This was a banner year for book-to-film adaptations, especially for young adult audiences—from the top-grossing The Hunger Games: Catching Fire to the disappointing City of Bones and the sleeper hit The Spectacular Now. As 2014 peeks around the corner, SLJ looks ahead to future releases in this latest installment of our roundup of the most highly anticipated franchise openers and long-awaited big screen versions of children’s classics.
Coming to a theater near you
Arriving in theaters in time for Valentine’s Day, Richelle Mead’s New York Times-bestselling Vampire Academy (Penguin, 2007) is already building buzz. The story of best friends Rose, half-human/half-vampire, and Lissa, a mortal vampire princess, who wreak havoc and fall in love at St. Vladimir’s Academy, stars Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry, and Danila Kozlovsky. A trailer and photos have been posted in anticipation for the campy film due out on February 14, 2014.
Complete with a stellar cast (Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet) and a steamy video clip, Veronica Roth’s Divergent (HarperCollins, 2011) will most likely take on the “Hunger Games” mantle on March 21, 2014. Set in a post-apocalyptic Chicago, society is divided into strict factions, and protagonist Tris Prior threatens to break down the system.
Disney’s new live-action adaptation of the classic “Sleeping Beauty” tale, Maleficent, is now set to debut on May 30, 2014. Angelina Jolie stars as the villainous title character alongside Elle Fanning as Aurora. The film also stars Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley, Imelda Staunton, Miranda Richardson, Juno Temple, and Lesley Manville.
The film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton, 2012), the popular young adult novel of young cancer patients in love by John Green, is set to be released on June 6, 2014. It also stars Shailene Woodley (Hazel) and Ansel Elgort (Auggie). Willem Dafoe will play Peter Van Houten, alongside Laura Dern and Sam Trammell. The author’s brother, Hank Green, will have a cameo. The movie poster is already viewable online, and caused a stir with fans who either hated or loved the tag line. Green publicly supported the poster on his Tumblr.
Odeya Rush has been selected to play Fiona in the Weinstein Company’s adaptation of Lois Lowry’s award-winning classic The Giver (Houghton Mifflin, 1993). Filming began in South Africa in October 2013. Jeff Bridges will take on the role of the title character and Brenton Thwaites will play the aged-up Jonas. A precursor to the dystopian trend, The Giver follows the story of one teen who is selected to be the Receiver of Memories in a seemingly perfect community; in the process, he learns that his world paid a big price for perfection. Alexander Skarsgard will star as Jonas’s father, Katie Holmes as Jonas’s mother, and Cameron Monaghan as Asher, Jonas’s best friend. Taylor Swift and Meryl Streep also star. The film is set to debut August 15, 2014.
The Maze Runner film, based on the series by James Dashner (Delacorte, 2009), will still debut in 2014 as planned, but its release date has been moved from February 14 to September 19. Directed by Wes Ball, the adaptation about a group of teens trying to survive in an enclosed environment called “The Glade,” stars Patricia Clarkson, Dylan O’Brien (Thomas), Kaya Scodelario (Teresa), Thomas Brodie-Sangster, and Will Poulter.
Several actors have joined the cast of The Hunger Games film franchise, based on the books by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic), and will be introduced in the two Mockingjay movies. Patina Miller will play rebel leader Commander Paylor; Robert Knepper, Antonius; Lily Rabe, Commander Lyme; Mahershala Ali, Boggs; Wes Chatham, Castor; and Elden Henson, Pollux. The first part of the series continuation will premiere on November 21, 2014 with the conclusion due out the following year.
Colin Firth has agreed to voice and lend facial expressions as Paddington, the marmalade-loving bear with “a light Peruvian flavor” in an upcoming computer-animated adaptation. The film will be based on the stories of A Bear Called Paddington and others in the series written by Michael Bond and first illustrated by Peggy Fortnum. Hugh Bonneville will star as Mr. Brown, Sally Hawkins as Mrs. Brown, and Nicole Kidman as a villain. The film will be produced by David Heyman and directed by Paul King. It is due out in December 12, 2014 for the holiday season.
Jamie Blackley has snagged the male lead in MGM’s film adaptation of If I Stay (Dutton, 2009). He’ll play Adam opposite Chloë Moretz in the pic directed by R.J. Cutler, based on Gayle Forman’s tearjerker about a comatose teen who has an out-of-body experience after a tragic car accident and has to choose between living a difficult life or giving up altogether. Though it has no official release date, it is likely set to debut in 2014.
Originally scheduled to be released on October 18, 2013, and then pushed to January 17, 2014, Seventh Son, based on the first installment in Joseph Delaney’s “The Last Apprentice” series (HarperCollins) will be out in theaters in 3-D and IMAX 3D on February 6, 2015. Ben Barnes, Jeff Bridges, and Julianne Moore star in this dark fantasy about a seventh son of a seventh son who goes on adventures as the Spook’s apprentice.
Director Tim Burton will be adapting Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Quirk, 2011) from a screenplay by Jane Goldman. Hailed a cross between X-Men and the Harry Potter franchises, the movie version of the New York Times-bestseller is tentatively scheduled to hit theaters in July 2015.
Constantin Film has confirmed that principal photography on City of Ashes, the second installment in Cassandra Clare’s “Mortal Instruments” franchise, is set to proceed sometime in 2014, although a start date has yet to be named. Sigourney Weaver is attached to join the cast.
Robert Zemeckis is in negotiations to direct Lionsgate’s latest young-adult sci-fi movie, based on the bestselling “Chaos Walking” trilogy (Candlewick) by Patrick Ness. Oscar-winning screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is adapting, with Doug Davison set to along with Allison Shearmur.
Michael Gracey, a former animator turned commercials director, has closed a deal to direct Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Little, Brown, 2011), Universal’s adaptation of the young-adult fantasy book by Laini Taylor. Joe Roth, the producer of Oz the Great and Powerful and Universal’s own Snow White and the Huntsman, is producing the project with Palak Patel. Stuart Beattie adapted the screenplay, with additional rewrites by Taylor. The author is exec producing with her manager, Jane Putch.
Fox 2000 and Lauren Shuler Donner will produce the adaptation of D.J. MacHale’s novel trilogy Sylo (Penguin, 2013). Thor Freudenthal will direct, and Marc Guggenheim will adapt the screenplay. The series follows the inhabitants of a small island who find themselves cut off from the mainland by a mysterious government military force. A group of teens escape to the mainland, only to discover that the inhabitants of the United States have all but vanished, and that they were actually being kept safe. McHale is exec producer on the project.
In her book Popular: One Geek’s Quest For The Impossible (Penguin), Maya Van Wagenen follows the seemingly outdated wisdom from a 1950s advice book for help fitting in with her new classmates. Not only did she crack the code to becoming popular, she kept a diary, which is the basis for her book. At 15 years old, Van Wagenen has become the youngest non-actor to ever make a feature deal at Dreamworks. The studio has optioned her book, and Amy B. Harris is scripting it into a coming-of-age feature.
Kid lit looms large
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling stirred up an Internet frenzy when she and Warner Bros. announced that a film adaptation of her book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Scholastic, 2001), a popular supplement to her Potter series, was in the works. The film will be set in the same world as Harry Potter but will follow magizoologist Newt Scamander, a professor of magical creatures, and take place 70 years before Harry’s adventures. Rowling is currently working on the script.
Henry Selick will direct A Tale Dark & Grimm (Dutton, 2010), a live-action version of the children’s book by author Adam Gidwitz, who retells popular fairy tales with a gory twist. Marissa McMahon of Kamala Films will finance the development and produce alongside FilmNation Entertainment’s Aaron Ryder and Karen Lunder. John W. Mann and Jon Gunn adapted the script.
CBS Films has nabbed the rights to make a feature film from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (HarperCollins), a children’s book series begun in 1981 by Alvin Schwartz. Saw screenwriters Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton will provide the screenplay, which follows a group of kids who are faced with their nightmares coming to life. The Sean Daniel Company’s Jason Brown and Sean Daniel are set to produce alongside Elizabeth Grave.
The “Goosebumps” series (Scholastic) by R. L. Stine will get an adaptation from director Rob Letterman, starring Jack Black as a R. L. Stine-like author. The film won’t follow the plot of any particular book in the series, but will be set in the same world. A release date has yet to be announced.
Classics come alive
Warner Bros. has set a June 26, 2015 release date for director Joe Wright’s Pan, a new version of J.M. Barrie’s classic character Peter Pan. Jason Fuchs is providing the screenplay for the project with Greg Berlanti set to produce. Neverland, a similarly-themed “origin story” based on the property, is already in the works at Columbia Pictures, produced by Channing Tatum and Joe Roth with Billy Ray providing the screenplay.
Tarzan is set to be adapted as well in 2014, with Emma Stone, Margot Robbie, Alexander Skarsgard, Christoph Waltz, and Lily James the latest names rumored to be in the running to star in this reboot from Warner Brothers. Although filming has yet to begin, director David Yates is eyeing a summer start date. The new version of the Edward Rice Burroughs’s tale is set years after Tarzan has reintegrated back into human society.
David Magee writing the script for the fourth movie in “The Chronicles of Narnia” series, based on the C. S. Lewis novel The Silver Chair. In this tale, Eustace—cousin of the Pevensie children—and classmate Jill are transported to Narnia to help Aslan find Prince Rilian, the son of Caspian. The C.S. Lewis Company will jointly develop and produce the film with Mark Gordon, whose company will be working on the script.
Canadian indie film producers are to turn the long-running Anne of Green Gables—The Musical into a feature film written by actor and playwright Kristen Thomson. The musical is based on the character from Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and the other novels in the series, which have sold 50 million copies worldwide.
On the small screen
Sara Shepard’s murder mystery series The Perfectionists might join the CW as a television drama from Alloy Entertainment and Warner Bros. TV, written by Arika Lisanne Mittman. Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game (both HarperCollins) have been made into popular TV series on the ABC Family channel.
The List (Scholastic/PUSH, 2012), Siobhan Vivian’s YA novel about the fateful ranking of the ugliest and prettiest girl in each grade at Mount Washington High, has been optioned for television by MTV. Screenwriter Liz Maccie (Make It or Break It) will adapt the book and her husband, screenwriter/author/director Stephen Chbosky, will be executive producer.
Henry Winkler’s “Hank Zipzer” books (Penguin), written with Lin Oliver, follow Henry ‘Hank’ Zipzer, a smart and resourceful boy with a unique perspective on the world. In 2014, the books will be made into 13-part television series from executive producer Sue Nott. Nick James will star as the 12-year-old title character.
Several works based on The Wizard of Oz will debut in 2014 on the small screen, reinterpreting the original tale in some unique ways. These include the new NBC drama Emerald City, a dark reimagining of the Oz tale from Game of Thrones writer Matthew Arnold; Dorothy on CBS, a medical soap opera inspired by Oz characters; and the Syfy miniseries Warriors of Oz from director Timur Bekmambetov, an action adventure tale.
Also, the CW is in negotiations to adapt Dorothy Must Die (HarperCollins, 2014), the novel by Danielle Paige inspired by the original Oz books, into a television drama from Tim Kring, the creator of Heroes, with writing by Adam Armus and Nora Kay Foster. The series, like the book, will be a revisionist take on the classic tale set in present day, 80 years after Dorothy Gale supposedly came home.
For more information about future releases based on children’s and young adult books, check out our previous “Page to Screen” posts.