August 20, 2017

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Top Page-to-Screen Adaptations to Put on Your Radar

Photo Credit: Sony/Puffin/Lionsgate/Quirk

Photo Credit: Sony/Puffin/Lionsgate/Quirk

We’ve all heard (or even said ourselves) the following: “The book is better than the movie.”

The move from page to screen is tricky. What works in a book doesn’t quite get across the same way cinematically. It’s not practical to film every detail in a book, even though as readers and fans we may find all of those details fascinating and important. The cast and crew have to use their own creative talents to interpret the essence of the novel in the most captivating way possible, whether or not it’s completely faithful to the story.

Many YA adaptations, new and old, suffer from not diverging far enough from the source material. However, there are instances when too many differences can hurt a film as well. The following is a list of upcoming movies and TV shows based on YA titles that hopefully will find the balance of being true to the story while also excelling in a new medium.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 – Release Date: November 20, 2015

The Hunger Games franchise has proven to be “the crown jewel” of YA adaptations, well-loved by fans, critics, and general audiences—which is a rarity. The movie series has great source material, and the creative team behind it knows how to make the film version visually epic and hit the key emotional moments that allow viewers to take enjoyment of Suzanne Collins’s trilogy (Scholastic) to a new level.

Shadowhunters – TV Premiere: January 12, 2016 on ABC Family (aka Freeform)

A disappointing debut at the box office and negative reviews did not deter producers from rebooting The Mortal Instruments series (S. & S.), this time for television. The Mortal Instruments is better suited for long form storytelling. The series is packed with plot, characters, and details that the movie couldn’t completely touch on, and Cassandra Clare’s shadowhunter world needs time to be explored, rather than throwing a ton of exposition at viewers hoping they comprehend it all. Footage of the new show recently debuted at New York Comic Con, and while it’s not terribly convincing, there is real potential there.

The 5th Wave – Release Date: January 15, 2016

Put The 5th Wave (Putnam, 2013) and Chloë Grace Moretz together, and it’s hard not to be excited for this upcoming movie. Based on the trailers, the film looks like it is faithful to the story. Obviously, the studio hopes to turn the series into a franchise, and Moretz may have enough star power to make that happen. I suppose my only worry would be adapting the sequel, The Infinite Sea (2014), because that book is a doozy.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Release Date: March 18, 2016

Splitting the final book in Veronica Roth’s best-selling “Divergent” series (HarperCollins) doesn’t seem like the smartest choice. The first part of the novel is slowly paced, yet it’ll be interesting to see what the creative team adds to boost the narrative. Unlike Twilight, Harry Potter, etc., the final movie, due in 2017, will be called Ascendant instead of Allegiant Part 2. It makes us wonder what provoked the new name and if the film will stay true to Roth’s semi-controversial ending.

The BFG – Release Date: July 1, 2016

Not quite YA, but The BFG (Penguin) is a young readers’ classic. It’s a personal favorite, and director Steven Spielberg is bringing Roald Dahl’s tale to the big screen. Spielberg is a great choice; he’s a master of creating adventure stories that are exciting, heartwarming, and thought provoking. Add Bill Hader and a score by John Williams, this might be the movie to win our hearts in 2016.

A Monster Calls – Release Date: October 14, 2016

Known for directing The Impossible, Juan Antonio Bayona has experience creating harrowing and transcendent storytelling for film. Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls (Candlewick, 2011) is profoundly written, and it easily has the capacity to be a compelling and powerful film, especially with a cast that includes Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver, and Felicity Jones.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Release Date: November 18, 2016

Audiences will return to J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world with a prequel series following the adventures of Newt Scamander (played by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne). Written for the screen by Rowling herself, the film offers fans something new: America’s magical world. The new setting and characters will likely not seem too different since David Yates, who directed the last four Potter films, returns to helm the first film of the new trilogy.

Let It Snow – Release Date: December 9, 2016

The short story collection (Speak, 2008) from Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle, and John Green received an official release date from Universal earlier this year. Little is known about the film project, besides the fact that Kay Cannon, who wrote Pitch Perfect, was hired to adapt the interconnected vignettes. That Universal gave the project a release date is a good sign that they plan to move forward with production, and hopefully a director and cast will be announced soon.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Release Date: December 25, 2016

Miss Peregrine and Tim Burton are a match made in heaven. Ransom Riggs’s creepy and eccentric best-selling novel (Quirk, 2011) captivated readers with its surreal photography and atmospheric writing. It’s truly the kind of stuff that’s right up Burton’s alley. The cast is impressive. Leads Asa Butterfield and Eva Green are joined by Samuel L. Jackson, Allison Janney, Judi Dench, and Chris O’Dowd.

Optioned YA Novels

There are many more young adult novels in different stages of development, from being optioned to casting announcements. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean the project will make it to production. Plans change all the time. However, here is a brief list of novels that have at least been optioned and hopefully will get the greenlight:

The Scorpio Races (Scholastic, 2011) – Maggie Stiefvater recently announced the film’s director, newcomer Matt Sobel. The Scorpio Races has the potential to be an excellent film in the right hands.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (Little, Brown, 2012) – Dustin Lance Black (Oscar-winning screenwriter for Milk) wrote a script and will produce and direct Jennifer E. Smith’s teen romance. The cast includes Hailee Steinfeld and Robert Sheehan, both charismatic young talents.

Ashes in the Snow – Based off Ruta Sepetys’s Between Shades of Gray (Philomel, 2011), the beautifully written historical YA novel has a director, Marius A. Markevicius, and star Bel Powley, who recently starred in the acclaimed The Diary of a Teenage Girl. A title change was needed in case people confused it with another very popular and adult book-to-film franchise.

Gaby Bondi_author

Gabrielle Bondi, founder of TheYoungFolks.com

Looking for Alaska (Dutton, 2005) – Many were surprised that Looking for Alaska wasn’t the John Green follow-up to The Fault in Our Stars film. It seems production hit a roadblock. Rumors have it that the project has had a difficult time casting the right actress to play Alaska.

Shatter Me (HarperCollins, 2011) – At first Tahereh Mafi’s series was optioned for film, but earlier this year, Mafi announced that Shatter Me will be a TV series. Whether a TV pilot ever makes it to air is very hard to predict; it’s too early to say if or when we’ll be able to tune in to Shatter Me.

Gabrielle Bondi is a 20-something writer from Chicago with an unyielding passion for entertainment, books, and pop culture. In 2010, she created TheYoungFolks.com, a website dedicated to providing youthful commentary on every aspect of entertainment. 

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Comments

  1. Tracy Ferguson says:

    Looking for Alaska is my FAVORITE John Green book–I think it should be required high school reading! I am so glad it’s coming to the big screen!