Time to get hustling on the Twilight sequel, New Moon.
Part two of the franchise remains un-helmed since Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke's departure, but with a tentative release date set for November 20th, 2009, whoever ends up coming onto the project would have to be in Vancouver by December 15th to prepare for a mid-March production start date.
The mad rush to feed off of Twilight's franchise potential may only exacerbate some of the problems that have already arisen for New Moon.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the fledgling Summit studio does not want to re-hire "baby-faced" Taylor Lautner as Jacob. They don't think he has what it takes to play the werewolf love interest/lead in New Moon.
And, in a desperate attempt to keep the role, Lautner's agent has reached out to the special effects people who did Brad Pitt's new Benjamin Button film to see what wizardry they could do to bulk up Taylor.
Another obstacle is finding Native American actors to portray Jacob's werewolf clan, which was difficult in the first film. Lautner himself is not completely Native American.
With only a slightly increased budget of $50 million and breakout lead actors to pay more, shoots in Italy, and shiny new special effects, Summit is going to have to cut corners somewhere.
Rumor has it that Summit has approached Golden Compass' Chris Weitz to direct.
Inside sources say that Hardwicke would have loved to direct the Twilight sequel, if given the license to take her time to make it better than the first, but "it became clear that Summit didn’t have those same priorities."
It all sounds like Summit is setting up its Twilight franchise for a sloppy sequel in order to cash in as quickly as possible on its box-office-busting success.
Despite all the dramz, brutal production timeline, and potential for total crap filmmaking, Summit shouldn't have a problem nailing a director soon because, as an insider put it, "We are in a recession. It’s a hit franchise. Whoever steps into it is guaranteed a $100 million gross. Everyone wants this movie."
An executive at another studio added, "You’d have to have a very high standard for art, hate the movie business, and hate money to walk off this sequel."
So is Hardwicke an idiot or just trying to avoid an embarrassing cinematic failure?