Bill Condon takes on twice the challenges with “Twilight: Breaking Dawn” movies; “Part 1″ to be released on DVD at midnight Saturday
From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Bill Condon takes on twice the challenges with “Twilight: Breaking Dawn” movies
The “Chicago” and “Dreamgirls” director made “Breaking Dawn — Part 1,” which will be released on DVD and Blu-ray at midnight Saturday, and “Breaking Dawn — Part 2,” due in theaters Nov. 16, at the same time.
LOS ANGELES — Director Bill Condon’s initiation into the global pop culture phenomenon known as “The Twilight Saga” began with a literal honeymoon period.
Adapting “Breaking Dawn,” the fourth and final book in Stephenie Meyer’s supernaturally popular vampire-romance series, involved dividing the weighty character- and milestone-packed novel into two movies that were filmed simultaneously. But the process started with just Kristen Stewart, who plays human heroine Bella Swan, and Robert Pattinson, who plays her courtly vampire sweetheart Edward Cullen, filming their characters’ honeymoon in Brazil.
“We started this big movie very small. It was only Rob and Kristen plus a couple other actors for half a day … We were starting on a honeymoon. It was kind of a dreamy thing to do, you know. I found it great,” Condon said during a fall press conference at the Four Seasons Hotel. “We had some weather problems and got rained in, socked in, and all had to sleep in bathtubs and things at the honeymoon house. But everything about it was magical.”
“Twi-hard” fans of the series seemed to agree: “Breaking Dawn — Part 1” has grossed nearly $702 million worldwide since it opened in theaters Nov. 18.
The penultimate film in the blockbuster franchise drops on DVD and Blu-ray at the stroke of midnight Saturday, with release parties planned Friday night (tonight) at Walmart and Target locations across the country, including many Oklahoma stores. For more information on the release parties planned at the retail giants, click here.
“The biggest challenge is that these books are so beloved by so many people that you want to make sure that it’s your take on the material but that it doesn’t betray what people’s expectations are and yet still becomes a fully cinematic experience,” said Condon, 56, who became the fourth director to work on “The Twilight Saga” when he took the helm of the final two movies.
“Making two movies at once wasn’t fun, either. Well, it was fun. It was hard, though. It was hard ‘cause it was such a big thing,” he added. “Kristen … would be young Bella, high school girl, in the morning and then a vampire in the afternoon and then a pregnant mother in the evening. She had days like that. It was crazy.”
Condon, who won an adapted screenplay Oscar for the 1998 biopic “Gods and Monsters,” is best known for directing the movie musicals “Dreamgirls” and “Chicago,” as well as the fact-based drama “Kinsey.” Part of the appeal of the “Twilight” films, he said, was the chance to helm an old-fashioned melodrama.
“I’m … a big fan of classic Hollywood genres. And that’s a genre that’s sort of fallen out of fashion. … I think like other things like detective stories it became something that TV took over, and it became devalued. But some of our greatest directors worked in that forum. And it allows you to immerse yourself in emotion, you know, and to do that both with camera and music, with design and color, so I very much embraced and didn’t fight against (that),” he said. “It’s a valuable genre that I think because it often puts women and women concerns in the center, gets devalued too, which is too bad.”
Along with Edward and Bella’s highly anticipated wedding and honeymoon, “Breaking Dawn — Part 1” includes the dramatic arrival of their daughter, Renesmee. The birth not only threatens Bella’s life — an emergency vampire conversion is her only hope for survival — it also endangers the Cullen clan’s pact with the local werewolves of the Quileute Tribe, including Bella’s best pal, Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner).
“That’s a good example of the challenges because obviously it’s very, very kind of powerfully described in the book, and you want to be true to that experience. But how do you show some of those things? As with a lot of other things, I think the key to doing it and being able to have that experience is to tell it from Bella’s point of view,” Condon said.
“Once Bella’s on that slab, we’re only gonna see what she can see as these things are happening to her — and we’re only gonna see it through her eyes as she gets weaker, as the morphine takes over.”
The harrowing birth of Renesmee and rebirth of Bella as a vampire set up the series’ eagerly awaited finale in “Breaking Dawn — Part 2,” due in theaters Nov. 16. When they learn the baby has been targeted by the corrupt vampire peacekeepers known as the Volturi, the Cullens gather other covens to make a stand and protect the child.
“I remember we would have scenes with the Cullens and you’d have eight or nine vampires in a room and I was thinking, ‘Oh, good, this is an easy day.’ Because we had so many scenes with literally 27 people in a room,” he said. “It’s huge that way. But we have such good actors and it is important that everybody get their moment to define who they are. It’s a real challenge …. about the second movie. But we gather these vampires from around the world, and we want to know as we get into the climax of that movie what each of them represents and what their powers are and who they are.”