UPDATE: In a press release tonight, both Summit Entertainment and Catherine Hardwicke jointly announced that Hardwicke will NOT be directing New Moon. She says, "I am sorry that due to timing I will not have the opportunity to direct NEW MOON. Directing TWILIGHT has been one of the great experiences of my life, and I am grateful to the fans for their passionate support of the film. I wish everyone at Summit the best with the sequel-- it is a great story."

Twilight
set a record for the best opening weekend ever achieved by a female-directed movie, but that director, Catherine Hardwicke, won't be able to enjoy it for long. Nikki Finke, at Deadline Hollywood Daily, is claiming inside knowledge that Hardwicke is definitely not being re-hired for the sequel, and that an official announcement from Summit Entertainment is imminent.

Rumors about Summit replacing Hardwicke have been swirling ever since the sequel was officially greenlighted after that $70 million opening weekend. Finke quotes anonymous insiders as saying it was the film's cinematographer and editor who saved Twilight after Hardwicke's mishandling of it; indeed, some people wondered all along if Hardwicke -- whose prior experience was with small, intimate dramas, not vampire movies -- was the right choice.

If it's true that Hardwicke is out -- and Finke claims absolute certainty that it is -- then Summit will have to be careful how it handles replacing her. Getting a man to take her place might send the message that Summit thinks a woman can't adequately direct an action movie, and it would be a setback to an industry where there's already a ridiculous lack of feminine input. As Erik Davis reminded us a couple weeks ago, only 6% of the 250 top-grossing films of 2007 were directed by women. (More stats here.)

Furthermore, while the Twilight books have their action sequences and supernatural elements, they're more focused on relationships and emotions, and they appeal to a mostly female audience -- all of which makes hiring a female director seem even more logical. On the other hand, plenty of good films matching that description have been made by men, too. So maybe the best option is to simply find whoever will do the best job, regardless of gender. But if it comes down to two people who'd be equally good, and one's a man and one's a woman, for heaven's sake, Summit -- choose the woman. Try to save some face here.

Now the question is: Who should replace Hardwicke? Any suggestions from the Twilighters? Or does it matter who directs the film as long as there are lots of close-ups of cute vampire boys?