If Robert Pattinson And Kristen Stewart Are Done, Just How Worried Are Summit And Lionsgate?

It’s the clearest sign yet that Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart’s relationship may have reached the end of the road. U-Haul removal vans were seen at the Brit actor’s Los Feliz home on Saturday morning July 29, destination unknown.

The move caps an explosive week that saw Pattinson, 26, vacate the $ 5.98 million property he owns but shared with Stewart, 22. According to People, Pattinson asked the actress – who is no longer living there – to remove her belongings.

But in a classic battle of the sources, Us Weeklyclaim the removal van shots were set up. The magazine quotes a source as saying:

“Someone hired the U-Haul and stunted the photograph.”

What isn’t disputed is that Pattinson — who quit his home after Stewart and father-of-two director Rupert Sanders, 41, publicly apologized for their affair, after the publication of compromising photographs in Us Weekly last week — has yet to return to the property.

As collateral damage from Stewart and Sander’s liaison continues to ripple shock waves, inevitably media and movie industry focus is not only taking stock of the Pattinson-Stewart meltdown, but – specifically – the commercial impact it could have on The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 out in theaters on November 16.

Without question, Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate have been watching the fast moving developments of last week, no doubt increasingly concerned about how they’re going to promote the final installment of their $ 2.5 billion franchise – one of the most successful in recent motion picture history.

Notwithstanding The Hunger Games’ current position as Lionsgate’s jewel in the crown tentpole, The Twilight Saga was the reason for Lionsgate’s $ 412.5 mil acquisition of Summit in January 2012. Lionsgate’s shares appreciated by 6.3 % even before present co-chiefs Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger signed their employment contracts.

With the exception of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse which broke the series’ upwards box office run, to date TheTwilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 grossed the highest box office with a staggering $705,058,657 haul (excluding DVD/Blu-ray). Not surprisingly, expectations for BD2 were – and possibly still are – huge.

Amy Kuafman writing for the Los Angeles Times said,

“Given how rabid the “Twilight” fan base is, it seems unlikely that any romantic fallout between Stewart and Pattinson would greatly affect box office receipts for the final movie come thanksgiving.”

But Ian Drew, senior editor at U.S Weekly believes many fans – some more than others – could find the difference between the idealistic love of Pattinson and Stewart’s movie characters, Edward and Bella, and the reality of their real-life sullied romance to be a too-brutal disconnect.

“It sort of intrudes on their universe a little bit,” says Drew. “This is the ill-fated romance from the screen that ended up working on screen and in real life as well. That made it more believable and more sellable, so it punctures holes in that.”

That kiss in Twilight 2008

A potential hit, if indeed there is any, to Breaking Dawn – Part 2’s box office isn’t the only issue in play however.

The real loss for the franchise is the bursting of the “Robsten bubble,” the true emotional core of The Twilight Saga. And for Summit and Lionsgate it’s not just November’s installment at stake. With hopes of future spin-offs still on the table as far as the studios are concerned, Breaking Dawn Part 2 – and the legacy it hands on – remains an important priority.

The big question for the studios now: What the hell is the promotional tour going to look like?

The massive success of Stephenie Meyer’s book series created a ready-made audience for 2008’s “Twilight,” but it was Pattinson and Stewart’s palpable frisson that jumpstarted the record-breaking juggernaut The Twilight Saga became.

Relentless, global marketing of each installment capitalized – and was itself driven – by fans’ fascination with rumors of a growing off-screen relationship between its leads. Pattinson’s real-life goofy, lovable, ‘ingenue’ persona juxtaposing perfectly against Stewart’s more knowing rebel-female.

Central to The Twilight Saga’s internal mythology and its commercial appeal, their relationship produced box-office gold and fueled their ascension as pop culture icons for the version 2.0 generation. The apparent shattering of Pattinson and Stewart’s three year plus love-story (ironically unequivocally acknowledged by Stewart’s apology), is without doubt a catastrophe for any existing promotional plans for Breaking Dawn – Part 2 that involve the former couple interacting with each other.

Pre-scandal appearances by the pair have always been fun, playful and banter-heavy. More importantly, they were also natural. They’re slated to co-present at MTV’s Video Music Awards on September 6, with the usual pre-movie-release build up with talk-shows, worldwide press junkets, appearances at award shows, behind-the-scenes features and TV spots and specials to follow.

Obviously Pattinson and Stewart are contractually obliged to promote, but at this point individual press or combines with other cast members would be one solution. Unless, of course, people really want to see these two forced together for the sake of a movie?

See my point?

Over the last week, Hollywood analysts have offered up their opinions on how the Stewart-Sanders scandal could affect the Saga’s last hurrah. Ahead of BD2 ‘s Australian premiere this November, Filmink editor Erin Free told The Herald Sun,

“The box-office results might take a hit, but not a dive,” Free said. “But the hardcore Twilight fans will certainly want to rock up to see how it all ends on screen.”

Hollywood.com’s senior box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian said,

“I don’t think that there is a single teenage girl who would not go see [Breaking Dawn because of this]… They’re still going to want to support [Robert], even if they are angry with Kristen,” he says. “There’s a curiosity factor now to see them on screen together and know what’s transpired.”

Adding,

“As the audience comes out to the theater, they’ll be talking about it. They’ll be dishing on Kristen Stewart. And it makes [Pattinson] all the more romantic,”he says. “Will it hurt the box office? I don’t think so.”

Right now you can bet Summit and Lionsgate are frantically reconfiguring their publicity strategy as they regroup around last week’s events. Possibly kept in the loop about the actual state of Pattinson and Stewart’s domestics, it’s also likely Summit and Lionsgate are just as alarmed as some media watchers at the way the scandal’s narrative appears to be contradicting itself the longer it goes on.

After the clear, out-of-the-gate apologies, publicist-friendly site Gossip.Cop and the UK’s Daily Telegraph respectively pushed ‘They didn’t have sex‘ and ‘Liberty Ross has forgiven Sanders‘ memes which – on the face of it – does corroborate what Sanders’ father toldPeople,

“From what I gather nothing really happened and it is all a lot of fuss about nothing.”

Other reports are citing Liberty Ross’s brother Leopold’s claim that Stewart and Sanders’s liaison was considerably more than a “momentary indiscretion”and that Pattinson was “horrified” by his girlfriend’s public apology. Today the news cycle is U-Haul vans, almost-proposals, Emilie de Ranvin, rescue dog custody and whatever else the echo chamber can throw at it.

Whatever the real truth is, the most consistent narrative in this firestorm is that Pattinson is “heartbroken and angry.” For her part, Stewart is reportedly “devastated” and wants to save the relationship.

Of course it’s possible Bill Condon’s last installment could exceed all previous grosses. Theaters could be packed with not just the fandom-faithful, but also voyeurs curious about the present drama. It’s also possible Pattinson could move past Stewart’s whatever-it-was into a better, honest future.Yes, if this last week has demonstrated anything, it’s that anything’s possible.

Come November, audiences will show Summit and Lionsgate just how willing they are to buy the happy ending of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 – or not.