By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com March 23, 2012 at 11:56AM
The Pitch: In the future, love has been recategorized as a disease, and everyone goes through surgery at 18 to remove the possibility. However, just before she goes under the knife, young Lena falls for a boy who helps her escape the city.
The Pros: One of the most talked-about young adult novels of the last few years, the book, by Lauren Oliver, has an irresistible high concept that could win over young girls, combined with a dystopian setting that could capitalize on "Hunger Games" mania, and enough suspense to win over those afraid of a soppy romance. Plus, it's the first of a trilogy, with "Pandemonium" following last month, and "Requiem" in February 2013.
The Cons: Fox 2000 have had the rights since the book was published in 2011, but don't appear to have done much with it; as far as we know, no writer or director is attached to the project. Furthermore, last year's "In Time" proved that this kind of high wire concept can be a tricky sell, and the books aren't yet household names, although that may change in the next year or two.
Status: In development
The Pitch: In a future where Earth is at war with an alien race known as the Formics, a group of children, including the titular Ender, are sent into orbit to train to be soldiers of the future.
The Pros: Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" is one of the most beloved science fiction novels around, and Summit are hoping to do for hard sci-fi what they did for vampires with "Twilight," with this long-in-the-works adaptation, directed by "Wolverine" helmer Gavin Hood, and produced by "Star Trek" supremos Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci. And they've got an impressive cast on board, with "Hugo" star Asa Butterfield and "Little Miss Sunshine" star Abigail Breslin leading the younger lot, and Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and Viola Davis among the adults. With "Prometheus" on the horizon, this could be the next epic sci-fi to cash in.
The Cons: To quote from ourselves just a moment ago, "directed by 'Wolverine' helmer Gavin Hood." That aside, with space war and aliens, this is much harder science fiction than the relatively relatable, grounded stuff of "The Hunger Games," and it may be trickier to capture the right demographics, especially as the book isn't a recent bestseller. And on the flipside, will adults happily turn up to a film like this where the main characters are mainly kids? It worked for "Harry Potter," but that was a bona-fide phenomenon already.
Status; Just started filming, and hits theaters on March 15, 2013.
"The Graveyard Book"
The Pitch: Riffing on Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book," this involves Bod Owens, a young boy raised by ghosts after the murder of his family by the mysterious Jack.
The Pros: Neil Gaiman is one of the biggest names in fantasy, and film adaptations of his work -- "Stardust" and "Coraline" -- have been moderately successful. And "The Graveyard Book" is one of his most acclaimed and popular works, is a rich, witty, thrilling, imaginative tale that could, if done right, hook kids, adults and everyone in between. Neil Jordan, a near-perfect choice, snapped up the rights, and has come close to getting the film made more than once in the last few years.
The Cons: For one, the book is quite episodic in form, spanning twenty years or so, and would likely resist an attempt to bang into the shape of a coherent feature narrative: like much of Gaiman's writing, it might be better suited to television. Furthermore, Jordan's adaptation is yet to get off the ground and the property might need a real studio on board. Another consideration is that while Gaiman plans a sequel at some point, he's ludicrously busy, so backers may be a little disappointed that there's no ready-made sequel to follow.
Status: Dead/In development.
The Pitch: A young woman from a long line of thieves and cat burglars is drawn back into the family business when her father is accused of stealing a gangster's precious art collection.
The Pros: While unimaginative studio executives reacted to the young adult explosion by greenlighting everything with young-looking vampires, there's plenty more to draw on, and Drew Barrymore spotted something else; a novel by Ally Carter that's essentially a kind of "Ocean's Eleven" for teens. She's reunited with the writer of her scrappy-but-likable directorial debut "Whip It," Shauna Cross, for this project, which could serve as the first of a franchise at Warner Bros -- Carter has already penned a follow-up novel. A young-skewing heist flick seems like a licence to print money to us, and Barrymore showed with "Whip It" that she's got a great sense of how to tell the stories of young women in a non-token way.
The Cons: Previous attempts at this genre, like the Scarlett Johansson-starring "The Perfect Score," weren't particularly successful, and there's probably a demographic cap on this: it's not going to be the next monster hit.
Status: In development.