The Rise of the 'Sentimental Vampire'

Posted by Malory Beazley | Posted in , , , , , | Posted on 8:48 PM



While the Twilight fever has died down (at least, for the moment), the influence of the monster phenomenon remains fanatical.  The recurring image of the new ‘sentimental vampire’ has virtually taken over our film and television screens.  Most obviously, the television world has seen the emergence of vampire-related shows like True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, neither of which would have been able to break into the market without the overwhelming triumph of The Twilight Saga.  Even Paul Wesley, who plays Stefan the tender-hearted vampire on the CW's The Vampire Diaries, attributes his growing popularity to the phenomenon: “Do I think the show would be successful as it is, if it weren’t for Twilight?  No.”  And the shows themselves often recognize this influence by paying a brief homage to the series.  In The Vampire Diaries, the bad boy vampire Damon scoffs as he flips through a copy of Twilight, remarking, “What’s so special about this Bella girl?  Edward’s so whipped!  I miss Anne Rice.  She was so on it.”  And when asked why he doesn’t sparkle Damon retorts, “Because I live in the real world where vampires burn in the sun.”  More subtly, in the Season Two finale of HBO's True Blood, a brief shot of a red-orange Chevrolet truck is seen parked outside of Merlotte’s Bar and Grill.  It’s no coincidence that Bella drives the exact same vehicle in Twilight and New Moon.

Suddenly, it seemed like our film and television screens were dominated by an onslaught of emotional vampires.  This includes Jordan Galland’s film, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead, which debuted its first teaser twelve months ago, but is finally being set for release this year.  Remarkably, at the end of the four-year span between 2009 and 2012 there will have been a total of 80 new films and television shows that feature the vampire.

In addition, new screenplays that don’t even involve vampires are piggybacking on the success of Twilight to be launched into production.  Two new Bronte films, Wuthering Heights (starring Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick as Heathcliff) and Jane Eyre are set to begin shooting this spring all because of a “renewed enthusiasm among financiers for gothic romance.”  Producers cite the ‘star-crossed’ relationship between Edward and Bella as a source for this new obsession with old gothic tales.  Even Bella Swan goes to sleep every night with Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice on her pillow.

In a similar vein, film producers and distributors are taking advantage of the niche market that has been conveniently created: 12-18 year old girls.  Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones was initially promoted as a dark film targeted at adults (and rightly so, with the sexually violent content).  However, when the critics slammed the film and box office numbers were less than anticipated, Jackson quickly re-cut the trailer to make it more suitable for younger audiences (i.e. Twihards) and acquired the rights to run the trailer prior to the screenings of The Twilight Saga: New Moon.  The marketing strategy paid off big time as Jackson walked away with a surprising additional $20 million: 72% of the audience was female and 40% was younger than 20 years old.  Genius.

So, you think the 'sentimental vampire' craze will end with the release of the fourth and final chapter in The Twilight Saga?  Bite me.

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Mock Trailer Mashups: The Power of (Re)Creation

Posted by Malory Beazley | Posted in , , , , , | Posted on 10:46 AM



The Twihard takeover of popular social media sites like Blogger and YouTube has resulted in a surge of 'mock trailers'.  Twilight fans, who more than likely have some sort of audio/video grab and editing software (let's face it... who doesn't?), spend hours upon hours creating these trailer mashups for YouTube.  It might be a wonder why someone would spend so much time on such as thing as a mock trailer, however it's not hard to understand their motivation once you read the viewer comments on the video.  While creators get their fair share of rampant criticism, the praise from Twihards all over the world is overwhelming enough to outweigh the haters as their video almost always goes viral.

The following video is a mock trailer made by editor Kenneth Campbell.  It is a mashup of the audio from The Twilight Saga: New Moon trailer and the video from Disney's Beauty and the Beast.  I can't decide if the making of this trailer was for creative purposes or if the editor just had too much time on his hands... but either way, it's pretty entertaining.

flickr image: tyler cyrus

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What Drives Edward: Twilight's 'Trailer-tisements'

Posted by Malory Beazley | Posted in , , | Posted on 6:29 PM



“Stupid, shiny Volvo owner.”  Is one of Bella Swan’s many descriptions of the vampiric Adonis that is Edward Cullen. 

With the Twilight Saga’s newly-acquired blockbuster status, it was only a matter of time before corporate America started sucking the life blood out of the literary and theatrical phenomenon.  Everybody who was anybody knew that linking their product to the Twilight Saga would have ‘tween’-age girls (and Twi-moms alike) lining up at their stores begging for their very own piece of the fantasy, however unrelated and obscure the product might be.

The cosmetic industry wasted no time in transforming and recreating their products to capitalize on an easy target market: the hysterical, frenzied and giggly ‘Twihard’ mobs.  After all, aren’t vampires supposed to be the most beautifully flawless creatures in existence?  Now you can be too!

With the advent of the Twilight Beauty brand of makeup in 2009 (corresponding to the worldwide theatrical release of ‘New Moon,’ the second film in the saga), teen girls all over the world are now able to delve even deeper into their fantasies of transforming into the average, yet adored-by-gorgeous-monsters, Bella Swan.  Women can “highlight their own radiance” with the ‘Luna Twilight’ line of mascara, eye shadow and lip gloss; or express their “Undying Beauty” with the ‘Volturi Twilight’ line of body mists and eye primers.  In fact, they even throw in a tube of ‘Twilight Venom’ lip plumping serum, which “should be shaken before use to represent the blending of the human and vampire worlds.”

In addition to cosmetics, it is unlikely that author Stephenie Meyer could predict that her inclusion of the Volvo brand name in her books would have the potential to ignite such a powerful and effective (not to mention attractive) advertising campaign.  Corresponding again with the ‘New Moon’ theatrical release, Volvo’s ‘What Drives Edward’ competition attracted a whopping 370,000 online entries in just three weeks.  The prize?  A shiny new Volvo XC60, just like the one Edward Cullen drives in the second film.  Volvo’s national advertising manager, Linda Gangeri, says, “It was a missed opportunity in the first film because the car had actually four minutes in the film, which is unheard of in product placement.  It did really well without us doing anything, so with the second film we worked with the studio to develop a global program.” 

In other words, this time around Volvo did not hesitate to capitalize on this product placement in one of the most popular theatrical releases of the decade.  And not without controversy: the famed Cullen-mobile is famous for being shiny and silver (like in the books and the first Twilight movie), yet Volvo was successfully able to convince Summit Entertainment to substitute this entrenched image for a newer model (colour black) in ‘New Moon’ (a move that was accompanied by the horrified screams of a million tween girls).

But, Volvo prevailed in the end.  In an interesting marketing tactic (I call it a 'trailer-tisement'), the commercial for the XC60 model was remarkably similar to the actual New Moon trailer (see below).  In fact, Volvo’s Global Marketing Manager, Paul Walder, even goes as far as to suggest that “More younger people think that Volvo is ‘cool’ because Edward drives one and this will impact on their future car buying decision making.”  While it might seem unlikely that Volvo’s 4.49% increase in sales (as compared with 2008) can be attributed to just one successful marketing campaign, I might respond with this:

Never underestimate the power of the Twihards.

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