In 2008, ‘Twilight’ hit theaters, the first installment of the adaptations of the novels written by Stephenie Meyer centered on the human Bella and the vampire Edward. It became a true cinematic phenomenon that started a multi-million dollar saga. The critics did not accompany but the box office did not stop growing from the more than 400 million dollars that the first grossed worldwide to the 830 million that the last made. It’s one of Summit’s biggest hits, but it took a lot for Bella and Edward to hit theaters.
Before Summit took over the rights to the novels, they were held by MTV and Paramount Pictures. The first person they hired to write the script was Mark Lord, who tells on the podcast The Big Hit Show that that first version totally derived from the book to turn ‘Twilight’ into… an action movie! The reason? “They thought they would lose the male audience if it had too much romance“ Lord explains.
Among the changes contained in that first script we have a very sporty Bella Swan who loves running in the woods because Lord “I wanted a strong female character instead of just pining for a guy”. Kristen Stewart’s character to be some kind of vampire slayer: “I wanted the girl to shoot vampires, I wanted her to blow up some things”. Some scenes that other members of the team comment on are crazy: “I remember there was a boat chase, a burnt out shed, and I remember Bella’s father dying, and Bella becoming a vampire. All of that in the first one.” explains Gillian Bohrer, an executive at Summit who received the script when they got the rights. Catherine Hardwicke, who would end up directing it, also remembers another time when “Bella was on a speedboat being chased by the FBI“. The podcast begins with a reading of a scene in which Carlisle Cullen, Edward’s adoptive father, also died.
For whatever, it was discarded
Mark Lord defends himself by saying that “It was the best we could get with what they wanted. They were happy with it and then they exploded… Some pretty hostile and angry people showed up who wanted to make sure we didn’t make this movie”. The author of the book did not like the script so much that when MTV and Paramount decided to pass on the project, she considered not offering the film rights to anyone again. As soon as Catherine Hardiwcke entered the project, it was clear to her that this script was useless: “First of all, that script had to go in the trash. It wasn’t good. You have to do it like the book. That’s the reason, I think, that people read the book and like it, because it reminds them of what they know. feel the first time you fall in love. And I think that’s an ecstatic feeling. And none of that was in that script.”. Melissa Rosenberg, author of the final script for the first film, reflects on that first script: “It’s interesting that the first writer was a man and ended up turning to speedboats and shotguns to deal with the challenge of Bella being proactive. And then when you introduce women, we go in the direction of the character“.
Can you imagine that we get to see this version of the movie? The team could never run fast enough to outrun the fans of the novels, that’s for sure. And something tells us that it would not have caught the attention of either the male or female audience.