Ten things the 'Twilight' movies did for us
We take a look at the lasting impressions left by the 'Twilight' saga
As the 'Twilight' saga draws to a close with 'Breaking Dawn: Part Two', a Twi-curious Tom Huddleston, between wiping the tears from his eyes, looks back at the impact this out-of-nowhere film phenomenon has had on the cultural landscape since the first movie was released in 2008.
They gave us a new Winona and Johnny
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson (aka K-Stew and R-Patz, aka K-Patz, aka Robsten, aka Krisbob… Okay, we made that last one up) were the overnight focus of redtop frenzy and teenage mania. They had just the right mix of youth, beauty, talent and standoffishness to send them soaring into the celebrity stratosphere.
They made horror movie imagery non-threatening
Are the ‘Twilight’ movies horror films? They’re about bloodsuckers and werewolves, sure, but they’re also bloodless: instead of turning to dust in sunlight, Edward Cullen just gets a bit, well, twinkly. So ‘Twilight’ is to horror what boybands are to real music: shallow, saleable and entirely safe. What next, ‘The Friendly Dead’?
They made vampires a global phenomenon
Vampires were already big business: they were on TV, records, the big screen, even breakfast cereals. But since ‘Twilight’, vampires have taken over the world: witness ‘True Blood’, witness the pastiche films, ‘Vampires Suck’ and ‘Breaking Wind’, witness ‘Let Me in’, ‘Dark Shadows’ and ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’. Witness that Thomas Cook now offers vampire-themed package tours.
They reversed the cherry-popping trend in teen-movies
Pattinson himself says that the ‘Twilight’ books were successful because they made abstinence sexy. The merits of this are debatable – anything which promotes a specific agenda to kids must surely be approached with caution? But it does make a refreshing change from the puerile sex-crazed antics of most teen movie fare.
They prioritised cheekbones over character
Ask your average fan to describe ‘Twilight’ hero Edward Cullen, and the leading epithet would surely be ‘hot’. Trouble is, there’s not a lot going on below the surface. The same goes for most folk who inhabit creator Stephenie Meyer’s rainswept landscape: they’re broody, beautiful, even noble, but not exactly memorable.
They gave hope to millions of pasty tweenage girls
The upside of the last point is that audiences can fill these empty vessels with pretty much anything they want. So, heroine Bella’s whey-faced dullness becomes an asset, as hordes of shy adolescents believe that they, too, could find themselves in the arms of a hunky outsider with eyes for them alone.
They made it acceptable for middle-aged women to drool over an 18-year-old’s abs
The flipside of the teen coin is that the series undoubtedly appeals to an older generation: the ‘Sex and the City’ crowd have clasped Pattinson and Taylor Lautner firmly to their bosoms. Sure, it’s a tad creepy, but considering the amount of traffic going in the opposite direction, this feels oddly like a win for gender equality.
They created a merchandising industry like no other
Sure, getting adolescent girls to buy crap isn’t exactly hard work, but the ‘Twilight’ folks milked the franchise to an alarming degree. From ‘Cullen Crest’ hair twisters to themed underwear; from earrings, lockets, posters and school stationery to an entire cottage industry in Robert Pattinson fan books and DVDs, the cheap tat industry hasn’t been so busy since ‘Star Wars’.
They forged a new independent movie studio
In 2008, Summit Entertainment was a tiny production house best known for cheesy teen romp ‘Sex Drive’. In 2012, thanks in large part to the success of ‘Twilight’, they’re a major player with a catalogue of hits (‘Knowing’, ‘Step Up 3D’, ‘Red’) and one major Oscar winner (‘The Hurt Locker’) under their belt. They’ve now been snapped up by Lionsgate, but with ‘Red 2’ and ‘Ender’s Game’ on the cards for 2013, expect Summit to remain a player.
They proved that films don’t need a huge budget and big stars to make a splash
The ‘Twilight’ films’ importance to indie cinema is impossible to underestimate. Turned down by a major studio (Paramount), they featured no recognisable stars and were produced on a close-to-shoestring budget with minimal SFX and real locations. They have nonetheless come to dominate the film calendar for the past four years. It’s an object lesson in giving audiences exactly what they want: studios, take note.