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El Squibbonator

What happened to YA novel adaptations?

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It wasn't too long ago-- in movie-industry terms-- that adaptations of young-adult novels were the big thing in Hollywood. The Harry Potter movies arguably started it, but the trend really kicked off with the Twilight series in the late 2000s, and the Hunger Games movies shortly afterwards. Once those movies became successful, every studio seemed to want to cash in on the fad, and we got things like The Maze Runner, Divergent, Beautiful Creatures, The Mortal Instruments, and The Giver. Some of them were successful, most weren't, but in the end the YA novel adaptation trend fizzled. The most recent prominent entries in the genre were Artemis Fowl and Chaos Walking. Artemis Fowl was shunted onto Disney+ and panned both by critics and fans of the books, and Chaos Walking doesn't seem to be doing too hot either. 

 

So what happened? We know the trend ended, but why? What killed the YA novel adaptation boom that lasted from the late 2000s to the mid 2010s? Did the public's tastes actually change? Did studios release too many of them at once? Or did the superhero genre just get so big it swallowed up all other PG-13 blockbusters? 

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I think the superhero genre might be too big and seems to be swallowing up the potential of other genres. Well, that's what I think, at least. We need theaters to reemerge so we can see what other kinds of films besides superhero films have a chance at making a dent at the box office.

 

But audiences likely got burned by the reputation of bad YA films. A lot of studios tried to cash in on the trend and failed. The Host, the first Mortal Instruments film, the second Percy Jackson film. Then the three biggest YA series all ended on sour notes (in regard to the quality)--TwilightThe Hunger Games, and Divergent all saw their series end in ways where audiences were like, "aw man it ended in a bit of a whimper."

 

It seems like the YA genre depends on how big the books are. If it's not already a really big deal like Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games were, then there's less of an incentive for people to see it. The zeitgeist always needs to back the film no matter what kind of film it is, and if the zeitgeist isn't there, then there's not much you can do. And there's only so many times you can utilize the same storyline in a way where it's fresh and people want to see it again.

 

Children of Blood and Bone is probably what I call "last chance junction" for big-budget YA.

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31 minutes ago, SLAM! said:

I think the superhero genre might be too big and seems to be swallowing up the potential of other genres. Well, that's what I think, at least. We need theaters to reemerge so we can see what other kinds of films besides superhero films have a chance at making a dent at the box office.

 

But audiences likely got burned by the reputation of bad YA films. A lot of studios tried to cash in on the trend and failed. The Host, the first Mortal Instruments film, the second Percy Jackson film. Then the three biggest YA series all ended on sour notes (in regard to the quality)--TwilightThe Hunger Games, and Divergent all saw their series end in ways where audiences were like, "aw man it ended in a bit of a whimper."

 

It seems like the YA genre depends on how big the books are. If it's not already a really big deal like Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games were, then there's less of an incentive for people to see it. The zeitgeist always needs to back the film no matter what kind of film it is, and if the zeitgeist isn't there, then there's not much you can do. And there's only so many times you can utilize the same storyline in a way where it's fresh and people want to see it again.

 

Children of Blood and Bone is probably what I call "last chance junction" for big-budget YA.

So I believe it was the poor quality of the majority of the YA adaptations from the late 00's to the mid 10's combined with the fact they all felt the same in basic plot structure. I should add that children of blood and bone seems to look to be different due to it's worldbuilding 

Edited by Reddroast
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10 minutes ago, Reddroast said:

So I believe it was the poor quality of the majority of the YA adaptations from the late 00's to the mid 10's combined with the fact they all felt the same in basic plot structure. I should add that children of blood and bone seems to look to be different due to it's worldbuilding 

 

I think it also comes back to the urge that Hollywood has to recycle older themes, story beats, etc. It's an urge that Hollywood has had for decades, and it's an especially noticeable urge when it comes to YA. So if they want to continue with the YA genre, they need to go against the grain and find particularly exceptional YA series that take a different approach to the genre. The days of being able to rely on star power (i.e. Holland and Ridley in Chaos Walking) are dead and gone.

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Do you think we'll ever see another non-superhero IP get a mainstream blockbuster movie adaptation? The Hunger Games is the most recent one I can think of, and it's almost a decade old. 

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37 minutes ago, El Squibbonator said:

Do you think we'll ever see another non-superhero IP get a mainstream blockbuster movie adaptation? The Hunger Games is the most recent one I can think of, and it's almost a decade old. 

Yes. I think it will be a manga adaptation

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I doubt it'll be that. Manga adaptations have never been big hits at the US box office (the most successful one, Alita: Battle Angel, made a little over $400 million and still barely broke even).

 

I actually think the next big thing besides superheroes is going to be video game adaptations. We get Mortal Kombat, and Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City this year, and other titles in the works include Borderlands, Minecraft, Beyond Good and Evil, Space Invaders, Saints Row and Gears of War. 

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Maybe, but you'd think that would encourage studios to find more books to adapt that the current generation is reading. After all, the trend survived the transition from Harry Potter to Twilinght, and from Twilight to The Hunger Games. 

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None of the properties Hollywood attempted making the next Twilight or Hunger Games (both of which also managed to appeal to audiences that never read the books) ever had the buzz or fan bases as those titles did even on the page, and while some managed to catch some attention like The Maze Runner (which were cheap enough that they didn't need to make massive amounts of money to be profitable) and, at least initially, Divergent (whose last movie flopped so badly that the story was left unfinished - and, according to an interview with her, nearly drove Woodley to quit acting until Big Little Lies came along), the rest were all certified flops, and so studios gave up.

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