Ending a few weeks of media speculation, Summit Entertainment announced today that key supporting cast members of “The Twilight Saga” would return for the previously announced fourth film, “Breaking Dawn.” Those actors include Peter Facinelli, Ashley Greene, Kellan Lutz, Jackson Rathbone, Elizabeth Reaser, and Nikki Reed. Along with star Robert Pattinson, they form the “good” vampires known as the Cullen Family. Also returning is Billy Burke as Charlie Swan, the big screen father of Kristen Stewart’s character Bella.
Earlier reports focused a contract squabble between stars Ashley Greene and Kellan Lutz over their roles in the picture. Whether the celebs received the $4 million they were fighting for is unclear, but it’s assumed they received a significant increase from their modest wages on the first three “Twilight” films.
What is most intriguing about Summit’s announcement is the fact it isn’t prefaced by news of splitting “Breaking Dawn” into two films, a new trend seen with “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 and Part 2” and “The Hobbit.” At 768 pages (more than “Deathly Hallows”), “Breaking Dawn” is the longest of Stephenie Meyer’s four novels and most fans believe it would be the easiest to split into two pictures.
Scuttlebutt in Hollywood is that Summit did not want to announce there would be two films because it would diminish their leverage in negotiating with the unsigned cast members. Additionally, without a finished screenplay, the studio, director Bill Condon, Meyers and producers Wyck Godfrey and Karen Rosenfelt may be concerned they’ll back themselves into a creative hole if they commit to two more installments too early. However, with pre-production starting this summer and shooting targeted for October, the “better safe or sorry” strategy won’t last long. And that’s not even taking into account that the summer of 2012, when a second “Dawn” would most likely rise, is becoming increasingly crowded with major event films claiming key dates left and right. If “Dawn, Pt. 2” is going to happen, Summit is going to have stake their claim on a key date or weekend soon.
This pundit still expects “Dawn” to hit theaters twice, but thinks fans may have to wait for confirmation until after “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” opens on June 30. Currently, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn” is scheduled for release on Nov. 18, 2011.
For more on the Cullens check out our interview last November for “New Moon” below.