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Twilight: Why The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner Was Never Adapted

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner was a Twilight spinoff novella released at the height of the saga’s popularity, so why was it never adapted?

Although the book was a bestseller upon its 2010 release, there is a good reason that the Twilight saga spinoff novella The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner never received a movie adaptation. It is notoriously tricky for movie studios to capitalize on pop culture phenomenon that are popular among teenagers. For every hit franchise that manages to ensnare the interest of adult viewers, like The Hunger Games, there are expensive flops whose target audience outgrow the source material before their adaptations can even hit theaters, like the (still-unfinished) Divergent movie series.

The Twilight movies seem to fall in the first camp as, while the franchise never wooed many adult viewers, the adaptations of Stephenie Meyers’ novel saga were financially successful. The Twilight adaptations mostly managed to strike while the series was still popular and make the most of the saga’s success before its target audience aged out of caring about Team Jacob and Team Edward. However, this did mean that the number of Twilight screen adaptations was limited, resulting in the spinoff novella The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner never receiving a movie of its own.


Related: Why Esme Has No Powers In The Twilight Movies

Released in 2010 to coincide with the arrival of Eclipse’s movie adaptation, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner was a brief book that filled in the blanks of the title character’s story. Unfortunately for the eponymous Bree, her second life was sad, short-lived, and bleaker than most of the Twilight saga. Twilight’s adaptation cut numerous major character deaths from its original script to ensure the movie’s story didn’t get too brutal, so it is unlikely that the studio would ever have committed to adapting the grim The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner on the big screen. However, even outside of this tonal imbalance, there are several reasons that the novella was never made into a movie despite being a bestseller at the height of the Twilight saga’s popularity.

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner Explained

Twilight Eclipse book cover refernece

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is a short interquel that explains who Bree Tanner was before her death, rebirth, and subsequent second death. It mostly focuses on the newborn vampire’s doomed romance with Fred, and eventually culminates in her being executed under the Volturi’s orders. Although this act established Twilight’s Volturi as the saga’s biggest and darkest villain, that alone was not enough reason for the novella to merit a standalone movie adaptation. As the title implies, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner didn’t have much plot to cover, and what little story the novella had was deeply depressing. However, that was not the only issue with a proposed adaptation.

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner’s Interquel Problem

Taking place midway through the action of Eclipse, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner was an interquel that focused on a side character at the same time that the main story took place, and the book didn’t add much to Eclipse‘s plot in the way of the story. Interquels, while often fascinating to hardcore audiences, are by design alienating to casual viewers and tend to be the domain of novelizations and straight-to-DVD spinoffs. Eclipse was Twilight’s most underrated movie adaptation precisely because director David Slade trimmed a lot of fat from the source story and made a sharp, fast-paced adaptation of a novel that some critics called languid and plodding. Thus, spending more time on the fate of a minor character would have been antithetical to this aim, and the endeavor was unlikely to be profitable in financial terms as well as artistic terms.

Why The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner Would Be A Bad Movie

Twilight Eclipse Bree Tanner

Twilight‘s audience largely didn’t care enough about Bree Tanner to shell out the price of a cinema ticket for her fate, and the franchise’s creators knew that. Although her actor Jodelle Ferland has impressed viewers both before and since, Bree simply wasn’t all that well fleshed-out. As proven by Rosalie Hale’s dark Twilight backstory, there were more interesting side characters for Eclipse to focus its runtime on, and fans would likely have preferred a spinoff that depicted the Cullen family’s backstories in more detail as opposed to an adaptation of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. A glimpse at the novella’s reviews – both from on the online forum Goodreads and from critics at the time of its release – echo this sentiment. Most of the Twilight fandom was in agreement that Bree Tanner was the last character who needed a self-contained project devoted to them, meaning they would be unlikely to care about a standalone movie following the character’s story.

Related: The Weird Reason Roger Ebert Disliked Twilight: Eclipse

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner Was (Sort Of) Adapted

Twilight Eclipse

Bree’s story is heavily condensed by the frantic action of Eclipse (instead of being elided entirely, like Victoria’s villainous Twilight backstory), but she does appear onscreen for long enough to be established as a tragic figure and to be killed off. As a result, an adaptation of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner would have no reason to exist, since the movie would only serve to retread this territory. The plot was already scarcely diverting enough to sustain a novella, but the fact that its most important moments were already featured in Eclipse’s movie adaptation made any potential movie all the more pointless.

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner Could Still Work (On TV)

A collage of the faces of Bree, Jane, Aro and Benjamin in the Twilight movies

While it may seem as though The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner has no potential as an adaptation, that’s not quite the whole story. Now that Meyers does not intend to expand the Twilight franchise and 2020’s best-selling Twilight retelling Midnight Sun can’t get a movie adaptation, a small-screen reimagining of the novella could reignite interest in the series. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is the only franchise property that could be adapted as a self-contained Twilight-related series without the franchise needing to recast major characters such as Jacob, Bella, and Edward since none of them play major roles in the story. In 2022, at over a decade’s removal from the original pop culture phenomenon, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner could bring new viewers to Twilight without undoing any of the original saga’s impact by telling a new, barely-related story set in the same universe. Whether The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner will ever be adapted remains to be seen, but the Twilight spinoff novella does have potential once the creators steer clear of the big screen.

More: How Twilight Killed Vampire Movies (& How Streaming Saved Them)

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