Find me a 'Twilight!'
As Hollywood scrambles for more hit franchises, studios are placing big bets on a handful of young-adult series
”Twilight was like capturing lightning in a bottle,” says writer-director Richard LaGravenese. Like many others in Hollywood, he’s looking to capture a spark of his own — he’s currently adapting Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl’s Beautiful Creatures for Warner Bros. Even Summit Entertainment, which makes the hit movies about Bella and Edward, never stops trying to repeat its success: ”We’ve had to remember what it felt like to read Twilight,” says Summit’s president of production and acquisitions, Erik Feig. ”It was intoxicating.” Here’s a look at the 10 series the studios are swooning over.
Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
”It’s just a wonderful world,” says LaGravenese of the South Carolina-set Southern gothic series revolving around high schooler Ethan Wate, who falls in love with a girl who appears in his dreams. ”It takes place in a small town where nothing ever happens that’s hiding the secrets of the supernatural.” He adds, ”When [these books] are done well, they become iconic. When they aren’t, they seem derivative and cheesy.” Little, Brown, which has published the first two books in the five-book series, will bring out the third in October.
City of Bones
Some industry insiders see Clare’s Mortal Instruments series as the most likely to inherit the Twilight mantle. ”I think that’s the really big one. It’s got the biggest fan base online from our experience,” says Breanne Heldman, senior editor at MTV’s NextMovie. City of Bones, the first in a planned six-book series, shares some of the ingredients that helped Twilight become a hit, like an Everygirl heroine, Clary — to be played by Lily Collins — who learns about the supernatural from a most appealing boy. ”Jace, the male character — he’s very Edward,” says Heldman, ”but with more attitude.” Simon & Schuster has published four Mortal Instruments books; the fifth hasn’t been scheduled.
It’s a busy time for Oliver: Fox has optioned both her novel Before I Fall and Delirium, the first volume in a trilogy about a world where love has been banned. ”It’s like orchestrating the world’s largest soufflé,” says Oliver of the process. ”My readers send me full cast lists every other day for both Before I Fall and Delirium, with pictures attached. I recently forwarded one to my producer and was like, ‘Look, we already have the cast, all you need is the script and the director.’ ” HarperCollins plans to release Pandemonium, the second book in the series, in March 2012.
Roth was in college when she wrote the first book in this trilogy, set in a dystopian Chicago. Summit’s Feig calls the book’s romance — between a teenager and a slightly older bad boy — ”a winning combination.” Divergent came out earlier this month; HarperCollins will publish the second volume in May 2012.
The Twilight Saga‘s screenwriter, Melissa Rosenberg, is producing and adapting the first book in Sargent’s beloved sci-fi trilogy, available in paperback from Tor. ”We’re right at the beginning [of the process],” says Rosenberg, who says she’s moving with care because ”you have to think of it in terms of not just one movie” but an entire franchise.
Twihards in withdrawal will be happy to learn that Taylor Lautner is attached to star in the film version of this futuristic, prison-set series, which was published last year by Dial. ”I’m not really familiar with [Lautner’s] work, to be honest,” laughs Fisher. ”But I gather he’s very popular with the young ladies. I’m sure he’s wonderful.” The sequel to Incarceron, Sapphique, came out late last year; Fisher says she doesn’t have more volumes planned, but she’s not ruling them out.
Matched may be getting the Disney treatment, but the books aren’t just for kids. ”They’re about fighting a restrictive society in a quiet, subversive way,” Condie says. Husband-and-wife writing team Kieran and Michele Mulroney (the Sherlock Holmes sequel) are working on the screenplay. Dutton Children’s Books, which published Matched, will release the next book, Crossed, in November.
A bidding war broke out over the film rights to Pure, the first book in a trilogy, before Grand Central even bought the series. It’s easy to see the book’s cinematic potential: An apocalyptic event has divided the world into two castes — the Pures, who live under a protective dome, and the scarred survivors, who exist in an ash-filled wilderness. ”The people at Fox are excited, and their enthusiasm is contagious,” says Baggott. The novel goes on sale in February 2012.
At first, Stiefvater worried that Hollywood would turn her subtle romantic trilogy into ”Terminator with werewolves.” But with a screenplay by Nick Pustay (Ramona and Beezus) finished, she feels more confident. ”I think that they’re going to put a nice indie spin on it,” she says. Forever, the series’ final volume, comes out in July from Scholastic.
A brain-munching zombie as romantic hero? Why not? Jonathan Levine (The Wackness) has been tapped to direct, and Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy) will star in the film version of Marion’s book, just published by Atria. The author hasn’t committed to any sequels…yet: ”To me, what a franchise means is if you care what happens to these characters after the story ends,” says Summit’s Feig. ”If the answer is yes, you have a franchise.”