What Twilight Could Have Been

One of the producers of Twilight, Mark Morgan, (seen left at the New Moon premiere. Photo credit: Sue Schneider_MGp Agency) spoke to Hollywood Life about what the original draft of Twilight was like back when MTV/Parmount had it and Stephenie Meyer was a relatively unknown author.  Twilight was purchased before it was even published as is fairly common in Hollywood. Many scripts are optioned, but something like only 20% ever get made. Despite flaws, I think we can all agree that the Melissa Rosenberg version is way better. The MTV/Paramount version represents typical big studio think where they repackage everything rather than taking the best from the original.

At the Eclipse Prom in 2008, Laura talked with Stephenie a bit about the project where Stephenie mentioned some details like Bella and Edward being pursued by the FBI/CIA, bullets harming vampires, and Bella being a track star at BYU. The conversation was relatively late at night and Laura actually thought she imagined most of it the next day. At the end of the discussion, Stephenie mentioned that the rights to the movie were now going to an independent studio and she’d have more control over the script, and she was hopeful for it looking like something the fans would like.

Here’s what producer Mark Morgan told Hollywood Life:

“I actually found the material originally and then [sold it to MTV] and then sold it to Paramount,” he confided. “Lo and behold, six months later, after we chose a writer [Melissa Rosenberg], we did a draft and [Paramount] put the project in turnaround.”

Mark noted that it was hard finding a buyer for the script — believe it or not, nobody wanted it! “We went shopping to every studio around, but everyone passed,” he told us. “Every studio passed! Finally [Summit] said ‘let’s do it.’ It was a total blessing that Summit [chose to do the movie], because frankly, Paramount would have chosen a different director [over Catherine Hardwicke]. Their rewrite wasn’t exactly like the book.”

So what WOULD you have seen in this parallel Twilight universe? “They wanted to go more with an action movie,” Mark explained. “They had Bella [Kristen Stewart] fighting back. They had her father dying in one of the scripts, actually, and her becoming a vampire in the first movie. There were a lot of weird things that I don’t think they understood at the time, because the books were just becoming popular. By the time [the script] got to Summit, they were smart enough to say ‘You know what? Let’s throw out all the old scripts and let’s start from scratch.”

So, does this information make you view the Twilight movies any differently?

Comments

  1. While the Paramount version wouldn’t have been the story… it would have been nice to see Bella thinking for herself and fighting back. It would have been actual character development, instead of her staying the same through all the books.

    • I don’t see how anyone who has really read and understood the books can say that Bella doesn’t think for herself or fight back. The character development is profound.

      If Paramount had developed their ideas, I believe Twilight may have become another brainless action flick with too much sex and violence.

      • Agree. I wouldn’t had paid my money to see that crap. And Bella fights back people seem to believe you need to yell and being a bitch to be assertive. Politeness is not a weakness.

      • CantanteDiEdward says:

        I agree laces. A lot the character development happens within Bella and you see her evolve as a character throughout the books. She had to make difficult choices in a two-year span and it helped sharpen her to be who she became. I consider it “thinking for herself” when she didn’t tell Edward plan B should the Volturi win in the end.

      • CantanteDiEdward says:

        Sooooo glad they stuck to the book. FBI/CIA? Track star at BYU? C’mon? Serious?

      • That may be how you think, but I respectfully disagree. Bella Swan is one of the weakest characters I’ve come across in literature lately. And in response to someone below me… I never said you had to be bitchy to be assertive. I like polite, assertive people, I just don’t feel like Bella is that person.

    • Bleech, I love those characters, just the way they are. I didn’t want action, I wanted Twilight saga, those flaws are Bella. I wouldn’t have let them change one blessed thing, those are the characters I fell in love with. Everyone is not a stand up person, the facts are is Bella was backward, and clumsy and not at all in your face.

    • What the hell ? She might not have been as strong as what you would of liked but BELLA IS STRONG.
      Bella’s naive, annoying and whiny but the girl has emotions and real problems which a lot of people appreciate in a way. Some of these other strong characters in books are WAY too perfect.
      The insecurities Bella has actually comforts me because I’m far from being perfect or strong in many ways. I lack a lot of things and the way she got through it at the end was good for her and in some way made me realize that there is hope in everything.

    • The books were New York Time best sellers. Why the hell would you change it ? I’ve come at Summit but it seems that their way smarter then some of these other studios.
      It’s a great story and they wanted to change it to get the guys to see it HOW SAD !
      I’m glad they’ll never underestimate us again !
      I’m glad my beautiful books weren’t trashed more then they already are.

    • And why would you want the whole story changed because you don’t like Bella’s character development(which I hugely disagree) ?
      The Cullens, Volturi, Charlie and ETC..
      I can’t imagine what Paramount would of done to my favorite characters. And it probably wouldn’t have taken place in Forks boo.

    • @Sara-Did you even read the books?

      • Chill out people! The girl is respectfully sharing her opinion! People are allowed to have different opinions, that is the beauty of a democracy. And I understand where all of you are coming from, I love the Twilight series. But some people don’t. Not necessarily because they think Stephenie Meyer is a terrible writer, but people just have different tastes in literature.
        Furthermore, try not to be so judgemental of MTV/Paramount. They have produced a lot of really great movies that aren’t just mindless action flicks (i.e. Save the Last Dance, Romeo + Juliet)

    • LOL! If you see no character development in Bella I suggest you reread the books:P

  2. Thank goodness that it never happened!! It would have been horrid. I am so glad the movies have stayed as true to the books as it can. To have seen it that way would gave been a great injustice to Stephenie and the world she created not to mention all of the fans and characters!

  3. im sure back then paramount didn’t anticipate a small book by an unknown author would have any appeal let alone the possibility of making sequels of it….all thanks to summit for keeping the content and the life of the series…it would have been terrible to watch an action packed romantic vampire flick!! would have been as crappy as he rest of the semi vampire-dracula movies, seriously what were they thinking??

  4. MyAfterCarIsAnXKR says:

    I read this last night, but was SURE it was a joke. The version of this article that I read had something about FBI agents in trees trying to take down vampires. Dear movie studios: if a book tops the charts, don’t eff with the movie!

  5. I just feel a sense of overwhelming gladness and relief that things turned out the way they did! *wipes brow*
    For all the complaints that some fans may have regarding Summit and Melissa’s adaptation, let’s remember that Stephenie was onboard for all the three movies and gave her stamp of approval.
    Now, I’m so looking forward to see what they do with Breaking Dawn!

    • Oh my god, thank god summit got it, Killing Charlie off would have been awful he’s great. i love that the books have been kept in the films and that Steph is an actual producer for Breaking Dawn.If bella had become a vampire in the first movie then there would have been no more movies ‘cos obviously Jacob wouldnt ave been fighting for her love and there would have been no trip to Italy to save Edward x

  6. Wow, what a blessing. I think the Lord was watching over this movie series from the beginning.

    • ok i don’t mean to sound like a jerk, but you’re kidding, right? i don’t know why the lord would care at all about movies, hollywood, twilight. i’m a fan but still, that is crossing the line. it must be a joke.

      • oh calm down. She’s religious so what ?

      • Back off Mich. If she wants to thank the Lord or say 1000 Hail Mary’s in her comment, she can.

      • I think God is very interested in spreading positive thinking in the world. And I think Twilight does that very well.

        As Sia points out so well above, Meyer’s books are inspiring.

        Bella starts out (1) not seeing herself very clearly, (2) feeling inadequate and (3) out of place in the world.

        In response, Bella solves each of those dilemmas. She finds her place in the (immortal) world, learns a great deal which helps her to understand and rise to her circumstances, and finally sees herself clearly at the end of Breaking Dawn.

        But Bella is is not just any superhero, not just any vampire. Through her love for others, she finds herself, finds reservoirs of strength she didn’t realize she had, and elevates herself beyond the mortal realm, and takes on godlike powers.

        As it turns out, the reason why Bella feels that she doesn’t “fit in anywhere” is because she is not like the common world. She is not only immortal, but divine.

        And as Sia points out, we may all learn something from that for our own lives.

        So, again, I believe that God is very interested in spreading such thoughts in the world. And I do believe that Twilight does that exceptionally well.

        • I believe and have experienced that God cares about his children enough to be interested in their lives at a personal level. If something is important to you then it’s important to Jesus.

          • I believe God is very interested in the lives of all his children and he uses many different means to speak to them. Including works of fiction. He is also interested in spreading positive and moral messages. So I do believe he is interested in the Twilight Series and the movies. The series is full of spiritual and moral messages. I think a whole book could be written on spiritual comparisons. I personally think God is involved in more things on this earth than we think.

  7. Thank goodness there are smart people at Summit!

  8. “because frankly, Paramount would have chosen a different director [over Catherine Hardwicke]. Their rewrite wasn’t exactly like the book.””

    Catherine Hardwicke’s version wasn’t much like the book, I felt.

    I guess I should feel lucky that it wasn’t even LESS like the book? Okay then.

    I loved New Moon though.

  9. Wow some of that stuff is crazy to think about how it could’ve turned out. I think with each they’re trying to get better at following the books. It’s just us fans know all the details so well we can pick out anything they don’t include :) But as others have said, I’m still optimistic about BD.

  10. I am sure the movies could have been way worse, but they also could have been way better as well. After falling in love with the books, the movies were just a major letdown! Look at the Harry Potter series. They have made those movies fantastic and done complete justice to the books!

  11. actually this was mentioned in one of CH’s interview. It was in Time magazine.

    One of the keys to the twilight’s success is its writer’s faithfulness to the book. If it has been played like Bella in a track suit with a fierce Edward, (minus his sparklers) running away from an army of stake-armed FBI agents, Vampire Sucks would not have been created, and it would have parroted Charlie St. Clouds in the box office! (sorry Zac Efron):P Now, its creating billions, and it said to be the most succesful franchise of all times (at least from those analysts who are not afraid of JKR’s magic wands:))) Now, am I glad that there’s no semi-automatic stake spewing rifles and no misplaced overlong fangs in the movie?(Sorry TB!) Yes I am! Otherwise, It would be horrifying to see a red carpet being set on fire by a frustrated twihard for not witnessing firsthand how Jacob’s jorts will splinter into pieces everytime he turns into wolf!

    • Joshua L. Roberts says:

      I don’t think Twilight’s success has as much to do with the faithfulness of the movie adaptations as it does the passion of the fans. For the most part, the movies haven’t been that good, but that didn’t stop Twi-hards from seeing them multiple times and then coming to boards like this to gripe and complain. In short, none of these movies would have had the success that they’ve had, if they hadn’t been associated with Twilight. In short they don’t stand well on their own.

      • Of course, but imagine the faithful book fans being handed an action movie with FBI agents and car chases and explosions. That movie would have failed miserably, period.

        • Joshua L. Roberts says:

          Well I didn’t say Paramount’s “take” on it was a great idea… Much like Blood & Chocolate, it would have alienated both fans and non-fans alike.

          You can be true to the story, the theme, and the context, while making it a good movie at the same time.

      • these movies are big success because of the actors otherwise stories and characters are not good as books.

  12. Summit landed the rights…. Gave it to Catherine…. Catherine read the script from Paramount… Saw nothing besides garbage… Threw it away… Went looking for her friend Melissa Rosenberg.. They rewrite the whole script.. AND Went hunting for Kristen Stewart in Adventureland! Much, much after that, all you could hear was the scream for the new recruit Robert Pattinson.

  13. I’d like to see the movie that MTV came up with… but as something entirely removed from Twilight.

    And I’m almost positive Paramount is kicking itself for not doing Twilight, along with all those other companies… Twilight really put Summit Entertainment on the map!

  14. I think that idea already exists… it’s called Vampire Diaries.

  15. Joshua L. Roberts says:

    In reality, it is very common for movie adaptations to differ from the books, sometimes in extreme ways. Jurassic Park is a great example. The book is very adult and you almost need a degree in genetics to understand some of the terminology. The movie however, was almost totally different from the book, however in Jurassic’s case it captured the essence of the book, yet working that essence into a format that fit the big screen.

    I think Twilight (the movies) would have benefited from a bit more deviation (in the right places), of which would have helped make the story a bit more linear and feel like it was designed to be seen on screen. Paramount’s “changes” though were kind of out there though, as they aren’t really trying to stay remotely close to the book. In fact, other than character names, they would have been nothing alike.

    One might think Paramount to be a bit stupid, but you also have to realize that the vampire movies that were MAKING money back in those days, were still following the traditional lore and legends. At the time Stephenie was an untested author with a new book series. Twilight wasn’t the huge monster it is today. Paramount was just trying to format the story into a movie type, that at the time, was selling.

    In truth, if I was handed the Twilight novel and asked to write a screenplay, I would have probably followed the formula used to create “Edward Scissorhands”. They are a lot alike in many ways (except Scissorhands ends sort of sadly). The tone would have been a bit darker, less teen pop culture. I think it would have been important to incorporate more of “Midnight Sun” into the script, to emphasis the danger of the vampires, of which allows you as the viewer to understand Edward’s motivations and sacrifice that much better. I would have deviated from trying to just tell it from Bella’s perspective, of which might have helped non-twihards understand the story a bit more.

  16. Geez, I feel like an old-timer. I remember this script. Waaaay back in 2007 (I think), someone got hold of the Paramount script and posted some of the more shocking changes. It was supposed to take place at BYU, which was for some reason in Salt Lake City.

    Another part was Bella getting a gun and shooting Laurent. Also, she was supposed to be some tan athletic girl.

    Seriously.

    For all the complaints people have about CH’s script, the final result was pretty fantastic. All the changes were necessary given the medium and length. The GTFO script was just stupid.

  17. Thank God for Summit Entertainment!

  18. Wow! I remeber being a fan of the books, before I knew of a movie was gonna happen, or at least before I knew about it! The first draft would have sucked!!!!! Ugh! I would have been SUPER pissed! Thank goodness it went all indie first and it stuck to the books! I probably wouldn’t have liked the movies at all! What they originally wanted sounds mor like the Underworld series (which I love!) but Twilight and Underworld are two very different stories!!

  19. Really thankful we got the awesome Twilight movie that we did!

  20. Hardwicke and Rosenberg deserve a lot of credit for respecting Meyers’ vision. With each movie there have been complaints from super-fans about differences from the books, but by Hollywood standards they’re extremely faithful to the source material.

    Hardwicke’s Twilight is sometimes (unfairly) criticized for being too blue in color scheme, too indie-looking, playing too loose with the book, and hokey special effects, but it’s my favorite of the three and she deserves a tremendous amount of credit for setting the standard for the rest of the films.

    In contrast, Blood And Chocolate was mangled like so many other movie treatments of books are, especially in the supernatural and young adult genres. Even The Vampire Diaries unnecessarily deviated from the book series.

    • Totally agree with you about Catherine Hardwicke’s vision and direction for Twilight, and let’s not forget, she’s the one who found the perfect cast.

      I was not caught up in any of the pre-Twilight-movie hype at that time and thus went to watch it with a fresh mind and no expectations at all.
      But I distinctly remember getting absolutely engaged as the movie rolled on and by the time it ended, I was a confirmed Twi-Hard and my love affair with the Saga is still going strong.
      So, for me, the studio and Catherine definitely did the right things.

      • Excellent point about the cast. Typical Hollywood producers would have tried to put in faces as familiar as possible, whether or not they were right for the role. And to think that some fans were upset by Ashley Greene being cast as Alice!

        The main difference between Hardwicke’s Twilight on the one hand and New Moon and Eclipse on the other is that while the latter two are directed by very capable professionals, Twilight is clearly the work of a huge fan.

        Hardwicke also chose Carter Burwell, who created the most memorable and romantic score of the three.

        • Omg…and the awful uproar about Rob’s casting as Edward????
          I knew about that only AFTER I’d watched the movie and am really glad I had no part in the pre-movie stuff. His portrayal of Edward and chemistry with Kristen’s Bella were what really blew me away….along with yes, Carter Burwell’s beautifully evocative score and the awesome soundtrack…which I feel, is also the best amongst the three.

    • Catherine Hardwicke’s version of the movie, out of all three, is definately my favorite. Even though I do miss some of my favorite scenes from the book, I believe it represents the characters best. The whole atmosphere of the movie just seems incredibly right. Even my husband liked this movie which is saying something because he hates all TV and movies. He couldn’t stand New Moon but when I took him to see Eclipse he said it was okay, and “watchable”. He actually never even got up to take a break from the movie, which I was totally shocked by!!!

  21. Thank heavens! FBI agebts chasing vampires across the coast,seriously? I shudder to think what kind of movie tht would have been like. I’m glad tht Summit had the sense to use the book material and I feel more grateful to Catherine now, you can clearly see she is a huge fan and did everything she could to make Twilight what it is today.

  22. Wow, Bella fighting back…what a disaster…

    I can’t believe people still actually like twilight! It’s so funny! Whatever, it’ll be dead in a year or two.

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