Stephenie Meyer announced that she has written the Twilight tie-in novella The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novel. Little,Brown will release the book June 5, pledging $1 from each copy to be donated to the Red Cross for disaster relief in Haiti and Chile. But fans will want to know if this means another Meyer movie, and it doesn’t seem likely at this point. In her disclosure about the 192-page novella—about the young vampire Bree who’s introduced in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse—Meyer reveals that the prose helped Eclipse director David Slade and his castmembers as a research tool but it isn’t clear whether it will stand on its own as a film. Because Summit Entertainment financed the Twilight films—the last book, Breaking Dawn, will be split into two installments—the indie company would likely own the character rights and there will undoubtedly be some begging by a distributor eager to keep the franchise alive.
I can report some forward progress on the movie version of The Host, Meyer’s first adult novel which she optioned last fall to producers Nick Wechsler and Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz–the trio behind the terrific screen adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Steve Schwartz tells me that Andrew Niccol is working on the third draft of a screenplay which he’s writing in close consultation with the author. The Australian-born Niccol was once the hottest screenwriter in town after his groundbreaking script The Truman Show, and he has followed by writing visionary films like Gattaca and most The City That Sailed—the latter is a project that Will Smith has been attached to for more than a year. Still, Niccol wouldn’t qualify as the hottest director in town and would normally get overlooked for such a plum project. He originally wrote The City That Sailed as a directing vehicle. But Smith, who’d play a New York-based father with a London-based daughter who misses him so much that it causes her seaside town to break away and float toward Gotham, brought on his I Am Legend director Francis Lawrence, until the filmmaker jumped to direct Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz in Water for Elephants for Fox 2000. Fox is now looking for another filmmaker.
Because the producers used their own money, they were not hostage to choosing the flavor of the moment, but rather the right guy. Schwartz said the search went like this: “We asked Stephenie what her favorite science fiction movies were, and one of them was Gattaca,” he sald. “We spent time with Andrew, listened to his vision, introduced Andrew to Stephenie and she responded. There is very good chemistry in this group. Stephenie is a very smart collaborator, and she had an intuitive strong hunch he would be the right guy. Based on the script we’ve seen, we think she was right. We’re thinking this will be shot in early 2011.” They haven’t gone out for production financing—they might put together a cast first and come to the table with a complete package. But Meyer is a viable brand because of Twilight, and based on the incessant inquiries by distributors, Schwartz doesn’t think they will have trouble. “We are budgeting right now,” he said.
The Host is a love story set in the near future, when the Earth has been overrun by benevolent alien parasites that call themselves “souls” and take over the consciousness of humans. The book is about a “soul” called Wanderer, which fuses with a dying woman named Melanie Stryder, bent on discovering the whereabouts of the last pocket of surviving humans. Wanderer, a veteran assimilator, struggles with the dogged determination of the woman to retain her identity and values.