If you’ve watched any movie in any capacity, then you’ll have noticed that there’s a recent trend in which Hollywood has been looking to adapt various teen fiction novels into movie franchises.
While many people may argue that it started with Harry Potter, where it really began was with the adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series.
People remain as divided about the quality of the Twilight mythos as the fans themselves are divided into Teams Jacob and Edward. However, the film’s financial backers see it, to paraphrase Beyond the Trailer’s Grace Randolph, as a series of “sexy family movies.”
It is undeniable that the Twilight series was a success at the box office. It’s because of this success that we saw a surge in Young Adult Fiction novels.
This also prompted studios to buy up as many movies to various teen novels, particularly romance driven ones similar to Twilight. Here we get films like I am Number Four, labeled as “Twilight with aliens,” a moderate box office success that was universally panned by critics and a majority of audiences.
A lesson in literary bandwagoning
What makes I am Number Four a somewhat interesting case was the history behind the book. It all began with a man named James Frey, who started out as an intern at the news site, Gawker.
He first made news when his memoir, A Million Little Pieces, was found to be entirely untrue, prompting backlash from the press and leading Oprah Winfrey to confront Frey and his publisher on her talk show.
After the scandal had died down, Frey founded Full Fathom Five. The intent of the company was to produce high concept, movie adaptable teen fiction novels like Twilight.
The company became entangled in a controversy when a student with a Master of Fine Arts degree that was in talks with the company released a severely limiting contract that Frey had presented.
“You’re going to write for me. I’m going to own it. I may or may not give you credit…In exchange for this, I’m going to pay you 40 percent of some amount you can’t verify — there’s no audit provision — and after the deduction of a whole bunch of expenses,” veteran publishing attorney Conrad Rippy said in an interview with New York Magazine after looking through the contract.
With the Twilight series coming to a hopefully permanent close and The Hunger Games series filling the void, I leave you with this question. Are teenagers so detached and hormonal that the only way to get them into theatres or bookstores is to entice them with sexual undertones, gratuitous violence, and pacified versions of movie monsters?
Next Week: The “maturation” of classic fairy tales.