Twilight’s success – it’s all about the fans

14 11 2008

With the release of the movie Twilight coming in just seven days (or seven sleeps depending on how excited you are about it), I feel the need to write about the pre-buzz generated by its hugely loyal fan base.

If you don’t have a teenage girl in your family, you may not be aware of the phenomena behind this movie. Or it could be you are living under a rock.

The movie is based on the first book of the same name from the hugely successful “Twilight Series“. The series follows 17-year-old Bella Swan and her relationship with Edward Cullen, a 108-year-old vampire (undead at 17).

Written by Stephenie Meyer, the four-book series has sold 7 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 20 different languages. Yowsers.

The Twilight movie, being released on November 21 by Summit Entertainment, is directed by Catherine Hardwicke (she directed Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown.) The fan base – mostly teenage girls and their moms – are hugely loyal to the books and are driving the buzz around the movie’s premiere next Friday.

Online movie ticket site Fandango conducted an informal survey recently to find out information about Twilight fans:

  • 41% say they are online all the time, and another 34% say they are online several hours a day
  • 4% have their own Twilight fan site or series-related blog
  • they are also social media-savvy, with 20% saying they “always check” MySpace and 23% “always check” Facebook
  • broad age span: 41% of interested ticket buyers are 25 years and older (yes you can count me in this category)
  • 29% couldn’t think of another film that appealed to the whole family as they believe Twilight will
  • 87% noted that they had seen the movie trailers online rather than on television
  • 92% indicated that the trailers had made them want to buy a ticket to the movie online

Meet and greets with the movie’s cast, organized across North America these past few weeks, have brought teenage girls to their knees. The organizers of one such event on November 10 at a Hot Topic store in San Francisco were unprepared for the number of people who showed up to see Rob Pattinson (Edward Cullen) in person.

They ended up canceling the event because the crowd was three times the size they were expecting. The police and event people on hand couldn’t do the crowd-control necessary to keep people safe (one girl broke her nose and another fainted.)

The movie’s soundtrack is already number one on the Billboard 200. According to Yahoo Music, it’s the first soundtrack to hit number one in advance of a movie’s release since the soundtrack for 8 Mile six years ago.

The fans call themselves Twilighters, Twi-Hards, Twi-Moms and have built and contributed to tons of fan sites including Twilight Lexicon, Twilighters Anonymous, Twilight Moms…to name just a few.

Entertainment Weekly has a section of their website – Twilight Central – devoted to breaking news, video interviews and photos of the actors in the movie. MTV Movies Blog has done the same, marketing “Twilight Tuesdays” as their breaking news day.

Scene from the movie, Twilight. With lead actors Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan) and Rob Pattinson (Edward Cullen).

Scene from the movie Twilight. With lead actors Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan) and Rob Pattinson (Edward Cullen).

There are even bands who have formed because of the books: The Bella Cullen Project and The Twilight Music Girls.

The point is, there is a huge consumption right now of all things Twilight.

And it is the fans who have generated demand for breaking news stories, interviews with the movie’s cast and with the book series’ author.

There are online stores full of Twilight merchandise (CafePress to name just one.) I’m waiting for the Bella and Edward action figures (or at least bobbleheads.) Why has no one thought of these yet?

Fans are even organizing trips to Forks, WA where the story of Bella and Edward takes place. There have been Twilight-themed prom-nights at high schools and midnight pajama parties/book readings organized at bookstores (Stephenie Meyer has even participated in some).

MSN did a funny spoof of the Twilight script called “Twilight – The Lost Script” that mocks the obsession this franchise has generated.

And it is the fans who are creating this buzz. Their loyalty to the books and their anticipation for the movie’s release has many in Hollywood waiting to see how well the movie does during its opening weekend.

There is already talk about Summit Entertainment and Hardwicke collaborating on more movies for the Twilight franchise.

Now please excuse me. I need to return to my fourth (or is it fifth) reading of Eclipse. That’s the third book in the Twilight series…in case you’re wondering.

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4 responses

14 11 2008
melgallant

On another note, Television Without Pity has created a spoof where Edward Cullen provides dating tips for the recently undead:

http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com/show/movies_without_pity/twilight_edward_cullens_guide.php

17 11 2008
Mark Dykeman

I’m really not familiar with this series at all, so I can only think of two points:

1. The actress in this movie reminds me of Emma ??? who plays Hermione in the Harry Potter movies.

2. Wasn’t there some controversy when an early draft of a new Twilight book got leaked to the Web? Or am I thinking of something else?

Good post.

17 11 2008
melgallant

Hey Mark,

1. You’re thinking of Emma Watson. I can see some similiarities between Emma and Kristen Stewart for sure. Kristen actually has blue eyes (or maybe green?) in “real life.” She looks very different from the character she plays in Twilight.

2. Oh yes, the controversy…a juicy story indeed. A draft of “Midnight Sun” (basically Twilight told from Edward’s perspective) was stolen from Stephenie Meyer’s hotel room (in August of this year I believe.) And then of course, distributed across the Web.

So the publishers and Stephenie Meyer were upset by this (which I can understand.) Meyer released a statement on her website stating the novel is on hold indefinitely.

(Check it out here: http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/midnightsun.html)

But I have my doubts. People want more. If anything, the book being leaked has fed the Twilight fire.

Thanks for commenting! 🙂

23 07 2010
Promises are promises « Mel Gallant

[…] used to tweet and blog about the Twilight franchise weeks and weeks ahead of each movie’s release date. And then go […]

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