Netflix provides viewers with the opportunity to both broaden their horizons and strengthen deeply ingrained partiality toward certain properties. From bringing overlooked gems to the forefront to injecting new vigor into long-finished franchises, the streaming giant has done wonders for both the curious and the wary. Today, though, it seems like the latter have won the day. The first in a wildly popular series of YA adaptations starring Kristen Stewart is making waves on the streamer, easily cracking the Top Ten and doing so on a global scale. If you haven’t guessed which film it is yet, don’t worry. You will in a few seconds.
That’s right: The Kristen Stewart-led Twilight is currently the eighth most popular movie on Netflix worldwide, and it might climb to an even higher spot on the list. It definitely makes sense, especially considering the fact that Twilight hype isn’t completely dead and that Stephanie Meyer is still releasing related material. Honestly, this shouldn’t be surprising at all. In fact, it is probably safer to expect the author to continue to release new books. She has experienced runaway success with these stories so why would she quit if the demand is very clearly still there?
Based on Stephanie Meyer’s wildly popular vampire romance novel of the same name, Twilight first hit theaters in November 2008, receiving lackluster reviews from critics but captivating millions of people regardless and making Kristen Stewart a household name. The success of the film was such that the studio saw the series all the way through, even going the Harry Potter route and halving its final installment to preserve—and prolong—the franchise. It seemed to resonate with die-hards, including recent superstar Tom Holland. The series ran for four books and five film adaptations, with a retelling from Edward Cullen’s perspective releasing in the latter half of last year. Oh, and there is even Twilight-centric episode of Parks and Recreation that actually manages to be funny without taking potshots at the franchise. It features Will Forte as a guest-star and still stands as one of the best episodes the show ever produced.
Even now, over a decade after the first film’s release, people are still talking about the franchise and Kristen Stewart’s performance. Whether the discourse is good or bad is hardly relevant. The idea is that it is still a pretty common talking point. As recently as 2018, Anne Cohen of Refinery29 called it “a powerful, darkly stylish depiction of teen female desire.” Conversely, Marc Savlov of Austin Chronicle said, “I’ve had mosquito bites that were more passionate than this undead, unrequited, and altogether unfun pseudo-romantic riff on Romeo and Juliet.” And then there are people who back-handedly occupied the middle-ground, with Mike Massie of Gone with the Twins saying, “The fact that it’s not completely appalling is perhaps its greatest achievement.”
Here’s the thing: Twilight succeeded to the degree it did because Stephanie Meyer was able to tap into a broad, almost universal appeal. Sure, the target audience seemed to be almost exclusively teenage girls, but the franchise’s growth from bestselling book series into a worldwide phenomenon was helped along by fans of all ages. Part of the reason behind that is Kristen Stewart. As lacking as her performance may have been for some, she absolutely helped drive that appeal home in a way that still deserves appreciation. Not only that, but she has become an even better and more versatile actress since her Twilight days. Not everyone can carry a globally recognized franchise for years, be subjected to the kind of ridicule she endured, and move on to even better things with head held high.
But that is exactly what she did. Like Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart has had a fascinating–and prosperous— post-Twilight career. From starring in the Charlie’s Angels reboot to playing the title role in the 2019 political thriller Seberg, Stewart has expanded the kinds of roles she’s willing to play. Her career, naturally, has benefitted greatly from it. It will exciting to see what kind of performance she will give us next.
So, if you have been itching to revisit the Twilight franchise and did not realize it, now’s your chance to give it another watch. Whether or not you enjoy the franchise or Kristen Stewart, you definitely know multiple people who do.