The Young Adult Apocalypse

The Young Adult Apocalypse
Courtesy Photo | What’s the deal with all the recent disappointing Young Adult series TV and movie adaptations?

Courtesy Photo |
What’s the deal with all the recent disappointing Young Adult series TV and movie adaptations?

Over the weekend, I went to see the movie The 5th Wave. My girlfriend had loaned me the book a few weeks earlier, and I’d been hooked from the first chapter. I quickly tore through the first book, then the second, and am eagerly awaiting the third’s release later in 2016. The movie did not hold up to the book, and not in the way so many movies based on books don’t hold up. No, The 5th Wave, starring Chloe Grace-Moretz, wouldn’t feel out of place on the SyFy network, it was so chock full of cheesy effects and terrible actors. It’s like the production blew its entire budget on stars Moretz and Liev Schreiber, arguably the two most bankable names involved, and forgot that they needed to have some left over for special effects. Add the blizzard into the equation on top of the bad reviews and general SyFy feel.

Another YA series has been adapted recently, this time as a television show since the attempt at a film series crashed and burned so miserably. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare has been turned into Shadowhunters, a series that only kind of resembles its original content. The series has been critically panned, and overall rejected by the fan base, but will probably keep chugging along for a couple of seasons as ABC Family’s new flagship show for their change to the ‘Freeform’ network.

Add to all this the diminishing returns of the Divergent series, the recent conclusion to The Hunger Games, the terrible crapfest of The Maze Runner, and the even-worse adaptation of the much-beloved novel The Giver, and it seems like the clock is finally winding down on the post-apocalypse for kids. Even as I type that, though, I’m reminded that The 100 is going strong right now, based on a book of the same name and post-nuclear war premise. On the other side of YA, beloved fantasy series His Dark Materials is being adapted as a BBC mini-series after failing miserably to gain a series order in 2005 with The Golden Compass. So even as the genre dies, vestiges of it cling to life.

The explanation on the overload of post-apocalyptic YA adaptations is actually the easiest part to explain about all of this. Hollywood has been copying other’s successes for as long as there have been studios to compete, and everyone wanted to get their hands on the next Hunger Games. Before that, it was Harry Potter. Before that, and presently as well, it’s comic books. The Hunger Games series led to the disastrous overload of disaster listed above. Harry Potter led to books like Percy Jackson and The Golden Compass getting subpar movies made.

The hardest bit is why people don’t bother reading the source material, disregard major chunks of it entirely, or skip over something that you, as a fan, knows will have major consequences in a later adaptation, like Dobby in Harry Potter going away until the final films. The baffling part of all of that is they have to know how fans react to this at this point. They have to know that word gets out, and fans don’t take kindly to, or spend money on, bad adaptations of their favorite books. There has to be a room full of people in Hollywood that just don’t care, and follow the whims of random focus groups about what isn’t working.

I suppose that’s fair. Anymore, Hollywood isn’t making movies for the American market. The international market is where a lot of the money comes from, most especially China, and they are less picky than American audiences. The ‘why’ of it all doesn’t really matter when Hollywood gets the money they want. We pay attention to American box office numbers, and judge whether a movie fails or not by the numbers presented on the Sunday following the movie’s release. They follow the total gross, which includes the international market, which accounts for the new trilogy of Transformers movies, as well as the somewhat baffling continuation of The Maze Runner series. As usual, it boils down to Americans thinking our opinions are the only ones that matter, when the only opinion that matters in Hollywood is the almighty dollar’s.

Categories: Commentary