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Catherine Hardwicke Fired from Twilight franchise

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Fresh off the presses, although apparently it's been rumbling under the surface for awhile. Director Catherine Hardwicke has been fired by Summit Entertainment for the production of the second book in the Twilight series, New Moon (the studio may decide to shoot parts 2 and 3 back to back, we'll see if they even touch the much loathed finale). Certainly no one was praising the direction of the quick-kill blockbuster first entry in the series, but I'm usually all for creative continuity in franchises when it can be achieved (besides, from what I've been told by casual readers, this is the biggest book to movie quality upswing since The Bridges Of Madison Country).

Still, questions are abounding as to A) what caused this to occur, B) how much credit Hardwicke deserves for how good/bad Twilight turned out, and C) why the hell Summit announced this in the middle of an international press tour? I can't imagine that Hardwicke is going to be too rosy for tomorrow's junket, although I'm assuming people already knew about this and this was just the public confirmation (to keep Hardwicke herself from breaking the news?).

As is always the case in these sudden situations, rumors are flying about Hardwicke's professional temperament on the set of her several movies as well as how much say she had in the final outcome of Twilight. Of course, Hardwicke isn't one to mince words, so I imagine we'll get her version of the story soon enough unless there is a deal that requires everyone to play nice and smile for the cameras.

The next important question is who does Summit get to replace her. No, for once, I'm not going to say Martin Campbell. I am 100% certain that her replacement will also be a female, if only so Summit can avoid the understandable pr nightmare of firing a female director from a female-driven series and replacing her with a dude. Still, the mind reels at the possibilities for stunningly inappropriate male directors for the teenage vampire romance series. Paul Verhoeven? Michael Mann? Quentin Tarantino? Woody Allen?

From a quality stand point, I'm all for someone like Kathryn Bigelow. The second book is supposed to be more action-intensive (with werewolves) and she certainly has the chops. Anything that gets her work is OK, and her new Iraq war action film, The Hurt Locker, is supposed to be fantastic. For comic reasons, my vote goes for Lexi Alexander, purely so I can hear a gravel-voiced trailer guy/gal intone 'from the director of Green Street Hooligans and The Punisher: War Zone comes... New Moon. But then I've always enjoyed the potential for awkward plugs ('from Warner Bros, the studio that brought you Natural Born Killers and Casablanca comes... Speed Racer!').

Still, it's always a shame when a director makes a lot of money for a studio and gets kicked in the butt for it regardless. Maybe she and Richard Donner can bond (since he's thankfully not pulling a Richard Lester on Gavin Hood's X-Men Origins: Wolverine after all).

Speaking of which, we'll have a pretty good idea if Fox got their 'kid-friendly' Wolverine movie when we see the first trailer on Friday. Of the big action tent poles, I'm pretty sure all that's left to tease is Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen. Will Paramount wait till Christmas day and debut it with The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (a very expensive Oscar bait picture that needs all the box office help it can get)?

Scott Mendelson