When Twilight opened with over $70 million during its first weekend at the box office, we weren’t surprised to see the sequel put on the fast track; New Moon was probably greenlit by Summit Entertainment sometime after Friday morning’s breakfast. And when Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson were each given a $10 million dollar raise for said sequel, we didn’t balk either; there is a good chance half of Twilight‘s gross has been accrued on account of Mr. Pattinson’s furrowed brow alone. Yet we found it quite curious that in all the excited sequel planning, Twilight‘s director Catherine Hardwicke remained unsigned. Now we know why. What started as an exclusive rumor by Nikki Finke over at Deadline Hollywood Daily was almost immediately confirmed a few hours later by the studio: barely a month after being lauded as the first female director to break the glass ceiling of blockbusters, Ms. Hardwicke is now looking for work.
The official story reads like this: Ms. Hardwicke passed on the offer to direct New Moon because she couldn’t work around the time parameters that Summit delineated for the sequel. According to Summit CEO Rob Friedman, in an email to Ms. Finke: "Summit’s targeted end of 2009 or early 2010 release of the film, New Moon, does not work with Ms. Hardwicke’s required prep time to bring her vision of the film to the big screen." Since Ms. Hardwicke is a former production designer (Vanilla Sky, Three Kings) with a meticulous sense of detail, it sounds reasonable that she’d pass for this reason. But! This is Hollywood we’re talking about, so please hold for the juicy gossip of backstabbing and sexism.
While Summit and Ms. Hardwicke play nice in the press, sources inside Summit informed Ms. Finke that the director was "irrational" and "difficult" during the making of Twilight, adjectives which rank right up with "ambitious" and "opinionated" as code words used for demeaning women. (If you don’t believe us, give Hillary Clinton a call.) While it may very well be true that Ms. Hardwicke was a pain in the ass during the production, we doubt that any director, male or female, is much different. Things get a bit nastier from sources outside of Summit, who tell Ms. Finke that the studio just "didn’t like [Ms. Hardwicke]". In fact, they’ve gone so far as to privately give credit to the cinematographer and editor for making Twilight into the smash hit it has become. Oh, that’s right! Because the first thing every girl who saw Twilight noticed was the crisp editing and lush cinematography.
While Ms. Hardwicke tries to pick up the pieces of her reputation, Summit Entertainment is still waiting to name a replacement. We’d like to echo Harry Knowles over at Ain’t It Cool in suggesting Kathryn Bigelow, one of our personal favorites. (She directed Point Break!) Considering New Moon is ripe werewolves and action sequences, Ms. Bigelow could be a perfect fit. Just so long as she isn’t "difficult".