Welcome to the YA Movie Countdown, our resident expert’s biweekly guide to young-adult book-to-film adaptations.
Clearly the young-adult book-to-film adaption craze isn’t slowing down anytime soon, but it seems as though the success of Divergent may have triggered a few major steps forward because we’ve got new details on three high-profile projects.
First Clip from The Fault in Our Stars
If you thought the chemistry between Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in the trailer for The Fault in Our Stars was palpable, just wait until you catch the first clip from the Josh Boone adaptation.
In the film, Woodley leads as Hazel, a 16-year-old cancer patient. She manages to survive with stage four thyroid cancer with metastasis forming in her lungs, but Hazel still has a tendency to keep to herself and that’s why her mother insists that she attend a support group. Even though Hazel isn’t thrilled with the idea, she changes her tune after meeting Elgort’s Augustus Waters, an osteosarcoma survivor. The connection is instant and profound. She’s never felt this way about someone before, let alone have that person feel the same way back, but even though their bond feels so right, she often struggles and wonders, is it wrong to pursue it given her condition?
But before we get too far ahead, the story starts with a highly charming and gratifying courting process, and that’s exactly what this clip previews. Catch Elgort turning on the charm to win over Woodley in the video below:
Allegiant Will Be Two Films
After The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, it’s tough not to scoff at the news that the third book in the Divergent series, Allegiant, will be split into two movies. Back in March, it was announced that the Divergent sequel, Insurgent, was locked for a March 20, 2015 release and was to be followed by Allegiant on March 18, 2016. Now, however, Lionsgate has thrown yet another date into the mix -- March 24, 2017 -- because just like the last books in the Twilight, Harry Potter and Hunger Games series, Allegiant is due to be split into two films.
Clearly there are financial motivations behind the decision. Divergent ran an $85 million production tab, but went on to take $54.6 million during its domestic debut and since, it’s grossed over $175 million worldwide. It isn’t Hunger Games big, but Divergent solidified itself as a profitable endeavor. When you’ve got a good thing going, it’s only natural to want to milk it a bit and, of course, moviemaking is a business, so you can’t really blame Lionsgate for wanting to stretch things out, but, when looking at the situation from a story perspective, you’ve still got to ask, is this really necessary?
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay needed it. Whereas Hunger Games and Catching Fire benefit from having the actual Hunger Games at the core, Mockingjay doesn’t have that structural advantage. It's about a revolution and within that revolution, there are one too many essential events for a single narrative. By splitting that book into two movies, Francis Lawrence and co. will have the opportunity to let the material breathe and flesh out some of the less developed elements.
Allegiant is similar in that it opens up the world of Divergent like never before, but even then, the narrative is far more contained than Mockingjay. As described in the press release, “After the cataclysmic events in Insurgent, Tris and Four enter a dangerous new world in Allegiant — Parts 1 & 2 that they no longer recognize.” Yes, Allegiant does open the door to a brand new world, but, that world is far less expansive than the transformed Panem in Mockingjay.
It’s unfortunate Lionsgate Motion Picture Group cochairmen Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger couldn’t come up with more telling statements regarding the decision. One rather generic quote simply states, “The storytelling arc and world of the characters lend themselves perfectly to two films, a storytelling strategy that has worked very well for us on the two Twilight: Breaking Dawn films and about which we’re tremendously enthusiastic for the two upcoming Mockingjay films of The Hunger Games franchise.” That essentially translates to, because this worked for Twilight and is about to make us the big bucks on Mockingjay, we’re going to do it again. That’s fine and somewhat justifiable, but if the filmmakers don’t actually churn out two solid installments, moviegoers will undoubtedly point fingers at an unnecessary split and if that’s the response to the first of the two Allegiant movies, it could have particularly detrimental effects.
Chloe Moretz May Lead The 5th Wave
Back in October we told you that The 5th Wave was one to keep an eye on and now there’s proof that that’s the case because, according to The Wrap, Chloe Moretz is in final negotiations to lead the book-to-film adaptation. Should the deal go through, Moretz will assume the role of Cassie Sullivan, a 16-year-old on the run, all alone, trying to survive a series a of mysterious and devastating attacks.
Moretz is a fine actress, but at this point, her reputation precedes her. She always delivers a quality performance, but it’s becoming harder and harder for her to lose herself in her roles. Kick-Ass, Let Me In and Hugo are all solid films, but Moretz perpetually falls just short of delivering layered, thoughtful characters you feel like you know. She’s capable of sustaining a narrative, but isn’t convincing enough to make it something more.
I still stand by my choice in the 5th Wave YA Movie Countdown from October: Short Term 12’s Kaitlyn Dever. She’s a fresher face, rocks a more unique presence and has the ability to make an impression, even when merely reciting a story. Again, Moretz is a fine actress, but director J Blakeson could have gone a better route with this role. This feels like a very deliberate play at turning the book into a powerhouse YA franchise. Moretz has the familiar face and following, but she’s still no Jennifer Lawrence or Shailene Woodley. Perhaps she’ll surprise us and connect with the character and material like never before, but there is concern that in Moretz’ casting, star power may have taken priority over picking the best possible Cassie.
The YA Movie Countdown runs here on Movies.com every other Wednesday.
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