Page to Screen: From YA Bestsellers to Big-Screen Blockbusters

While the jury is still out on the big screen adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones, reviewers are raving about the surprise indie hit The Spectacular Now, based on Tim Tharp’s young adult novel. Children’s books continue to be Hollywood’s go-to source for inspiration, and librarians couldn’t be happier. As readers and movie fans await the book-to-film entries coming this fall, such as Suzanne Collins’s Catching Fire and Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, SLJ looks ahead to future releases in this latest installment of Page to Screen.
While the jury is still out on the big screen adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones, reviewers are raving about the surprise indie hit The Spectacular Now, based on Tim Tharp’s young adult novel. Children’s books continue to be Hollywood’s go-to source for inspiration, and librarians couldn’t be happier. As readers and movie fans await the book-to-film entries coming this fall, such as Suzanne Collins’s Catching Fire and Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, SLJ looks ahead to future releases in this latest installment of Page to Screen. Blockbuster books = blockbuster movies

Saoirse Ronan in How I Live Now. Photo by Magnolia Pictures.

Meg Rosoff’s acclaimed How I Live Now (Random, 2004) is about a NYC girl who spends an idyllic summer with her cousins in England right before an unnamed aggressor invades the UK and threatens the world’s existence. Academy Award-winning director Kevin Macdonald is at the helm and Saoirse Ronan and George MacKay star. The film debuts this fall. The movie adaptation of 2006 bestseller The Book Thief (Random) by Markus Zusak is already building Oscar buzz and will be in theaters on November 15. This World War II drama is directed by Brian Percival, and stars Sophie Nelisse as the titular heroine Liesel, and Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson as her adoptive parents. Seventh Son is based on the first installment in Joseph Delaney's “The Last Apprentice” series (HarperCollins). In this dark fantasy, 14-year-old Tom Ward, a seventh son of a seventh son, goes on adventures as the Spook’s apprentice. Sergei Bodrov directs and Ben Barnes, Jeff Bridges, and Julianne Moore star. It features music composed by Tuomas Kantelinen. Originally scheduled to release on October 18, 2013, it will be out in theaters in 3-D and IMAX 3D on January 17, 2014. Richelle Mead's NYT-bestselling Vampire Academy (Penguin, 2007) is getting the film treatment in time for Valentine’s Day, 2014. Written by Daniel Waters of Heathers fame, and directed by his brother Mark Waters of Mean Girls fame, 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, is in capable hands. Starring Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry, and Danila Kozlovsky, the movie is due out on February 14, 2014. Positioned to be the next “Hunger Games” franchise, the movie adaptation of Veronica Roth’s Divergent (HarperCollins, 2011), featuring Hollywood’s latest sweetheart, Shailene Woodley, will be in theaters on March 21, 2014. John Green's chair on the set of In the Fault of Our Stars

John Green's chair on the set of In the Fault of Our Stars

One of the most celebrated YA novels of 2012, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton), also starring Shailene Woodley (Hazel), began filming last week in Pittsburgh, and the acclaimed author has been excitedly tweeting and Tumbling from the set with updates. He will be making a cameo appearance in the book-to-film about two teen cancer patients who fall in love. Ansel Elgort plays the male lead, Auggie, Nat Wolff is cast as Isaac, his best friend, and it was recently revealed that Laura Dern will play Hazel's mother. No film release date yet. Fans of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay (Dutton, 2009) can breathe a sigh of relief. The film, starring Chloë Moretz, was dropped by Summit earlier this year, but it has since been picked up by MGM. The tearjerker—about a girl who has an out-of-body experience following a car accident that puts her in a coma and kills the rest of her family—will be produced by Denise DiNovi and Alison Greenspan of DiNovi Pictures. No release date yet. And while Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season, just published this month, the first in a projected seven-book fantasy series by 21-year-old recent college graduate, is already building buzz for adult and teen audiences. It was recently chosen as the first Today Show book club selection, and the film rights have been acquired by Andy Serkis and Jonathan Cavendish, founders of The Imaginarium production company.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Sequels and more sequels There’s been lots of casting news for Lionsgate’s final “Hunger Games” installments, based on Suzanne Collins’s books (Scholastic). The studio is currently eyeing Julianne Moore to play President Coin in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. Natalie Dormer has been cast in the role of Cressida, while Evan Ross is set to play Messalla, Cressida's cameraman, and Stef Dawson will step in as Finnick Odair's love interest, Annie Cresta. In the meantime, fans still have Catching Fire to look forward to, in theaters on November 22, 2013. The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes is slated to begin production in the fall with Harald Zwart returning to direct, along with stars Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell. A taste of the sequel was to premiere in Cannes, but general consensus on The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones is still pending. Already banking on Divergent’s future success as a film, Brian Duffield been commissioned to begin working on the sequel, Insurgent (HarperCollins, 2012). A dystopian horizon Directed by Wes Ball, the movie version of James Dashner’s NYT-bestselling The Maze Runner (Delacorte, 2009), about a group of teens trying to survive in an enclosed environment called “The Glade,” is set to premiere in theaters on February 14, 2014. Patricia Clarkson has joined Dylan O’Brien (Thomas) and Kaya Scodelario (Teresa) in the cast as Chancellor Ava Paige. A film based on Andy Mulligan's Trash (Random, 2010), seems to be on its way to theaters soon. Rooney Mara (NGO worker named Olivia), Martin Sheen (Father Julliard), and Wagner Moura are now on board. Three street kids—Raphael (Rickson Tevez), Gardo (Eduardo Luis), and Rat (Gabriel Weinstein) live in an unnamed third-world country picking trash, and discover a mysterious bag that triggers a life-changing chain of events. Stephen Daldry is attached as director and Richard Curtis will write the script. Production starts in Rio de Janeiro and it's already slated for a May 2014 release from Universal. Many kidlit fans can attest that Lois Lowry’s Newbery-winning The Giver (Houghton, 1993) is the precursor to many of today’s dystopian YAs. Finally, the wheels for a film adaption have been set in motion. Brenton Thwaites will play an aged-up Jonas (the Receiver of memories) and Jeff Bridges is cast as the title character. Meryl Streep is in talks to play the society’s Chief Elder, tasked with assigning roles to the young denizens of a seemingly perfect world. Philip Noyce is attached as director and no release date has been yet announced. Another pre-Hunger Games may be coming to a theater near you. Scott Westerfeld’s “Uglies” series (S & S) is possibly in the pipeline again. The Australian author revealed via Twitter in July that Davis Entertainment and Lola VFX are in talks to team up and produce his NYT-best-selling trilogy, which chronicles the adventures of Tally Youngblood, a teen who unravels her “pretty” world’s ugly secrets. SLJ Best Adult Book for Teens The Age of Miracles (Random, 2012) by Karen Thompson Walker, finally has a director lined up for its highly anticipated movie adaptation: Catherine Hardwicke, of Twilight-fame. River Road Entertainment’s Bill Pohlad will produce and Seth Lochhead is writing the screenplay based on the novel about a teen’s coming of age while the Earth’s rotation has begun to slow down. Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave (Putnam, 2013) is inching closer to the big screen. Tobey Maguire’s production company has acquired the rights, and Oscar-nominated Susannah Grant is adapting the dark novel about Cassie’s struggle to survive on an Earth that is slowly being destroyed by aliens. Paramount Pictures has acquired rights to Joelle Charbonneau’s The Testing (Houghton Harcourt 2013), a YA novel in which a teen is selected for a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization. Very few survive The Testing. Classic kidlit on screen

Photo by Disney.

Maleficent, the Robert Stromberg-directed Disney film that stars Angelina Jolie as the title character, Elle Fanning as Princess Aurora, and Brenton Thwaites as the prince, will tell the story of Sleeping Beauty from the Queen’s point of view. It is set to release on July 2, 2014. Jennifer Garner, Steve Carell, Ed Oxenbould, and Bella Thorne have been filming Disney's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, based on the award-winning picture book by Judith Viorst that follows young Alexander through the trials of one very bad day. Coming to theaters on October 10, 2014, the live-action movie is directed Miguel Arteta, and was adapted by Rob Lieber. The Cinderella fairy tale is also getting another treatment in a film directed by Kenneth Branagh. The star-studded cast includes Lily James as the title character, Richard Madden as Prince Charming, Cate Blanchett as the evil stepmother Lady Tremaine, Helena Bonham Carter as Cinderella's Fairy Godmother, Hayley Atwell as Cinderella’s biological mother, and Stellan Skarsgard as the Grand Duke. It's due in theaters on March 13, 2015. The classic French novella The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery will get a star-studded cast for its future film animated adaptation.  Marion Cotillard, James Franco, Rachel McAdams, Jeff Bridges, Benicio Del Toro, Mackenzie Foy and Paul Giamatti are already on board to voice characters in sweet story about a pilot who crash-lands in the desert and meets a boy who claims to have fallen to Earth from his home on an asteroid. Bridges will voice the pilot and Cotillard is in talks to take on the part of a rose. Mark Osborne is attached to direct. Warner Bros. is making a movie based on the Archie comics series. The long-running comic about a teen and his friends set in the fictional Riverdale will be adapted by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and directed by Jason Moore. It will feature the comics’ first openly gay character, Kevin Keller, and rivals for Archie’s heart, Betty and Veronica, among other Riverdale residents. Warner Bros. is also in final negotiations to pick up the movie rights to the iconic “Encyclopedia Brown” (Penguin) children’s book series for an adaptation to be produced by Roy Lee and Howard David Deutsch. Donald J. Sobol wrote 28 books, from 1963 until his death in 2012, about the intrepid young detective and his friends. For middle grade moviegoers Laika Entertainment has scheduled a release date for The Boxtrolls on September 26, 2014, a stop-motion animated film based on Alan Snow's graphic novel series “The Ratbridge Chronicles” (S & S). Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi have teamed up to direct this project about a boy who allies himself with boxtrolls, cabbageheads, pirates, rats, a retired lawyer, and other silly characters to save the town of Ratbridge from villainous kidnappers. The cast of voice actors includes Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Ben Kingsley, Toni Collette, Nick Frost, and Jared Harris. Disney has teamed up with the Weinstein Co. to develop a book-to-film adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl (Disney, 2001). The movie will be based on the first two books in the “Artemis Fowl” series, which chronicles the adventures of a 12-year-old criminal millionaire mastermind. Screenwriter Michael Goldenberg will handle the script for the live-action film, while Robert DeNiro and Jane Rosenthal will producer alongside Weinstein. In development Addison Timlin and Jeremy Irvine are set to star in Fallen, an adaptation of Lauren Kate’s best-selling YA series about fallen angels. Produced by Lotus Entertainment and Mayhem Pictures, the film will be directed by Scott Hicks and has been adapted by Kathryn Price, Nicole Millard, and Michael Ross. Film rights to Emmy Laybourne’s Monument 14 (Feiwel & Friends, 2012) have been acquired by Strange Weather Films. The YA novel focuses on a group of 14 kids who survive an apocalyptic event, and must continue to battle the elements from the shelter of a superstore. Director/Screenwriter Brad Peyton is attached. Universal Pictures has landed the film rights to Lauren Oliver’s next young adult novel, Panic (2014). Marc Platt will produce the project. The realistic novel is described as Oliver’s return to the grittiness of her first book, Before I Fall (2010, both HarperCollins), which was optioned by Fox 2000. Ally Carter has two series optioned for film. The rights for “Gallagher Girls” have been acquired by Tonik Productions. These best-selling books share the stories of a group of sexy high-school-aged spies. The “Heist Society” series (both published by Disney/Hyperion) is now with Lionsgate with Max Handelman and Elizabeth Banks attached as producers. This series follows a reformed teen thief as she tries to make good and get out of the family con business. The cast of The Washingtons Go to Birmingham

Bryce Clyde Jenkins (from left), Skai Jackson, Anika Noni Rose, Wood Harris and Harrison Knight star as the Watson family in the Hallmark Channel movie The Watsons Go to Birmingham. (Photo courtesy of Crown Media)

On the small screen Christopher Paul Curtis's 1995 historical fiction novel, The Watsons Go To Birmingham, has been adapted for the Hallmark Channel by Tonya Lewis Lee. Directed by Kenny Leo, the film centers on an African American family living in the town of Flint, Michigan, who visit their grandmother's home in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, a turbulent time during the civil rights movement. The cast includes: Anika Noni Rose, David Alan Grier, Skai Jackson, LaTanya Richardson, Wood Harris, Bryce Jenkins, Pauletta Washington and Harrison Knight. It will have its world premiere on Friday, September 20 (8pm ET). Kass Morgan’s The 100 (Little, Brown, 2013), a postapocalyptic YA novel, will premiere as a television series on The CW in its 2013–14 midseason. Roald Dahl’s 1990 illustrated children’s book, Esio Trot, about elderly lovebirds and tortoises, will be adapted into a movie for the BBC, starring Dustin Hoffman and Dame Judi Dench as the couple. Dearbhla Walsh will direct the project, which starts filming in England next month.  See also:

Page to Screen: Summer Reading Blockbusters, Dystopian Teen Lit, and Childhood Classics

Page to Screen: Upcoming Kids’ Books Set for Film Adaptations


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