Director Catherine Hardwicke Exits ‘Twilight’ Franchise

Despite Twilight grossing $138 million in just three weeks at the U.S. box office, the film’s director, Catherine Hardwicke, will not be asked back to direct the sequels.

In more blunt terms, by some accounts, Hardwicke, 53, has been fired by producer Summit Entertainment.

On Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Daily site, a Sunday afternoon report said that Summit has “rejected” the director from helming Twilight’s follow-up, New Moon, because, as an inside source says, Harwicke “was ‘difficult’ and ‘irrational’ during the making of Twilight.”

Never mind that the teen vampire epic adapted from Stephanie Meyer’s popular book series has kicked off what looks to be a promising, lucrative franchise. (Twilight’s production budget is estimated to be $37 million.)

“Summit didn’t like her,” adds another source. “They’re saying the DP [director of photography] Elliot Davis is the one responsible for the film’s sumptuous visual look, that the editor Nancy Richardson had to save the film in post-production, and Summit thought Hardwicke’s [CAA] agent Beth Swofford was alternately ineffectual and hysterical.”

In the meantime, the director, along with actors Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, is on a promotional tour for the film in France.

“To add insult to injury, Hardwicke can now look forward to being grilled by the press for days on end, in front of the cast, about why she’s getting sh*t-canned,” says an insider.

Following the publishing of Deadline Hollywood Daily’s piece yesterday, Summit issued a statement that noted the following: “Summit’s targeted end of 2009 or early 2010 release of the film, New Moon, does not work with Ms. Hardwicke’s required prep time to bring her vision of the film to the big screen. Thus as has been done before with many successful film franchises, the studio will employ a new director for New Moon.”

With Twilight’s initial intake of $70.6 million, Catherine Hardwicke had set an opening weekend box office record for a female director.