‘New Moon’ Rising

If the spring seems a little hotter than usual, it’s probably because of the fever millions of fans are running now that “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” has finally gone before the cameras in Vancouver. The flames were fanned by ET Online on Thursday releasing a teaser for the exclusive interviews and set footage they’ll […]

Last Updated: April 16, 2009 @ 8:09 PM

If the spring seems a little hotter than usual, it’s probably because of the fever millions of fans are running now that “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” has finally gone before the cameras in Vancouver.

The flames were fanned by ET Online on Thursday releasing a teaser for the exclusive interviews and set footage they’ll be screening on "Entertainment Tonight" April 23..

That the 30-second promo featured — OMG! — Robert Pattinson himself promising director Chris Weitz’s adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s second novel will “live up to the hype” no doubt made a lot of hungry hearts skip a beat.

That is, of course, primarily among members of “Team Edward."

Those “Twilight” fans who’d rather see Taylor Lautner’s character get Kristen Stewart’s Bella — the massed ranks of “Team Jacob” — were probably booing and hissing at their TV sets and cracking jokes about Pattinson’s on-set stinkiness, as was widely reported a few weeks back.

Now that filming’s under way, and the countdown well and truly on to the Nov. 20 release, expect every such appearance, utterance, set photo and news item to generate Talmudic-level scrutiny and unprecedented cyber-chatter.

In the physical world, expect to see a lot more T-shirts proclaiming “Team Jacob” or “Team Edward” on the street.

And don’t be surprised if some of the gals (and the occasional Twi-guy, as relatively rare male members of the species are known) are also wearing replica Bella bracelets (“On one side a Genuine Swarovski Crystal represents the beautiful cold and hard Edward. On the other side a ‘custom cast’ copper wolf charm represents the wild side of Jacob”) or even munching on Twilight Forbidden Fruits Candy Hearts (“All the cool blood-sucking teen vampires are doing it … chomping on these fruity candy hearts instead of mortal human necks!”)
 
To the non “Fanpire,” this might all seem a little bewildering, but as someone who grew up obsessed with collecting every “Star Wars” action figure, I can understand where they’re coming from.

To get an idea of the depth of passion fans feel for the series, you only have to check any of the dozens of official and unofficial sites dedicated to the books, the movies and the stars.

But as an indicator of how large the fanbase has become, see the proIMDB’s “Moviemeter," which ranks titles by how often their information is accessed by the 57 million users who visit the site per month.

Updated weekly, the top movie rising from the 3 billion monthly page views is usually a current box-office champ (this week it’s “Fast & Furious”), but “Twilight” and “New Moon” occupy the number two and three spots no matter what.

So, right now, more people are searching out “Twilight," even a year after release, or “New Moon," six months before it opens, than are finding details on the upcoming “Star Trek," “Transformers," “X-Men," “Angels & Demons," “Terminator” or “Harry Potter” movies.

With that in mind, I went onto the message boards to ask a few fans what they thought about the “Twilight” and “New Moon” movies.

First off, I asked them how many times they’d seen “Twilight” at the cinemas.

Of the eight I corresponded with, not one had paid to see Catherine Hardwicke’s flick fewer than three times. The average was six.

When we emailed, all but one had bought the DVD, with two respondents having bought both the two- and three-disc sets.

Many had devoured the movie again two or three times in the first week of its release, soaked in the commentary, pored over the special features.

But as much as they enjoyed it, these fans, most of whom visit the IMDB message boards several times a day, had their criticisms, albeit fairly minor ones.

“The only thing about the movie I would change would be the fact that it had that ‘blue’ affect in the color,” says a member who calls herself sKinSpaRkLer and who lost count of how many times she saw the movie at the cinemas before she lined up to buy the DVD at midnight a few weeks back. 

“I wish they would have shown the playful side of their relationship more, instead of throwing in a bunch of random scenes full of intense stares,” a fan named Emmy said of the Bella-Edward relationship. “My favorite scene in the movie occurs when Bella is washing her truck and Edward is leaping around on top of it, joking about her nervousness towards meeting his family. He seems to actually have a personality there, and facial expressions!”

“Generally, I liked the casting,” she continued. “But I probably would have given Kristen Stewart a little more direction — less blinking and stuttering, for starters. My favorite casting is probably Ashley Greene as Alice and Jackson Rathbone as Jasper. They are the only members of the Cullen family that I look at and see the characters before the actors.”

Eryn, of South Carolina, is so into the book that, for a bit of fun, she texted the entire novel to a pen pal in Alaska that she has never met — a process that took 6000 messages. She’s now 100 pages into texting "New Moon."

I’m not sure where this fits in with the whole intellectual copyright debate, but it’s a level of fandom I’ve not encountered before.

Anyway, Eryn is extremely erudite in her opinions of the books and films. “The only thing that bothered me was that if felt a bit rushed,” she said of the first movie. “Movies based on books need more time for the audience to get to know the characters. With ‘Twilight’ it was like, here’s Bella, here’s Edward, they’re in love, the bad guy dies, happy ending. I wouldn’t have minded if the movie was another 20-30 minutes to fill in a few of the gaps and missing pieces from the book.”

“New Moon” will be subject to an even more intense level of forensic musing.

“I am interested to see how they’re going to handle Edward leaving,” said Eryn. “I fully believe in staying true to the novel, but most of the tween, teeny-bopper, and ’Team Edward’ fans will have a huge issue if their beloved ‘RPatz’ doesn’t have a decent amount of screen time. Ashley Greene mentioned something about Edward appearing in ‘flittering’ dream-like images to Bella, so hopefully that will keep the Twi-hards at bay.”

Said “Team Jacob” member who called herself Lil Bouffant: “I would make the connection between Bella and Edward more potent. They were a lot more attracted to each other in the book than the movie showed. I would also have them say ‘I love you.’”

“I didn’t really like the fact that they cast Dakota Fanning as Jane — she doesn’t really fit the type,” added sKinSpaRkLer.

In terms of casting, Eryn also wasn’t at first convinced that Weitz had made the right decision to bring in Fanning. “I loved how ‘Twilight’ had so many unknown actors in it,” she said. “Keeping the film small made it the success it became.”

She liked the casting of Daniel Cudmore and Graham Greene, though, and came around to Fanning after the news the role of her character’s twin had been filled.

“Cameron Bright was a pretty good choice based on Dakota Fanning having already been cast,” she said. “Their characters are supposed to be twins, so, in that respect, they made a good choice.”

But Eryn wasn’t sold on the other news just before cameras rolled. “I’m really not feeling the whole Michael Sheen casting,” she said. “It’s nothing against Michael at all, I could watch him in ‘Music Within’ everyday, he’s a brilliant actor. He’s just not how I pictured his character, Aro, to be. Also, he did the werewolf thing in all three “Underworld” movies already, isn’t it time to move away from the genre?”

Lil Bouffant disagreed, though, having said upon rumors of Sheen’s casting that he’d make an “amazing” Aro.

Such disagreement and discussion is the whole point, of course — “Twilight” fans, who’re mostly just the right age to take full advantage of every aspect of social media, feel and share an unprecedented level of ownership and involvement in every aspect of how the books are translated to film.

It’s an immense amount of pressure for Chris Weitz — far more than he would’ve felt on “The Golden Compass” — but, with each fan likely to see the movie multiples times no matter what, it’s also level of excitement that has to translate into gold for Summit Entertainment.

And, as this article hits TheWrap, this in breaking news: a co-star has said Robert Pattinson actually smells like roses.

A message board meltdown is almost guaranteed.