YA Movie Adaptation Roundup: ‘Divergent’ Casting, a ‘Delirium’ Pilot, & Shailene Woodley in Everything

YA Movie Roundup - Divergent Shailene Woodley TFiOS

In case you hadn’t noticed, the national economy is currently being held afloat by millions of teenage girls and the movies based on their favorite books. Of course, it’s not just teens that are reading these books and watching the movies, as proven by the tremendous box office success of films like Twilight and The Hunger Games. Now that the sparkling sun has set on the final Twilight movie (knock wood), and there are nine long months until the next installment of The Hunger Games saga, a new crop of film and TV projects based on Young Adult books are in the works. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of casting news regarding the upcoming adaptations of several popular YA series involving everything from cancer to chimaera. Here’s a look at some of the most highly anticipated books making their way to a screen near you:

  • Divergent: The film adaptation of the bestselling dystopian series by Veronica Roth cast its star months ago: The Descendants‘ Shailene Woodley will play Dauntless initiate Tris Prior. Kate Winslet, Zoë Kravitz, and Nikita‘s Maggie Q were also added to the robust cast, but fans were kept in suspense about who would play Four, the stoic instructor and love interest for Tris. Last week, the wait was finally over and it was announced that Theo James (Golden Boy) has been cast in the role. Several more names were added to the cast list on Monday, including Ben Lloyd-Hughes as Will, Ben Lamb as Edward, and Christian Madsen as Al, three of Tris’ fellow Dauntless recruits. Divergent is scheduled to hit theaters March 21, 2014.
  • Daughter of Smoke & Bone – As an avid fan of the book by Laini Taylor, I was surprised and impressed when I read that Daughter of Smoke & Bone was going to be made into a film. The visual effects alone are going to be quite a challenge—not to mention translating the sharp wit and otherworldly essence of Smoke & Bone into a film. The thrilling and intricate story follows a seventeen-year-old girl named Karou who runs errands for her chimaera (read: demon) guardian, Brimstone. It was announced last week that Stuart Beattie will write the screenplay (his credits include 30 Days of Night and Collateral). Joe Roth, who produced Oz the Great and Powerful, will produce the film. If you haven’t read Daughter of Smoke & Bone yet, I implore you to do so right now. You’ll thank me later.
  • Delirium – Fox has ordered a pilot based on the dystopian (are you tired of that word yet?) trilogy by Lauren Oliver about a not-so-distant future where citizens are required to undergo brain surgery before they turn eighteen to eliminate their ability to love, or what they think of as the disease “Amor Deliria Nervosa.” Emma Roberts will star as Lena, and Daren Kagasoff (The Secret Life of the American Teenager) will play love interest Alex. So You Think You Can Dance winner Jeanine Mason has also been cast as Lena’s friend Hana.
  • The Fault in Our Stars – John Green’s breathtaking novel about two teens who meet in a cancer support group and fall in love might be the first of Green’s books to make the leap to film. Named the #1 fiction book of the year by TIME Magazine, TFiOS has massive crossover appeal, as well as the makings of a potential Oscar contender with the right cast. It was reported last week that the lead role of sixteen-year-old cancer patient Hazel Grace Lancaster had been offered to—you guessed it—Shailene Woodley. If she accepts, I’m sure the studios can find time for her to film TFiOS in between the first and second Divergent movies (assuming they go forward with a sequel). I guess this is what happens when you play George Clooney’s daughter in an Oscar-winning film.
  • The Selection – The CW’s second attempt to bring Kiera Cass’ book (billed as a cross between The Hunger Games and The Bachelor) to the small screen has tapped Yael Grobglas to play the heroine. The rest of the still-growing cast includes Buffy alum Anthony Head, Sean Patrick Thomas, Lucien Laviscount, and Michael Malarkey.
  • The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones – The long-awaited (especially by me) film adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s urban fantasy series about a secret society of Shadowhunters (read: demon hunters) makes its way to theaters on August 23rd. TMI stars Lily Collins (Mirror Mirror), Jamie Campbell Bower, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Game of Thrones‘ Lena Headey, and Jared Harris of Fringe and Mad Men. The new theatrical trailer debuts online this Monday, but you can see the first preview here.

If I had to pick one of these projects to rise to the occasion and become the next big blockbuster franchise, I have to say I’d bet on The Mortal Instruments. Clare already has a massive fan base, and, like The Hunger Games, her books are so compulsively readable that adults will easily get into the story as well as teens. However, it is possible that I’m just a little biased because I’m hoping that if The Mortal Instruments does well at the box office, the studio will decide to go through with adapting Clare’s Victorian London-set spin-off series, The Infernal Devices, which are arguably even better than the Mortal Instruments books. (On second thought, they’re both so addictive, it’s hard to say which series is better.)

Of course, for every Hunger Games, there’s a Beautiful Creatures—a failed attempt to replicate the huge success of other teen-geared franchises. Okay, so maybe Beautiful Creatures wouldn’t qualify as a “failure,” but its $19 million gross (according to Box Office Mojo) is significantly less than Warner Brothers was hoping for. Next to hit theaters is The Host, based on Twilight author Stephenie Meyer’s sci-fi novel (which is technically an adult novel) about an apocalyptic alien invasion, starring Saoirse Ronan. We’ll see how aliens stack up against sparkly vampires at the box office. Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for that Eragon sequel. Hey, if Shailene Woodley would star in it, I bet the studio would greenlight it.

-L

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Posted on March 27, 2013, in Books, Film and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I don’t understand the obsession with Shailene Woodley, she has starred in what? Not much. I mean we haven’t even seen her in Spiderman yet and she is the buzz of Hollywood. I am not so quick to jump on this band wagon until I see her in something substantial. I am worried about her being Tris.

  2. I totally agree, @xine23. She was on that crappy show on ABC family, “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” the disgrace that made USA teens look like stupid, pregnant buffoons with dumbass haircuts. Wonderful. I doubt she can bring the grace and amazing complexity of Hazel Grace Lancaster in “The Fault in Our Stars.” That book made me cry and laugh at the same time. It made my heart hurt, physically throb in pain, because it was so real and touching. It didn’t just make me think about the world that I live in, it made me want to change, and to do more for people with cancer. I could not directly relate to the love story, but my dad died of leukemia, and I don’t want anyone else to have to go through that. If a book made this much of an impact on you, wouldn’t you want it visually represented just as powerfully?
    Although Shailene McWhat’sherface lacks the depth and wisdom that is Hazel, I hope with all my heart that the rest of the cast doesn’t disappoint. If Gus is played by some asshole that walks around without a shirt and says romantic, panty-dropping shit all the time, so help me God I will go to Los Angeles and kick them all in the nuts.

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