YA Films: Dystopian Meets Grounded

Fault in Our Stars, MTI    VS    9780062289841_34df1

The unexpected success of the film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars (unexpected by Hollywood, that is. Librarians saw it coming) has turned producers’ heads to “grounded teen movies,” or “stories that resemble the modern young adult experience.” The real attraction, however, is probably economic, since these films don’t require expensive special effects.

9780385755887_fe810The category is so hot, that a Y.A. novel that won’t be published until January,  All the Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven, (RH/Knopf Young Readers), has not only been optioned, but Elle Fanning is already set to star.

Nevertheless, dystopia will continue to reign in theaters and not just via the sequels to already established hits, The Hunger Games and Divergent.  Coming August 15 is the long-awaited adaptation of the godmother of the genre, The Giver, Lois Lowry’s Newbery Medal-winning novel (Lowry talks about how Y.A. literature has changed since she first published the book in today’s NYT Magazine). Twenty years after her book was first published, Lowry had the fun of appearing on a Comic-Con panel with Jeff Bridges last week (click through to see how happy she looks as Bridges gives her a squeeze).

Close on its heels, The Maze Runner based on the book by James Dasher, (RH/Delacorte, 2009), will arrive on Sept. 19. A new trailer was  released on Tuesday (official Web site — TheMazeRunnerMovie.com)

Following in February, Bridges again stars in a Y.A. film, this time a fantasy, The Seventh Son, based on The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney (HarperCollins/Greenwillow, 2005).  Originally scheduled for release in February, 2013, it has been postponed so often that many began to wonder if it was ever going to arrive, but it now appears that the date is firm. If successful, it could be the beginning of a new franchise. The producers have a plenty of material to draw on, the 13th and final volume in the series is coming in April, 2015.

Looking further ahead, another potential franchise is in the works, with the adaptation of Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave is in the midst of casting. Chloe Grace Moretz is set to star as Cassie Sullivan, a 16-year-old trying to save her brother after a series of alien invasions. Production is scheduled to begin in September.

Moretz has already completed work on the more “grounded” Y.A. movie,  If I Stay, based on the novel by Gayle Forman. Like fellow YA movie star Shailene Woodley, who plays the lead in both the “grounded” The Fault in Our Stars and the dystopian franchise, Divergent, this places Moretz’s feet in both camps. A new trailer was released last week, which amps up the romance over the first one:


The trailer brought new attention to the book’s sequel, Where She Went, (Penguin/Dutton, 2011), which spiked on Amazon’s sales rankings after it was released.

As far as other “grounded” YA titles on the horizon, if one John Green adaptation is a hit, how about another?  His 2008 novel, Paper Towns, is in preproduction with TFIOS actor Nat Wolff signed to star. A release date of 7/31/15 has just been set.

Lionsgate is “close to hiring a director” for an adaptation of Wonder, by R.J. Palacio (RH/Knopf Young Readers). Describing his hopes for it in Hollywood speak, co-president of the company, Erik Feig said, “If Fault is the Love Story of now, Wonder is the Mask of now.”

Two other Y.A. adaptations in the works are less classifiable. Director Edgar Wright has been hired to adapt Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle (Panguin/Dutton, Feb. 2014), which will require some interesting special effects to portray those six-foot tall copulating praying mantises.

Tim Burton is at work on Miss Peregrine’s Home, with the title shortened from the book by Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Pecular Children(Quirk Books, 2011)Eve Green is set to star, with release scheduled for 3/4/16.

For the latest on upcoming movies, check our spreadsheet, EarlyWord, Books to Movies.

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