"How I Live Now"
The Pitch: An American girl is staying with her cousins in the English countryside when World War III breaks out, and with the nation occupied, they must fight for survival.
The Pros: "How I Live Now" comes with more pedigree than most on this list. The novel by Meg Rosoff has won multiple awards, it has director Kevin MacDonald ("Touching The Void," "The Last King of Scotland") at the helm, the script is by Jeremy Brock ('Last King...'), Tony Grisoni ("Red Riding") and Jack Thorne, and Oscar-nominee Saoirse Ronan is in the lead role. The book is really very good indeed, tougher and less escapist than the competition, so if any of these becomes a critical hit, it could be this one.
The Cons: Even if it does win over the critics, commercial success is far from guaranteed; it's dark, uncompromising source material, more "Never Let Me Go" than "Breaking Dawn." And as far as we know, there's little-to-no chance of this becoming a franchise. Temper your expectations of this being a "Hunger Games"-style phenomenon and just hope that MacDonald turns out a good movie.
Status: Should go before cameras in the next few months for release in 2013.
"The Knife Of Never Letting Go"
The Pitch: Todd Hewitt is the only boy left in a settlement without women, and the men constantly hear each others thoughts, known as "the noise." After escaping the settlement, he soon discovers a girl who's able to create silence.
The Pros: One of the most acclaimed novels in the genre since its publication in 2008, Patrick Ness' "The Knife Of Never Letting Go" is the first in his "Chaos Walking" trilogy (continued by "The Ask And The Answer" and "Monsters Of Men") and like "The Hunger Games," its set in a dystopian world where a sinister overclass lord over everyone else with dark rules. Lionsgate have the rights, and may be hoping to rework their magic once 'Hunger Games' is established as a franchise.
The Cons: It also seems to be, as far as we can tell, extremely complicated, with a new mythology that would be tricky to sell in a 30 second TV spot. It also seems to be dark, brutal and violent: true of "The Hunger Games" too, but that was a phenomenon even before the movie was greenlit. As far as we can tell, Lionsgate haven't made much progress on the film, although they only snapped up the rights in October, to be fair.
Status: In development
The Pitch: In an alternate Victorian England where mankind has been exploring space for a century, the Earth comes under attack by an alien race, setting Art and Myrtle Mumby on a quest to save their father.
The Pros: Philip Reeve is one of the more acclaimed writers in the field (his "Mortal Engines" series is being developed by Peter Jackson), and the "Larklight" trilogy promises to look like nothing else on screen. Especially as it has some serious talent on board: "Eastern Promises" writer Steven Knight penned the script, and Tomas Alfredson, director of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and "Let The Right One In," is attached to helm the Warner Bros project.
The Cons: For one, nothing's been heard on this film for two years, and Alfredson never brought it up during the 'Tinker Tailor' press rounds. For another, the film probably qualifies more as a sci-fi tentpole than as a potential teen phenomenon, and after "John Carter," we suspect studios aren't going to be chomping at the bit to greenlight pulpy, period sci-fi pictures, especially ones based on relatively obscure subject matter.
Status: Dead/In development.