Picture this: it’s 2008. You’re at the movie theater, and a trailer comes on for a blue-tinted film about vampires. Wait, is that the guy from Harry Potter? Hmm, you’re intrigued. A google search for Twilight provides information on Stephanie Meyer and a cast list of mostly newbies. A trip to Barnes & Noble may have to happen sometime soon.
Although Twilight was initially published in 2005, it had a very niche fandom of die-hard book lovers who searched bookstores for the lesser-known books. At the time, Paramount Pictures had optioned the film adaptations, but in the end, their final product was wildly different from the books. It wasn’t until a couple of years later when Twilight fell into the hands of a small production company called Summit Entertainment. Catherine Hardwicke was hired on as director and Mellissa Rosenburg became the scriptwriter. What was supposed to be an indie Sundance Fesitval film quickly became a full-blown blockbuster success.
Meyer had initially announced the plans for Midnight Sun in 2008, around the time the first Twilight film was being made. She has even admitted to providing Hardwicke and Robert Pattinson with rough drafts of the novel so that they could better understand Edward as a character. However, twelve chapters of the draft leaked on August 28, 2008, forever changing the way Meyer would look at writing Edward’s point of view of Twilight. Meyer has since stated that she tried to return to the novel numerous times over the years, but various things kept coming up, keeping her from finishing the novel. Flash-forward to twelve years later, I had those same initial feelings of wonder and excitement for Twilight when Meyer finally announced Midnight Sun was coming out in August 2020.
Between 2008 and 2020, the bulk of Twilight tweens had grown up. We grew from being love-struck, vampire-and-werewolf-loving kids to adults with full-blown careers, degrees, and families of our own. But I can definitely say I wasn’t prepared for how excited I would be for Midnight Sun. I’m sure many fans were disappointed when Meyer announced that she just couldn’t finish the book at the time it was leaked. I’m sure many of us had even forgotten about it. But Midnight Sun prompted me to reread the entire series—something I hadn’t done since I was in high school. Besides that, the Twilight Saga returned to television last year with channels playing the entire series on loop. TikTok blew up with creators using clips and sounds of Twilight‘s most iconic moments. Actor Brody Wellmaker began teaching us all “how to be the main character” with his spoofs of Kristen Stewart’s intense characterization of Bella Swan. And most importantly: fans convinced Netflix to bring back the saga to the platform permanently. In hindsight, Meyer couldn’t have released Midnight Sun at a more perfect time.
A year after Midnight Sun finally made it into the hands of Twilight fans everywhere, it is undeniable the effect the surprise release had on pop culture. Twilight has long been a joke to both fans and haters alike. Pattinson has expressed his disdain for playing Edward, and truthfully, who doesn’t love the quirky variations of the name Renesmee? The release of the long-awaited fifth Twilight novel truly revived the fandom for not only OG fans but for new fans who were perhaps toddlers when the series came out. It will be interesting to see the ebb and flow of the series in these next few years. Harry Potter has stuck around for decades, and perhaps Midnight Sun was exactly what the Twilight fandom needed to make its comeback.
How did the surprise release of Midnight Sun affect your life? Did you find yourself devouring the series all over again, or did you not care because you had grown past the YA feel of the books? Let us know in the comments!