As far as movies adapted from young adult novels go, 2013 was both a really great and a really awful year. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was one of the biggest blockbusters in theaters during a year of many great big budget films. It also swooped in at the last minute and stole the title of highest grossing film of the year from Iron Man 3, netting $409.4 million in just under 50 days at the box office. However, on the opposite side of the spectrum, many films adapted from YA novels did incredibly poorly at the box office: Beautiful Creatures, The Host, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. In 2013 we saw incredible success and incredible failure when it comes to movie adaptations, but it certainly wasn’t the last year of Hollywood attempting to bring YA novels to the big screen.
Since we ended 2013 on such a high note with Catching Fire, which was both a success in terms of box office sales as well as staying true to the book, it’s hard not to be optimistic about 2014. Catching Fire seems to have renewed fans expectations of their favorite novels being turned into movies. It’s no longer guaranteed that the film adaptation will be horrible–although, statistically speaking, it’s still likely. However, with so many more films debuting in 2014 that are adapted from YA novels, we might be able to take what we learned in 2013 and predict how the films will do this year. (I am by no means a movie scientist–no matter how much I wish that were an actual profession–and I’m merely making semi-educated guesses here.)
Book by: Richelle Mead
Release Date: February 14
As a society, we’re pretty much past the vampire trend (dystopian futuristic civilizations are all the rage in young adult novels now) since the Twilight Saga movie series wrapped up in 2012. Vampires are doing a little better on TV with The Vampire Diaries, True Blood, and The Originals–but even those series are falling by the wayside of witches, superheroes, and sci-fi. However, Vampire Academy might usher in a vampire resurgence in Hollywood. The film was directed by Mark Waters, who also directed Mean Girls, and the script was penned by Daniel Waters, who also wrote Heathers. Vampire Academy follows Rose Hathaway (Zoey Deutch) and her best friend Lissa Dragomir (Lucy Fry). Rose is a dhampir, half human half vampire, who are protectors of the Moroi (Lissa is a Moroi,) peaceful vampires living mostly removed from human society.
Prediction: If the team behind Vampire Academy can strike the perfect balance between timeless teen movie and vampire horror flick, they could have a serious box office hit on their hands–or at the very least, a cult success.
Book by: Veronica Roth
Release Date: March 21
Called the next coming of The Hunger Games series, Divergent already had a lot of buzz around it during San Diego Comic Con last year. The film is based on Veronica Roth’s successful trilogy following Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), who attempts to find her place within a futuristic society living in Chicago. The civilization is broken down into five factions–Abnegation, Erudite, Dauntless, Amity, and Candor–which represent different characteristics. There is another type of person, though, one that doesn’t fit into any one faction: the Divergent. When Tris finds out she is Divergent, her life gets very complicated.
Prediction: Fans of the book series can tell you Divergent has very little in common with The Hunger Games, but we also hope the film will be just as successful as Suzanne Collins’ series. Though both the director, Neil Burger, and co-script writer Evan Daugherty, are relatively unknown, it’s Vanessa Taylor’s hand in the script that has me most hopeful. Taylor has worked on Game of Thrones, Everwood, and Alias. Also, the March premiere date shows the studio has at least some faith in Divergent, which is a good sign.
Book by: John Green
Release Date: June 6
Given the popularity of John Green both online with his vlog and in the book world with his successful YA novels, fans were bound to get a film adaptation sooner or later. The Fault in Our Stars is a love story between Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) and Augustus “Gus” Waters (Ansel Elgort.) Hazel and Gus meet in a cancer support group and change each others lives. Between Green’s fantastic understanding of teenagers in love and his extraordinarily relatable characters, The Fault in Our Stars has become a modern YA classic.
Prediction: The fans of The Fault in Our Stars are extremely enthusiastic about the book, and it will be hard to please them. But if Green has anything to do with the film, there’s a good chance it will be a fantastic adaptation. Director Josh Boone has very few other credits to his name, so it’s hard to predict how he’ll direct the film. However, a release date at the beginning of the summer is a really good sign for The Fault in Our Stars.
Book by: Lois Lowry
Release Date: August 15
Although technically a children’s novel, The Giver fits in with the other dystopian films released in 2014. Set in a futuristic utopia The Giver follows Jonas, a young boy who is chosen to be the next Receiver of Memory. When Jonas meets the previous receiver, the Giver, he learns about what life was like before their society eliminated pain and strife by converting to Sameness. During his time with the Giver, Jonas realizes that his supposedly utopian society only sustains itself on the people’s lack of knowledge. At the end of the book, Jonas must make a choice to stay with the society and keep all its secrets or abandon everything he’s known in search of a life full of color, choices, love, knowledge and possibly danger. The book won the 1994 Newbery Medal and was added to many middle school reading lists in the U.S.
Prediction: I was never a fan of The Giver, but it is a much beloved book by many who read it in school. For this reason, I highly doubt the writers and directors will be able to please everyone who loves the novel, though I’ll probably enjoy it. Despite the star-studded cast–Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgard, Taylor Swift, and Jeff Bridges–the movie rests on Brenton Thwaites who will star as Jonas. The mid-August release date doesn’t give me too much hope for the film, since August and September tend to be when studios release movies they don’t have much faith in (see: The Mortal Instruments).
Book by: Gayle Forman
Release Date: August 22
More along the lines of The Fault in Our Stars and The Lovely Bones, If I Stay follows Mia Hall whose family is in a disastrous car accident, which leaves her in a coma. Mia has an out of body experience and watches as her friends and family gather at the hospital where she is being treated. She flashes back to moments in her life as she must decide whether she wants to cling to life or let go. Chloë Grace Moretz will star in the film as Mia and head up a cast of lesser known actors and actresses. In a year of dystopian sci-fi and action films, If I Stay will stand out amongst the other YA novels adapted to the big screen.
Prediction: Between the director, R.J. Cutler, and the scriptwriter, Shauna Cross, If I Stay has some seriously talented names attached to it. Cutler is a veteran producer in Hollywood and Cross penned the book that Whip It was based on as well as the script for What to Expect When You’re Expecting. However, the August release date is a little worrisome.
Book by: James Dashner
Release Date: September 19
Another young adult dystopian novel being adapted to the screen is The Maze Runner. The book follows Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) who wakes up the the middle of The Glade, a large clearing surrounded by stone walls that are hundreds of feet high. As Thomas starts to get acclimated to life in The Glade, he tries his hand at the various jobs like farming, cooking, and raising livestock. However, soon Thomas finds out that The Glade is in the middle of a giant maze and he wants to help the Runners explore the maze to find a way out. As the first book in James Dashner’s successful young adult series, The Maze Runner is a different twist on the dystopian futuristic setting.
Prediction: I want to like The Maze Runner. I’m a huge fan of O’Brien and he hasn’t steered me wrong yet (unlike some actors and actresses who do not pick the best films to be in.) Also, as I read the book, it seemed to have been written for the screen, but I’m unsure about the director and scriptwriters who signed on to the film. Wes Ball is relatively unknown since he’s only ever directed two short films. Additionally, three people helped write the script: Grant Pierce Myers, T.S. Nowlin, and Noah Oppenheim. None of which have any serious writing credits to their name. Add in the September release date and The Maze Runner might be the most shaky YA release of the year.Suzanne Collins
Release Date: November 21
The third film in The Hunger Games film series, Mockingjay – Part 1 will delve even further into the dystopian society of Panem. After the disastrous ending of Catching Fire which found Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) captured/rescued from the arena with Finnick O’Dair (Sam Claflin) while Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) and Johanna Mason (Jena Malone) were captured by the Capitol. Mockingjay is the final book in the series and the plot shows how Katniss’s small rebellions from The Hunger Games and Catching Fire lead to an all-out war within the districts. Mockingjay is sure to be full of action as Katniss assumes her role as the mockingjay–the leader of the rebellion. Given that I thought the Mockingjay book should have been split into two novels, I’m happy to see the movies breaking up the story.
Prediction: Because of the huge turnaround between The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, it might be safe to hope Mockingjay – Part 1 will be fantastic. Francis Lawrence will be returning to direct, though Danny Strong (Jonathan from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Doyle from Mad Men) will replace Simon Beaufoy and Michael Arndt as scriptwriters. Strong wrote Lee Daniel’s The Butler and he will be writing both Part 1 and Part 2 of Mockingjay. Given the star-studded cast, Mockingjay – Part 1 will easily be the young adult movie of the year.
Personally, I’m most looking forward to Vampire Academy, Divergent, The Maze Runner, and Mockingjay since I’ve read and loved those books. With all the potential of the films listed here, it’s quite possible 2014 could be the year of successful film adaptations from young adult novels (finally!)