What Does a $70 Million Opening Weekend Get Catherine Hardwicke? Fired.

by Melissa Silverstein on December 8, 2008

in Women Directors

The press release was sent out yesterday afternoon. Catherine Hardwicke, will not be directing the sequel to Twilight which Summit wants to have in the theatres by the end of next year or at the latest in early 2010. The release said that Hardwicke passed on the project due to “timing issues” because she wanted more prep time to work on the script which scribe Melissa Rosenberg turned in on opening weekend. Summit wants to film sooner rather than later.

Nikki Finke is reporting that Hardwicke was actually fired because she was “difficult” and “irrational.” Geez, they just should have called her a bitch and been done with it.

Who knows what the real story is, probably somewhere in the middle, but this rubs me the wrong way. First, the film is opening all over the world and Hardwicke is currently in Europe promoting the film. Awkward.

Second, I can’t help but think that a guy director who has brought in over $140 million on a budget of under $40 million would be treated differently. Hardwicke did everything she was supposed to do, that every director dreams of doing, directing a big box office success. (The film will probably turn out to be in the top 10 domestic grossers of the year.)

Everyone keeps saying the power job is the director and that having more women directors show box office prowess will open up the directing ranks. Guess not. Just goes to show that the gender issues are just much deeper than anyone is willing to discuss.

No Hardwicke for ‘Twilight’ sequel (Variety)


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

V.M.L. December 8, 2008 at 4:17 PM

I was disappointed when I heard the news. Too me, her firing is either due to sexism or it being another case of “director versus movie studio.”

I hope she comes back with another great movie. I don’t want her to leave Hollywood. :(

hara December 9, 2008 at 10:20 AM

Film is one of the most corrupt industries. Sexism is rampant and difficult to do anything about because most of us are freelance.
Double standards continue because there is almost never a minority in the room to defend the truth.

I didn’t see this film cause the story sounds about as anti-feminist as it gets.
I’m not a fan of the Mormon writer, but, many are.
The movie made a ton of money and was made for so much less than Bryan Singer or Michael Mann would have cost to make it.

I hope this director finds better films to make and wins an Oscar to show them.


Anonymous December 9, 2008 at 4:31 PM

What particularly bugs me about this one was that we saw this already play out with Iron man! Marvel has no films for 2009 and they wanted to move up Iron Man so that they could do that (maybe now they do have something opening up?). But Favreau said no because it would jeopardize the quality of the film. And the production company said “Ok.”

Are two years really too much to ask for a film? The only reason there was such a quick turnaround time with the first one was because of the strike deadline.

I see this as less prejudice against Hardwicke perse, and really a big fat x against the predominently female audience. It would appear that even though this was an unqualified box office hit, the studios don’t feel the audience who saw it deserves to have a really well crafted and thought out film. And I find that utterly tragic.


Anonymous December 10, 2008 at 12:25 PM

Catherine was fired for one reason only…..she refused to stick to Summit’s time schedule. Summit wants to release by Nov. 2009, and Catherine said “no way”. It’s that simple. I see both sides, but the truth is that Summit is paying the bills, so when the boss says get it done, you get it done or you step aside and someone else will. It won’t be as good as it could be, but Summit is right about one thing. You have to strike while the iron is hot. This is not Harry Potter, and interest will fade. I’m sad for Catherine, but I really don’t think this is a sexist thing. She just tried to flex too much muscle and lost. Her creative side got the best of her. Sometimes it’s just “strictly business”.

Anonymous December 10, 2008 at 12:44 PM

This has nothing to do with sexism!!! Ask most major fans of the book and they will say they were disappointed with her directing on this film. Not to mention the screenplay and score. The opening weekend success was on account of the book’s popularity, not Catherine’s directing.

I am a woman, but find it ridiculous that Catherine being fired is in any way being blamed on sexism. Women wanted to be treated equally… well, then if you’re a woman and you do a bad job or don’t agree to your employer’s conditions (timeline), then you are going to get fired. That’s how it works.

Equality for women has gone topsy-turvy to the point where an employer (in this case Summit) can’t make a decision for their company without being accused of being sexist. That’s just not cool.

snls December 10, 2008 at 12:56 PM

I saw the movie because I loved the book. Truth is, the movie was mediocre at best. Not only do they need a new director, they need a new screenwriter and to recast Bella, Rosale and Jasper. The books are huge and the movies could be too — if they step it up.

Folklore Fanatic December 10, 2008 at 7:33 PM

Since when are directors anything but ‘difficult’ and ‘irrational?’

That’s a piss-poor excuse to use to cover up the fact that Summit couldn’t handle someone who wanted to prep the script properly. The actors are mad as hell about this. They ought to know, better than most of us, whether Hardwicke is capable to pulling together a decent shoot.

I have no stakes in this – I find the story to be sexist in its underlying themes, but I still enjoyed watching the film and reading the books as guilty cravings, much like the way I crave a Wendy’s once in a while.

The really horrible thing that sticks in my craw is that Summit has offered the job to Chris Weitz (of The Golden Compass disaster) to direct.

Not only is that a major slap in the face to all women, much less Hardwicke, but it’s a huge risk in placing a man in charge of an emotional female teen series who was kicked out of his own editing shop on the set of TGC because he didn’t know squat about special effects, the very reason some people are arguing for a ‘more experienced’ director for New Moon.

Just4Janice December 10, 2008 at 10:06 PM

I along with the rest, am shocked that Summit would set a strick date for New Moon as May 2010 is a better time frame to make the movie as good as it should be. I have read that Summit is only going to increase the budget to $50 million which isn't nearly enough to make Jacob turn into a werewolf, it is an instant transformation. Since they are increasing Rob & Kristen's pay, well this is not much of a budget to work with. Summit should realize that it takes money to make a film really good & although we all went to see Twilight, if we continue to hear the crap we are hearing, most will just wait until their friends see it & then decide to go. The midnight showing won't need to happen unless I hear more from Summit being determined to make it like it should be! $100 million at least, get a qualified director, oh well, just bring Catherine back and May 2010 is a better release date. Lousy film will not bring the throngs of fans nor have a $70 million opening weekend!

Erin December 12, 2008 at 1:50 PM

This situation is just terrible. Thanks for following it so closely, you and Nikki Finke are the only people I see talking about this.

Tish December 13, 2008 at 11:41 AM

I understand the ramifications of not being hired on…I don’t want to be naive and assume it’s for the best (given the creative differences argument) but…it’s sad that the glass ceiling is still so apparent. Movies are a great way to change the status quo…We create the future with the images we dish out…But unless we start filming about how women are treated in Hollywood no one will ever really know what’s happening behind the scenes…or care.

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