Welcome to the YA Movie Countdown, our resident expert’s continued guide to young adult book-to-film adaptations.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Box Office Predictions
The book-to-film adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones hits theaters today, and the companies and people involved have a lot riding on it. Unlike most potential franchise starters, the second film in the Mortal Instruments series, City of Ashes, was announced well before the first film’s release and even went into preproduction back in May. Yes, there are long-term projections, but that early on they’re far from sound and certainly don’t make moving forward with film number two any less of a risk.
But what’s done is done, and soon enough we’ll find out if that leap was worth it. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones opens solo at 3,000 theaters, and then come Friday it goes head to head with The World’s End and You’re Next, not to mention the box office veterans that are poised to hold strong.
At a glance, looking at Mortal Instruments alone, you’d expect the film to match Beautiful Creatures or The Host, which isn’t a good thing considering the former took just $7.6 million in its opening weekend and the latter only $10.6 million during its debut. Then there’s also Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, which just last weekend proved there isn’t much interest in supernatural YA material at the moment.
On top of that, the fact that the film is opening in August doesn’t bode well either. The Help opened strong in 2011, but The Butler is already this year’s version of that and The Expendables took $34.8 million in 2010, but The Mortal Instruments cast is nowhere near as sought after as Sly and co. Then there’s Superbad, which might have more age and star-power overlap, but a late-August comedy fluke is far more probable than a gritty supernatural film in a niche genre.
While it’s highly unlikely that The Mortal Instruments will prove it's worth the $60 million production tab with a strong opening weekend, it does have a chance of taking in moderate earnings overall, albeit a slim chance. Should it take the Kick-Ass route and score $20 million in weekend one and then perhaps add about $8 million from its early opening, a $28 million total would mark a strong start. Then again, even if that’s where it begins its run, it’ll still need a slower decline than Kick-Ass. That $20 million consisted of nearly half of Kick-Ass’s total earnings at the domestic box office and for Mortal Instruments, and even for Kick-Ass for that matter, that won’t cut it.
And unfortunately, those numbers represent the film's highest possible opening domestic gross. Mortal Instruments is far more likely to fall in line with the 2011 release Red Riding Hood and post about $15 million to start. However, that $8 million Wednesday and Thursday total could still stand, which would leave it with $23 million for five days. Odds are, after that, it’ll continue along the Red Riding Hood path, wind up spending maybe 10 or 11 weeks in theaters, and taking $40 million total.
Clearly that number isn’t sequel worthy, so from there the hope is that Mortal Instruments will be more profitable overseas. That didn’t really prove to be the case for Kick-Ass, Beautiful Creatures, The Host or Red Riding Hood, but certain elements of The Mortal Instruments narrative has more of an overlap with something like Percy Jackson, and that first film did prove to be quite profitable internationally.
We’ll see what happens overseas when the numbers come in on Sunday, but for now, here’s what we could be looking at in the states:
Three-Day Weekend: $15 million
Five-Day Weekend: $23 million
Domestic Total: $40 million
A number like that doesn’t necessarily call for a franchise, so it should be interesting to see whether or not the companies involved consider nixing the sequel and cutting their losses.
Vampire Academy Teaser Trailer
The adaptation of Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy first entered postproduction at the end of July, but the film’s teaser trailer is already here. It’s not an exceptional piece, but it’s tantalizing enough to make for a very good start.
Following in the footsteps of Beautiful Creatures with its use of Florence and the Machine’s “Seven Devils” and The Host with Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive,” this first promo for Vampire Academy gets a significant boost from a prime music selection: Charli XCX’s “You (Ha Ha Ha).” The song is an instant attention grabber and is tonally appropriate thereafter.
The voiceover is a bit on the tacky side yet necessary for getting newcomers up to speed. However, that familiar overview will undoubtedly lead skeptics to write the film off by the 30-second mark, scoffing at the seemingly cliché vampire high school scenario. Unfortunately, there isn’t much after that mark to prove otherwise, but hopefully those unfamiliar with the source material will latch on to the fact that Vampire Academy is a Mark Waters film. Similar to Mean Girls, this trailer hints at a more adult sass, and that’s what turns up the charm. Sure, there are lots of pretty vampires running around and clearly they’re bound to get caught up in meaningless high school drama, but as along as the film doesn’t take all of that too seriously, maintains a snappy pace, and has just the precise degree of reliability, it could be a unique winner.
Narrowing it down to fans of Mead’s book, this teaser should come as the ideal first look at the film. We get extended glimpses at almost all of the main players, and they look good, too. It’s one thing to hear about a casting announcement and then look at a headshot or consider past performances to pass judgment on a certain actor’s ability, but seeing them in action and in the world is an entirely different story. Initially, Zoey Deutch and Lucy Fry may not have matched up with my imagination while I read the book, but seeing them in character, standing side by side, the pairing is undeniable.
Beyond the characters, Waters seems to have nailed a number of visuals. Other than the party sequence, we only get quick looks at pivotal moments, but even scenes that last mere seconds send the complete memory rushing right back. That shot of the trio of shirtless guys is made all the more powerful thanks to that slight camera push, even the slimmest bit of the scene of the attack on Lissa and Christian (Dominic Sherwood) rocks an impressive amount of suspense, the combat looks visceral, and then, yet again, “You (Ha Ha Ha)” functions as the ideal pairing with the explosive logo reveal, enrapturing you in the beat and leaving a lasting effect.
In Other YA Film News…
Josh Boone’s adaptation of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars just added yet another ideal cast member. As reported by The Wrap, True Blood’s Sam Trammell is officially locked to play Hazel’s father.
In case you missed the previous YA Countdown, Shailene Woodley plays the Hazel character, a young girl diagnosed with stage IV thyroid cancer with metastasis on her lungs. She’s managed to get by thanks to a drug called Phalanxifor but also knows that her condition could change in an instant. Hazel’s mother (Laura Dern) and father are as loving as can be, but whereas her mother takes a more practical approach, insisting Hazel still try to have a semblance of a normal childhood by going to community college and making friends, her father tends to be exceptionally, albeit understandably, emotional.
This gig will be far more grounded than Trammell’s work on True Blood, but his character on that HBO show, Sam Merlotte, is one of the more honest and relatable of the bunch. It seems likely that Trammell would be capable of playing a loving and highly sensitive father. Production is due to begin for The Fault in Our Stars later this month in Pittsburgh.
Things also continue to heat up over in Hunger Games land. Today, Lionsgate initiated the Catching Fire “Victors Banner” campaign by revealing a shot of Katniss and Peeta looking very Arena ready. You can check out the image for yourself over at The Hunger Games Explorer as well as a countdown clock so you know exactly when the next set of victors will be unveiled. We’ll get two victors from each District until the lineup consists of all 24 tributes for the 75th Annual Hunger Games.
The YA Movie Countdown runs here on Movies.com every other Wednesday.