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Max Evry is an incorrigible freelancer in the concrete jungle that is New York City. Besides his writing/illustrations for various movie sites, he's also worked extensively in Film & TV production... more

Is ‘Twilight’ Fansanity a Once-in-a-Lifetime Phenomenon?

Even in her most unbridled fantasies, we doubt Stephanie Meyer believed her “Twilight” brainchild would have grown up to be such a whirlwind global phenomenon. With all the celeb-obsessing, ticket pre-sale-ing, all out shit-losing the franchise inspires, is there room for another series to blitz our culture this way again?

While the Twi-hards may have cornered the market on sparkly teen abstinence vampires, there are several new would-be Young Adult blockbusters waiting in the wings, and even if they don’t make it SOMETHING ELSE we can’t even imagine yet will hit that zeitgeist G-spot with a frenzy.

Footage from the southern gothic dark magic fable “Beautiful Creatures” (based on the YA novel of the same name by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl) seriously underwhelmed attendees of New York Comic-Con, who showed far more passion for Bruce Campbell’s bright-red blazer. Another pretender to the female-centric fantasy throne, Cassandra Clare’s “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” will soon debut its first trailer, and even has an on-set romance brewing between stars Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell-Bower.

Fandom can be a mercurial beast, though, and those two “Mortal” thesps may or may not radiate the smoldering passion that Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart had, and whether “Beautiful Creatures” can tap into that same Psych 101 that Meyer did (“Waiting makes it better!”) is anyone’s guess. What we do know is that imitation is not always the best game.

To site precedence, take 1977′s “Star Wars,” the granddaddy of the modern-day blockbuster that spawned an empire which continues to generate every form of revenue under the sun, from bedsheets to golden parachutes for George Lucas. With Disney’s recent acquisition of Lucasfilm we can expect anywhere from three to two-dozen more “Star Wars” episodes, and anticipation couldn’t be higher for the recently announced sequel trilogy.

Now tell us, where’s that “The Last Starfighter” prequel? When oh when will George Lucas finally complete his “Willow” trilogy? You can’t force lightning in a bottle, which is what Disney tried to do, er, twice when they doubled down on “TRON.” All audiences could say when “Tron: Legacy” hit the scene was, “Does not compute.”

Absolute fanaticism doesn’t always translate to big box office either, as Joss Whedon and his legion of Browncoats learned with “Serenity.” Some of the more overzealous Whedonites actually went as far as to buy blocks of tickets with their own cash and then hand them out to strangers. Only $38-million in worldwide box-office later, all we can say is “Yikes!”

So if none of these things are sure-thing phenoms, what is? That’s the thing, you just don’t know. Right now there could be a single mother traveling on a train from Manchester to London who suddenly comes up with the billion-dollar idea of a prep school for little wizards… Oh wait, that also happened.

J.K. Rowling and her success with “Harry Potter” paved the way for the Stephanie Meyers of the world, and not to get all Oprah Winfrey on you, dear readers, but one of YOU could have the next object of mass cultural obsession rolling around in your noggin as we speak. It could be about hermaphrodite ninjas that get psychic powers when they snort cocaine; a group of sexy young mermaids that turn into undersea werewolves; or teens that fight to the death on national television in the dystopian future. Actually, that last one’s been done too.

There’s always a bigger fish, and even an all-inclusive “Twilight” franchise, with nearly $5-billion in the bank and counting, 4 books, 5 movies, and a whole lotta gay porn parodies, is not going to eclipse the “Star Wars” or “Harry Potter” juggernauts anytime soon… but something will.

Perhaps the most important thing that distinguishes “Twilight” from other obsessive fandoms is the celebrity component, particularly amid the media whirlwind surrounding Kristen Stewart’s “momentary indiscretion” with director Rupert Sanders. It has led to both Stewart and Pattinson being put in the hot seat during recent interviews for “Breaking Dawn – Part 2,” and swayed the public into branding Stewart a “trampire.”

We don’t see paparazzi publishing scandalous stories about Elijah Wood or Hayden Christensen’s love life (at least not relentlessly), but the Twi-hards feel that Robsten’s well-being is as much a part of “Twilight” lore as Bella and Edward, as if People Magazine were the appendices of the books. Having fans be this invested in actors personal lives combined with the pageantry, web chatting, cosplay, and other forms of devotion will be hard to replicate, but not impossible.

As much as transmedia is embedding itself into entertainment, actors’ sex lives are becoming just another accessory to holistic fanaticism, along with video games, webisodes, etc. “Twilight” is not an anomaly so much as a bellwether for future franchises looking at exploiting every aspect of their product, a.k.a. “the big picture.”


Categories: Features

Tags: Kristen stewart, Robert pattinson, The twilight saga, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2

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