In the last decade, Hollywood has changed, evolving alongside the rest of the world. While the traditional movie theater is alive and well, many people now get their entertainment from other platforms – namely, their smartphones and tablets. The “Netflix-ization” of television has enabled content creators to flourish, providing audiences with what they want, when they want it. This has led to a shift in the way content is consumed, changing the game for both creators and audiences.
One of the more recent examples of this shift is the “Twilight” series. Launching in 2010, the Twilight franchise became one of the first major motion pictures to exclusively stream content in 4K.
The series, which revolves around a young woman named Bella (portrayed by Kristen Stewart) and a werewolf named Edward (portrayed by Robert Pattinson), inspired a generation of young women to become fans of the franchise and led to a sequel, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Since then, the Twilight saga has continued to gain popularity, largely driven by its younger audience.
While the “Twilight” franchise is certainly a success story, it’s not immune to the changing landscape of Hollywood. In fact, creator Stephanie Meyer has said that she intentionally made the stories in the series “universal” in order to appeal to the largest audience. In the face of today’s ever-evolving entertainment industry, this strategy has certainly paid off.
The Saga Begins With…
The Twilight saga begins with Twilight, a 2007 novel by Meyer that follows the story of Bella, a New York City high school student who becomes infatuated with a vampire named Edward. After reading the book, Stewart decided to join the cast of the film adaptation, which was released that same year.
In 2008, Twilight was followed by its sequel New Moon, which served as the model for the subsequent live-action films. A third novel in the series, Eclipse, would eventually be adapted as the final instalment of the franchise.
Since then, the series has continued to grow in popularity, inspiring a plethora of merchandise, such as clothing and bedsheets, as well as a short-lived animated series in 2017. Indeed, according to Google Trends, interest in Bella and Edward’s story more than doubled between 2010 and 2018, climbing from a score of 14/100 (on a scale from 0 to 100) to 30/100 (with 100 being the peak interest).
The popularity of the “Twilight” series owes a great deal to Stewart and Pattinson’s on-screen chemistry. The actor and musician has said that the character of Bella was inspired by her younger brother, Frank, while the late musician has cited his father, Paul, as the inspiration for the character of Edward.
The On-Screen Chemistry…
Whether it was intentional or not, the chemistry between Stewart and Pattinson is certainly what made the series so appealing. The actor and musician teamed up regularly for various music videos and enjoyed a romantic relationship off-screen for several years.
Pattinson has said that he and Stewart found it “strange” that their characters were written to be so opposite, each representing a different facet of a love story. Despite this, the actor has credited their on-screen relationship with making him a better person and helping to balance his life. Indeed, the pair have credited the success of Twilight to the fact that they “got [their] head out of [their] ass[es]” and looked at the series from a more universal perspective.
Step Up Your Game…
Wherever you look, you’ll probably see something that belongs to the “Twilight” franchise. From billboards to T-shirts, hoodies, and phone cases, the series is all over the place. In the last decade alone, Twilight merchandise has been valued at more than $2 billion.
The main reason behind this is simple: Meyer’s books are just that good. Stephenie Meyer is undoubtedly a genius when it comes to creating complex yet sympathetic fantasy characters. She also has a unique way of making the reader care about the fate of her fictional world, which is filled with dark yet beautiful atmospheres.
However, this level of popularity comes with its downsides. The “Twilight” fandom is highly visible on social media, making the actress vulnerable to hacks and schemes, especially considering that most of the fans are under the age of 30. To prevent these kinds of incidents, the franchise has tried to be more proactive in terms of cybersecurity by increasing the protection level of their websites and social media platforms. For example, they have shifted away from hosting their media on third-party platforms to ensuring that all of their content is hosted on their own websites. They have also done away with using social media platforms that aren’t owned by them, such as YouTube and Twitter.
A Change in the Entertainment Industry…
In the decade since the “Twilight” series was released, the entertainment industry has changed, as have the ways people consume content. Hollywood has shifted from relying on theatrical film to also including television shows and online streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu.
These platforms have enabled content creators to experiment with new ideas, allowing them to test the limits of their medium and evolve with the times. The producers of the “Twilight” series were no exception, and as a result, their film found a new audience, largely composed of millennials and other Generation Z adults. In other words, the “Twilight” series reached a wider audience than it ever had before, leading to a change in the nature of its fan base.
Now, the popularity of the series spans all age groups. In fact, in 2018, Google Trends data found that interest in Bella had reached a score of 49/100, making it the third-most searched-for topic on the platform behind Donald Trump and Kate Middleton. This is also reflected in the merchandise that the producers design for the series: products for all demographics, including kids.
However, the increasing diversity of the series’ audience also poses a new set of challenges for the franchise. Although the success of the series is undeniable, it has also attracted a large LGBTQ following, which the producers have acknowledged in interviews. This is somewhat reflected in the character arc of Bella, who begins the series as a virginal high school student who befriends a female classmate named Alice. Over the course of the series, Bella’s personality begins to evolve as she comes to terms with her feelings for Edward and their connection to the supernatural world. Ultimately, it is Alice who helps Bella to realize that she is worthy of loving despite her strange circumstances.
The “Twilight” series is certainly the biggest success story among the different adaptations of Meyer’s novels. The young adult series has grossed more than $25 million per episode, shattering box office records and making its stars some of the most recognizable people on the planet. For many, it’s a passion project that turned into a lucrative career. For others, it’s inspired a life-changing story that continues to touch audiences worldwide. In the end, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.