Summit taps 'Compass' helmer for 'New Moon'

Fresh from an impressive box office performance for “Twilight,” Summit Entertainment has tapped Chris Weitz to direct its sequel, “New Moon.”

Summit made the announcement Saturday, less than a week after it parted ways with “Twilight” director Catherine Hardwicke. The helmer and minimajor had negotiated for two weeks but clashed over Summit’s plan to move quickly into production, with Hardwicke contending that the next installment needed more time for development before lensing starts (Daily Variety, Dec. 8).

“Twilight” screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg is penning the sequel.

“Twilight” has generated domestic grosses of more than $150 million and another $50 million overseas. The vampire thriller’s a ready-made franchise for Summit with the four books in Stephenie Meyer’s series, already selling more than 17 million copies worldwide.

“New Moon” is the second title in the series, and is centered on Edward Cullen leaving Bella Swan in order to keep her safe from other vampires. Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart play the leads in the film.

Summit said production on “New Moon” is scheduled to begin soon, with a release at the end of 2009 or early 2010.

“The extraordinary world that Stephenie has created has millions of fans, and it will be my duty to protect on their behalf the characters, themes and story they love,” Weitz said in a statement.

Weitz most recently wrote and directed New Line’s “The Golden Compass,” which performed adequately domestically with $70 million but was a strong grosser internationally with over $300 million.

Weitz also wrote “About a Boy,” co-wrote “Antz” and produced “American Pie” and “In Good Company.”

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