‘Twilight’ Succeeds Where Other Young Adult Adaptations Failed

by on August 8th, 2010
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“The Twilight Saga” remains one of the top young adult novel series ever adapted to the big screen. While it won’t reach the amazing levels of “Harry Potter,” “Twilight” has accomplished more than most of its competition ever dreamed of. With any number of kid’s books in the past getting movie deals, very few have warranted sequels. “The Hunger Games” hopes to keep up the success of “Twilight” but producers say it has to make $100 million domestically to warrant a sequel of its own. Here are a number of movies based on young adult novels that did not fare that well.

“Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events”

Jim Carrey stars in “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” a movie based on the “A Series of Unfortunate Events” book series. The series totaled 13 books and looked like it would be the next big young adult franchise. However, that never occurred, thanks in large part to the movie only slightly making more box office than its budget.

The series follows three young children who try to move on after the death of their parents. Their evil cousin, Count Olaf, gains custody but abuses them until a social worker rescues them. Olaf continues to hunt the children down, causing mayhem along the way. Carrey plays Olaf in this adaptation, combining “The Bad Beginning,” “The Reptile Room,” and “The Wide Window” into one movie. While the movie is light fun, it was never enough to captivate audiences enough to demand a sequel.

“Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief”

The biggest problem with “Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief” is the movie veers too much from the source material. The novels, a young adult series written by Rick Riordan, surround the classic Greek gods. The plotline features a young man who discovers he is the son of the god Poseidon and heads to Camp Half-Blood to discover how to use his powers. There he befriends a young female student and an awkward satyr named Grover. If you think it is similar to “Harry Potter,” it is exactly the same setup except with gods instead of wizards.

However, the archetype is the only real similarity. The books lead Percy off on a mission to save the gods from the titans, who seek to return and destroy them all. That is where the movie fails. While it is a fun adventure for the kids, it makes some major changes to the plotline, having specific characters take actions others accomplished in the books and disrupting the continuity for later story arcs. That turned off many of the book’s fans, and the film failed at the box office as a result.

“I Am Number Four”

“I Am Number Four” deserved to fail at its attempt to cash in on the young adult audience. The main sin was the fact studio optioned the material before it ever succeeded in the book market. There was no built-in audience for the movie since it hit theaters only four short months after the book hit stores. The movie was great fun, directed by D.J. Caruso (“Disturbia”) and produced by Michael Bay, but by cashing in on the book too early, it ended up floundering based on the unfamiliarity of the title.

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