No-one was entirely sure what would happen when The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 cast and creatives hit San Diego for the opening day of Comic-Con 2012.
For a number of reasons, not least of which the shocking news of the death of Gisela Gagliardi in San Diego days before, emotions in the fan lines outside the convention center were running high.
For those fans, many of whom had camped since last Sunday, knowing this was the last time they would do so for The Twilight Saga made this year’s Comic-Con a particularly poignant one.
Throughout the interwebs, blogs, fan sites, Twitter and those on the frontline in San Diego, there was an overwhelming feeling that this year – even more than before – The Twilight Saga would represent to the max, and go out with a bang.
The devotion of Saga fans is much talked about by the media, studios and movie observers, though for some it remains a mystery why this franchise boasts one of the most passionate and dynamic fandoms in history.
Take the reaction of fans in the aftermath of Ms Gagliardi’s tragic death. Fans rallied setting up a fund-raising effort, black ribbons were passed in the queues in San Diego and countless messages of condolence were sent to her family.
As Josh Horowitz, heading up MTV’s two-hour Breaking Dawn – Part 2 special on Thursday, would say numerous times during the live-stream – for him, this year was a “bittersweet”one. He wasn’t alone. Just about every media outlet present in San Diego and elsewhere said the same.
After four rollercoaster years, The Twilight Saga’s place in pop culture history is assured, not just because of its $ 2.5 billion (and counting) box office, but because of the profound emotional connection fans have for the books, the movies, the characters and the actors themselves.
No less staggering is the massive commercial impact a previously largely ignored demographic had on a male oriented market.
Amanda Bell – a writer specializing in all things Twilight, and highly respected in the fan community and beyond – recently wrote about ‘Fangirls changing the face of Comic-Con,’ drawing attention to a recent Variety article spotlighting the “drastic change in [Comic-Con’s] demographic from previous years.”
Bell observes, “Women now comprise 40% of the ticket-holders for the event, and the Twilight demographic has helped to usher in more female-friendly franchise opportunities at the Con.”
While Variety’s Graser said, “Hollywood is taking that audience seriously.”
Quite a legacy then.
So, here’s a look at what went down when the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 blasted into Comic-Con 2012.
Cast members and Twilight grand-dame Stephenie Meyer meet fans on Preview Night [Courtesy of HitFix.com]
Jackson Rathbone: “We have the best fans in the world. Hands Down” [Courtesy of ScreenSlam.com]
Asked what fans would think were the “big moments” of the last installment, Kristen Stewart jokingly punched the air and said being ‘Vampire Bella’ was a similar to feeling of “Yes! I have arrived!”
Then, more seriously,
“I think the first hunt. You know, being able to physically – you know it’s like breaking a car in,” said the actress.”It’s like wow, look what I’ve got. I think it’s going to be so cool, I think people are really going to dig it.”
Typically, Pattinson brought the laughs. After having a little ‘trouble’ with his microphone and almost hitting himself in the face, the Brit quipped that he was, “on another planet.”
Prompting Kristen to tease him saying, “Did you just hit yourself in the face with the mike? Wow.”
Asked if the cast were all reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” Pattinson jokingly said, “I’d lick the pages.”
Press Conference Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner [Courtesy of HitFix.com]
“If you told me tomorrow that we had [–] to reshoot some scene you know that I wasn’t happy with, I would be so happy I would start giggling – I would start vibrating because I do really enjoy living in this world.” Kristen Stewart.
Asked about the possibility of a reboot, series creator Stephenie Meyer said,
“I do pity the person who tries to step into these roles. That’s going to really hard and not going to go well for them I don’t imagine.” Then, gesturing at Lautner, Pattinson and Stewart,
“This is what is loved and it wouldn’t, it wouldn’t be the same. It’d be interesting but it’d be so hard.”
On the last scene,
“I think fans can expect something very, very emotional, like a bit of a wrap-up. And it’s like, I mean I’ve seen it four times and I cry every time – it’s so cool,” said Stewart.
On lasting memories,
“Every moment was a thing that I will cherish forever.” Mackenize Foy.
“One of my favourite memories, last week of shooting […] we kind of all sat in the garage cos it’s the warmest place in the Cullen house […] kind of enjoying being with each other cos it’s not going to be like that again.” Stephenie Meyer.
“It’s hard to pick the one moment but the last week shooting the wedding and walking down the aisle even maybe. Yeah really heavy, heavy stuff.” Kristen Stewart.
“[In the last three weeks of filming] I kept telling myself alright it’s time to like start soaking up every moment […] I’m glad I did that because I do remember every single moment up until the last day.” Taylor Lautner.
“I was thinking about pranks and stuff,” said Pattinson. Adding that filming Breaking Dawn – Part 1 in Brazil was,
“Kind of symbolic of [-] you know the crazy journey [-] me and Kristen in like kinda swimming trucks and a bikini with 600 Brazilian army men with machine guns and videos cameras filming you in the rainforest in Brazil [-]the whole thing’s just been such an insane experience.”
The Breaking Dawn – Part 2 Panel
A brief remembrance of Gagliardi kicked off the much anticipated throwdown in Hall “H.” Screams and cheers greeted Lautner, Pattinson, Stewart, Foy and Meyer as they walked out to the 6000-strong fan packed event.
A short video by director Bill Condon (not at Comic-Con as he was working on the score) introduced a peek at the first 7 minutes of Breaking Dawn – Part 2 which picks up exactly where Part 1 left off.
A Q and A with the big five (including Meyer) followed, after which Peter Facinelli, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Elizabeth Reaser, Ashley Greene and Jackson Rathbone came on stage.
One of the more hilarious answers came from Pattinson when aked what advice Edward in Breaking Dawn would give Edward in Twilight.
Quick as a flash Pattinson said, “Keep it in your pants.” Then, “Don’t succumb to peer pressure and wear a wig like everyone else. I had to do extra shooting and for my last two days on Twilight I had to wear a wig.”
By the end, 17 ‘vampires’ joined the main leads in Hall “H.” In all, 28 cast members took The Twilight Saga’s final bow at Comic-Con.
Yesterday, Stephenie Meyer told Josh Horowitz that back in 2008 – the first year the Saga went to Comic-Con – that,
“No-one was ready for it. People were freaking out and you have no idea how to respond to it.”
Fast forward to 2012 and the changes and expectations about the cast, author, studio and the franchise itself are vastly different.
But equally for the cast, and certainly the fans, these films represent a shared experience between people who truly love and appreciate The Twilight Saga – and will remember it as an unforgettable moment in time.
Cynics may cast a jaundiced eye, but most media commentators recognize that at the heart of this phenomenon is a community, one that loves how far the characters – and the actors who play them – have come.
And just as Kellan Lutz promised Horowitz when he said “That last premiere is going to be wild” – that community will be there at the journey’s end in November.
San Diego’s Comic-Con runs from July 12-15. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 hits theaters November 16.