I think it’s fair to say that YA fiction is having a bit of a moment. Recently, Hollywood has been infatuated with adapting teen novels for the screen, and rightly so. During its release, the Jennifer Lawrence vehicle The Hunger Games amassed a whopping $691,247,768 worldwide, with its sequel Catching Fire surpassing its predecessor by raking in an astounding $864,543,193. If that weren’t already enough, the adaptation of the third book in the series, Mockingjay, will be split into two movies and is expected to make even more money; the tweens will be practically throwing their allowances at the box office. Two weeks into its release and the similarly dystopian book-turned-movie Divergent has racked up $100,287,071 globally, and with at least two more movies on the backburner, like Katniss before her, Divergent’s Tris will be kicking ass all the way to the bank. Though the biggest standouts by far, fellow YA adventures The Host, Beautiful Creatures, and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones have also been given the Hollywood treatment, though with less than stellar returns, each grossing $48,227,201, $60,052,138, and $23,188,359 respectively. Yet Hollywood’s adolescent-fuelled gravy train continues to chug along, with the recent introduction for the trailer of childhood favorite The Giver, as well as the upcoming release of cancer-stricken love story The Fault in Our Stars film this summer. In case fans of TFiOS author John Green found their excitement waning, on March 24th it was announced that his 2008 novel Paper Towns will be making its way to big screens everywhere within the next few years.
There’s nothing Hollywood loves more than a sure thing, and catering to an already built-in audience is as sure as you can get. That’s why it’s no surprise that the breakout YA novel of 2013, Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park, is slated to begin production in 2015. The book spent twelve weeks on the New York Times bestseller list after its publication last February, and can boast a number of followers as big as those Kid-Saves-The-Day books, despite its more down-to-earth subject matter. Eleanor and Park tells the story of two sixteen-year-old outcasts who find love in Nebraska in 1986. The novel’s chapters alternate points of view between the insecure, chubby Eleanor Douglas, who lives in an abusive household, and half-American, half-Korean Park Sheridan, who buries his troubles and feelings of dissimilarity in music and comic books. Often fans can be nervous when they hear of their favorite read being turned into screen candy, as the results can be less than impressive (see: The Mortal Instruments), but this may not be the case with this film, as Rowell, the author herself, has already been hired to pen the screenplay. Generally these young adult adaptations are pretty good if you take some of the source material with a grain of salt, though the constant onslaught of these films is a disturbing trend, for lack of a better word. For all the blood, sweat, tears, and love put into movies, at the end of the day it all boils down to money. And because it’s been proven time and again that kiddies will shell out the big bucks to watch their favorite books in action, I don’t see an end in sight for these page-to-screen adaptations. Hollywood has the youth market cornered, and there’s no way out.
Article by Nia Howe-Smith