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The Twilight saga is finally over. I know it seemed like it was never going to happen, but we made it through together, and the hordes who obsessed over sparkly Edward and hairy Jacob for years will have to move on to something else. Conventional wisdom says that next big thing will be Fifty Shades of Grey, the erotic and critically reviled novel currently on its way toward a film adaptation. But could the next Twilight be something good instead-- and already out in theaters?
On the surface Warm Bodies didn't look at all like the heir to Twilight. It's liked by critics, it's primarily a comedy, and it's from director Jonathan Levine, who has made beloved but little-seen movies like The Wackness and 50/50 that mostly appealed to male audiences. But Warm Bodies surprised a lot of people when it opened in theaters this weekend, making a hefty $20 million and topping the box office, which is always a challenge on Super Bowl weekend. As it turns out, the zom-rom-com didn't need to fight for those Super Bowl audiences at all-- it was driven by the power of teen girls.
According to The LA Times, 65% of the Warm Bodies audience was under 25, and 60% of them were female. They were also happy customers, giving the film a B+ CinemaScore. Given that Warm Bodies is a PG-13 romance, and one about a love between a human girl and an undead boy, the Twilight connection seems fairly obvious in retrospect. But Warm Bodies is wry and adventurous where Twilight is brooding and sincere, and reviews indicate it's appealing to a broad base of critics, many of whom probably hated Twilight. It's not all that rare for teen girls to latch on to the same thing that critics do-- The Hunger Games wasn't all that long ago, remember-- but Twilight was so massive it made it easy to believe it would never happen again.
Warm Bodies isn't necessarily the beginning of a new franchise or even that massive a hit, but it's a really encouraging sign for this post-Twilight era-- an indication of how all these endless supernatural romances might result in something actually good. It's also a wonderful victory for Levine, who made the fantastic 50/50 that went completely under seen, and Nicholas Hoult, who will be going full-on action hero in next month's Jack the Giant Slayer.This is one of those rare weekends where the critically beloved movie triumphs over the trashed one (in this case, Bullet to the Head). Enjoy this feeling while it lasts.