With the megahit adaptations “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games” grossing a collective $5 billion globally so far, expectations are high for Lionsgate and Summit’s latest YA offering “Divergent” (pictured, left). The sci-fi adventure is currently tracking for a $60 million-plus opening, almost on par with the first “Twilight” movie’s $70 million Thanksgiving weekend bow. The studio has already scheduled two additional “Divergent” installments: “Insurgent” and “Allegiant” with hit theaters in March 2015 and March 2016, respectively.
But for every box office success, there are 10 commercial disappointments. Here’s how other YA-inspired movies have performed worldwide.
“The Giver,” “The Maze Runner” and “The Fault in Our Stars” are some of the other highly-anticipated titles that will be brought to the silver screen this year.
Towering over the competition with $7.7 million, Warner Bros. “Harry Potter” is not only the most financially successful YA franchise, but the third highest grossing movie franchise of all time. The final release alone, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2,” made over $1.3 billion worldwide. The eight films — adapted from J.K. Rowling’s megahit fantasy novels — were also one of the most expensive in movie history. The first six movies cost an estimated $1.3 billion, with the first one weighing in at $125 million — the most expensive first installment on the list.
Aside from revitalizing the vampire trend, the “Twilight” franchise also sparked the recent flurry of interest in adapting YA novels into movies. Author Stephenie Meyer’s vampire romance series was brought to the bigscreen with five films that altogether grossed over $3.3 billion worldwide. The final and most successful installment, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2,” hauled almost $830 million worldwide. The movies, which reportedly cost a whopping $385 million to make (at $120 million, the last film’s production budget was almost four times that of the first), launched stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson to superstardom and motivated Lionsgate and Summit to invest in other YA fare.
“The Hunger Games”
Only half of Lionsgate-Summit’s planned four “Hunger Games” films — based on Suzanne Collins’ sci-fi trilogy — have been released so far, but the franchise has already made over $1.6 billion globally on a combined estimated budget of $208 million. “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is still playing in theaters so the movie isn’t done breaking records just yet. While all but one “Harry Potter” movies have outperformed “Hunger Games” pics worldwide, the two “Hunger Games” films are the highest grossing YA movies domestically, with “Catching Fire” the tenth top grossing pic of all time. “Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” will bow this November, while the sequel hits theaters the same time next year. The movies have also solidified Jennifer Lawrence’s A-list status.
“The Chronicles of Narnia”
The first three bigscreen adaptations of C.S. Lewis’ famous series have pulled $1.6 billion collectively worldwide. However, the first installment, Michael Apted’s “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe,” earned almost as much as the first two combined at $745 million. Andrew Adamson directed the next two pics. A fourth family adventure, “The Silver Chair,” is currently in development at Fox. Disney distributed the first two movies.
“Percy Jackson & the Olympians”
Unlike other franchises on this list, the first “Percy Jackson” adaptation, “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief,” fared better in both the domestic and worldwide box offices than its follow-up, “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.” The first movie made $226 million globally (over 2.5 times more than its Stateside pull) on an estimated $95 million budget, while the second earned $200 million globally (almost thrice its Stateside gross) on a $90 million budget. Fans were disappointed that the movie, based on Rick Riordan’s series about Poseidon’s half-human, half-god son, deviated from the original plot. The next installment was tweaked to follow the book more closely (and new director Thor Freudenthal was brought in Chris Columbus’ place), but many fans didn’t return to the theater to find out. Fox’s next installment, “The Titan’s Curse,” could see light next year.
Despite demanding $372 million worldwide, New Line’s “The Golden Compass” was never sequalized. Based on the first of Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” series, the movie starred big names Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman. Writer-director Chris Weitz’s CGI-heavy fare cost $180 million. The pic was less successful stateside with a $70 million cume.
The first of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle series, “Eragon,” made about $250 million. Despite the seemingly high gross, Fox’s family action adventure only made $75 million Stateside, falling $25 million short of its huge $100 million budget. Fox decided against adapting the other books in the series.
“The Princess Diaries”
Anne Hathaway has this little movie franchise to thank for her not-so-little career. Disney ordered a second film from Garry Marshall after the unanticipated success of the first movie, which earned a sizable $165 million worldwide on a tiny $26 million budget. But “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement” earned about $30 million less, cost almost twice as much as the original to shoot and differed more from the books. Although Meg Cabot’s series grew to 17 titles, Disney pulled the cord after two adaptions.
Courtesy of Disney
“I Am Number Four”
Disney’s follow-up pic was shelved following “I Am Number Four”s worldwide showing of almost $150 million. Based on the first book in Pittacus Lore’s (pseudonym of James Frey and Jobie Hughes) “Lorien Legacies” sci-fi series, the sci-fi drama saw a dismal domestic gross of $55 million — $5 million short of matching its budget.
“I Know What You Did Last Summer”
The oldest novel in the bunch, Lois Duncan 1973 thriller “I know What You Did Last Summer” fared surprisingly well on the big screen. The first movie made almost $126 million worldwide. However, the sequel, which was budgeted at an estimated $65 million, flopped at $40 million. The second didn’t even see a worldwide release.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
It’s rare for an author to write and direct his/her own movie adaptation. But if anyone could do justice to Stephen Chbosky’s controversial Gen Y literary canon “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” it was Chbosky himself. The movie made $33 million globally, almost tripling its modest $13 million budget. It took in an impressive $57,000 per theater when it opened in limited release in 2012. Lionsgate-Summit’s adaptation (the studio’s fourth on this list, including “Divergent”) was critically raved, earning Chbosky the best first feature prize at the Independent Spirit Awards and helping Emma Watson step away from Hermione Granger’s shadow.
“The Book Thief”
Fox’s critically acclaimed war drama made almost $68 million worldwide and reportedly cost $19 million to make. Although modest compared to the other adaptations on the list, the film adaptation of Markus Zusak’s award-winning novel of the same name still performed well considering its production size. It also put a spotlight on newcomer Sophie Nelisse.
“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”
Based on “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” series by Ann Brashares, the movies about four best friends boosted the careers of starlets Alexis Bledel, Blake Lively, Amber Tamblyn and America Ferrera. While Ken Kwapis’ first pic made $42 million worldwide, the second earned only $2 million more. A $2 million budget also separated the two; Sanaa Hamri’s “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2” was made with an estimated $27 million. Unlike most of the films on the list, these two were only released in a few foreign markets.
The vampire trend may be sucked dry as “Vampire Academy,” based on Richelle Mead’s popular six-book series of the same name, was dead on arrival. Mark Waters’ low-budget action comedy has only been in theaters for a month, but it’s already headed for disaster. The movie (think “Twilight”-meets-“Mean Girls”) has made less than $9 million worldwide and opened at seventh place Stateside to the Weinstein Company’s displeasure.
“Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”
Although it tripled its domestic gross worldwide with $91 million, “Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” still took a big stumble. Harald Zwart’s expensive (reported $60 million) pic based on Cassandra Clare’s sci-fi action-adventure series jeopardized the franchise’s future. After putting production for the sequel on hold, Constantin Film ultimately decided to follow through with “City of Ashes” with an amended script and marketing strategy. The movie is set to shoot this year and Clare’s sixth and final book in the fantasy series, “City of Heavenly Fire,” is due out in May.
Orson Scott Card’s 1985 military sci-fi novel, “Ender’s Game,” which began as a short story in 1977, was brought to the silver screen late last year. The Gavin Hood-directed pic disappointed with $112 million worldwide – $2 million more than its reported production cost. Like fellow franchise-starter “The Mortal Instruments,” “Ender’s Game”s horrible B.O. showing spelled trouble for planned follow-ups. The low turnout could partly be attributed to the film being boycotted following Card’s outspoken arguments against same-sex marriage. Lionsgate is still deciding whether to go forward with the sequel. There has been speculation that the next pic could be original or tossed aside entirely for a TV spinoff.
Another paranormal YA series adaptation, another flop. Warner Bros.’ film based on Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia’s bestselling series opener of the same name only made $60 million worldwide (and one third of that sum domestically) — the cost of its production budget. This supernatural star-crossed romance from director Richard LaGravenese didn’t recreate the magic of “Twilight” (despite the star-studded cast of Viola Davis, Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson and Emmy Rossum), but the movie attracted a new fan base for the books. A spinoff series of novels, “Dangerous Creatures,” is in the works. The first book will be published in May.
After producing the last two film of her “Twilight” saga, Stephenie Meyer sought to strike YA gold twice by signing on as producer for the adaptation of her novel “The Host.” Despite the out-of-this-world success of “Twilight,” Andrew Niccol’s romantic sci-fi thriller fell more than short of expectations when it was panned by critics and earned $48 million worldwide. The movie, which reportedly cost Open Road $40 million to make, wasn’t even able to cover its costs. It opened at an embarrassing sixth place in the U.S. box office.