Well, well, well… Summit Entertainment thought it could get one over on the Twilight Saga fans. After all, one red-headed actress is interchangeable with another, right? But the studio’s gambit failed when Rachelle Lefevre who was recast after starring in the franchise’s first two films enlisted fan support against Summit when the studio hired Bryce Dallas Howard (Ron Howard’s daughter) in the role. Ouch! (See LeFevre’s statement and Summit’s response below.) Here’s the problem: once a studio lets the fans into the filmmaking process, it’s impossible to keep them out. And that’s been the situation with Summit and its lucrative Twilight Saga franchise from the start. The studio courted the Twilight fans ever since Summit saw 1,500 Twilighters lined to meet Stephenie Meyer at a book-signing in Pasadena. It’s why Summit made the vampire romance into a movie when Paramount passed. It’s why the first film in what was to become the studio’s uber-valuable franchise succeeded. But then things got hinky. When I broke the news that director Catherine Hardwicke was being replaced on the sequel New Moon, fans were in an uproar. Eventually, they calmed down — but only because new pick Chris Weitz began talking directly to the Twilighters. And kept talking, ad nauseum. Very few directors do that. Either they’re too arrogant to care, or they don’t want pander (which it is). But now Summit is stuck with a bunch of buttinskis who feel as if they have ownership in the franchise. They expect to be consulted about every decision. There had been talk about recasting Taylor Lautner for New Moon because the part was brawnier and, by comparison, the actor was a pipsqueak. (He plays a 7-foot-tall werewolf.) But the fans rebelled. So, helped by a growth spurt and intensive training, Taylor held on to the role. Now, like Hardwicke’s replacement, Lefevre’s ouster is a fait accompli without any fan input. And with the actess pushing back about being pushed out, a PR nightmare for the studio:

Rachelle Lefevre gave this statement “exclusively” to several media outlets:

“I was stunned by Summit’s decision to recast the role of Victoria for Eclipse. I was fully committed to the Twilight saga, and to the portrayal of Victoria. I turned down several other film opportunities and, in accordance with my contractual rights, accepted only roles that would involve very short shooting schedules.

“My commitment to Barney’s Version is only 10 days. Summit picked up my option for Eclipse. Although the production schedule for Eclipse is over three months long, Summit said they had a conflict during those 10 days and would not accommodate me. Given the length of filming for Eclipse, never did I fathom I would lose the role over a 10-day overlap. I was happy with my contract with Summit and was fully prepared to continue to honor it. Summit chose simply to recast the part.

“I am greatly saddened that I will not get to complete my portrayal of Victoria for the Twilight audience. This is a story, a theatrical journey and a character that I truly love and about which I am very passionate. I will be forever grateful to the fan support and loyalty I’ve received since being cast for this role, and I am hurt deeply by Summit’s surprising decision to move on without me. I wish the cast and crew of Eclipse only the very best.”

Summit Entertainment’s response:

We at Summit Entertainment are disappointed by Rachelle Lefevre’s recent comments which attempt to make her career choices the fault of the Studio. Her decision to discuss her version of the scheduling challenges publicly has forced the Studio to set the record straight and correct the facts.

Ms. Lefevre’s representatives were advised as early as April that THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE was expected to start shooting in early August.

If Ms. Lefevre was, as she describes “passionate,” about being part of THE TWILIGHT SAGA, we feel that she and her representatives would have included us in her decision to work on another film that would conflict with the shooting schedule of THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE.

It was not until July 20th that Summit was first informed of Ms. Lefevre’s commitment to BARNEY’S VERSION, a commitment we have since been advised she accepted in early June. Summit had acted in good faith that she would be available to fulfill her obligations both in terms of rehearsals and shooting availability for THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE. We feel that her choice to withhold her scheduling conflict information from us can be viewed as a lack of cooperative spirit which affected the entire production.

Furthermore Ms. Lefevre took a role in the other film that places her in Europe during the required rehearsal time, and at least ten days of THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE’s principal photography. This period is essential for both rehearsal time with the cast, and for filming at key locations that are only available during the initial part of production.

Contrary to Ms. Lefevre’s statement, it is simply untrue that the Studio dismissed her over a ten day overlap. It is not about a ten day overlap, but instead about the fact that THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE is an ensemble production that has to accommodate the schedules of numerous actors while respecting the established creative vision of the filmmaker and most importantly the story.

The fact remains that Ms. Lefevre’s commitment to the other project – which she chose to withhold from Summit until the last possible moment – makes her unfortunately unavailable to perform the role of Victoria in THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE.

Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.

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