It's not unusual for the big holiday blockbusters to become blockbusters because they appeal to the 14-21 crowd. Or, rather, one half of the 14-21 crowd. Everyone knows, after all, that Hollywood is often desperate to capture the attention of teen boys because everyone knows that they are the ones who go to the movies all the time, and will go again and again to the over-hyped movies.
So, watch out for lots of freaked out critics this coming Christmas, when the two biggest blockbusters are going to be made that way by the other half of the 14-21 crowd. Because not only will Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince will be coming out late November, but Twilight is set to come a mere three weeks later.
What isTwilight you ask? Twilight, for those of you that have been living under a rock, is a YA series about vampires and full of teen angst. It's also going to be the blockbuster that no one expected.
When it was announced a while ago that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was going to be broken up into two movies, who didn't cynically think "Oh, so you'll break up DH, but you still kept OotP all in one movie. wtf?" Yeah, I'm sure we're all believing that this is all about staying true to the source material and not at all about WB getting worried that their HP cas cow is almost over.
And WB should be especially worried about HP, because while they may have other blockbusters in the works, they don't really have any that are made to appeal to the demographic that made the HP movies such huge successes. The HP books may have been initially made famous by adorable 9 year old boys sporting fake glasses and lightening scars, but it's the teen girls that have been most consistent about showing up in their Hogwarts gear for the midnight screenings of the HP movies as well as the latest Midnight Magic Parties.
Both the books and the movies appeal to a wide variety of people, and neither would have done as well as they had if they hadn't. But that doesn't change the fact that the core audience for the HP movies is the very one that Hollywood has consistently pretended doesn't exist. The one that they make half-hearted attempts to lure into the the theatre every so often, and then pronounce not worth bothering for when their often lame attempts flop.
Which brings us to Twilight. The movie that MTV ignored until their rights expired, despite the fact that it's also based on the books one that the teen girls (and a good number of adult women) I know cannot stop talking about. Yes, my cousin and her friends are all still looking forward to HBP, but it's the casting announcements for Twilight and the speculation about Breaking Dawn - the upcoming fourth book - that dominates the conversation whenever the subject of books and movies come up.
Anyone who had bothered to check Amazon.com's top ten last summer wouldn't have been surprised to find various versions of the Harry Potter books dominating the list. What went largely unnoticed, however, was that all three of the books from Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series were consistently on the top ten throughout the summer as well. (Unnoticed enough that my store ran out of our 200+ copies on the first day.) If you need any further proof of the insane popularity of the books and the huge anticipation for this movie, just go to the MTV movies blog post that's prefaced by the announcement that the number of comments on their first post for Twilight left all other comment threads in the dust.
For years (decades?) Hollywood has said that teen girls don't go to movies - or if they do, they go to whatever their boyfriends want to see. HP has already shown that not to be true, but it's not widely acknowledged for fear of scaring off the HP fans who aren't teen girls. (cuz girls have cooties, yannow)
Juno has helped, but adults like to pretend that their teen girls are completely unaware of sex, so it's popularity among that group has been largely ignored. As has the fact that pre-teen crushes on Harry and Ron have grown more adult in past few years.
Plus, god forbid they mention "teen girls" and "Oscar worthy" in the same sentence.
But all this pretending that the adults are doing isn't going to last when Twilight hits the screen.
(shirtless vampires, oh my!)
ps - also expect a more than decent box office performance by YA novel inspired and October release Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, starring Michael Cera and Kat Dennings, thus solidifying the trend.
pps - expect Kirsten Stewart to blow everybody's socks off as Twilight's Bella as well.
ppps - Will someone please make sure that she, Ellen Page, and Emma Watson all continue to have roles worthy of their talents? thxbai