From "The Raven Boys" to "Smoke and Bone," studios scour the young-adult section of the bookstore hoping to find the next big thing
With the "Twilight" saga about to go dark with the release of "Breaking Dawn – Part 2," studios aren't kidding around when it comes to finding the next big-screen blockbuster.
They are, however, sifting through a lot of kids' stuff to find it.
In search of the latest franchise to capture the teen markets' attention (and cash), studios have been building a stockpile of young-adult titles — sometimes snatching up the rights even before the book's published.
It's hard to blame them. The "Twilight" movies, based on Stephenie Meyer's vampire series, have grossed an estimated $2.5 billion worldwide. And Lionsgate's gamble on Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games" novels (pictured) paid off with a $686 million worldwide haul at the box office earlier this year. (There are three more films planned for the series.)
And then there's that other little franchise, the eight "Harry Potter" films, which were spawned from J.K. Rowling's literary works and pulled in $7.7 billion across the globe.
With that in mind, here's a selection of young-adult projects that the studios have snapped up the rights to in hopes of finding the next "Twilight"-esque cash cow. Note that there are lots of devils, angels, vampires and characters with supernatural powers.
"THE RAVEN BOYS"
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Studio: New Line Cinema
Status: A week before "The Raven Boys" was published in September, New Line grabbed the rights to adapt the novel, a love story that revolves around the offspring of psychic parents who's told that if she finds her true love and kisses him, he will die.
Though it might seem premature to buy the rights to a book before knowing what kind of market it has, Stiefvater's track record — at least in the bookstores — is promising. She wrote the bestselling "Shiver" trilogy, as well as "The Scorpio Races," which was optioned last year by Warner Bros.
Author: Susan Ee
Studio: Good Universe
Status: Good Universe is hoping to develop a robust young-adult franchise with the "Angelfall" trilogy, which it bought the rights to earlier this week.
The first novel — the only one completed so far — was originally self-published but issued last year via Amazon Children's Publishing. The book takes place after the "angels of the apocalypse" have embarked on a mission to destroy the modern world; in it, a teenage girl comes to the aid of a broken warrior angel in Northern California.
"Spider-Man" director Sam Raimi and "Spartacus: Vengeance" executive producer Rob Tapert will produce the adaptation, with Joe Drake and Nathan Kahane executive-producing.
Author: Elizabeth Richards
Studio: Screen Gems
Status: Last month, Screen Gems struck a deal to adapt the "Black City" series, the first installment of which was published on Tuesday. It centers around a city where humans and a group of vampiric creatures called Darklings are separated by a wall, with tensions between the two groups running high following a war.
In the midst of the tension, a half-Darkling teenage boy and a human teenage girl fall in love.
"SHADOW AND BONE"
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Status: This bestseller was optioned by DreamWorks in September, with "Harry Potter" producer David Heyman on board to produce along with "Up in the Air" producer Jeffrey Clifford.
The book, published in June and part of a projected Grisha Trilogy, centers on a young woman with magical powers who's charged with saving her futuristic kingdom from a creature with a dark power.
"THE PALADIN PROPHECY"
Author: Mark Frost
Studio: Reliance Entertainment
Status: Rights to this trilogy from "Twin Peaks" co-creator Mark Frost, was grabbed up by Reliance Entertainment and Kintop Pictures months before the September publication of its first title.
The series, published by Random House, follows Will West, a teenager graced with unusual abilities who tries to hide his special powers until he enters a world of secret societies and supernatural conflicts.
Frost will develop the screenplay for the first book with Reliance, as well as executive-produce. The first film is slated for a 2014 release.
"DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE"
Author: Laini Taylor
Status: Universal is banking on this first of a projected trilogy by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, for "Lips Touch: Three Times."
Taylor's saga, the first installment of which was published last December, landed on best-of lists ranging from Amazon to the New York Times. It follows a teenage art student who's been raised by inhuman creatures and finds herself trapped in a conflict between devils and angels.
Author: Orson Scott Card
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Status: Summit, which profited quite handsomely from the "Twilight" franchise (and whose parent company, Lionsgate, did pretty well with "The Hunger Games"), will take another bite of the apple with its adaptation of "Ender's Game."
The adaptation of the novel, about an unusually gifted child who's sent to a military school in space to prepare for a future invasion, will be released in November 2013. "Little Miss Sunshine" star Abigail Breslin and Harrison Ford will star in the Gavin Hood-directed effort.
Author: Veronica Roth
Status: Also part of Lionsgate's post-"Twilight" and "Hunger Games" plan to keep the young-adult audience: this series of novels by Veronica Roth set in a futuristic dystopia where people are separated into distinct factions based on their personalities. The book's heroine, Tris Prior, discovers that she's a Divergent who will never fit into any one group — and also stumbles upon a conspiracy to destroy the Divergents,
Described by Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer as "the next big franchise" during a conference call earlier this month, the first film will open March 21, 2014, starring "The Descendants" actress Shailene Woodley.
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