Summit is a small outfit — or was, before Twilight — and so I can see why there would be a temptation to milk a teen franchise for all it is worth. On the other end of the spectrum you could try to make Art, but from Twilight? What’s the point?

So check your sense of surprise at the door for the news that Summit has fast-tracked the sequel New Moon for a November 20, 2009 release date. What better way to celebrate the first birthday of your cheap, moneymaking franchise debut than with a more expensive and time-consuming sequel? Here’s to shooting a first draft!

Not long ago, Catherine Hardwicke had outlined her theoretical approach to New Moon, and one of the key points was time to get the film right. If this date holds fast the obvious conclusion is that Summit doesn’t give two shits about getting it right; they know first weekend is the bottom line. Makes some of the studio’s claims with respect to firing Hardwicke (she’s difficult to work with, etc) ring hollow. EW’s piece quotes an unnamed studio suit on that subject: “You’d have to have a very high standard for art, hate the movie business, and hate ­money to walk off this sequel.”

The offer is out to Chris Weitz to direct the sequel, but nothing is official yet, nor is there confirmation on the proposal to shoot the second and third films back to back. EW also reports that Summit wants to lose Taylor Lautner, the young actor from the first film who played Jacob, the character that becomes a beefy werewolf love interest in the second.

I can’t wait to see how this plays out now. As if the subject wasn’t tiring enough, now we’ve got enough bottom of the barrel tactics going into play to make Fox’s efforts look respectable. At this rate I could see Summit making the final film Phantasm IV style, building it with as many outtakes from the previous movies as possible.