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The Big Picture

She's gone? No, she's on

March 21, 2009|PATRICK GOLDSTEIN

You may remember that the last time we wrote about Catherine Hardwicke back in December, it was to lament the news that the gifted filmmaker, after delivering a lucrative franchise starter to Summit Entertainment in the form of "Twilight," was being pushed aside, with Summit moving ahead on a sequel to the hit film without her. It's fair to say that Hardwicke had her own doubts about continuing with the series.

Nonetheless, the fallout from the news -- with fans voicing complaints about the franchise losing its top creative voice, not to mention its top female voice outside of author Stephenie Meyer -- made it look like a very unhappy parting of the ways.

But life, and Hollywood in particular, is full of surprises. Guess what? Hardwicke has just signed on to direct a new film, "If I Stay," with -- ahem -- Summit Entertainment. Rumors have been swirling for weeks but Summit has now made it official: Hardwicke will direct the adaptation of Gayle Forman's upcoming novel, which will hit the stores later this spring from Dutton Children's Books.

The novel is the story of Mia, a young classical musician and her indie-rock boyfriend, whose relationship is upended when Mia is badly injured in a car accident with her family. She watches the events unfold as she nears death, trying to decide whether she wants to continue living or not.

Much of the credit for the reconciliation goes to Erik Feig, Summit's head of production, who, after securing the book's film rights in a bidding war, realized that Hardwicke was the filmmaker best suited to handle the emotion-laden story.

"Catherine is the first and only filmmaker we considered to direct 'If I Stay,' a book we are as crazy about as we were about 'Twilight,' " he says. "Catherine has an amazing ability to capture the youth experience. She can make the fantastical relatable and the ordinary magical. We'd never try to re-create past history, but we are thrilled about trying to re-create the environment and passion that made our last success possible."

This sort of reconciliation often happens with big stars and filmmakers, who, after years of working together, have a falling-out over a flop then belatedly discover -- usually after a few more flops -- that they have more creative chemistry together than when they're apart. Reunions between filmmakers and studios happen less often, since there's often too much dirty water under the bridge.

On the other hand, even though Michael Mann drove everyone at Universal stone crazy going wildly over schedule while making "Miami Vice," the flop didn't stop the studio and Mann from teaming up again for this summer's "Public Enemies" with Johnny Depp. It just goes to show: In Hollywood, everyone isn't just a dreamer. They're often pragmatists too.

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patrick.goldstein@latimes.com

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