Divergent, Hunger Games, the Hobbit, Books that Will Create Box Office Gold
This holiday season at the box-office it’s all about the Young Adult novel. The genre has completely taken over the film industry as we head into the most lucrative season on the movie-release calendar. Traditionally November and December are the largest grossing months at the cinema, with December 26 being one of the best one-day ticket-sales at each complex. It make sense, almost every school and business is closed and there isn’t much else to do but go see a movie with the family or your friends. The summer months of June and July are a close second, usually filled with your big-budget action films and lately, your Superhero releases. In the past August was your ‘filler’ month, a place were movies were sent to barely survive on meager ticket-sales as most families were on vacation or traveling. This year all of that changed, films like Lee Daniels’ The Butler’, ‘The Millers’ and ‘Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters’ took in record numbers for the usually barren months.
Harry Potter opened the door to the Young Adult franchise at the movies, showing that books can easily strike gold twice. The ending of thee final Harry Potter film left a throne to be taken by the next popular book-series to rule the box-office, and almost every studio began staking claims in popular books. A new book series can hoard a small fortune in book-sales, cultivating a strong fan-base for a few years before dominating at the ticket-counter and on-demand video services, that’s what makes them so appealing to film-studios, and a major reason on why they perform so well.
Starting off the year of YA films this year was the popular release ‘The Book Thief’, based on the bestselling novel of the same name. THE BOOK THIEF tells the inspiring story of a spirited and courageous young girl named Liesel, who transforms the lives of everyone around her when she is sent to live with a foster family in World War II Germany.
For Liesel, the power of words and of imagination becomes a means of escape – and even joy – from the tumultuous events enveloping her and everyone she knows and loves. She is THE BOOK THIEF’s heart and soul.
Indeed, it is heart and soul – as well as triumph and perseverance—that drive the film, which is rich in themes and characters that will resonate for every generation. A moving and poignant portrait of the resiliency of the human spirit, this life-affirming tale contrasts innocence (as embodied by Liesel) with the pervasive tyranny that marked the times and her homeland. The film saw a limited release throughout the world, though it did exceedingly well when it toured the film-festival circuit earlier this year. The original work saw a gigantic leap in sales thanks to the film, taking the top-spot on iTunes’ most popular download charts, and remaining in the top ten for quite some time.
With the launch of The Book Thief behind us, this year we have a powerful trio of films, all based on YA series, that are sure to conquer the box-office at each of their release dates. At the top of the list is ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ written by Suzanne Collins. The book ‘Catching Fire’ was written in 2010, was an instant best-seller and is set to release on November 22 in North America.
The second installment in the popular series, Catching Fire begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a “Victor’s Tour” of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) – a competition that could change Panem forever.
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE is directed by Francis Lawrence, and produced by Nina Jacobson’s Color Force in tandem with producer Jon Kilik. The novel on which the film is based is the second in a trilogy that has over 50 million copies in print in the U.S. alone.
With The Hunger Games releasing on November 22, that meant other studios had to stake their claim on a different week, so that they wouldn’t go head-to-head against their fiercest competitor. Taking a prime December slot this year is another sequel, ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’. That film is set to release on December 13 in North America.
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), is the highly anticipated second film in Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Last year, Midnight showings for the first film in the Trilogy, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” took in $13 million in the U.S. The film ultimately went on to gross over a billion dollars worldwide.
Once agin the project is lead by Peter Jackson, director of “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy, who returns for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, with Martin Freeman in the central role of Bilbo Baggins, and Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. The international ensemble cast is led by Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, Ken Stott, James Nesbitt, and Orlando Bloom as Legolas. The film also stars Mikael Persbrandt, Sylvester McCoy, Aidan Turner, Dean O’Gorman, Graham McTavish, Adam Brown, Peter Hambleton, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, William Kircher, Stephen Hunter, Ryan Gage, John Bell, Manu Bennett and Lawrence Makoare.
Weta Digital is taking on the visual effects for the film, led by senior visual effects supervisor Joe Letteri. The hair and makeup designer is Peter Swords King. The conceptual designers are John Howe and Alan Lee. The visual effects supervisor is Eric Saindon, with David Clayton & Eric Reynolds serving as animation supervisors.
Under Jackson’s direction, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” was shot in 3D 48 frames-per-second and will be released in High Frame Rate 3D (HFR 3D) in select theaters, other 2D and 3D formats, and IMAX. Production took place at Jackson’s own facilities in Miramar, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand.
The Hobbit will finish-out 2013 in the Young Adult franchise, leaving a new series to take-on 2014 and that series will be the highly anticipated film ‘Divergent’, set to release on March 21, 2014. Directed by Neil Burger with a screenplay by Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor, the series is based on the immensely popular work of Veronica Roth. The film has an amazing cast, starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Jai Cortney, Ray Stevenson, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Maggie Q, Tony Goldwyn, Ashley Judd, Ansel Elgort, Mekhi Phifer, Ben Lamb, Ben Lloyd-Huges, Christian Madsen, Amy Newbold And Kate Winslet.
As I mentioned before, the film is based on Veronica Roth’s #1 New York Times best-selling novel, DIVERGENT is a gripping action thriller set in a futuristic world where society has been divided into five factions. As each person approaches adulthood, he or she must choose a faction and commit to it for the rest of their life. Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) chooses Dauntless—the daring risk-takers who pursue bravery above all else. During the Dauntless initiation, Tris completes death -defying stunts and faces her inmost fears in spectacular simulations. When she discovers she is a Divergent, someone who will never be able to fit into just one faction, she is warned that she must conceal this secret or risk her life. As Tris uncovers a looming war which threatens her family and the life of the mysterious Dauntless leader whom she has come to love, Tris must face her greatest test yet—deciding whether revealing she is a Divergent will save her world—or destroy it.
Young Adult series are perfect for films, the demographic fits into the most coveted of all rating systems here in the United States, the PG-13 bracket. The fact that YA series have a trifold attack on wallets (books, film, on-demand and blue ray) make them a perfect match for film-studios and production companies. Add into that equation the marketing and merchandising rights to each series, and you have one-franchise that could pay for another 10 oscar-capable installments on the side.