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Short History of New Moon director Chris weitz

Friday, 12.18.2009, 11:47pm (GMT-5)

Despite fan fears that a male director might not be able to connect with the love-struck mind-set of Bella Swan, filmmaker Chris Weitz is probably feeling quite close to his main character right now, as he enters pre-production for “New Moon.”

He’s the new kid at Forks High, similarly hoping that he’ll make friends and become a straight-A student. Now, in order to talk the millions of “Twilight” fans into taking him to the prom, he’s begun cozying up to them in biology class.

It covers Weitz’s history in and out of film, and the impact he might make on the Twilight franchise. Of particular note is his troubled role leading Golden Compass, which flopped so hard that the rest of the sequels will not be made, and in fact did so poorly that it caused its studio to collapse:

Weitz wrestled with the project for more than a year, was replaced by Anand Tucker, and then returned after Tucker resigned in 2006. After a lengthy production period spiked with controversies over Weitz’s fantasy-vs.-religion tightrope walking, “The Golden Compass” was oddly marketed as a “Narnia”-esque family film without religion and a Daniel Craig action flick that only had the actor in a handful of scenes. Not surprisingly, the mixed messages (and lack of an ending) contributed to the $180 million film pulling in only $25 million at the box office during its opening weekend in 2007.

“When I saw the film of ‘Twilight,’ I was alternately entranced and left hungry for more,” Weitz said this week of his newest passion project. “I was also struck by the extraordinary passion for the characters, story and theme that was evident in the people sitting in the seats around me. My job is to live up to that devotion.”

Unfortunately, the final moments of “Golden Compass” tease sequels that will never be made, as the movie’s failure was largely seen as a contributing cause to the collapse of its studio. The Nicole Kidman film did do solid business overseas, however, and Weitz is now taking on another fantasy franchise in “New Moon” — albeit one with as little as a quarter of the “Compass” budget.

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