When it emerged that Kristen Stewart had cheated on Robert Pattinson with married film director Rupert Sanders, millions of young Twilight fans were disabused of the idea that real life could imitate the romantic fantasies they had read about in Stephenie Meyer's books and seen acted out in front of them in the multi-billion dollar film franchise.
Anger followed: fans channelled their rage into YouTube videos and venomous blog posts, the 22-year-old actress the miserable centre of their fury. "I love him, I love him, I'm so sorry," Stewart grovelled to Pattinson, as pictures emerged showing her in the embrace of Sanders, with whom she worked on the recent Snow White and the Huntsman blockbuster.
But now reports have claimed the young actress's indiscretions could have implications for her career, as well as her frequently-intruded personal life. The Hollywood Reporter said that Stewart, in addition to Snow White screenwriter David Koepp, had been dropped from a potential sequel. Instead, a spin-off movie would focus on Australian actor Chris Hemsworth's Huntsman character. "The studio is currently exploring options to continue the franchise," a Universal spokeswoman said.
Such franchises are Hollywood gold-dust. Snow White has grossed $389m (£248m) worldwide, a total that continues to grow, and includes a contribution of more than £15m from British cinemagoers. Universal, the movie's distributor, will be keen to extend its profits. Universal were quick to emphasise that Stewart hadn't been dumped, and that its plans for the franchise are in the development stages. "The studio is pursuing a Huntsman spin-off but exploring all options to continue the franchise," a studio representative told the website Hollywood Elsewhere.
"Nobody has ditched Kristen. No directors attached, no decisions made other than to look at a Huntsman sequel/spin-off."
The furore around Stewart has prompted some critics to claim the actress has been unfairly targeted. Jodie Foster, who befriended Stewart on Panic Room, leapt to her defence. "If I had to grow up in this media culture, I don't think I could survive it emotionally," she wrote in an online post.
Pattinson and Stewart haven't been spotted together since the revelations came out, but they will be forced to endure each other's company for the promotional tour of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 in November. Keen to milk the most out of its top-draw franchise, Summit Entertainment marketing president Nancy Kirkpatrick said its media plans were moving "full steam ahead", ending speculation that the actors would be allowed to avoid awkward red carpet appearances together.
For Pattinson, 26, currently on promotional duties for Cosmopolis, endless questions about his ex-girlfriend have proved torturous. "I've never been interested in trying to sell my personal life," he said in a glum interview. His career prospects are looking up, however. He will follow in Peter O'Toole's footsteps by playing Lawrence of Arabia in Werner Herzog's new picture, Queen of the Desert.