You can rely upon…all right, strongly consider the following in the matter of Summit’s dismissal of director Catherine Hardwicke off the next two Twilight movies, New Moon and Eclipse:

Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke, star Robert Pattinson

(a) Whatever actually happened, Summit’s image has gone from that of a suddenly successful and very formidable indie player with a hot franchise into a greedy, money-grubbing, mob-styled operation looking to grab those upcoming Twilight bucks as fast as possible, and in order to get their mitts on the moolah hubba-hubba were willing to do without (and this is me talking here) that angular sensitivity and teenage-girl verisimilitude that Hardwicke brought to Twilight and, now that I think of it, Thirteen.

(b) Summit wants the next installment, New Moon, out by late ’09 or early ’10, meaning it would have to shoot sometime in the spring or early summer, or three or four months from now. In her exclusive report on the Hardwicke whacking, Nikki Finke described this schedule as “ridiculously speeded-up.” You can be sure that Hardwicke, whatever her shortcomings, wanted…okay, more money, I’m sure, but also more time in order to fine-tune all the elements and bring them to a fine point. Studios always just want the money, fast and hot; directors, obviously, understand that putting out a feature that feels even a little bit slapdash will play hell with their rep and legacy.

(c) Say what you will about Hardwicke’s personality, directing chops and political skills — the honest, true-to-life teenage-girl in the throes of emotional upheaval vibe in Thirteen and Twilight felt very similar to me. They seemed, in fact, nearly one and the same. And this, for me, is what makes Twilight work as well as it does — what gives it resonance and vertisimilitude. (Credit for this aspect is also due to Melissa Rosenberg‘s screenplay. And the film itself is greatly enhanced by Elliot Davis‘s cinematography and Nancy Richardson‘s editing.)

Hardwicke, original Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, star Kristen Stewart

The Hardwicke shit-canning just seems…I don’t know, Sopranos-y. Like some kind of coarse James Gandolfini clip job. And that doesn’t seem at all fitting or appropriate for a very feminine property and franchise like this one. Twilight is a young woman’s story, written by a young woman, made for young women. It obviously needed and benefitted from the hand of a sharp and, as far it goes, sensitive female director. And it just feels wrong and brutish for Summit to have clipped Hardwicke, given the vibe and the imprint that she brought to Twilight . Somebody needs to find out what really really happened.

(d) This comment from “realworldperson,” a Finke reader says it correctly: “To quote Robert Evans, ‘There are three sides to every story: my side, your side, and the truth.’ I’m sure [that Hardwicke’s [temperamental nature had something to do] with letting her go. But how many male directors are assholes or crazy? And how many are dragged through the press like this after a huge hit? When men are crazy or abrasive they are celebrated, and a woman is shrill [and called unstable and gotten rid of]. She should fire CAA for this, especially if Summit goes with a CAA client.”

(e) And this one: “Try and read Twilight. It’s crap. Hardwicke had no budget, a silly script adapted from a silly book, two wooden actors, and she turned it into a hit. Is it a great film? No, but it’s fine, It’s serviceable. And they owed her more than to fire her now. (They should have paid her off after the European p.r. tour wrapped.)”

Hardwicke, Stewart

(f) That said, a more negative Finke reader comment adds context: (a) “She was a nightmare on Nativity — unprofessional, prone to crying outbursts, and seemingly lacking even the most basic understanding of filmmaking. This has nothing to do with gender, and everything to do with her lack of talent.” — written by “ex-New Liner.

(g) And especially this one, posted by “the sad truth“: “Hardwicke has had it coming for years. I have heard from producers who have worked with her that she is quite possibly the worst human being they’ve ever had the displeasure of working with. That’s why Wyck Godfrey was brought on to the movie — he somehow was able to tame the beast while she directed their Bible loser movie, so Summit paid him to babysit. Why she continues to work amazes me. Julie Taymor is the same but at least she has talent. The sad truth is that there are few working women directors and these two do nothing to make producers want to hire the fairer sex and put them behind the camera. But I hear Darnell Marin, who directed the awesome Cadillac Records, is very talented and that talent loves working with her. Then of course there’s the obvious double standard. Michael Bay‘s an asshole too but you don’t see him on the unemployment line, do you? Hollywood creeps me out sometimes.”

Here, also, is HE’s Moises Chiullan on the Hardwicke dismissal.