Prophecy: Twilight

By BOP Staff

October 31, 2008

The beautiful people, the beautiful people.

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David Mumpower: Less than three years ago, Stephenie Meyer was a virtual unknown in the publishing world. The author claims to have had a dream wherein she visualized a vampire sitting in a meadow with his human lover. The vamp, Edward Cullen, is enjoying their happiness while still feeling a bloodlust toward the 17-year-old girl, Bella Swan. Within three months, Meyer had put pen to paper and written a gothic romance skewed toward the Gossip Girl crowd.

To the shock of Meyer herself as well as many within the publishing world, the unknown author was given a $750,000 advance for her first novel and two promised sequels. In hindsight, this has proven to be one of the shrewdest business deals in recent memory. Her book debut, Twilight, became an instant blockbuster and its three sequels all performed exceptionally well. At the end of the week of September 21st, four of the top six (!) best selling books in North America were Twilight and the novels that followed it: New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. Twilight and New Moon have each been mainstays on the best sellers list for two years now. Breaking Dawn, the finale in the saga of lead character Bella Swan, sold 1.3 million copies in its first 24 hours of release and had an initial print run of 3.7 million.

All of this is well established information to the fans of the series, but it may very well be the first anyone over 18 reading this has heard of the whole thing. Meyer's Twilight franchise has been compared to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series in terms of instant, widespread popularity, but it has only recently become an attention grabber to the media. They started noting that book signings held by the author saw her treated like a rock star by tweener fans, many of whom dress up in Twilight costume for the appearances.


Last spring, Summit Entertainment was re-purposed as a full-fledged movie studio and would-be distributor. One of their first new endeavors was to greenlight a movie adaptation of Twilight. This occurred in April of 2007, a time prior to when the Meyer phenomenon had reached a crescendo. The end result is that early footage of the movie makes it look rather low budget in scope, but Summit was undeterred. Believing that their audience was much larger in scope than people realized, the new distributor capitalized on the opportunity presented by Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince's move to the summer of 2009. Twilight was immediately slotted in the pre-Thanksgiving space Potter had previously owned on November 21, 2008. But how realistic are those expectations?

What are you expecting from the box office performance of Twilight?

Jason Dean: As a data point, there are more than a few over 18-year-olds that have heard of the Twilight series and are desperately looking forward to the opening.

Jason Lee: A big, big, big part of me sincerely doubts that this movie takes off at the box-office. I know that David has posted information proving me wrong, but I just don't see the audience for this films skewing wider than your typical fan who goes to see teen-slasher films. The casting of the film and the perceived quality (based on the trailer) will hold it back, I think.

I know that the books sales indicate otherwise, but I would be very surprised to see this film open above $20 million. I think mid-teens is about where it'll end up.

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