Summit cheats on ‘Twilight’ with the world’s most famous vampire

12.07.09 8 years ago

Universal Home Video

Jeeez, Summit.  If you love vampires so much, why don’t you marry them?

Oh, wait, I think you probably are in one of the next few “Twilight” movies.  Just goes to show you, no one has more riding on the continuing relevance of vampires as cultural icons than Summit Entertainment.  The second installment of the “Twilight” series was released last month, and since then, “New Moon” has earned 275 grazillion dollars.  Roughly.

Now they’re trying to do the one thing that “Twilight” would never be accused of doing:  they want to scare you. And it looks like actor Charlie Hunnam, best known for “Sons Of Anarchy” and “Undeclared,” is the writer of the film.  It surprises me, not because I have any idea whether Hunnam can write or not, but because I didn’t realize he was even interested.

How do you make vampires scary again?  Fair question right now, when their popularity has very little to do with them as icons of fear and everything to do with the way they serve as sexual metaphor.  And even worse, how do you make Dracula scary?  Or even interesting?  What remains unsaid when talking about the character or the historical inspiration, Vlad Tepes?  It seems that Hunnam is interested in a younger, earlier incarnation of the character, which explains his title:  “Vlad.”

Anthony Mandler is the man who’s set to direct the film, and it’s a jump from music videos to the bigscreen for him.  I wasn’t familiar with him by name, but spent part of the afternoon watching his work, and he’s a guy who very much seems cut from the Propaganda Films aesthetic, very Michael Bay/Marcus Nispel/Simon West/Dominic Sena.  He seems interested in mood, and you tell me… is the opening to this video unsettling? It certainly tries to be.  He directed the Eminem video, “Beautiful,” a bunch of Rhianna videos including “Disturbia” and “Russian Roulette,” and Jay-Z’s “Death of Auto-Tune.”  Is he the right guy for the job?  Well, Summit saw a special reel he made to sell his take on the film’s look and feel, and they snapped it up.  The buzzword from the piece in The Hollywood Reporter is “300,” which is the touchstone they’re aiming for in terms of style.

The film’s actually been in development for a while, but it’s the hiring of Mandler and the involvement of Brad Pitt and Dede Gardner and their Plan B Films that has the film in the news this week.  It sounds like now this is starting to become a priority for the studio, and I’ll be interested to see how they work to sell it to the audience that is so engaged in “Twilight” right now, while also selling it to people who want a totally different take on the vampire.  Tricky, and an interesting challenge for the young studio.

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