By Piya Sinha-Roy
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Twilight" fans bid an emotional farewell this week to Bella, Edward and Jacob in "Breaking Dawn-Part 2," the romantic book and movie franchise that ignited a pop culture infatuation with blood-sucking vampires and werewolves.
The tumultuous love triangle between human girl Bella Swan, vampire Edward Cullen and werewolf Jacob Black, that has gripped avid fans known as "Twi-hards" for seven years, comes to a tantalizing end as "Breaking Dawn-Part 2" hits movie theaters around the world.
The "Twilight" film franchise, based on a series of novels by Stephenie Meyer, rocketed the three main stars, Kristen Stewart (Bella), Robert Pattinson (Edward) and Taylor Lautner (Jacob), into the spotlight and the first four films have grossed more than $2.5 billion at the worldwide box office.
For director Bill Condon, who shot both parts of "Breaking Dawn" together and split into two movies post-production, the fifth and final film was all about the fans - who get a surprise twist to the ending.
"The real challenge was to make sure it was a satisfying climax," Condon told reporters. "The film opens with an overture of all the main scenes from all five movies, and at the end, I...brought (it) back to the spirit of the old movies."
The movie pays homage to the angst-ridden teenage romance between Bella and Edward that was underscored by the off-screen real-life romance between Stewart, 22, and Pattinson, 26.
"Breaking Dawn-Part 2" shifts the action from a love story to a family story, as the Cullen clan recruit their extended vampire family to protect Bella and Edward's daughter Renesmee from an ancient vampire coven.
"I think it's very sweet, especially the ending of it, I think it's very close to the book as well. It seems to be that it's really made for the fans," Pattinson told Reuters.
GOING OFF BOOK
While the past four films have stayed true to the books, author Meyer and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg came up with a plot twist that adds a major scene that may surprise movie-goers.
"(The action) is off screen in the novel because we only see what Bella sees, and this was just a way of making visual what some of the other characters might have seen," Meyer told reporters.
"It does feel very surprising. There's something new to see but to me it doesn't seem like it's going hugely off the page," she added.
While the fourth film saw Bella's human life draw to a conclusion when she died giving birth to a human-vampire hybrid baby with new husband Edward, "Breaking Dawn-Part 2," sees Bella as a mother and a newly-transformed vampire.
"The coolest thing about vampire Bella is that I got to play her as a human for so long, and the special parts of each vampire are always informed by the great things that they were as a human and so I got to walk in those shoes," Stewart told Reuters.
"Everything made total sense to me. I waited for so long (to play a vampire), once I finally got it, it was so comfortable, I couldn't wait," the actress added.
"The Twilight Saga," first published in 2005, kicked off a wave of vampire or supernatural-themes books, films and TV shows including HBO's "True Blood," the CW TV network's "The Vampire Diaries" and Richelle Mead's "Vampire Academy" series of young adult novels.
As the sun sets on the franchise Meyer brought to life, the author said that while she didn't rule out the possibility of finding more stories in the vampire-werewolf universe, she had closed the chapter on the Cullens.
"I don't know if I'll ever get back to these (stories). Someday I'll write down what was going to happen next. It's sad knowing I don't have another party with the kids again, I really hope I have a chance to at least see my friends again," she told Reuters.
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy, editing by Jill Serjeant and Marguerita Choy)