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As 'Twilight' Fades, A Guide to Hollywood's Young Adult Franchise Bets, from 'Angelfall' to 'Divergent'

Thompson on Hollywood By Aljean Harmetz | Thompson on Hollywood November 17, 2012 at 6:04AM

The last of the “Twilight” movies has now reached theatres, and “Catching Fire,” the second book in Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” trilogy, is in production. But Hollywood is by no means finished making movies about powerful teenagers. At least a dozen young adult novels – featuring girls who must fight werewolves, vanquish evil angels, discover why they are immortal, evade cannibals and, in one case, fall in love with a shape-shifting tiger -- have been scooped up by major studios and minor production companies. What makes these young adult novels even more alluring is the fact that their audience is not limited to teenagers. They are avidly read by large numbers of adult women.
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Lily Collins in "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones"
Lily Collins in "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones"

The last of the “Twilight” movies has now reached theatres, and “Catching Fire,” the second book in Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” trilogy, is in production.  But Hollywood is by no means finished making movies about powerful teenagers.

At least a dozen young adult novels – featuring girls who must fight werewolves, vanquish evil angels, discover why they are immortal, evade cannibals and, in one case, fall in love with a shape-shifting tiger -- have been scooped up by major studios and minor production companies.  What makes these young adult novels even more alluring is the fact that their audience is not limited to teenagers. They are avidly read by large numbers of adult women.

This week, director Sam Raimi (“Spider-Man”) and Good Universe, a financing and production company formed last May, grabbed the rights to “Angelfall,” in which angels of the apocalypse create havoc on earth and 17-year-old Penryn must try to rescue her younger sister with the help of an enemy - the warrior angel Raffe who has been injured and is wingless.

“Daughter of Smoke and Bone,” won by Universal in a bidding war with three other studios, adds demons to its angels when the devil runs low on human teeth and Karou, an art student, is caught in the conflict between immortals.

Unlike Katness Everdeen of “The Hunger Games,” many of the teenage girls in these novels discover that they are not-quite human.  In the “Trylle” trilogy, (purchased by Media Capital  Rights), Wendy Everly turns out to be a troll princess, while the heroine of the five book series “Wicked” (DreamWorks) is the descendant of a powerful coven of witches who falls in love with a boy from a coven that has vowed to destroy her family.  In “Origin” (Scott Pictures), the teenager who has been created to be immortal escapes from the lab to search for her origin.  And in “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” (Sony),  Clary Fray, an ordinary teenager, discovers that she is a half-angel, one of the shadowhunters in an alternate New York City of werewolves, warlocks, vampires and demons.

This article is related to: Features, The Hunger Games, Twilight, The Hunger Games, Young Adult Novels


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.