The USA Weekend Cover Story


Twilight, the movie starring Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart
Move over, Harry Potter. Twilight is Stephenie Meyer's publishing sensation with a forbidden vampire romance.

Brian Truitt

Could a vampire movie -- with two relative unknowns starring as a hunky bloodsucker and a gawky teenager -- become the biggest blockbuster of the season?

We'll find out on Nov. 21, when "Twilight," the latest mega-selling novel-to-film franchise, opens in theaters.

Anticipation among the books' legions of young fans already has turned the series' author, Stephenie Meyer, into publishing's newest literary superstar.

What, you ask, is the appeal of her dark vampire tales? "We love to be scared," says Meyer, whose books have sold more than 17 million copies worldwide. "But most of the monsters that you see are disgusting. They are usually oozing something. Vampires are the only ones who are dangerous and scary, and, at the same time, they're hot."

Enter Hollywood. Filmmakers are hoping all that forbidden passion will turn the books' smitten fans into devoted moviegoers yearning for more.

"Vampires aren't like creepy zombies and mummies," "Twilight" director Catherine Hardwicke says. "I want a vampire to bite my neck."

Meyer was a 29-year-old Mormon stay-at-home mom in Phoenix when she cranked out "Twilight" in three months in 2003. She had never even seen an episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" or read a vampire book. Consequently, "Twilight" is a far cry from your standard bloodsucking tale of skulking nightstalkers in dark capes.

A movie sequel adapted from the second book, "New Moon," is already in the works. Find out more on the series at author Stephenie Meyer's web site.

In fact, "Twilight's" creatures of the night play baseball, drive ultra-fast sports cars, sparkle in the sunlight and look like they just stepped off the cover of "GQ" or "Cosmopolitan."

In other words, "Twilight's" vampires are dead sexy.

Despite the relative obscurity of its leads -- British actor Robert Pattinson, 22, who played the doomed Cedric Diggory in two of the Harry Potter films, and Kristen Stewart, 18, who has had small dramatic roles in films such as In the "Land of Women" and "Into the Wild" -- "Twilight's" final trailer was watched 3.5 million times within 48 hours of its online premiere.

And a sequel adapted from the second book, "New Moon," is already in the works.

Pattinson says he discovered his newfound popularity early while shooting the film. "On the first day, there was no one, and on the last day there were like 70 people waiting outside the set," he says. "They just all found out where it was. It was really strange. We were shooting in the summer in California, literally in the middle of the desert, and there were 'Twilight' fans!"

Teen girls may be the books' No. 1 followers, but the love affair between young Bella Swan (Stewart) and her mysterious vampiric suitor, Edward (Pattinson) -- whom she thinks of as her "angel" (hence the angel's feather on our cover) -- appeals to both sexes, says Edi Gathegi, who plays Laurent, one of the movie's not-as-lovable vamps. "I'm a 'Twi'-hard now," he says, referring to what many of the online devotees call themselves. "I'm a grown man, and I love this story."

Cam Gigandet, who stars as James, the story's main bad guy, says he believes that "'s universal love themes will translate well onto film.

"For me at least, it's so relatable: overcoming something to be with the person that you love," Gigandet explains. "You want so desperately for Edward to win. Maybe it's just the hopeless romantic in everyone in the world."


USA Today also has a poll on which is better, Twilight or Harry Potter. Go vote Harry, because remember: every vote for Twilight means another Twimom's child has starved to death. Please, think of the children.


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