In spite of Twilight‘s incredible box-office success, Catherine Hardwicke wasn’t given the opportunity to direct the sequel New Moon. Why? Insiders called Ms. Hardwicke â€œirrationalâ€ and â€œuncooperativeâ€, and said that the studio “didn’t like her.” The public statement said it was a “timing” issue.
But Catherine Hardwicke did a great job, and getting the opportunity to direct New Moon would have been an equitable and justifiable reward for her efforts. Instead, the ungrateful studio guys slammed the window of opportunity on her fingers. Hard. It makes you wonder who Hardwicke pissed off at Summit.
Chris Weinz, the ho-hum director of The Golden Compass, was Hardwicke’s replacement. As expected, New Moon made tons of money. Then again, Weinz took advantage of the hard work that Hardwicke did beforehand. It’s like when Barry Switzer won a Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys, a team he was lucky enough to inherit from Jimmy Johnson.
You can only work with what they give you. Opportunity is a rare lottery ticket in Hollywood, and not everybody wins.
There are countless actors, writer, directors and other creative people who stayed lost in obscurity because they never found that special, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Sometimes hard work, talent, luck, and an unique confluence of events will work: what happens to the rest of Jack Nicholson’s career if Rip Torn didn’t turn down Easy Rider? Would Chevy Chase have won an Oscar for “Best Actor” playing Lester Burnham in American Beauty if he bothered to read the script his agent dropped on his desk?
Sometimes it never happens.
But Twilight happened to Catherine Hardwicke.
Although the critically-acclaimed director of Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown was an unexpected choice, it was proven to be the right one. In spite of the revisionist history going on now, Hardwicke was aggressively hands on in casting the leads for Twilight. More importantly, Hardwicke found the dark poetry in Stephanie Meyer’s pretentious vampire romance; it’s the odd movie adaptation that’s actually better than the novel.
Happily, there’s Red Riding Hood. Even though the word “irrational” is usually a deterrent on a resume, another studio guy remembered that Twilight made over $400 million and decided otherwise. I’m sure Hardwicke’s subversive interpretation of the classic fairy tale will be radically different from the homogenized pap the corporate overloads at Disney would have given audiences. I can’t wait.
Sometimes, even in Hollywood, there are a few Davids who get to knock down the Goliaths standing in their way.