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It’s been ten years since Twilight opened in theatres and effectively changed the landscape of YA films forever (insert immortal vampire joke here). From the film’s soundtrack, to its relatively unknown cast, Twilight became a trendsetter in more ways than one, rewriting the model on what makes a YA film successful.
To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Twilight, we’re taking a look back on how the iconic love story impacted the YA film world.
The success of the first three Twilight films led to Summit Entertainment dividing The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn into two films. Was this a ploy to get more money from Twihards around the world? Sure, but it also acted as a way to stay true to Meyer’s story and give the beloved franchise the ending it deserved without rushing through the action-filled finale. The division of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn went on to influence other successful YA franchises, with The Hunger Games and Harry Potter both following suit.
Teen films have always relied heavily on their soundtracks to help elevate the storyline, but in the past, these soundtracks have often been complied of pre-existing chart toppers or B-sides from famous bands, with a handful of up-and-coming acts thrown in to give the album some street cred. Following the huge success of the Twilight soundtrack, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, the next four films all featured original songs from A-listers like Bruno Mars and Thom Yorke, as well as indie artists like Iko and The Belle Brigade. The proven success of putting together a soundtrack comprised of original songs influenced future YA film soundtracks like The Fault In Our Stars (Ed Sheeran, Charli XCX) and The Hunger Games (The Civil Wars, Taylor Swift, Arcade Fire).
Twilight’s soundtrack also included original songs that were only played during the end credits of film, a practice that was replicated heavily in The Hunger Games with artists like Kid Cudi, Maroon 5, and Lorde writing companion songs for the soundtrack that weren’t played in the film.
With such a devoted fan base already in place when writer Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight was optioned for film rights, staying true to the story was imperative. Like Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, Meyer was also heavily involved in the writing process for all five Twilight films, a decision that positively impacted the films’ success. A few years after the release of Twilight, Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins followed suit, helping to adapt her YA trilogy onto the big screen and keeping the film closely tethered to the original story.
Stephenie Meyer’s beloved book series and accompanying films created a huge new genre of fan fiction, launching the careers of authors like Christina Hobbs, Lauren Billings, and Anna Todd. Without Twilight, there would be no Fifty Shades Of Grey, and that’s a world we don’t want to live in.
Following the success of Twilight, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen was green lit, with the success of Twilight helping to pull in big-name actors for the dystopian series, including Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland. More female-fronted teen films followed, including The Fault In Our Stars, Divergent, The Duff, and The Edge of Seventeen.
Demand for merch featuring teen sensations is nothing new, but in the past, the buying power has often been directed towards music acts, from The Beatles to the Spice Girls and NSYNC. With Twilight, merch moved in the film realm, with millions of items sold starting with stickers and candy, all the way up to wedding rings. Oh yeah, wedding rings.
Vampires have always had a place in pop culture, but the craze for the undead was reignited following the success of Twilight, with shows like True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Hemlock Grove, Shadowhunters, and more popping up on the small screen for a blood thirsty audience.
Prior to Twilight, film leads Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner had only experienced mild success on the big screen. Stewart was becoming an indie darling after getting her big break as a child star opposite Jodie Foster in Panic Room. Lautner had starred in the children’s film The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, while Pattinson’s biggest credit was a small role in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The trio’s casting proved that established teen actors with a pre-existing fan base weren’t necessary for a film’s success, paving the way for future YA actors like Ansel Elgort (The Fault In Our Stars), Nick Robinson (Love, Simon), Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games), and Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being A Wallflower).
Made for only $37 million and grossing $392.5 million worldwide, Twilight turned the tiny Summit Entertainment into a major Hollywood player, also proving that a YA film didn’t need big names or a big budget to make big bank.