- Catherine Hardwicke’s directorial debut Thirteenstruggled to find a studio due to its controversial subject matter, but eventually gained recognition and awards.
- Similar, dusk It initially struggled to secure funding, but eventually succeeded thanks to a combination of factors including Stephenie Meyer’s continued book releases and an effective marketing campaign.
- dusk became a global phenomenon, grossing over $407 million worldwide, despite initial doubts from studio execs, proving its unexpected success and audience appeal.
Catherine Hardwicke revealed ahead of her multi-million dollar adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s best-selling book dusk, She received $3 for her directorial debut in 2003, Thirteen.
Thirteen follows a seventh grader, Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood), in Los Angeles, who befriends a rebellious classmate, Evie (Nikki Reed), and becomes involved in crime, sex and substance abuse. The script is loosely based on Reed’s real-life experiences. Holly Hunter, Deborah Unger, Jeremy Sisto and Vanessa Hudgens also star in the film. Hardwicke co-wrote the film with Reed, who would go on to play Rosalie Hale, Edward Cullen’s adopted sister dusk Franchise.
Due to the film’s controversial subject matter, Hardwicke had difficulty selling the script to a studio.
I mean, every studio and financier said, “No, we can’t do it.” How could we make a movie starring an unknown 13-year-old girl that gets an R rating? Everyone said no.
The film was eventually acquired by Fox Searchlight Pictures (now known as Searchlight Pictures) for a budget of $2 million. She was subsequently nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the 2003 Oscars and Golden Globes.
We made it by hook or by crook, you know? And that without money. I got three dollars the whole time. But when we finally did it, people said, “Oh, it’s powerful.” It’s moving. “It’s kind of relevant to what people are going through,” Hardwicke explained.
Hardwicke’s commitment to dusk Turned it into a multi-million dollar box office hit
How Thirteen, dusk had trouble acquiring it because the studios felt there wasn’t a large audience for the film.
“Because I was involved with it from the beginning when it was turned down by all the studios and it was taken over by Paramount and nobody wanted to do the film because they didn’t think it was going to make any money. I was given the example Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was a very popular book, but it cost, I think, $29-$30 million. So is there an audience for this? There probably isn’t. That was the wisdom of every savvy studio executive in town who turned it down.”
The director called it a “perfect storm” for Summit Entertainment to acquire the project because the studio exes were willing, and Meyers announced another book.
“And the perfect storm happened, I think, because I was watching it all happen. Stephenie Meyer, the author, went on to write another book and she was, and still is, very committed to her fan base, sharing her music playlist and all.” She’s been on and very active. Then she published another book and at the same time we announced that we were going to do it dusk. We released the cast and photos. That excited people even more. Everything we did, everything she did, only helped fuel that fire. And Nancy Kirkpatrick’s brilliant marketing campaign, which only grew and became a shocking global phenomenon.”
dusk achieved worldwide sales of around 407 million US dollars ($579 million in 2023) with a budget of $37 million and was the 12th highest-grossing film of 2008.