The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1
|The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1|
Part 1 theatrical poster
|Directed by||Bill Condon|
|Produced by||Wyck Godfrey
|Screenplay by||Melissa Rosenberg|
|Based on||Breaking Dawn
by Stephenie Meyer
|Music by||Carter Burwell|
|Editing by||Virginia Katz|
|Studio||Temple Hill Entertainment
|Distributed by||Summit Entertainment|
|Running time||117 minutes
124 minutes (Extended cut)
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (commonly referred to as Breaking Dawn – Part 1) is a 2011 American romantic fantasy film directed by Bill Condon and based on the novel Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. The first part of a two-part film forms the fourth installment in The Twilight Saga series. All three main cast members, Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner, reprised their roles.
Wyck Godfrey and Karen Rosenfelt served as executive producers for the film, along with the author of the series, Stephenie Meyer; the screenplay was written by Melissa Rosenberg, the screenwriter of the first three entries. It was released in theatres on November 18, 2011, and released to DVD on February 11, 2012 in the United States. The film grossed over $712 million worldwide.
Bella Swan plans her wedding to Edward Cullen. During the reception that follows, she is visited by her friend, Jacob Black. While dancing with him, Bella admits that she and Edward plan to consummate their marriage during their honeymoon. Jacob becomes furious, knowing that Edward could easily kill her and runs off into the woods.
The couple spends their honeymoon on Isle Esme, the Cullens' private Brazilian island that Carlisle had given to Esme as a gift. Although hesitant, Edward has sex with Bella for the first time. The next morning, he realizes that he bruised Bella during sex and is furious with himself for hurting her, vowing to never be intimate with her again, much to her disappointment. She tries tirelessly to seduce him, and he finally gives in to her. Two weeks into their honeymoon, Bella discovers that she is pregnant. Despite the fact that she has only been pregnant for a few days, the baby is growing at an accelerated rate. They rush back home. When Bella realizes that Edward intends to kill her baby, she is horrified, already having grown attached to it. She enlists the help of Edward's sister, Rosalie, who has always wanted a child, to protect her baby.
Jacob rushes over to the Cullen's and finds Bella already heavily pregnant and frail. He informs the pack and, opposed to Sam Uley's plans to kill Bella and her child, which is thought to be a demon, he angrily leaves the pack and arrives at the Cullens' to protect Bella. His tribe-mates, Seth and Leah Clearwater, join him, forming a new wolf pack. As the pregnancy progresses, Bella's health severely deteriorates. As a last resort, she begins drinking human blood, which satisfies the fetus' vampiric thirst. Soon after, Bella goes into a painful labor and gives birth to her daughter, Renesmee. To save her life, Edward injects Bella's heart with his venom to transform her into a vampire, but nothing seems to happen and Bella is thought to be dead. Greatly distraught, Jacob attempts to kill the baby, but stops when he realizes he has imprinted on the child.
When the werewolves learn of Bella's death, they attack the Cullens' house in an attempt to kill the baby. They are forced to stop after learning Jacob has imprinted on Renesmee. Carlisle notices there's a slight pulse and tells the Cullens. After Bella's body is cleaned and dressed, her wounds from her difficult labor heal as the venom spreads through her body. Bella's heart finally ceases, and she awakens as a newborn vampire.
In a post-credits scene, the Volturi hear about Bella's conversion; Aro notes that it does not end their dispute with the Cullens, proclaiming, "They have something I want".
- Kristen Stewart as Bella Cullen (née Swan), who marries Edward in this installment and realizes that she has become pregnant with his half-vampire, half-human baby and that her condition is progressing at an unnaturally accelerated rate.
- Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen, who marries Bella in this installment. Convinced that the fetus is going to kill Bella, he urges her to abort the pregnancy, but Bella refuses. In the meantime, he and the entire Cullen coven must also fend off Sam and his pack of wolves who believe that their treaty is broken and are on their way to kill Bella and the unborn baby.
- Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black, a werewolf who was heartbroken after Bella's choice to marry Edward. In Breaking Dawn - Part 1, he returns as a friend and savior of Bella. Towards the end of the movie, he imprints on Bella and Edward's baby, Renesmee, thereby helping him to recover from his heartbreak. He is also the Alpha of the Black Pack.
- Peter Facinelli as Carlisle Cullen,The father role to the Cullens. He is also a doctor and helps Bella during her pregnancy when Renesmee breaks her bones. He reveals the truth of Bella's baby.
- Elizabeth Reaser as Esme Cullen, acts as the mother of the Cullen family.
- Ashley Greene as Alice Cullen, a member of the Cullen family who can see "subjective" visions of the future and who is close friends with Bella.
- Kellan Lutz as Emmett Cullen, the strongest member of the Cullen family, who provides comic relief.
- Nikki Reed as Rosalie Hale, a member of the Cullen family who helps Bella through her pregnancy.
- Jackson Rathbone as Jasper Hale, a member of the Cullen coven who can feel/control/manipulate emotions.
- Billy Burke as Charlie Swan, Bella's father.
- Sarah Clarke as Renée Dwyer, Bella's mother who lives in Jacksonville, Florida.
- Julia Jones as Leah Clearwater, the 'Beta' of the Black pack. She is Seth's older sister and also the only female werewolf in existence.
- Booboo Stewart as Seth Clearwater, a young member of Jacob's pack.
- MyAnna Buring as Tanya, the leader of the Denali coven.
- Maggie Grace as Irina, a member of the Denali coven whose lover (Laurent) was killed by the werewolves.
- Casey LaBow as Kate, a member of the Denali coven who has the ability to run an electric current over her skin.
- Michael Sheen as Aro, the leader of the Volturi.
- Jamie Campbell Bower as Caius, one of the three founders of the Volturi.
- Christopher Heyerdahl as Marcus, one of the three founders of the Volturi.
- Chaske Spencer as Sam Uley, the Alpha of the main werewolf pack.
- Mackenzie Foy as Renesmee Cullen, Bella and Edward's newborn daughter
- Christian Camargo as Eleazar, a member of the Denali coven who has the ability to see what powers vampires have through his mind. He can also see what powers humans will have before becoming vampires but has to concentrate very hard.
- Mía Maestro as Carmen, a member of the Denali coven and mate of Eleazar.
Talks for a Breaking Dawn film started after Summit Entertainment approved the second and third adaptations of the franchise, and scheduled the two films to be released six months apart. Wyck Godfrey, producer of the previous films in the series, stated in mid-2009 that they had every intention to make the film version of Breaking Dawn, but Stephenie Meyer, author of the series, explained on her website's Breaking Dawn FAQ that if an adaptation were to be created, it would have to be split into two films because "The book is just so long!", saying that she would have made the book shorter if it were possible. She also believed it to be impossible to make a film due to Renesmee, writing that an actress could not play her because she is a baby that has complete awareness, "The one thing that I've never seen is a CGI human being who truly looks real"; however, she did acknowledge the film might be possible due to the quickly-advancing technologies. Moreover, because of the mature and explicit nature of the Breaking Dawn book, fans and critics questioned if the studio would be able to keep a PG-13 rating, noting that the movie should not be rated R for the ever-growing fan base. In March 2010, Variety reported that Summit Entertainment was considering splitting the 754-page book into two films, along the same lines as Warner Bros.' Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Since under contract for only four films, the status of Stewart's, Pattinson's, and Lautner's contracts were in question, making the possibility of a split unlikely. Producer Wyck Godfrey stated that all three main cast members were signed onto one Breaking Dawn film.
|“||I got very nervous. There were, like, 15 people. I had never really auditioned or gone into a job interview in that way since maybe 1988 or '87. I guess I was unprepared for it. [...] In this case, they wanted me to talk about their project, which really needed to follow very closely the book [...] I was talking about the book, and really all I was saying was, 'OK, this is great, let's go to it.' That was the pitch. I think they're used to something else. They're used to, for those of you who might audition for film jobs, a 40-minute dissertation with perhaps visual aids and a pep talk about how fantastic this project is going to be. I just didn't know how to do that.||”|
—Gus Van Sant
In March 2010, it was announced that Summit was searching for Academy-Award nominated directors to helm the project, with names like Sofia Coppola, Gus Van Sant and Bill Condon rumored to have been approached to direct. On April 28, 2010, Summit announced that Bill Condon, who directed Dreamgirls, would direct Breaking Dawn; producing the film will be Wyck Godfrey, Karen Rosenfelt, and author Stephenie Meyer. "I'm very excited to get the chance to bring the climax of this saga to life on-screen. As fans of the series know, this is a one-of-a-kind book – and we're hoping to create an equally unique cinematic experience", said Bill Condon. Condon spoke about Summit approaching him saying, "The very nice folks at Summit.. they sent me the novel. I loved it. I quickly imprinted on the material". Another reason Condon cited was the desire to collaborate with Stewart. Gus Van Sant later explained that Robert Pattinson mentioning him as the ideal director for Breaking Dawn was what made him audition for the job and described the audition as "very nerve-wracking". However, after Condon was hired, Sant suggested that the reason behind not getting hired was his style and way of auditioning being different from what the executive producers were used to.
In June, Summit officially confirmed that a two-part adaptation of the fourth book would start filming in November. The first part was released on November 18, 2011, and the second part's release date is set for November 16, 2012.
The Twilight Saga also helped motivate Rosenberg into launching a female-centric production company, Tall Girls Productions: "The charter of it, if there is one, would be to create some strong roles for women... the female Batman, the female Tony Soprano." She explained that, despite the fact of the many hours of hard work ahead of her, it is what she wants to do.
After confirming one film, Summit had been keeping their eye on a fifth installment. In May 2010, Billy Burke and Peter Facinelli were the only cast actors who were confirmed for both parts of Breaking Dawn, while other cast members such as Ashley Greene and Kellan Lutz were still in negotiations for a second part. If the actors holding Summit back from making an official announcement did not reach an agreement with them, the studio would not have minded recasting their roles, as was done in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse with Bryce Dallas Howard's character, Victoria. However, in June 2010, Summit officially confirmed that a two-part adaptation of the fourth book would start production and it was made clear that all major actors, including the three lead roles, the Cullen family, and Charlie Swan, would return for both parts. Actresses Christie Burke, Rachel St. Gelais, Sierra Pitkin, and Eliza Faria play Renesmee at her various ages in the film.
Since the first film was released, fans and critics speculated whether Breaking Dawn would be adapted into a film considering the adult nature of the book. In March 2010, Rosenberg spoke about adapting the book saying, "It's the big one, it's gonna be a big challenge, and I guarantee you that not all of the fans will be happy, and I guarantee you some of them will be. You have to give up the ideal of making everybody happy, it's just not gonna happen, but you hope you make the majority happy. Again, for that last book it is about taking that specific character Bella on her journey. It's a big journey, it's a massive change for her, and you hope to realize that." One of the scenes that aroused the speculations that the film would be rated R is the infamous graphic birth scene in the novel. In August, Rosenberg addressed such speculations saying, "On the fan site, on Facebook, all the comments are "It has to be R rated! You have to show the childbirth! Gore and guts and sex!" For me it's actually more interesting to not see it. You know, you can do childbirth without seeing childbirth ... it doesn't mean it's any less evocative of an experience." Producer Wyck Godfrey addressed those speculations further saying, "it would be a crime against our audience to go R-rated" as the core fans of the series are below 18 years old, but insisted that the film is based on a mature book, so more progress and sophistication are needed. To compromise the necessary sophistication in adapting such a mature book and the need for maintaining a PG-13 rating, Rosenberg stated that the scene would be shown from Bella's point of view. Godfrey described it saying, "She is looking through the haze, experiencing pain and everything rushing around her. We only see what she sees".
In June, Rosenberg stated in an interview that the decision on where to split the film had not been decided, as she was still in the drafting stage of the scripts. "I think it comes down to Bella as human and Bella as vampire", she said, hinting at a potential splitting point. She thought that Condon would probably disagree with the statement, explaining that the decision is ultimately up to him. Later in January 2011, Godfrey confirmed that the Part 1 will cover the wedding, honeymoon, pregnancy and birth and ends just before her transformation into a vampire as the filmmakers wanted to "take the audience through the emotional part of Bella's journey as she becomes a vampire". Part 2 will follow her transformation, the "first exhilarating moments" of her vampire life and the final confrontation with the Volturi. Godfrey also confirmed that Part 1 will follow the book's storyline as it breaks away from Bella and switches into Jacob's perspective. "There is a sense that as Bella and the Cullens (Edward's makeshift vampire clan) deal with her pregnancy, the world is still turning outside with Jacob", he explains. However, in March 2011, Meyer said in interview with USA Today that Part 1 will end when Bella opens her eyes as a vampire.
By August, Rosenberg said that the scripts for Part 1 and 2 were 75 to 85 percent completed. She found the greatest challenge in writing the scripts to be the final sequence of Part 2: "The final battle sequence is a big challenge because it lasts 25 pages", she said. "It's almost an entire three-act story in and of itself. You have to track [keep it all in one setting] hundreds of characters. It's an enormous challenge to choreograph on the page and for Bill [Condon] to choreograph on the stage." She had written various drafts of the scene but, at that, hadn't revised or discussed them with Condon yet. She said, "That's the next big hurdle to sit down with the stunt coordinator and create the ballet. It's a lot of work. I'm exhausted, but we're intent on making them the best scripts yet." Godfrey called Part 2 "an action film in terms of life-and-death stakes" and said that in Part 1 "there are the pangs of newlywed tension that occur that are relatable even in a fantasy film. Marriage is not quite the experience that they thought it was." Condon thought of Part 1 "as a real companion piece to Catherine Hardwicke's movie". Condon explains, "Like, everything that got set up there gets resolved here. I think you'll find that there are stylistic and other nods to that film."
Godfrey considered releasing the second film in 3D to differentiate between the time before and after Bella becomes a vampire, an idea originally proposed for Eclipse, but said that the decision is up to Condon. However, he said that if the second film were to be released in 3D, he would like to shoot it with the proper equipment in "real" 3D as was done with Avatar (2009), not convert it into 3D in post-production as was done with Clash of the Titans (2010).
In order to keep the budget on both parts of Breaking Dawn reasonable, even though it is substantially greater than the previous installments in the series, much of the film was shot in and around Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Raleigh Studios in Baton Rouge. Shooting in Louisiana provided larger tax credits, which a small studio like Summit Entertainment would find favorable. Summit announced in a press release on July 9, 2010, that filming was to take place in Baton Rouge, Ucluelet and Vancouver, with the wedding being shot in Squamish. Both parts will be shot back-to-back as one project. The film will attempt to keep its PG-13 rating, and it will not feature any of the gruesome scenes from the novel with Kristen Stewart confirming that the birth scene wasn't as grotesque as described in the book and that she didn't "puke up blood", though director Bill Condon said that they shot everything as "powerful and potent as they could".
Filming officially began on November 1, 2010 in Brazil, with locations in Rio de Janeiro and Paraty, Rio de Janeiro. The first scenes were shot in the Lapa District in Rio de Janeiro for one night. A long city block was rented for shooting, and Summit Entertainment paid residents 50 to 500 reais (30 to 300 in American dollars) to not allow paparazzi or fans to overlook filming from their windows. Moreover, owners of bars and restaurants were paid 10,000 and 20,000 reais (6,000 to 12,000 in American dollars) to stay closed for the evening to eliminate noise and provide a clear street.
Shooting then moved to Paraty, Rio de Janeiro where the honeymoon scenes were shot. According to Paraty's Tourism Office, filming took place in the Taquari area, near an unidentified waterfall and at Mamangua Bay where a mansion is located. It rained on every day of shooting. In late November, shooting moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana where most of the indoor scenes were shot on a sound stage and in a house. Stewart had to wear heavy make-up to look thin and ghastly to show Bella through a phase of pregnancy where the baby starts breaking her bones. The birth scene took two nights to shoot after the cast had a long conversation with Meyer, a midwife and a doctor to discuss the mechanics of the scene, particularly to decide the area where Edward should place his mouth to bite into Bella's placenta if this situation could ever occur in real life. An animatronic baby was used to film a few scenes of newborn Rensemee. The cast and crew spent two months of the filming process shooting in a green screen room on fake snow. Reportedly, a few scenes were also shot in Arsenal Park using green screens.
In late February and early March, filming of most of the exterior shots, along with Bella's vampire scenes, occurred in Canada. The film's first shooting location in Canada was Vancouver. However, the cast and crew were evacuated from the set due to the tsunami advisories resulting from the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, 2011. Toni Atterbury, a spokeswoman for the film, said that "the crew was moved to higher ground" as a safety precaution and "the shoot was delayed for a few hours, but the day's work was accomplished". Therefore, filming relocated to Squamish, British Columbia, but a few scenes were shot in the Orpheum theater in Vancouver with the Vancouver police covering all the entrances of the theater.
The wedding scene in Part 1 was the last scene the cast and crew shot. It was also shot under tight security. A helicopter hovered above the set, off-duty police officers surrounded the location, and sheets and umbrellas were used to protect the set from aerial shots being taken. Stewart spoke about the wedding at Comic-Con, describing it as "insane". She went on to say that it was "secret service style. The crew was incredibly inconvenienced. No cell phone, etc. They wanted to keep the dress secret." Concerning the wedding dress, Stewart was locked in a room wearing a Volturi cloak to cover the dress.
Stewart further talked about filming the scene, saying "I wanted to run down the aisle. I was literally pulling away from Billy Burke. Now it's a trip to watch the wedding scenes. It was so volatile and emotional—I was being such a crazy person." Condon spoke about it saying, "The last scene we filmed was the dance scene between Jacob and Bella at the wedding. The last shot is Jacob leaving. I called "Cut!" and then Kristen yelled, "Jacob!" and hiked her dress up and started running after him into the woods, saying, "Come back! Don't leave!"
Filming wrapped—for most of the cast—on April 15, 2011, ending the franchise's three years of production since March 2008. However, on April 22, what is believed to be additional scenes that will fit into the honeymoon sequence were filmed on Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, which was officially the last day of shooting. The crew, Stewart and Pattinson were shooting in the sea all day long, then went out for cocktails on the beach and watched the sunrise. On the subject of the final day and her final moment as Bella, Stewart stated, "After that scene, my true final scene, I felt like I could shoot up into the night sky and every pore of my body would shoot light. I felt lighter than I've ever felt in my life." Pattinson thought the day was "amazing" and commented, "I then asked myself why we didn't do this in those four years. Every difficult moment just vanished."
In October 2010, it was announced that Michael Wilkinson would be the film's costume designer. However, Bella's wedding dress was designed by someone other than Wilkinson. Meyer's description of the dress was "a simpler style than the frillier Edwardian stuff. ...Elegant white satin, cut on the bias, with long sleeves." At first, Zac Posen was rumored to be the designer of Bella's wedding dress; however, these rumors proved false when Posen tweeted: "Heard the Bella/Twilight rumor and it's just that. I design for real women like Kristen Stewart and Anna Kendrick". In April 2011, Summit announced that Carolina Herrera is the designer of the dress. Stewart described the dress as very tight, but still liked it and thought that "it was very pretty". Meyer told USA Today that the dress was "an interesting mix" and has a "vintage feel, but at the same time, there's an edge to it".
Concerning Alice's bridesmaid dress, its designer remains unknown, however it was presumably designed by Wilkinson. Ashley Greene described the dress as "magical and beautiful" and spoke about the design process, saying, "We wanted to have all the bridesmaids fit together and also have their own identity. So, we took a little bit of Alice's past and put it into her dress." Corsets were added to all the cast's wedding dresses, but were removed during filming because the cast felt uncomfortable wearing them while dancing.
Alfred Angelo has been named the exclusive and official licensed manufacturer of Bella's bridal gown. The gown will be a replica of Bella's wedding dress and marketed under the brand Twilight Bridal by Alfred Angelo. It will be revealed in late November 2011, following the release of Part 1, and will be available in Alfred Angelo Signature Stores and independent retailers worldwide.
In October 2010, Condon announced that Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor John Bruno, along with his team, would helm the visual effects for Breaking Dawn, including the effects necessary to show Renesmee in her various stages of life in Part 2. Later in February, Adam Howard was added to the Breaking Dawn visual effects team to help create the visual effects for Renesmee, due to his notable work on a similar issue in The Social Network. Condon revealed that Mackenzie Foy's face and expressions will be placed digitally on the bodies of the other actresses playing the same character through her various stages of life. Condon spoke about the process saying, "Sometimes it was hard because the other actresses were actually just there. It was always going to be just Mackenzie's expressions and things like that, so it was a very specific technical thing that even I was learning as we did it. But I have to say, they were real troopers these girls." Furthermore, special effects are going to be used to illustrate the invisible powers and forces between the vampires in the final battle sequence of Part 2.
Montreal-based Modus FX created subtle CG effects for Part 1. It created stylized effects to emphasize the supernatural capabilities of the main characters without making them too obvious or noticeable. A team of 12 artists spent six weeks working on the film. Shots included creating the belly of a pregnant Bella, removing a wrist brace Stewart was wearing in the wedding scene due to an injury, and a variety of subtle cosmetic refinements. Bella's pregnancy was a challenge for Modus; the production team wanted the baby to kick and move around inside her belly, so the artists and cinematographer had to match the camera moves, the lighting, even the film grain, along with the subtleties of Stewart's skin. On the subject, CG supervisor Martin Pelletier said,
|“||For this project, we had to be really quick in terms of turn around. We made use of very complex lighting from the set, adding 3D layers, and a matchmove of her stomach, to make her look pregnant. We took our time at the start to get the recipe right and that paid off in efficiency once we got going. We were soon able to turn around several shots each day.||”|
During the wedding scene, the camera pans around Pattinson and Stewart. Due to a minor wrist injury Stewart had, she was wearing a brace on the day of the shoot. Therefore, Modus was required to create a CG model of the hand and then carefully craft a rig to create natural motions. Once that was finished, every minute movement of the hand had to be matched exactly. The rotational panning shot totals 300 frames and called for elaborate camera and object tracking. Modus used subsurface scattering to accurately capture the partial translucence of her skin to make it look more authentic. Pelletier explained that "tracking was particularly challenging, because when they were shooting it, they weren’t thinking about it as an effects shot. There was no camera metadata for the sequence." The solution was to do a series of careful manual adjustments until the light sources were correctly replicated on the set.
In July, Condon said that the first cut of Part 1 would be finished in a few weeks, but the visual effects were still in development. Godfrey later stated that they were "very close to locking picture on part one", and that its running time is equal to Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse, therefore approximately two hours. A few weeks later, Godfrey announced that he had seen numerous cuts of the film and called it "incredibly powerful already. ...It definitely captures what the book captures." Concerning the subject of the MPAA rating, Godfrey said that the studio does not "have any word yet on the rating", but insisted that it is going to be rated PG-13. Condon discussed the matter further saying, "I think it's a good challenge because the thing that makes something R is literally showing it and if you give yourself that rule: I’m not gonna show, it's not going to be frontal nudity, no one wants that", and added, "we’re not going to, again, show splattering blood against the walls but it's gonna be very visceral. It actually becomes a fun challenge to make sure you feel like you have the same experience without having to watch something clinical. I think it makes it better."
On January 14, 2011, it was announced that Carter Burwell, composer of the first film in the series, will be returning to score both parts of the final installment. The score of Part 1 was recorded in Abbey Road Studios, London in early September. Alexandre Desplat and Howard Shore, the composers of New Moon and Eclipse respectively, happened to be in London at the time of the recording session and stopped by to visit Burwell.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released on November 8, 2011. In July, Condon said that they are still under negotiations for the soundtrack and have 15 songs to choose from, but no deals have been signed with any artists. He also hinted that there's a good chance that the cast's musically-inclined members would feature on the soundtrack, which leaves chance to Robert Pattinson, Jackson Rathbone, Booboo Stewart and Jamie Campbell Bower. American rock band Evanescence expressed interest in landing a song on the Breaking Dawn soundtrack. Will Hunt, the drummer of the band, said, "I've been screaming for [new song] 'My Heart Is Broken' to land in that, because I think it would fit the story so well." The lead singer of the band, Amy Lee, agreed, adding, "I think that would be awesome, actually." Also notable is the fact that the band had attempted to land songs on the soundtrack of Twilight, but Summit did not approve of the songs they presented. This is the first soundtrack not to feature a song from the band Muse.
The teaser poster of Breaking Dawn was released on May 24. After giving fans a sneak peek on June 2, MTV released the first official teaser trailer on June 5, the night of the MTV Movie Awards. It was released online shortly before the awards show began and then made its television debut during the broadcast.
On July 21, Summit held a sold-out Comic-Con panel in Hall H, which held 6,500 fans, promoting Part 1. Condon, Stewart, Pattinson and Lautner attended the panel and answered the fans' questions along with showing them exclusive clips from the film. Cast members arrived early in the morning and signed autographs and posters for the midnight-camping fans and Summit booths offered them Breaking Dawn: Part 1 character trading cards.
Breaking Dawn: Part 1 footage was screened in Empire Movie Con in the UK on August 13. In addition, Alfred Angelo will host a private screening of Part 1 for forty-nine selected fans on November 15 and another screening for twenty friends two days later via sweepstakes.
When the filming started on November 7, 2010 in the Lapa District and Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, leaked set photos and footage videos surfaced online. Summit Entertainment responded to the leaks by removing the photos and videos from YouTube, fansites and gossip websites. On January 13, 2011, scans of a still of Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in one of their honeymoon scenes in an Entertainment Weekly article ran online, prior to the magazine's official release of the still. On March 31 and April 1, 2011, a mass leak of a 14-second video and numerous low-quality stills hit the Internet resulting to enthusiastic fan reaction and speculations that the film wouldn't be able to maintain a PG-13 rating. Summit Entertainment released an official statement in response to the leaks saying:
As some of you may know, pictures and screen grabs of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn as a work in progress have leaked on the internet. We are extremely proud of this film and also extremely heartbroken to see it out there at this stage. The film and these images are not yet ready or in their proper context. They were illegally obtained and their early dissemination is deeply upsetting to the actors, the filmmakers and Summit who are working so hard to bring these movies to fruition to you in November 2011 and November 2012.
Please, for those who are posting, stop. And please, though the temptation is high, don’t view or pass on these images. Wait for the film in its beautiful, finished entirety to thrill you.
Sincerely,Stephenie Meyer, Bill Condon, Wyck Godfrey and Summit Entertainment.
On August 1, 2011, Summit released a press release announcing the identification of some of the alleged people responsible for the leak of images and video from Breaking Dawn on March 31 and April 1 and the decision to take legal action. Summit claimed that the leak came from Posadas, Argentina, but due to the possibility that other people might be involved in the leak, the investigation is still ongoing. The only person Summit named was a woman called Daiana Santia, resident in Posadas, allegedly being involved in the group that stole the images and footage. Civil action has been filed in the U.S. and Argentina, while criminal action has also been filed in Argentina. Summit hired law firm Keats McFarland & Wilson LLP to search four continents, North America, South America, Europe and Australia, to find the other people behind the leak.
On the other hand, Santia hosted a press conference in her town and denied Summit's claims. She claimed that she only saw the images "while surfing the Internet" and didn't send them to anyone. She also stated that she didn't log in anywhere to see them and denies having the technical knowledge of hacking, specifically saying that she "in no way be considered a "hacker" because [she] has no computer skills other than simple user level". Her attorney confirmed that Santia and her family are considering a counterclaim against Summit due to defamation of character and continual harassment by the film's producers who kept requesting that she would let them check her computer to see if she still has the images on her hard disk, although she refused more than once claiming that she is innocent and her computer contains personal items. Her attorney called the situation "a harm to privacy and personal right".
Summit's official response to the press conference said, "First and most important this is NOT about greed or the Studio wanting to bully a woman from a small town in Argentina – rather, it is about stolen material that is private and sensitive which was obtained by illegally accessing private/secure servers as well as personal email accounts." Summit gave details about the case stating that the studio has been in contact with Santia since May 2011, but "with no resolution or further good faith efforts on their part, thus the only alternative left was to pursue legal action to ascertain that Ms. Santia no longer holds the images and video in any shape or form". In the response, Summit announced the following claims:
Specifically on June 8, 2011, Ms. Santia confessed in the presence of her attorney that she accessed servers and email accounts via a systematic attack – stealing photographs, unfinished images and video footage over several months. Additionally there is indisputable evidence linking her directly to IP addresses that were used in the unauthorized access. Her actions appear to be premeditated and not done on a whim, but rather using technology and tactics that require thought as well as time and skill. Because Ms. Santia decided that she does not want to cooperate, Summit has been unable to settle this matter privately with Ms. Santia and her representatives in Argentina.
According to the entertainment site MovieWeb, the DVD and Blu-ray Disc for Part 1 was made available to purchase on February 11, 2012. Both editions include bonus features such as Bella and Edward's wedding video, fast-forwarding to favorite scenes, audio commentary with director Bill Condon, and a 6-part "Making Of" documentary. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray by Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment. In North American DVD sales, Part 1 has currently grossed $94,845,346 and has sold more than 5,234,876 units.
An "extended version" was released on March 2, 2013; this version features an additional seven minutes of footage, making the film 124 minutes, including eight additional scenes, two missing scenes, and three alternate scenes.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 grossed $281,287,133 in North America and $430,884,723 in other countries, bringing its worldwide total to $712,171,856. It earned a franchise-best $291.0 million on its worldwide opening weekend, marking the 10th largest worldwide opening of all time. It reached $500 million worldwide in 12 days, record time for the franchise. It ranks as the 4th highest-grossing film of 2011 worldwide and the highest grossing film of the franchise. The film is also currently the 50th highest-grossing film of all time.
- North America
Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (which opened on November 18, 2011 in 4,061 theaters) was projected to reap at least $140 million in its opening weekend. The film earned $30.25 million in midnight showings, which was the second highest midnight gross ever, at the time, behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 ($43.5 million), as well as the highest midnight gross of the franchise, until it was surpassed by The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2's gross of $30.4 million. On its opening day, the movie topped the box office with $71.6 million (including midnight showings), which is the fifth highest opening- and single-day gross of all time. On its opening weekend, Breaking Dawn – Part 1 claimed first place with $138.1 million, which was the second highest opening weekend of the film series, at the time, behind The Twilight Saga: New Moon ($142.8 million), as well as the fourth highest November opening ever behind The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, New Moon and Breaking Dawn - Part 2. It is also the tenth highest opening weekend of all time. The movie also had the second best opening weekend of 2011 in North America behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 ($169.2 million). The audience was 80% female and 60% over 21 years old and the film received a "B+" CinemaScore, which improved to an "A-" among females.
It retained first place on its second 3-day weekend, declining 70% to $41.9 million, and earned $61.8 million over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend. Breaking Dawn – Part 1 remained No. 1 for a third weekend, marking the best third-weekend gross for a Twilight film ($16.5 million) and the second film of 2011 to top the weekend box office three times, along with The Help. Closing on February 23, 2012, with $281.3 miilion, it is the third highest-grossing movie of 2011. It is also the third highest-grossing film in the series, only ahead of the first film ($192.8 million).
- Markets outside North America
The film earned $8.9 million in its first two days from five markets. By the end of its first weekend, it earned $152.9 million at about 9,950 locations in 54 markets, which was a new franchise-high. Its biggest debut was in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Malta with £13,910,877 ($22.0 million), which was a new high for the series. It was also huge in many European and Latin American countries. It remained in first place at the box office outside North America for three consecutive weekends. With $423.8 million, it is the highest-grossing film of the franchise and the sixth highest-grossing film of 2011. Its highest-grossing region after North America is the UK, Ireland and Malta ($48.8 million), followed by Brazil ($35.0 million) and Germany ($33.1 million).
Breaking Dawn – Part 1 received mostly negative reviews from critics. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 24% of critics (of the 188 counted reviews) gave the film a positive review, and the site's consensus reads, "Slow, joyless, and loaded with unintentionally humorous moments, Breaking Dawn Part 1 may satisfy the Twilight faithful, but it's strictly for fans of the franchise." The review site Metacritic gave the film a 45 out of 100 (based on 36 critic scores). It is the lowest-rated installment in the franchise, which was previously New Moon. Justin Chang of Variety gave the film a negative review, calling the film "disappointing". Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter also gave the film a negative review, calling Part 1 "bloated". Brent Simon of Screen International called the film "soapy and melodramatic". Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film one star out of a possible five, and referred to it as the next stage of an "emo-operetta" that "sweeps us away on a new riptide of mawkish euphoria". Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two and a half stars, saying that it is filled with a lot of unanswered questions, but calling Stewart's portrayal of Bella "pretty good". The television show Film 2011's Claudia Winkleman gave the film a negative review, calling it "hilarious". Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers said Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is "the worst Twilight movie yet" and thought Taylor Lautner looked like a "petulant five-year-old". Mary Pols of Time magazine named it one of the Top 10 Worst Movies of 2011, saying "this entry, which held within it the teasing promise of explosive consummation, instead delivered soap-opera-level dry humping in high-thread-count sheets", and concluded, "This was the bloodiest of the Twilight movies but somehow the most bloodless."
Conversely, Gabriel Chong of "Movie Exclusive" gave the film four stars out of a possible five, praising the dialogue, wedding and action scenes, and particularly Condon's direction, stating, "In the hands of a lesser director, the turn of events could very well descend into farce—thankfully then, this movie has found a masterful helmsman in Condon." He went on to praise Stewart's performance, calling it "mesmerising" and saying that she "makes [Bella's] every emotion keenly felt that runs the gamut from joy, trepidation, anxiety, distress and above all quiet and resolute determination." Mark Adams of Daily Mirror also gave the film four stars out of five and said, "The Twilight films manage to cleverly blend melodrama with supernatural thrills, and while the film is not without its silly moments and cringeworthy dialogue it does deliver the drama and emotional highs we have come to expect". He also praised the wedding, describing it as "beautifully staged", and Stewart's performance. Other positive reviewers from The New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer said the dialogue was improving and the whole movie played out with style, while being faithful to the book and servicing hardcore fans. MSN Entertainment critic Alaina O'Connor gave Condon some praise for bringing "a certain visual elegance that helps with some of the more-absurd elements of the story." O'Connor also felt that the film did a good job of "examining the relationship between Edward and Bella", but felt that the narrative was weak otherwise. The film was also ranked the tenth best film of 2011 by E!. Will Brooker, writing for Times Higher Education, makes the case that Breaking Dawn has a feminist element, stating that it "reverse(s) the embedded cinematic conventions of male voyeur and female-as-spectacle", and that "the lack of attention to (Bella) as sex object is remarkable."
The film also drew both criticism and praise for having what was seen as a pro-life theme. Natalie Wilson, writing for the Ms. magazine blog, described what she saw as the book's "latent anti-abortion message" as "problematic from a feminist perspective" and found this element "heightened, not diminished, in the film", citing scenes in which Rosalie scolds Alice for using the word "fetus". Richard Lawson of The Atlantic said that Bella's pregnancy "serves as the narrative dais from which Meyer, and in complicity Condon and the screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, delivers a startlingly direct and uncovered anti-abortion sermon", adding "it seems there was no escaping the firmly anti-choice themes of this leg of the story, and so we must sit and grumble while sickly Bella is scored by plaintive strings as she chooses the one true moral path". Neil Morris of Independent Weekly said that the film "takes up a radically pro-life mantle when Bella refuses to abort her baby, even though her life may depend on it". Sandie Angulo Chen of Moviefone described the "bulk" of the film as "one long pro-life debate", in which "Bella says it's her body, her choice (terms usually used in the pro-choice movement), but her decision is pro-life to the extreme, because the baby can and will kill her". In contrast, John Mulderig of the Catholic News Service praised the "strongly pro-life message being conveyed via Bella's unusual plight", saying it "presents a welcome counterpoint to the all-too-frequent motif in popular entertainment whereby pregnancy is presented as a form of disease or an almost unbearable curse".
In an interview with Screen Rant, screenwriter Rosenberg addressed the perception of a pro-life message in the film, stating, "If I could not find my way into it that didn't violate my beliefs (because I am extremely pro-choice very outspoken about it, very much a feminist) I would not have written this move [sic]. They could have offered me the bank and I still wouldn't have. In order to embrace it I had to find a way to deal with it. I also had no interest in violating Stephenie's belief system or anyone on the other side".
On February 25, Breaking Dawn – Part 1 was nominated for eight Razzie Awards, including: Worst Picture; Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel; Worst Screen Ensemble; Worst Director (for Bill Condon); Worst Screenplay; Worst Actor (for Taylor Lautner), and Worst Actress (for Kristen Stewart). The Worst Screen Couple award for Kristen Stewart with either Taylor Lautner or Robert Pattinson was also included. The film lost all categories to Jack and Jill.
A week following the film's release, incidents began occurring of the birthing scene having triggered epileptic seizures in moviegoers. The visual effects during the scene involves several pulsating red, white, and black flashing lights, which creates an effect similar to a strobe light. Reports of such photosensitive seizures have been reported in Sacramento, California, and Salt Lake City, Utah. The incidents have become more widespread as news of the incidents began to flood several news sites, making people aware that health issues that attendees were experiencing might have been caused by the scene. Famed comic book artist Jim Lee tweeted that he and his family had to leave a screening of the film after "our 11 year old son literally threw up during the birthing scene." The people who have experienced seizures during the film are reportedly "perfectly healthy people".
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