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Opening Soon! The Next Big Thing in YA Movie Adaptations

2012 October 15
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YALSA’s upcoming YA Literature Symposium will explore the future of young adult literature. The symposium begins on November 2nd, but we wanted to get a head start here at The Hub, so we’re devoting October to 31 Days of the Next Big Thing. Each day of the month, we’ll bring you forecasts about where YA literature is headed and thoughts on how you can spot trends and predict the future yourself.

Hollywood trends have similar patterns to book trends; they come in waves. Based on the megawatt success of the Big Three — Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games — Hollywood is increasingly looking to YA books for their next big blockbuster. But even this larger trend has spawned smaller waves:

But Hollywood is a notoriously fickle creature. Many books’ film rights have been snatched up by studios, only have the projects stall permanently at the dreaded “in development” stage. It’s difficult to gauge what will actually make it to the screen; even less predictable is how well these movies will do. While Hollywood is still riding the previous waves, they’re also placing bets on three other areas, hoping for the next big blockbuster.

The Great Backlist

It shouldn’t be surprising that Hollywood is looking at classic YA books for new projects, and it certainly is exciting. Built-in fan bases have been waiting years, sometime decades, for the film version, making them very attractive to movie studios.

  • Judy Blume’s classic Tiger Eyes has already been filmed with a screenplay co-written by her and her son. Currently it’s making the film festival circuit with a potential 2012 release date.
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card finished filming this summer with an expected release date in November 2013. (Check out the production diary on Tumblr for periodic updates.)
  • Sweet Valley High has already been adapted for TV, but now the Wakefield twins get their chance at the big screen with a screenplay by Diablo Cody.

Contemporary Means Now

  • Longtime fans of Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower were not disappointed when the movie version opened earlier this month. Boasting an impressive cast including Harry Potter alumna Emma Watson and Percy Jackson himself, Logan Lerman, Perks is garnering critical acclaim and hopefully paving the way for more contemporary stories that focus on personal conflicts. This genre of YA literature has seen an explosion in high quality and high appeal titles, but movie development remains slow.
  • cover for The Fault in Our StarsJohn Green has been burned by Hollywood before. Film rights for his debut, Looking for Alaska (2006 Printz Award), were bought, but the project stalled indefinitely. Rights for his latest, The Fault in Our Stars (2012 Teens’ Top Teen nominee), sold quickly and the project already has a producer and a promising first draft of a screenplay. Keep your fingers crossed for this one.
  • Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohen and David Levithan (2012 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults) and If I Stay by Gayle Forman (2010 Teens’ Top Teen) are also in development, looking to keep the momentum going.

Steal Borrow From the Classics

Easy A is easily one of my favorite movies of all time (right up there with The Princess Bride and The Big Lebowski). Besides starring the hilarious Emma Stone, it also updated the classic novel The Scarlett Letter for a modern teenage audience. This isn’t all that new to Hollywood. Clueless is a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma and Ten Things I Hate About You gave a new spin to Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.

  • Kenneth Oppel’s This Dark Endeavor (2012 Teens’ Top Teen nominee), a retelling of Frankenstien, will keep this tradition going as movie rights have recently sold.
  • The latest version of The Wizard of Oz is also headed for theaters in spring 2013 in Oz: The Great and Powerful, starring James Franco.

As more YA literature is being optioned, Hollywood is realizing that readers and movie audiences want even more films based on their favorite books. What are your favorite YA books that haven’t made it to the big screen yet?

— Amanda Margis, currently reading Every Day by David Levithan and listening to Making Money by Terry Pratchett

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One Response
  1. Becky permalink
    October 15, 2012

    Great list! Thanks for bringing my attention to some I hadn’t realized were in the works. Tiger Eyes?! Be still my heart!

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