It looks like the The Twilight Saga franchise is taking a leaf out of Harry Potter’s book and splitting into two films. Variety is reporting that studio Summit Entertainment is considering splitting the fourth and last installment of the franchise, Breaking Dawn, into two movies – much like the Harry Potter franchise is doing with its last film, Deathly Hallows.

Sources are saying that the furthest Summit has gone with developing Breaking Dawn is getting Melissa Rosenberg to write the script after writing the first three. Of course, splitting the fourth film into two parts would mean Summit toppers, Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger, having to cut bigger checks (particularly for stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson) – and there’s also the question of whether or not New Moon director, Chris Weitz, will react favorably to overtures from the company and the cast to return and shoot two films back-to-back. He directed New Moon but not the third installment, Eclipse (that gig went to 30 Days of Night helmer, David Slade), but he’s supposedly the top choice to direct Breaking Dawn.

Some issues this raises for Summit are that they need to re-open negotiations with the source books’ author, Stephanie Meyer, as well as with the cast who are currently only locked down for four flicks. With the amount of money New Moon has made so far – $473 million worldwide and counting – I don’t think the hurdle of the stars demanding huge salaries is that big of a deal: cut them their fat checks, as the series has already proven to be an absolute cash-cow. Summit Execs aren’t commenting at this time, but just note this: Variety says the primary cast – Stewart, Pattinson and Taylor Lautner – could end up landing 8-figure salaries!

Another bit of trouble with Weitz is the fact he wants to make his next film a smaller one, entitled The Gardener, also at Summit. With the “go go go!” mentality of shooting the Twilight franchise (they already finished shooting the third before the second was released!), I think Summit will want Weitz to postpone The Gardener to work on Breaking Dawn, so the studio can have the film in the can ASAP (unsurprisingly they haven’t closed the deal on The Gardener yet).

Chris Weitz directing on set of New Moon

Clearly, Summit wants Weitz desperately, evident by sources saying the job’s his if he wants it. Will Weitz postpone his considerably smaller film to do Breaking Dawn? Well, he DID usher New Moon toward amazing financial success (satisfying at least the fans of the books to no end, even if the rest of us were left out of the loop), and reportedly he felt its success redeemed and reinvigorated him after the way New Line messed around with his other fantasy adaptation, The Golden Compass.

Personally, I see breaking the last Twilight film into two parts as nothing more than trying to milk as much money out of the franchise as possible. Of course, the movie business IS a business, but I must admit I don’t like that they’re dragging this thing out. I like the first Twilight, I didn’t really care for the second (you had to be a fan of the book, I felt) and am not really excited to see anymore. It may work fine for the last Harry Potter (I’ve heard the last book is pretty “heavy,” warranting a split for the movie), but in this case, beyond money, there’s no reason to do it IMO.

I just KNOW I’m going to get berated by Twilight fans saying the fourth book is deep enough to warrant two movies… Sigh…

Do you think Breaking Dawn should be split into two movies or do you agree it’s just the studio [milking the franchise for all it’s worth? Any fans of the books out there think a split is warranted? Do you think New Moon director, Chris Weitz, should return to direct after not directing Eclipse?

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is set to hit theaters just next summer, on June 30th, 2010. There’s no release date been set for Breaking Dawn as of yet.

Source: Variety