While half of Hollywood continues to watch in amusement as Marvel Studios' casting call for "Captain America" becomes a daily public relations debacle of the first order, the remaining chunk are keeping a close eye on how Summit Entertainment will handle the expected final installment in the "Twilight Saga": "Breaking Dawn."
Because the franchise has become a massive moneymaker for the mini-major, it's generally assumed the final book in Stephenie Meyer's vampire series will be divided into two films. It's a strategy Warner Bros. is also using for the last Harry Potter novel, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." The company also has a pretty well-known time frame to shoot the two-parter this fall and winter as stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner have blocked out their schedules for it. What has become a much more intriguing question is who will helm the final two installments?
The first "Twilight" was directed by indie-friendly Catherine Hardwicke, but the studio wanted someone more experienced with visual effects and brought in the more studio experienced Chris Weitz for the sequel "New Moon." David Slade, whose short movie career has always shown a darker side with films such as "Candy" and "30 Days of Night," is currently finishing the third chapter, "Eclipse." None of the previous filmmakers are expected back for "Breaking Dawn" for various reasons. Now, according to Entertainment Weekly, Summit has approached three different acclaimed filmmakers to possibly helm Bella, Edward and Jacob's big climax. Let's take a look at the contenders and consider the possibilities.
The first, Gus Van Sant, is best known for his Oscar-nominated films "Good Will Hunting" and "Milk," but also happens to be one of America's greatest living pioneers in independent cinema. Starting with "Drugstore Cowboy" Van Sant has an impressive legacy of work including the groundbreaking "Gerry," "Elephant," "Last Days" and "To Die For." On the other hand, besides "Hunting," Van Sant's studio work has been much less successful with his panned remake of "Psycho" and meddling "Finding Forrester" paying the bills, but not selling many tickets. Still, with two Best Director nods and a Cannes Golden Palm to his credit, he'd certainly have the respect of his young cast and make critics take notice. Van Sant's reps also confirmed to EW he's been approached about the gig.
Sophia Coppola, daughter of Francis Ford, won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for 2003's "Lost in Translation." Like Van Sant, she's had a keen eye for understanding teenagers and twentysomethings as demonstrated in her films "The Virgin Suicides" and the underrated "Marie Antoinette." Focus Features will release her latest drama, "Somewhere" with Benecio Del Toro, Michelle Monaghan and Elle Fanning sometime this fall just in time for awards season. Of all three contenders, however, Coppola would seem the biggest reach. She's hardly wanted to play the Hollywood studio game and nice paycheck aside, this isn't anywhere close to her cup of tea. It should be noted, however, her father did direct a remake of "Dracula" in 1992 so there is some vampire love in the family blood.
The final candidate is Bill Condon who is best known to audiences for adapting and directing the hit musical "Dreamgirls." What will surprise many "Twilight" fans though is Condon has the most genre experience of all of the contenders. Condon won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for "Gods and Monsters" which chronicled the last days of James Whale (the director of "Frankenstein") and has no qualms discussing his experiences on "Candyman II: Farewell to the Flesh." Perhaps the most versatile of all the candidates, Condon also wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for "Chicago," courted controversy with "Kinsey" and executive produces last year's popular 81st Academy Awards show (the five presenters idea was his). Unlike Van Sant or Coppola, Condon is also potentially the busiest of all the helmers as he's set to direct both the indie drama "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" and a previously announced Richard Pryor biopic. Additionally, Condon is also producing "Tilda," a possible HBO series thinly based on notorious Hollywood blogger Nikki Finke.
The $100 million question that remains regarding all there directors is will any of them give up their right to "final cut"? When you win an Oscar, it's pretty rare that you don't demand it and once it's in one contract agents will protect it fiercely for their clients. That means Coppola and Condon wouldn't let it go and it's hard to imagine Van Sant doesn't have it by now. Would Summit feel confident enough to be hands off in the creative process with one of these three acclaimed filmmakers? Or, is this story breaking meant to put pressure on other unnamed contenders to commit to the project? With pre-production needing to begin soon fans won't have to wait long to find out.
For the latest Entertainment News and Analysis, follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter @HitFixGregory.