Welcome to the YA Movie Countdown, our resident expert’s continuing guide to young adult book-to-film adaptations.
Anticipation is one thing, but this is a business and that means that come release time, our six impending young adult book-to-film adaptations will primarily be judged by their box office hauls – especially considering four of the six are part of multiple-book series. Things can change, particularly if some of these prove to be high quality adaptations, but at the moment, here’s how the box office potential of this year’s crop of YA films breaks down.
This one is going to be a toss-up. The Weinstein Company just uprooted Vampire Academy from its original Valentine’s Day release and plopped it back down in the February 7 slot where it’ll face off against The Lego Movie and Monuments Men. Even though both are potential big earners, this could be a smart move because not only is February 14 overloaded with new material, but that new material includes two films that could threaten some of Vampire Academy’s target audience: the Alex Pettyfer romance Endless Love and the book-to-film adaptation Winter’s Tale.
The first weekend of February also marked a strong debut for another YA-to-film adaptation last year, Jonathan Levine’s Warm Bodies. Hopefully Vampire Academy will manage to match that film’s $ 20.4 million start, but unfortunately, the fact that Warm Bodies was nearly free of new competition makes that highly unlikely. The only other newcomer that weekend was Bullet to the Head and it only managed to open at number six with $ 4.5 million. On top of that, Vampire Academy will also have to fend off another box office veteran that will probably still be going strong. Odds are that I, Frankenstein will come and go, but That Awkward Moment could certainly dip into its viewership, and then there’s all of our Academy Awards. It’s highly unlikely any of them will be posting numbers north of $ 10 million come February 7, but as a collective, they could still be claiming a relatively large chunk of the pie.
As much as it pains me to say it, Vampire Academy could have a rough start. Unless Weinstein starts ramping up the promotional campaign in a way that pushes the appeal beyond fans of the source material, Vampire Academy might only manage to kick off its run with a total of $ 16 million, which would be especially unfortunate because with all of the competition arriving the weekend after, odds are, it’ll then fall fast.
Opening Prediction: $ 16 million
Is Divergent really the next Hunger Games? Well, it may be the next young-adult series to earn franchise status, but it won’t even come close to The Hunger Games’ open total. There is no doubt that Lionsgate and Summit are going with the March 21 slot in hopes it’ll be Hunger Games all over again and score a whopping $ 152.5 million, but realistically, Divergent will be lucky to make a third of that – but that isn’t all that bad.
First off, Hunger Games opened solo and the only big earner left over from the previous weak was 21 Jump Street. Divergent, however, is due to open against Muppets Most Wanted. The first Muppet movie opened to the tune of nearly $ 30 million, but it was going up against The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 in its second weekend out. However, Muppets also debuted during a high-earning holiday weekend, so if we split the difference, Muppets Most Wanted could open with a similar amount.
So now what does that leave for Divergent? This weekend in 2012, the top 12 earners took $ 203.8 million in total. Last year, they took $ 130 million. Considering it’s nearly impossible for Divergent to match Hunger Games, if we work with the $ 130 million, Muppets takes $ 30 million, which is actually quite similar to the breakdown between The Croods, Olympus Has Fallen and Oz the Great and Powerful last year, so that should leave about $ 45 million for Divergent.
Opening Prediction: $ 45 million
THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
The Fault in Our Stars is currently sitting pretty in the June 6 slot with only Edge of Tomorrow in its way. It may seem like an odd time of year to drop a young-adult drama, but that means it’ll undoubtedly attract every moviegoer who doesn’t feel like catching another Tom Cruise sci-fi thriller. Even more promising, we’ll be able to say the same thing about every other big release slated for the slots prior to TFIOS’ debut. Even though X-Men: Days of Future Past and Maleficent are both poised to hit it big, neither should take away from TFIOS’ audience.
There isn’t much material that lines up with The Fault in Our Stars’ genre, tone and release date, but a close match could be something like Eat Pray Love. Shailene Woodley doesn’t have the same star power as Julia Roberts, but if the film and her performance pick up some serious buzz prior to the release, there’s no reason to think it won’t snag $ 7,000 per theater and take something like $ 17 million to start.
Opening Predictions: $ 17 million
August 15 is still a ways away, but it’s still strange that we haven’t heard a single thing about The Giver. However, this time in 2011, we were in a very similar position with The Help. There was interest, but the talk didn’t ramp up until The Help showed up at Cinema Con in March. Could the Weinstein Company be taking a similar approach to The Giver? Considering The Help opened with $ 26 million, it wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Not only is The Giver based on award-winning source material like The Help, but it’s also more family friendly resulting in a wider appeal and it has even more star power with Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges at the head of the roster. Plus, it wouldn’t be surprising if TWC treated this one like an awards contender, much like Lee Daniels’ The Butler, which dropped the same weekend last year. The Giver will likely have a harder time with The Expendables 3 and perhaps even Let’s Be Cops than The Butler did with Kick-Ass 2 and Jobs, but the film certainly has a shot at coming close to the $ 20 million mark.
Opening Predictions: $ 19 million
THE MAZE RUNNER
It isn’t fair to jump to conclusions, but there’s just no denying that when a film is delayed, often it doesn’t meet expectations when it finally arrives. Even though star Dylan O’Brien told Hypable that The Maze Runner was better off opening on September 19 rather than Valentine’s Day because there would have been such a short turnaround from wrapping production to delivery, that new date doesn’t really suggest the studio thinks the film will be much of a winner.
Solid September openings tend to fall in the $ 20 to $ 30 million range. Clearly something like Insidious: Chapter 2 is an exception, but unless The Maze Runner winds up blowing critics away and creating some serious hype, it could find itself leaning towards this past summer’s YA bust, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. It’s got familiar teen stars, but no one that would allow the film to tap into a wider audience, it’s pressed with the challenge of proving it’s a worthy Hunger Games follow-up and has to sell an unfamiliar dystopian world. Quality could put it beyond Mortal Instruments, but even then, Maze Runner is far less marketable than Ender’s Game, so this one could wrap its opening weekend right in the middle with just less than $ 20 million.
Opening Predictions: $ 19 million
THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY, PART 1
Get ready for another round of Hunger Games domination because the question here is not will it open big, but rather, how big? This movie is kicking off its run north of $ 150 million no matter what, but the challenge will be trumping Catching Fire’s $ 158.1 million start and breaking the $ 160 million barrier. Can it do it? I think so.
First off, Mockingjay, Part 1 has the benefit of a year-long gap between its release and Catching Fire’s debut. The Hunger Games hype never really died out, but by shorting the gap from the 20 months between the first and second films to just 12 months, that means Mockingjay will arrive with even more momentum. Also suggesting Mockingjay can open big, if not bigger, is that it’s in a very similar position competition-wise. Catching Fire opened against Delivery Man and, at the moment, the only new movie set to go up against Mockingjay is McFarland, which could wind up being a Delivery Man-sized performer.
The odds are in The Hunger Games’ favor yet again in every respect suggesting that Mockingjay could be on its way to a record-breaking start, perhaps even hitting $ 165 million.
Opening Predictions: $ 165 million
The YA Movie Countdown runs here on Movies.com every other Wednesday.
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