SANTA MONICA, California — As she walked into our studio Monday afternoon wearing shiny red shoes and a vintage Boy Scout shirt, the new queen of Hollywood worked up some fake tears and asked incredulously, "This is the last 'Twilight' Tuesday?" Like millions of Twilighters all over the world, however, Catherine Hardwicke has a $70.55 million reason to smile.

"It's pretty crazy; it's pretty cool," she said of the record-breaking opening for her fourth film as a director, "Twilight," this past weekend. "When I think that we're going to be bigger than the biggest [James] Bond opening weekend? That blows my mind!"

Hardwicke spent Monday afternoon recording a commentary track in Hollywood for the spring 2009 "Twilight" DVD, alongside her lead actors Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. As soon as she was finished, however, she rushed over to MTV to bid a temporary farewell to our weekly ritual that has spent a year tracking the film from small-budget cult flick to certified blockbuster.

"A week ago, when I was talking to the people at Summit, they were like, 'If we make into the 30s [millions] opening weekend, we're really happy,' " Hardwicke recalled of her mind-blowing last seven days. "Well, we made that in the first night! Then, the 40s would be great, the 50s would be great. The 60s — unbelievable!"

Remembering the last few days, she added, "I was in Austin on Thursday night; we did a screening for the Austin Film Society, which Richard Linklater started, like, 20 years ago. We did a premiere screening [of 'Twilight'] and a lot of people came to that, and a lot of people left the premiere screening and then went to a midnight show. The same people doubled up! I went with the owner of this crazy ale house in Austin where they had six theaters, all sold out, and they had 'blood bags' full of sangria for all the vampire lovers. You could eat — and drink your blood — all while watching 'Twilight.' "

Hardwicke visited each of those six theaters in her home state to introduce the film before returning to Los Angeles on Saturday to do the same at Hollywood's Arclight Cinemas, where she met the heartiest of Twi-Hards. "During the Q&A, the [host] asked everybody, 'How many of you are seeing "Twilight" for the second time?' And half the hands went up," she remembered, saying hands were still being raised for fans having already seen the film three or four times. "The winner was a woman who was 40, and she'd seen it eight times! This was on Saturday at 5:00!"

"You always hope that people get your little nuances and details," Hardwicke said of her time and effort as a director. "I'm pretty sure she saw them, after eight times!"

Clearly, this past weekend meant a lot to the loyal Twilighters — but it had an extra-special meaning for Hardwicke, who passed "Deep Impact" director Mimi Leder to become the female director with the biggest opening weekend in history. "It's so cool," she grinned. "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.' "

It also means a lot to her soul sister Stephenie Meyer, who Hardwicke was eager to speak with Monday evening. "I haven't called her, because if she's like me, she's gotten nine trillion calls and e-mails from people who never were your friend until suddenly they saw the opening weekend," she laughed. "So, I'll chill out and leave her alone for a minute — then I might call her, right after this."

Hardwicke was also quick to praise her young leads, who have seemingly spent the last few weeks appearing on every talk show known to man. "I did the DVD commentary today with Rob and Kristen, and everybody is just in a daze," she said of her stars. "It's all so surreal, but it's exciting. Because now, some of the projects we love and care about may have a better chance at getting made. I think everybody looks at it in a really positive, pretty grounded way. Nobody is running out and buying a Rolls."

Keep your eyes on MTV over the next few days, as we'll roll out Catherine's thoughts on the "New Moon" green-light, the likelihood that she'll return to direct and more exclusive DVD details.

"I want to give a big shout-out, and a super thank you to MTV for doing 'Twilight' Tuesdays. You guys rock!" said the affable director before heading back out into the night. "You've been a big helper, a big friend to our movie."

"Stay tuned, because there's more to come!" she promised all the Twilighters who've already begun asking when "Twilight" Tuesdays or "New Moon" Mondays (or whatever) will start back up again. Over the last few days, Hardwicke's little indie-film-that-could has been embraced with a lot of love, and she said all the "Twilight" stars are eager to take the roller-coaster ride again.

"The [encounters] that have meant the most is meeting the real fans in Austin and at the Arclight, who were just, like, 'I'm so excited!' and they like to get a hug — they really like their hugs," Hardwicke laughed. "I've had so many hugs. I could be transported to heaven with all the love I've gotten so far. It's pretty cool."

Check out everything we've got on "Twilight."

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