The Host: Dawn of a new trilogy

SPLIT PERSONALITY: Irish actress Saoirse Ronan plays a woman whose body is occupied by an alien being in The Host.
SPLIT PERSONALITY: Irish actress Saoirse Ronan plays a woman whose body is occupied by an alien being in The Host.

Author Stephenie Meyer is hoping her vampire fans will be willing to step into a new world and embrace aliens as the first film of her new book series, The Host, hits the big screens this week.

Fans of the successful Twilight Saga box office franchise have been eagerly anticipating Meyer's next offering on the big screen with The Host released in New Zealand on Thursday and the United States on Friday. But Meyer, at the film's red carpet premiere in Los Angeles last week, says the new film may not be what fans of the popular vampire series expect from her.

"If [fans] go into it wanting a repeat of Twilight they probably will not be thrilled, because it is not. It is a very different kind of story," Meyer says.

"I think if they are willing to go on a new ride with me and try out something a little different than I think they will really like it."

The Host is directed and adapted for the screen by Kiwi film-maker Andrew Niccol from Paraparaumu. Niccol, who has been based in the United States for several years, has had a successful career as a director and screenwriter since his Hollywood debut with Gattaca in 1997. He was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay for The Truman Show in 1998. His 2011 film In Time starring Justin Timberlake, made US$173 million at the box office.

"Philosophically, it's a great story," Niccol told reporters at the premiere. "It's more than just romantic love, which is what Stephenie has done before. It's about a greater love. It's about whether we can co-exist amongst ourselves, and even with [another] species." Niccol says he is interested making a sequel to the film, but has to wait until Meyer has written the rest of a planned trilogy for The Host.

"I'd love to be involved in the sequel. It's supposed to be a trilogy. But Stephenie needs to start writing these books."

The five Twilight films focused on a love story between a vampire and a human and grossed more than US$3.3 billion at the global box office.

The films, which attracted a devoted teenage following, launched lead stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner into A-list fame.

The Host, adapted from Meyer's novel of the same name, explores a post-apocalyptic world where alien beings called Souls invade Earth and take over human bodies and minds, causing conflicting emotions between the two beings in the same body.

Meyer has already said that she has plots in mind for follow-on books and hoped this would become a trilogy, which would open the way for sequel films.

In The Host, Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, 18, - who starred in Sir Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones - plays human Melanie Stryder who is taken over by a Soul called Wanda.

Ronan, an Oscar nominee for her Atonement role, says she enjoyed the challenge of switching between two personalities.

"I really enjoyed playing Melanie because the majority of the film I am playing Wanda, who is quite a pure, serene and understanding character."

British actor Max Irons, 27, the son of Irish actress Sinead Cusack and English actor Jeremy Irons, plays Melanie's love interest Jared Howe.

He says the film's complex story touched many different genres, appealing to more than just Twilight fans. "It is a science fiction movie at heart, it is a story of human survival. Yes, it has the romance, but I think it has a lot more for a lot of different people," said Irons.


The Host opens on March 28.