Young Adult Novel Adaptations: Hollywood’s Money Maker

The Hollywood trend of adapting young adult novels into films has been unequivocally lucrative for the past few years resulting in work of this nature infiltrating theaters at an unprecedented rate. 

This movement largely began with the “Harry Potter” film series, based off of novels by J.K. Rowling. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” which was released in 2001, was the beginning of what went on to be a worldwide phenomenon, pulling in an estimated box office gross of 7.7 billion dollars, which is the highest grossing film series in history. 

The financial achievement of the “Harry Potter” series spurred what is now to production companies what the California Gold Rush was to forty-niners looking to strike it rich. It has become the sure-fire way to generate profit, which goes on to fund other projects, those that garnish Oscar attention. 

While no individual film or series could top that of “Harry Potter” from a financial standpoint, a fraction of those box office numbers has been generated by dozens of other films. Early examples that tapped into the formula were “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and “The Princess Diaries” franchises, as well as “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” and “Bridge to Terabithia.” 

People today will look to the wildly fruitful “Hunger Games” and “Twilight” powerhouses, based off of novels by Suzanne Collins and Stephenie Meyer respectively. These two examples have struck two key nerves, the adaptation and the budding romance. This combination unfailingly results in profuse margins, not only from the film distribution alone, but from the extensive merchandising potential. 

The aforementioned franchises often attain a cult following that allows for studios to confidently pursue sequels based off the novel’s actual follow-ups, as opposed to summing up the series in one film. Fracturing the storyline into multiple parts is another way in which massive profits are produced, providing a steady source of income for multiple years. 

In 2013 a slew of adaptations circulated nationwide, titles including “Beautiful Creatures,” “The Host,” “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters,” “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” “Ender’s Game” and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” which achieved multi-million dollar stature with “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” leading the pack at 158 million. 

Also playing into the impressive feats that many of these films have achieved is the use of young, marketable actors placed into the leading roles. The novels often are told through the eyes of young people, allowing for bankable talent to take up starring roles. Actors like Jennifer Lawrence, Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson used these films as a launching pad for their careers, and studio executives used their draw to make millions. 

This year has seen multiple films of this genre including “Vampire Academy,” “Divergent,” “The Fault in our Stars,” “The Giver” and “The Maze Runner.” In all likelihood the future for this type of film is bright and shows no sign of slowing down, they will be churned out year after year.