As "Twilight" super-fans prepare to buy tickets to "Eclipse" when they go on sale this Thursday, Summit Entertainment is reportedly caught up in a little vampire skirmish of its own during negotiations for making the saga's final chapter, "Breaking Dawn," into two films. The latest hold-up for the production, which was only recently confirmed for a November 18, 2011 release, is said to stem from salary disputes with several key players in the supporting cast.
The Hollywood Reporter's THR Esq. blog reports that the actors who play the Cullen kids, "especially Kellan Lutz and Ashley Greene," are angling for more money. The major names associated with the series are all contractually bound to stay on through "Breaking Dawn," but new deals are required if the studio splits the story into two movies. At least two actors' deals are confirmed: Peter Facinelli, who plays Cullen patriarch Carlisle, and Billy Burke, who plays Bella's father Charlie.
Franchise stars Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner are all in the final stages of securing their deals, which will reportedly grant each of them a big pay bump. Recently confirmed director Bill Condon is locked for two movies, to be shot back-to-back, with the two-part release scheduled for November 2011 and summer 2012.
Most troubling for fans, one source states that drastic measures may be taken if agreements with the supporting cast aren't reached soon. "We may have a situation where one of them is thrown out on the street to make a point," said one unnamed person with close ties to the process. For the most part, fans have accepted a cast change for vampire villain Victoria (from Rachelle Lefevre in the first two films to Bryce Dallas Howard in "Eclipse"). But would they be as willing to imagine a "Twilight" world without Ashley Greene or Kellan Lutz?
The issue on Summit's side is purely financial. "Twilight" rolled out into theaters as an indie adaptation of a popular young adult novel; compare this to "Harry Potter," which was already a blockbuster in the literary world by the time movie adaptation talk started to surface. As the vampire franchise has grown larger, budgets have increased. Supporting stars like Lutz and Greene are very much in demand, so their push for a bigger payday is understandable.
Summit has a number of options. The studio could, as stated above, simply throw an actor "out on the street to make a point," as it did with Lefevre and Howard. The studio could also scale things back and put out "Breaking Dawn" as a single movie. This seems less likely, given the length of the book and the inherent moneymaking opportunity in releasing two popular films instead of just one. Summit is also looking into moving the production. The three previous "Twilight" efforts were shot in Vancouver; the location could change to Louisiana for "Breaking Dawn," to take advantage of the tax credits that state offers.
We hope it doesn't come to this, but which would you rather see: "Breaking Dawn" as one film with the current cast, or two films with new actors taking over the Cullen roles? Sound off in the comments.
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