The "Twilight" Effect: How it Changed the Movie Industry

Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment
October 25th, 2013

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The "Twilight" Effect: How it Changed the Movie Industry

Of all the films released over the past few years, the "Twilight" series was by far one of the most popular. Even though the films had to contend with other movies like the "Harry Potter" series and the first installment of "The Hunger Games," each "Twilight" movie brought hordes of fans to theaters all over the globe. The "Twilight" series was written with young girls and teenagers in mind, but audiences of all ages have been in love with the story and characters ever since the first novel hit bookstores in 2005. The first film, which was based on the first novel in the series, was released three years later. By that point, the first three books had already been published and the series had skyrocketed to worldwide fame.

The first way the "Twilight" series changed the movie industry was the astounding impact it had at the box office. Previously, no one would have ever guessed that a movie geared toward teenage girls could dominate the box office, especially when films like "Gran Torino," "Saw V," and "The Day the Earth Stood Still" were being hyped left and right. However, the first film surprised everyone by grossing a massive $408.9 million, with a significant portion of that amount coming from its opening weekend. The second film in the series, "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," was a true record-breaker. More moviegoers bought more advance tickets for this movie on Fandango than for any other previous movie, and it had the biggest midnight opening in movie history. After those shocking box-office performances, everyone had high expectations for the third film, "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse." The third part in the series did not disappoint either, bringing in an incredible $709 million worldwide and selling more tickets on its opening day than any film in American movie history. Even though the fourth and fifth films, "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1" and "Breaking Dawn: Part 2" did not set any franchise records, they still brought in a hefty profit for Summit Entertainment.

These numbers changed the movie industry forever. Before "Twilight" hit theaters, many critics thought the success of the "Harry Potter" franchise was a fluke. Movies made for young audiences were not known for performing well at the box office, and many studios were slow to take these films on as projects. In fact, plenty of studios turned down requests for even one "Twilight" film, let alone the whole series, believing it would be a flop. Since the "Twilight" series relies heavily on expensive visual effects and giant computer-animated wolves, taking on the project was a big risk, and Summit Entertainment surprised everyone by doing it. Summit Entertainment was a small American film studio that was part of Lions Gate Entertainment, also known as Lionsgate, and had released a string of movies prior to "Twilight" that performed very poorly. When Summit Entertainment found massive success against all odds thanks to the "Twilight" series, the movie industry changed its tune. Other films geared towards teenagers were created that otherwise might not have been, such as "The Hunger Games," another widely popular franchise. All of a sudden, the target audience for "Twilight" was important again. There have been more films based on novels than ever before, making today's readers important audience members for perhaps the first time in movie history.

"Twilight" had other impacts on the movie industry. While movies about vampires have always been popular, "Twilight" made them more mainstream and encouraged other creative minds to attempt to cash in on the popularization of these romantic undead monsters. "The Vampire Diaries," a very popular novel series that was created quite some time before "Twilight" ever hit shelves, was made into a television series that is still going strong. "Dark Shadows," a classic television series, was made into a Tim Burton film starring Johnny Depp, one of the fan favorites for the role of Edward Cullen, the main vampire lead in the "Twilight" series. "Underworld" got a sequel that pitted vampires and werewolves against each other in a way that was somewhat reminiscent of the bloody battles between the monsters in "Twilight," but without the feminine undertones and chick-flick romance.

Instead of catering just to children or adults, the creative minds behind movies now keep teenagers in mind after realizing what a massive impact that audience has on the box office. Small studios take bigger risks, which has led to some wonderful movies that might have otherwise never been made. Films such as "Inception," "Pacific Rim," and "The Wolverine" toned down the violence, language, and adult themes in order to receive PG-13 ratings so that they can cater to the now-important teenage audiences. Love it or hate it, the "Twilight" series changed the movie industry forever.

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