‘Breaking Dawn’ And Bill Condon: Pros & Cons

The news broke yesterday that “Dreamgirls” director Bill Condon is Summit Entertainment’s front-runner to direct “Breaking Dawn,” the final chapter in the “Twilight.” If the news turns out to be true, then he’ll have beaten out Gus Van Sant and Sofia Coppola, both of whom were also on Summit’s shortlist for the gig.

Now that a single candidate seems to have been zeroed in on, it’s a good time for us all to take a step back and consider Condon’s qualifications. His last effort was the 2006 Oscar-winner “Dreamgirls”; he didn’t receive an Academy Award nod for that one, but the movie received eight nominations that year, and it won two of them. Condon’s been nominated twice for Academy Awards in writing, for “Chicago” and “Gods and Monsters,” and he won for the latter. His ’90s resume is mostly filled out by TV projects; Condon’s first ’90s feature was “Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh” in 1995, an unnecessary horror sequel. He followed that up in ’98 with “Gods and Monsters” though, and has tended towards quality work ever since.

So let’s consider now how he might measure up directing the “Twilight” conclusion, the pros and the cons….

Tales From The Dark Side
Condon has flirted with a variety of different genres, and the combination could definitely serve him well as the director of “Breaking Dawn.” “Sister, Sister” and “Candyman,” his earliest features, are firmly rooted in the horror/thriller vein. Neither is particularly memorable, but we at least know he has an understanding of how to embrace the darkness.

Condon’s experience in multiple genres and entertainment mediums is also an indication that he’s not locked into one way of thinking. The man gets around, and he does strong work where he goes. “Gods and Monsters” is very clearly not “Chicago,” and yet both earned him Oscar nominations.

Name Branding
“Twilight” has been an enormously successful series, as we all know. The directors so far have all been notable names in one way or another, but Condon feels a bit next-level. All three of the shortlist candidates Summit is/was after do, really. I don’t necessarily think that “Breaking Dawn” — whether it’s one movie or broken into two — is the sort of film that wins an Oscar, but capping off the series with someone of Condon’s caliber would be a masterful cherry on top for Summit.

It’s All In The Writing
Condon’s two Academy Award honors — the nomination for “Chicago” and the win for “Gods and Monsters” — recognized his writing. Melissa Rosenberg has been the series writer up to this point, and there’s no reason to think she won’t write “Breaking Dawn” as well. As director, Condon will certainly have some amount of flexibility with the script. But it still won’t be his and his alone.

Song And Dance
Of Condon’s big successes, “Dreamgirls” and “Chicago” rank among the tops. And maybe I’m wrong — I haven’t actually read the “Twilight” books — but I’m pretty sure there are no musical numbers in any of the “Twilight” stories. I wonder what the reaction would be if “Breaking Dawn” featured Bollywood-style musical interludes.

Out Of Touch?
Condon and “Twilight” director Catherine Hardwicke are almost exactly the same age, 55; their birthdays are just a single day apart. Hardwicke has one advantage that Condon didn’t, however: she was once a teenage girl. The popularity of “Twilight” stems largely from its appeal to female readers who are or once were in Bella’s shoes as an awkward, pubescent teenage girl (not as a vampire’s girlfriend). Many fans think that Chris Weitz captured the story just fine in “New Moon,” and Condon could certainly do the same with “Breaking Dawn.” It’s definitely something to think about though.

What do you think? What are Condon’s strengths as a potential “Breaking Dawn” director? What are his weaknesses?