Catherine Hardwicke Recalls Twilight’s Surprising Leap to Box Office Stardom

As the iconic film “Twilight” marks its 15th anniversary, director Catherine Hardwicke reflects on the unexpected box office success of the vampire romance, which defied industry predictions and skepticism. Speaking on the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast’s “Watchalong” spinoff, Hardwicke shared insights into the film’s journey, from widespread doubts about its potential to its record-breaking earnings.

Initially, “Twilight” faced considerable doubt from studios, with every major player in town, including MTV and Paramount, rejecting the project. The skepticism stemmed partly from comparisons to other popular books targeting a similar demographic, like “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” which had earned $29 million. Hardwicke recalls being told that this figure was likely the ceiling for “Twilight” as well. However, the film shattered these expectations, earning $69 million in its opening weekend and accumulating $400 million globally, a figure that nobody, including the studio, had anticipated.

Even as the film’s release approached and the opening weekend tracking numbers soared, the studio remained cautious. They hoped for a $30 million opening but were soon amazed as “Twilight” grossed $7 million from midnight sales alone, leading to a staggering $35 million on its first day. The film’s total domestic earnings reached $192 million, with a worldwide total of $408 million. This success laid the foundation for a blockbuster franchise, culminating in a cumulative gross of $3.3 billion across five films.

Adding to the film’s pre-release challenges was the casting of Robert Pattinson as the vampire Edward Cullen. Hardwicke shared an anecdote about studio executives questioning Pattinson’s suitability for the role, particularly his looks. Despite their doubts, Hardwicke championed Pattinson, convinced of his potential to transform into the charismatic vampire lead. Her vision was vindicated as Pattinson’s portrayal became one of the defining elements of the franchise’s success.

Hardwicke’s full account of her experience with “Twilight,” including these behind-the-scenes stories, is available in her detailed discussion on the “Watchalong” podcast.

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A long time Potterhead and gamer, I keep up to date with everything in the Wizarding World from Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts to Hogwarts Legacy.

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