven franchise. We still live in a state where pop culture is dominated by male desires.
I've heard this many times over from friends who have seen the film: New Moon is a more male friendly film. Did you consciously try to make the film more appealing to those young males in the audience? Or do you think guys are just buying into that so they don't feel ashamed about watching the movie?
Chris Weitz: (Laughs) It might be a more male friendly film. There are more things in there that fanboys tend to get into. Like special effects and fights. Those types of things. If I were male, I would care a lot about Kristen Stewart. Also, this is a great place to meet girls. But guys don't always think that way. They prefer for things to explode. Guns to be fired. We never really set out to make it male friendly. I don't know. Perhaps once something becomes big enough in the popular culture, everyone feels they have to check it out.
The most interesting characters to me are Eric Yorkie and Tyler Crowley, because, as someone standing outside the franchise, you never hear about them. How important do you feel Eric was to this second chapter? And how did you want to utilize him on the screen?
Chris Weitz: Its great to give a young actor a chance at any time. One thing that my brother and I always try to concentrate on is that everyone on screen thinks they are the stars of their own movie. Subsidiary actors, or character actors, are very important to us. In a lot of films, characters only exist as foils for the main actors. To me, it's always a pleasure to not only choose experienced actors or very popular actors. But to also give people their shot at it.
Let's switch gears for a minute. There's all this talk swirling around about American Reunion. Can you tell us anything about this upcoming fourth installment of the American Pie series? And Who you will be bringing back?
Chris Weitz: I know that Universal wants to do it. We want to be involved in it. Because of the affection we hold for the story and the characters. We want to get as many former cast members back as possible. Its funny, but look at someone like John Cho. He had a very small part in all three films. Now he is a big deal. He's in Star Trek and FlashForward. I'm not sure if we'd be able to get him. Since we first cast him in the original film, I thought he was great. And it would be great if we could get him back, too.
It's been ten years, and a lot has happened in terms of comedy since that first "Pie" gag. Do you guys have a plan for that one great set piece that always ties the films together?
Chris Weitz: 3D! (Laughs) 3D sperm jokes. In some ways, like any reunion, it would be about the nostalgia element. For the time that it came out. For how people felt when they first saw it. And now to experience it again with all the pathos and humor that implies.
You say 3D sperm jokes. You need to have that scene be one where the audience is told to put the glasses on at a certain point in the film, just like the characters. And then do the 3D sperm joke.
Chris Weitz: (Laughs). I know what you are talking about. You hear a tone, and then you put your glasses on. That is a very 1950s kind of concept. We were just talking about that today. Who knows? I am sure that everything will have to be in 3D now that Avatar is successful. Everyone will have to bring their glasses.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon DVD and Blu-ray will be in stores on March 20th at midnight! Be sure to reserve your copy today.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon was released November 20th, 2009 and stars Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Anna Kendrick, Christian Serratos, Michael Welch. The film is directed by Chris Weitz.