Why is it, then, that recent YA book to movie adaptations just haven't been doing very well? After the success of two huge franchises, Harry Potter and Twilight, have young audiences grown tired of them? Are cinema tickets priced too high? Or is it a case of bad advertising? I'm interested to know.
Earlier this year I saw Beautiful Creatures and The Host films. I thoroughly enjoyed Beautiful Creatures even though I haven't read the book, yet I thought The Host was boring and nothing like its literary counterpart. Neither film performed well at the box office; Beautiful Creatures only took $60 million at the worldwide box office - as much as its budget - while The Host took $48 million on the back of a $40 million budget. Both grossly under performed and I'm quite sure neither will ever get a sequel (of course, Stephenie Meyer would actually have to write more).
Similarly, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was released in August and only grossed $14 million in its opening weekend in the US. It's budget was $60 million plus a further $60 million for overseas marketing, yet it has really struggled. It has at least made its budget back and secured a sequel, but I'm shocked by how much it underperformed. What I want to know is: WHY? What's going on? These book series have millions of fans - Cassie Clare has sold over 24 million copies of The Mortal Instruments series, yet numbers for the movie just weren't there. I personally think the City of Bones marketing was fine, better than other campaigns of a similar nature, but I think the release date was off. It was almost the end of August, schools were starting back, people were on holiday and blockbuster season was over. It's a shame, because I love the film and think it's one of the better YA adaptations out there (I've seen it six times. Ahem.).
The Hunger Games is one of the recent adaptations that has made it big, in terms of both box office and sales and word of mouth. I'm not personally a fan of the film, but I'd like to know why this one did so well but City of Bones didn't. Why did those millions of readers translate for one film and not the other? If anyone can shed any light or opinions on this, I'm all ears.
I truly think upcoming adaptations are going to struggle financially, especially when it comes to making money at the box office. I'm sure Blu-ray and DVD sales will be good, but that doesn't initially help or guarantee a sequel. I'm a bit surprised that Divergent and The Maze Runner have both been filmed and are due for a 2014 release, because they're just not big sellers or household names. I work in a bookshop and I'm not sure we've ever sold a copy of The Maze Runner. It's not a book I hear people talking about, and I don't think the film will do well. Same goes for Divergent - it sells better, yes, but not in big numbers (though it does have Kate Winslet going for it!). Also, the trailer is confusing for those who haven't read the book. I'm convinced both of these will fail at the box office; I mean, if City of Bones under performs, what chance have these two got?
I could say the same thing about the upcoming How I Live Now and The Book Thief films. I desperately want The Book Thief to do well because it's my favourite book and I love Markus Zusak and the characters and everything, but is the audience there? I think it'll appeal more to an older age group, like The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas did. Its excellent trailers will help it along, which is also something that How I Live Now has. A the time of writing this post, I hadn't read that book either but the trailer made me want to (I've since read it and didn't like it at all). Again, though, will anyone go and watch it? Unless reviews and word of mouth is very good, I'm guessing no.
I know the readers and audiences are there when it comes to these adaptations hitting cinema screens, but I can't for the life of me figure out why they're not going to see them. Critic's reviews are rarely favourable for this kind of film, and of course that never helps matters. But surely the fans don't pay attention to those reviews. Do they? I hope not, because everyone is different and no one person should put you off seeing a film. Like reading, it's all subjective.
There are many more adaptations I could mention: City of Ember, Percy Jackson, Warm Bodies etc., but I'd be here forever. None of them have reached Twilight or Harry Potter heights, and I'm not sure any future ones will either. It's possible that the time of book-to-film adaptations has passed, probably due to existing fans being somewhat bombarded with them and non-readers being put off by the Twilight Effect. I hope they find their feet again soon because I for one will always go and watch them, on opening day if possible and multiple times if I like it enough. Some of these films aren't getting the recognition they deserve, and that's a great shame.