LOS ANGELES — While he was working on “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2,” director Bill Condon knew he wasn't just making a movie or even back-to-back blockbusters.
He was creating the two-part capper for a wildly popular film franchise that many of its “Twihard” fans had grown up with.
“The real challenge was to make sure it was a satisfying climax. So I was very aware of not only the two films that I made, but the three that came before. For example, the film opens with an overture of all the main themes from all five movies put together. At the end — I don't want to talk about it too much — but I did add this thing that sort of brought you back into the spirit of all the other movies and kind of I think acts as a tribute to the whole phenomenon,” Condon said during a news conference at the Four Season's Hotel before “Part 2's” opening.
The fifth and final movie based on Stephenie Meyer's supernaturally successful vampire romance novels bowed with a $141.3 million opening weekend at the domestic box office a week ago, adding to the $1 billion the first four films combined to gross in U.S. and Canadian theaters.
“Part 2” ranks eighth on the list of all-time domestic debuts, leaving “The Twilight Saga” with three of the top 10 openings, including 2009's “New Moon” (No. 7 with $142.8 million) and last year's “Breaking Dawn — Part 1” (No. 9 with $138.1 million).
The “Breaking Dawn” movies — both halves of the two-film finale were shot over six months in 2010-11 — finish Bella Swan's (Kristen Stewart) growth from an uncertain adolescent experiencing love for the first time to an adult certain of her place in the world, even if she had to become a vampire to get there.
In “Part 2,” Bella's immortal husband, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), reintroduces his newly transformed wife to his coven. The “newborn” vampire also reunites with her werewolf pal Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) and meets the half-human/half-vampire daughter, Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy), she carried and birthed as a human. When the ruling clan the Volturi accuses the Cullens of an unpardonable crime and plans to execute them, Bella's family gathers a group of their vampire friends from around the world to stand with them.
“It's no secret I worship at the altar of Kristen Stewart,” Condon said. “We made this as one movie and ... we shot all that at the same time. So she would go from being this badass warrior in this movie in the morning and then she'd be emaciated (with her paranormal pregnancy) in the afternoon. It was really an incredible thing to watch.”
While Stewart had five years and four previous films to embody her character, several actors had mere moments of screen time to make their newly introduced vampire characters memorable.
“Part of the casting process was realizing that everyone had to pop in a very short time,” Condon said. “It's a very interesting challenge because they don't get introduced until 40 minutes into the movie and then a half-hour later they have their final scene.”
More than 2,000 visual-effects shots were used to make “Part 2,” Condon said, and many were used to depict Bella and Edward's daughter Renesmee, whose development rapidly outpaces a human child's.
“It's taking the idea of the book and kind of multiplying it. It was that she'd go down the hall for a Coke and come back and she would've grown an inch. So she starts as a baby, 4-month-old, 6-month-old, then it's 2, 3, 4, 5 until she gets to the size of Mackenzie Foy, which was around 8,” he said.
“The saving grace is that Renesmee is such a such a special creature, she isn't entirely human, so if there are things that are odd about her, I think that sort of plays into what's odd about Renesmee.”
Two years and eight months after he started working on “Breaking Dawn,” the director said he is happy that the saga is complete.
“What drew me to ‘Twilight' when I first saw it was I just always love vampire movies, and it was interesting 'cause if you look at the ‘Breaking Dawn — Part 1,' there's not one mean vampire to be seen,” he said. “I love the fact that this came full circle and really is what it started out to be: a very cool, original vampire movie.”
The Associated Press
Travel and accommodations provided by Summit Entertainment.