Vanessa Hudgens Auditioned For Twilight Sequel

If you didn’t already have enough disdain for Twilight, it now looks like a High School Musical star might be joining the cast. Twilight actress Ashley Greene revealed to MTV that High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens (you know, the one who is always having naked pictures of herself “leak” onto the internet) has auditioned for the role of Leah Clearwater in the Twilight sequel New Moon. Leah is a bitter and cynical werewolf who likes to antagonize her friend Jacob Black. Ugh…

But I must admit, getting Hudgens aboard the project would be a smart move by Summit. I imagine that the HSM audience is very much the same demographic as the Twilight readership. And having an HSM star on the cast could only appeal to the remaining tweens who haven’t yet jumped on board the emo vampire craze. Any other film and I would be shocked that Hudgens would even consider a supporting role, but Twilight is one of those rare properties that anyone who gets involved will likely get a boast in star power.

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Summit Entertainment has announced that Taylor Lautner will reprise his role as Jacob Black in Chris Weitz‘s Twilight sequel adaptation New Moon. Apparently in the sequel, Jacob transformers into an almost totally different character – a foot taller, five years older, and a lot bigger. We have to believe that he can transform into a huge werewolf, and until today it was believed that the role would have to be recast. Quotes after the jump.
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In this episode of the /Filmcast, Dave, Devindra and Adam discuss their apprehensiveness about a Crow remake, ponder the cheesiness of the X-Men Origins: Wolverine trailer, and debate the choice of Chris Weitz to take over New Moon. Special guests Neha Tiwari and Laremy Legel (from the Film.com podcast) join us. Devin Faraci from CHUD also joins us to report from Butt-Numb-A-Thon and explains the use of the term “Watchmen” in the new film.

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New Moon and Transformers 3 Release Dates?

Dark Horizons is reporting that a July 29th 2011 release date for Transformers 3 has been spotted on German release schedules. While I somehow doubt that a third Transformers film has been greenlit at this point (you never know, they did just greenlight Terminator 5 while in post production), the date is probably a tentative target date. Transformers hit theaters on June 27th 2007, and the sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is scheduled to hit on June 26th 2009, so a 2011 date on the same weekend isn’t out of the question. And Michael Bay has previously said that he is prepared to make Transformers 3, 4 and 5 if the demand still exists. For now, mark this one as rumor

Meanwhile, Summit Entertainment has announced a November 20th 2009 release date for the Twilight sequel New Moon. Also scheduled to hit theaters on the same weekend are Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, the computer animated film Planet 51, and the Farrelly brothers’ take on The Three Stooges.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two of those films move quickly from that release. Twilight had a huge impact on the release of Disney’s Bolt. Both Planet 51 and the Three Stooges share the same demographic. The other thing of note is that Summit is basically pushing this film into production as soon as they possibly can so that they can make as much money off the franchise as possible. Lionsgate did the same thing with the SAW franchise, which suffered as a result.

Last week we told you that Chris Weitz was in talks to helm the Twilight sequel New Moon, and that the female director who launched the film series, Catherine Hardwicke had basically been let go by Summit Entertainment.

Well Weitz has since officially signed on to the project, and now Twilight author Stephanie Meyer has posted a message on her official website addressing Hardwicke’s departure and the hire of Weitz:

Like you, I’m sad that Catherine is not continuing on with us for New Moon. I’m going to miss her, not just as a brilliant director, but also as a friend. She has such a distinct, authentic voice that did amazing things for Twilight. I’m looking forward to every movie she does in the future. And she didn’t leave us empty handed. We still get the benefits of her amazing casting and the beautiful visual world she created. This foundation puts us in a good place for New Moon.”

“Summit Films is moving forward with a new director for New Moon. They’ve asked Chris Weitz, director of American Pie, About a Boy, and The Golden Compass, to join us, and I am very pleased to announce that he’s agreed to be a part of our Twilight world. I’ve had the chance to talk to Chris, and I can tell you that he is excited by the story and eager to keep the movie as close to the book as possible. He is also very aware of you, the fans, and wants to keep you all extremely happy. (Torches and pitchforks are not going to be necessary.) I’m excited to work with Chris and I think he brings a lot to the table, not the least of which for me is that he wrote the screenplay for and directed one of my favorite movies of all time, About a Boy. I’m really looking forward to seeing his vision for New Moon.”

Sounds like a bit of fan pr if you ask me. And to top this off, Chris Weitz himself has written a message to the Twilighters. You can read that message after the jump.

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The corpse of Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight-directing career isn’t even cold yet, but Summit Entertainment is apparently wasting no time in finding a new director. The other day, we discussed how Hardwicke had been removed from the franchise. Now, Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood Daily has a source that informs her the offer for the sequel is going out to Chris Weitz.

In the past few years, Weitz has produced American Pie and its two sequels, along with Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist and In Good Company. Most recently, though, he wrote and directed The Golden Compass, which performed disappointingly at the box office. Despite this, Finke says that Weitz is being tapped because Summit appreciated the look of Compass, and because Weitz is friends with Summit’s president of production Eric Feig.

Weitz seems like he might bring a good combination of aesthetics and teenager sensibility the project. What do you guys think?

Discuss: What did you think of the Golden Compass? And would Weitz be able to make New Moon better than Twilight was?

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Nikki Finke over at DeadlineHollywoodDaily is reporting that Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke has been removed from the Twilight franchise. Finke’s contacts report that Hardwicke was “difficult” and “irrational” during the making of the film. One contact also explains that “Summit didn’t like her. They’re saying the [director of photography] Elliot Davis is the one responsible for the film’s sumptuous visual look, that the editor Nancy Richardson had to save the film in post-production, and Summit thought Hardwicke’s [CAA] agent Beth Swofford was alternately ineffectual and hysterical.” This is inauspicious news for Hardwicke, as the whole crew is currently on their European press tour. Undoubtedly, there will be some painfully awkward Q&A sessions beginning tomorrow, as I’m sure this will be the first question on journalists’ minds.

After Hardwicke’s Twilight hit theaters and made almost $70 million in its first weekend (more than Quantum of Solace!), many were quick to point out that Hardwicke had set a new box office record for a female director in Hollywood, previously held by Mimi Leder’s Deep Impact ($41 million way back in 1998). Financial success and a throng of devoted fans made Hardwicke a de facto role model for young women who hoped to one day themselves make it behind the lens of a camera. In interviews, Hardwicke related:

It’s so cool…What I hope it means is — that almost every time I talk to the fans there are some [women] who want to be directors and want to be writers — this will encourage people to say, ‘Hey man, if she can do it, I can do it.’

I thought Twilight was very poorly made. The script was weak, the actors weren’t well directed, and the movie looked cheap, overall. Despite all this, I’m still a fan of Ms. Hardwicke, and admire the doors she has, and will continue to break down in Hollywood. With Hardwicke now off the franchise, Finke predicts that the situation “could blow up into a scandal for Summit if it chooses a male director over Hardwicke.” I’m not sure about that, but the timing of this announcement certainly seems like a public shaming that doesn’t seem worthy of the person that just delivered Summit Entertainment of their biggest box office successes of the year.

Update: Summit Entertainment just released the following press release on Sunday night at 5:40pm:

SUMMIT BEGINS SEARCH FOR NEW MOON DIRECTOR

Los Angeles, CA, December 7, 2008 – Summit Entertainment and director Catherine Hardwicke jointly announced today that the filmmaker will not be directing the next installment in the newly minted TWILIGHT film franchise. Summit’s targeted end of 2009 or early 2010 release of the film, NEW MOON, does not work with Ms. Hardwicke’s required prep time to bring her vision of the film to the big screen. Thus as has been done before with many successful film franchises, the studio will employ a new director for NEW MOON.

“I am sorry that due to timing I will not have the opportunity to direct NEW MOON,” said Hardwicke. “Directing TWILIGHT has been one of the great experiences of my life, and I am grateful to the fans for their passionate support of the film. I wish everyone at Summit the best with the sequel– it is a great story.”

“Catherine did an incredible job in helping us to launch the TWILIGHT franchise and we thank her for all of her efforts and we very much hope to work with her on future Summit projects,” said Erik Feig, Summit’s President of Production. “We as a studio have a mandate to bring the next installment in the franchise to the big screen in a timely fashion so that fans can get more of Edward, Bella and all of the characters that Stephenie Meyer has created. We are able to pursue an aggressive time frame as we have the luxury of only adapting the novels into screenplays as opposed to having to create a storyline from scratch.”

Making a Twilight sequel isn’t going to be cheap. Stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, who were each paid $2 million for the first film, will be getting enormous pay raises. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Pattinson and Stewart will be paid $12 million each for the sequel, New Moon. It’s worth noting that the first film was made for only $37 million. Sounds like the budget will be upped considerably for the sequel. I think I’m going to be sick.

Summit Greenlights Twilight Sequel

After the exceptional opening day performance of Twilight, Summit Entertainment has officially greenlit that the sequel, New Moon. The film will be moving forward into production, but no production start or release dates have yet been announced. Read the full press release after the jump.

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