When Summit acquired the rights to the first Twilight movie back in 2007, they had no idea how fortunate they were. While the production and distribution company didn’t know it at the time, Twilight and its subsequent sequels: New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn – Part 1, and Breaking Dawn – Part 2, would become a phenomenal business decision. Together, the five movies would comprise one of the most successful teen film franchises of all time, grossing billions of dollars worldwide.
Funnily enough, Summit had absolutely no idea just how successful the Twilight movies would be. Though the final four films would be considered blockbusters, the first film was actually treated like a smaller indie film and had the budget to match. Considering many studios had already passed on the opportunity to acquire Twilight, Summit never expected it to be a hit.
Nobody expected the ‘Twilight’ movies to be successful
But Summit wasn’t the only one who underestimated Twilight. Catherine Hardwicke, who directed the first film, admitted that she too didn’t realize the impact that the movie would have. In fact, the director actually threw out the script when Summit first shared it with her without even sparing it a glance. It wasn’t until she stumbled across the eponymous book that she fell in love with the romantic storyline and agreed to take on the project. Still, even after Hardwicke said yes to the opportunity, she couldn’t have predicted the success of the film.
“The truth is is that I hadn’t heard of the book when I got the script, so I looked online and found some fan websites — but you never really know how successful a film is going to be,” Hardwicke shared about Twilight in a 2018 interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “And it got turned away from every studio. Paramount turned it down, the producers shopped around and went to Fox, it got turned down again. No one thought it was going to be successful.”
Catherine Hardwicke cast Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson on her own
Since Twilight wasn’t supposed to be a hit, Hardwicke was limited financially in some ways. However, in other ways, she had more creative freedom with the project. Since she wasn’t subjected to the pressures of “making a blockbuster movie” she was allowed to make a lot of decisions on her own without the permission of the studio. Hardwicke was even allowed to cast Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in the film without getting the stamp of approval from the studio executives.
“Nobody knew what it was going to be, what it was,” Hardwicke continued about Twilight. “I didn’t have committees giving me notes; I wasn’t watched by big-time producers. I didn’t have the pressure of hitting blockbuster marks. We didn’t even have a test screening so it was really made like an indie film. After the first movie, more people got involved and the other films were managed to a greater extent.”
‘Twilight’ surpassed all expectations
Clearly, the success of Twilight was something like lightning in a bottle. We’re sure that the studios who turned down the films experienced serious regret about the amount of money they missed out on. And while the excitement for young adult movies seems to have dwindled in present times, it’s only a matter of time before lightning strikes again.