Chris Weitz on getting the ‘Twilight’ gig: The secret translation


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As any PR pro will tell you, whether you’re embarking on an invasion of Iraq or just hiring a new filmmaker for your popular movie series, what counts isn’t the actual event so much as the media positioning and rollout for it. Whenever I get a press release these days, I find myself reading between the lines, trying to figure out, once you get past the puffy official prose, what the statement really means. This goes double for Summit Entertainment’s announcement that it’s hired Chris Weitz (best known for co-helming ‘American Pie,’ ‘About a Boy’ and directing ‘The Golden Compass’) to take over its fantastically successful ‘Twilight’ franchise, barely a week after Summit and ‘Twilight’ director Catherine Hardwicke had a messy falling out over various ‘creative differences,’ to use a popular press-release obfuscation phrase.

I’m not saying Weitz is a bad choice, even if I happen to be a bigger fan of his brother Paul Weitz’s films, which seem more quirky and personal (Paul did ‘In Good Company’ and ‘American Dreamz’). But Chris is a talented writer-director and, having shepherded ‘Golden Compass’ to worldwide box-office success, clearly can handle the popularization of a franchise property. But what’s fascinating, for the moment, is how Chris handled his first big assignment--reaching out and reassuring ‘Twilight’ fans who were upset over Hardwicke’s sudden departure, wanted a woman director to get the gig, or crave a absolutely faithful translation of the remaining books in the series, starting with ‘New Moon,’ which Summit hopes to have in theaters by the end of next year.


So here are a few excerpts from what Chris said in his letter to fans--and what it really means:

What he said: ‘In the past few days I have been involved in a whirlwind romance with Stephenie Meyer’s extraordinary books.’

What it means: ‘It’s amazing how fast Amazon can rush an overnight shipment of books to your house.’

What he said: ‘I am very grateful to have received [Stephenie’s] permission to protect ‘New Moon’ in its translation from the page to the screen.’

What it means: ‘I passed the audition.’

What he said: ‘For the last decade of my career as a director, I have chosen to make adaptations of complex and involved works of literature.’

What it means: ‘I barely remember being that smart-aleck brat who did all the semen jokes and sexist gags in ‘American Pie.’ ‘

What he said: ‘When I saw the film of ‘Twilight’ ... I was struck by the extraordinary passion for the characters, story and theme that was evident in the people sitting in the seats around me.’

What it means: ‘I saw the film in a real movie theater, not in my agent’s screening room.’

What he said: ‘Like many of you, I am a fan of Catherine Hardwicke’s work. I can’t really say much about why she is not doing ‘New Moon’ because I wasn’t involved in those decisions.’

What it means: ‘Don’t blame me for her getting the ax. It was those guys over there that fired her.’

What he said: ‘To those of who doubt that as a male director I can capture Bella’s experience, I can only say that emotion is universal....’

What it means: ‘It’s not like they hired Michael Bay, OK?’

What he said: ‘... and my work has often involved working with some of the most talented actresses in the world.’

What it means: ‘By saying ‘some of’ we’re obviously not counting Tara Reid.’