Welcome to the YA Movie Countdown, our resident expert’s biweekly guide to young-adult book-to-film adaptations.
Looking to load up on YA this fall? We’ve got a few notable releases coming up. Check out what’s coming to the big screen and bookshelves (or your iPad/Kindle if you’d rather) in the coming months.
The Maze Runner
In Theaters September 19
What It’s About: All of a sudden, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) comes to in a rising elevator. He knows his name, but nothing else. When the elevator comes to a stop, the doors open and he sees a group of boys who welcome him into their home, the Glade, a field of sorts that’s surrounded by four enormous walls with a section that opens in the morning and closes every night. The Gladers send “runners” out beyond the walls each day to navigate the maze outside and try to find a way to escape, but it seems impossible. However, soon Thomas comes to realize that he might be able to find the way through the remnants of his memories.
Is It Worth Seeing? It’s looking good. Right around this time last year The Maze Runner was bumped from its February 14, 2014 slot back to September 19, 2014, which raised some concerns, but based on the promo material we’ve seen thus far, there’s nothing to worry about at all. The trailers are all well cut and exhilarating, the little bit we’ve seen of the Grievers looks promising and, perhaps best of all, the clips released play exceptionally well, especially this one of Thomas and the Gladers waiting for Minho and Alby to return before the walls close.
Box Office Potential: Minus Divergent, YA-to-film adaptations haven’t been doing too well at the box office this year, but The Maze Runner could change that. The only wide releases we’ve got coming prior to September 19 are The Identical, Dolphin Tale 2 and No Good Deed, none of which should pose much of a threat. Then, when The Maze Runner hits theaters itself, it’ll be facing off against This Is Where I Leave You, Tusk and A Walk Among the Tombstones, and, thus far, Maze Runner has had a stronger promotional push than each and every one of them. This Is Where I Leave You and A Walk Among the Tombstones could definitely draw crowds, but probably not enough to keep Maze Runner from kicking off its run with at least $27 million, an opening total similar to Ender’s Game.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
In Theaters November 21
What It’s About: Just before the 75th Hunger Games could officially conclude in Catching Fire, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) and Finnick (Sam Claflin) are whisked out of the arena and taken to District 13, the headquarters of the rebellion. There, Katniss is encouraged to embrace her role as the symbol of the uprising, the Mockingjay, and do what she can to motivate and encourage the nation to do what’s necessary to make Panem a better place.
Is It Worth Seeing? Do I really need to answer that question? The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is bound to be one of the biggest movies of the year, if not the biggest. And even better, if it keeps in line with its predecessors quality-wise as well, it could deserve the truckload of cash it’s bound to earn. All we’ve really seen from the film so far is a bunch of character posters and that one teaser trailer, but if they’re any indication, the tone is still spot-on, the production design is downright incredible, there’s remarkable action (especially that shot of the rebels climbing the trees at the 42-second mark) and a slew of quality talent to carry us through these final two films.
Box Office Potential: Again, it’s a no-brainier. Guardians of the Galaxy is the top earner of the year so far, but Mockingjay – Part 1 is bound to surpass it. Catching Fire didn’t manage to crack $160 million opening weekend last year, but there’s a good chance Mockingjay will pull it off this time around. Should that be the case, the film could also creep a bit closer to a $450 million domestic grand total.
The Infinite Sea
(The Second Book of The 5th Wave)
Available September 16
What It’s About: In the first book we met Cassie Sullivan in the midst of the fourth wave of an alien invasion. The first wave was an EMP strike that knocked out all electricity, then the second wave was an actual wave that decimated coastline cities. After that, there was the third wave, a plague, and when it was over, only roughly 3% of the human population remained. Now it’s the fourth wave during which Cassie insists, you must trust no one. She thinks she’s got this one beat by being on her own, but the fifth wave is coming and things are about to change again - drastically. According to the Amazon description, The Infinite Sea will see the survivors from book number one dealing with the Others' goal of wiping out humanity head-on. Cassie and co. have already been through a lot, but they “haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.”
Is It Worth Reading? If the first book is any indication, it is. The 5th Wave is easily one of the most innovative and engaging YA reads I’ve blown through in a while. There are no reviews of The Infinite Sea up just yet, but if you’ve read or are planning to read The 5th Wave soon, nothing will stop you from jumping into The Infinite Sea the moment it’s available.
Big-Screen Potential: It’s impossible to judge until I’ve read the book, but based on the way the 5th Wave movie is shaping up, it definitely looks as though Sony Pictures is anticipating a sequel. We’ve got Chloe Moretz locked for the role of Cassie Sullivan, Jurassic World’s Nick Robinson is on board to play Ben Parish, rising star Maika Monroe is stepping in as Ringer and it’s been reported that Liev Schreiber is in talks to take the role of Commander Vosch as well. Between that lineup and the fact that director J Blakeson will be behind the lens for this one, The 5th Wave move really could be a winner.
The YA Movie Countdown runs here on Movies.com every other week.
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