While Hollywood’s obsession with young adult fiction franchises appears to be in remission (RIP The 5th Wave, Divergent, The Mortal Instruments), the industry is still invested in YA fiction. Rather than investing in any potential YA trilogy in the hopes it will bring in a Twilight or Hunger Games bounty, studios appear to be focusing on adapting stand-alone YA novels. This “one-and-done” adaptation of YA properties still run the risk of flopping, but at least they wouldn’t have the stigma of a failed franchise and they have the additional benefit of mostly being made on the cheap. Lower budget=bigger potential to break even/bring in a profit; a win/win for all, and if one adaptation is a hit, a studio could be rolling in The Fault in Our Stars cash.
Below are six YA properties coming down the pipeline that could potentially capture audiences’ attention:
Simon versus The Homo Sapien Agenda
Adapted from Becky Albertarri’s novel, Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), a sixteen year old old closeted theatre kid, faces a Millennial’s worst nightmare when he forgets to log out of his email account on his school computer. Class clown Martin (Logan Miller) reads his secret emails to another boy, who goes by the pseudonym Blue, and uses them as leverage over Simon to help him get closer to one of Simon’s friends. The threat of a teen being outed is more than a little unnerving, but the book handles it gracefully, treating the blackmail as one of the many complications of teenage life. Simon is to be released March 16, 2018 and also stars Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why), Alexandra Shipp (Straight Outta Compton), Jennifer Garner (Juno) and Josh Duhamel (Transformers).
The Darkest Minds
I can’t proclaim loudly enough how much I am COMPLETELY HERE FOR Amandla Stenberg’s (The Hunger Games, Everything, Everything) meteoric rise as a young actress and cementing her position as heir to Molly Ringwald’s throne as the queen of teen dramas. She has landed her very own Katniss Everdeen role as the lead of The Darkest Minds, adapted from Alexandra Bracken’s novel, where after a mysterious disease kills almost all of America’s children, the survivors develop superpowers and are placed in internment camps. A young girl (Stenberg) escapes her camp and joins a group of teens on the run from the government. Co-starring Mandy Moore (A Walk to Remember, This is Us) and Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), The Darkest Minds will be released September 14, 2018. Stenberg is also set to star in The Hate U Give, an adaptation of Angie Thomas’ phenomenon novel, which has become a new literary classic in a post-truth, Black Lives Matter, Trump presidency era.
After the behemoth success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens Daisy Ridley wasted no time lining up interesting roles, one of which is Ophelia, adapted from Lisa Klein’s novel. Ophelia serves as a reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, this time with Ophelia in the protagonist’s seat. Shakespeare’s most tragic heroine being reimagined to have agency and choice sounds like an amazing literary revisionist coup, with Naomi Watts (Mullholand Drive, The Impossible), Clive Owen (Croupier, The Knick) and Tom Felton (Harry Potter) rounding out a top notch cast. Ophelia is currently filming with a release date yet to be announced.
All the Bright Places
Rising A-list starlet Elle Fanning (The Neon Demon, 20th Century Women) is attached to star in the adaptation of Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places. The book follows Theodore Finch and Violent Markey (Fanning), two suicidal teens that meet atop their school bell tower and a friendship blooms when they are later paired up on a project to discover the “natural wonders’ of their state. I could definitely see the film piggybacking off of 13 Reasons Why’s popularity. Casting for Theodore is currently underway with a release date to be set.
Freak Show, adapted from James St. James’ novel, is a more off kilter, campier take on the typical young adult bildungsroman. The film follows young drag queen extraordinaire Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther) who, despite moving to an ultra conservative high school, decides to run for Homecoming Queen. Starring Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black), Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine, Scream Queens) and AnnaSophia Robb (The Way, Way Back, The Carrie Diaries) Freak Show premiered at the Berlinale International Film Festival in February 2017 with a release date to be announced.
Anthem, adapted from Joanne Proulx’s Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet, is the tale of seventeen-year old Luke Hunter (Cameron Monaghan) who foretells the death of this friend Stan (Alex MacNicoll) with uncanny accuracy. The media in Luke’s podunk town dub him the “Prophet of Death” hound him as more of his premonitions come true, all the while he is trying to make peace with his abilities and deal with a crush on a cute girl from school. Monaghan had been quietly upping his ante on Showtime’s Shameless with each season, but his role as Jerome Valeska, the “is-he-or-isn’t-he Joker?” on Gotham is really what made people sit up and notice him. I am very interested to see how he will carry the film. Anthem, also starring Juliette Lewis (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, August: Osage County) and Peyton List (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) is currently in post-production with a release date to be announced.