Hollywood is gobbling up movie rights to almost every best-selling Young Adult novel to hit book stands in the past few years. Can you blame them? Every studio is looking for the new Harry Potter, Twilight and now Hunger Games. Frankly, looking at what’s hot in YA is a great place to start.
As a long time reader of YA lit and huge film fan, it’s sort crazy to see both of my passions merge into this big thing. I feel like almost every other day I hear about a studio buying up the rights to a book I just read. It’s really cool, especially when I feel like it’s the right studio and team for the story. It’s also great for a site like this one because we cover both books and movies. Unlike movie sites, we’ve actually read the book that is being optioned, adapted, etc. Unlike book sites, we have an understanding of how the movie industry works and can analyze what certain developments can mean for a film or even a television show.
For a more general look at how YA adaptations work, see guest posts at School Library Journal’s Connect the Pop blog: Five Things Readers and Fans Don’t Know About YA Movies But Should Part 1 & Part 2
However, if you’re looking for something more specific, below I have listed over 50 popular YA books that have been optioned by various studios and producers. There are so many books I’m missing. Adapting novels into movies is not a new thing in Hollywood; so of course, there’s plenty to report on. I chose the ones that I’ve either read or heard about. If I’m missing a book, leave a comment! I’ll be happy to add it to the list. Ideally, I would like to update this list as time goes on.
Everything is arranged by latest developments and updates. No word on any movement for a project in a couple years isn’t promising. But that doesn’t mean you should lose hope. Read on to see the status of your favorite YA film adaptations!
Update: Since I wrote this list, some have become a done deal, meaning there’s a 99.9% chance it will hit the big screen. Congrats to the adaptations at the BOTTOM of this post for making it!
Now onto the “possible” YA adaptations….
Delirium by Lauren Oliver - Fox 2000 (oh hey, them again!) made a big deal with Lauren Oliver in early 2011. Not only did they buy the rights for Delirium, but they also signed a “first look” deal for all future books written by Oliver and all books published under Oliver’s company, Paper Lantern Lit. Since then, there hasn’t been any real updates on the status of Delirium until a few months ago when Oliver said in an interview that a first draft of the script was finished. Here’s what Oliver had to say about the script: ““I felt the script was remarkably faithful to the book, which is fascinating, because it managed to condense 400-ish pages into a slender, moving, and breakneck-paced script of about, I don’t know, 120 pages.” Click here to read more of her thoughts on the script. So who has written the script? I have NO idea. Remarkably, there is no mention of who was hired to adapt the screenplay anywhere.
Delirium UPDATE (1/23/13): FOX ordered a pilot for Delirium; click here to read more.
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake – This news comes right out of Sundance, where Twilight author-now-producer Stephenie Meyer is premiering Austenland. Meyer and a producing partner from company, Fickle Fish, are said to have optioned this book and are developing it into a film. We don’t know if anyone set to adapt or direct this film, but it’s an interesting and smart move on Meyer’s part. Anna Dressed in Blood is good and one of the more creepy YA picks. If done right, I honestly think it could make a great horror film.
Pure by Julianna Baggott - Fox 2000 picked up the rights to Pure in late 2010. (I think I’m going to tally up how many rights each studio has picked up. I bet Fox 2000 wins.) Unsurprisingly, nothing has happened yet. Karen Rosenfeldt is producing the project. She’s worked with Fox on The Devil Wears Prada and is a producer for the Twilight movies. With so many dystopian stories in the mix, is there room for another one? I haven’t read Pure, but I did hear it was great. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Pure UPDATE (12/19/2013): Pure now has a writer and director attached to the project. James Ponsoldt (Smashed) will be adapting and directing Pure. I really loved Ponsoldt’s last film, Smashed, and his latest film, The Spectacular Now, is getting a ton a great buzz from Sundance. I’m very curious to see Ponsoldt transition from indie-to-franchise and think he’ll bring something refreshing and unique to this story.
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead – Mike Preger of Preger Entertainment optioned the rights to Vampire Academy sometime in 2011. Since then, he built Facebook and Twitter pages so fans can show support for a VA movie. Later on, he got producer Don Murphy on board. In early 2012, he gave an update on the movie’s status. Apparently, they spent months negotiating with four Hollywood movie studios. Unfortunately, they all fell through because none of them wanted to commit to actually making VA into a movie and not let it sit on the “option” shelf for years. It’s sort of nice that Preger really wants this movie to happen, and it sucks that no studios seem to want to make it. Getting Murphy to produce definitely helped. (He’s done big films like Transformers.) I love Vampire Academy, but I can see why studios are hesitant. Besides the fact that audiences are getting tired of vampires (thanks, Twilight), it’s hard to see how well the story can translate to film. In this case, I would LOVE to see a Vampire Academy TV show or miniseries. It would work a lot better in that format. However, TV already has True Blood and Vampire Diaries. Is there any room for VA? Right now, no. But I think a few years down the road, Vampire Academy will finally have its day on the big screen or small.
VA UPDATE (12/18/12): The VA Movie Facebook page updated with some promising news! It looks like VA has a script! Dan Waters (brother of Mean Girls director Mark Waters) has adapted a screenplay. Waters’ work includes the cult classic Heathers and Batman Returns. I think his Heathers credit makes him a sound pick to adapt a novel like VA, which has a sassy lead character. Producer Don Murphy has this to say about the news: “Dan has written a brilliant screenplay for VAMPIRE ACADEMY. Smart and funny, clever and really a great read – it is going to make a terrific film.” If it’s as good as Don says it is, teaming up with a studio this upcoming year should make things much easier than before.
VA UPDATE (12/19/2012): Vampire Academy now has a director! Mark Waters (brother of screenwriter Dan Waters) is set to direct the film. Waters is most famous for directing movies like Mean Girls, Freaky Friday, The Spiderwick Chronicles and Mr. Popper’s Penguins. I think his experience with directing teen movies, especially Mean Girls, shows that he’s a solid choice for the job. In addition to this news, producer Don Murphy says, ” Casting starts immediately.” Is VA finally hitting its speed? The next year will be sure to tell us. (Another question: why aren’t they releasing this information exclusively to a big media outlet? Everything comes directly from their fan VA page. Not saying I don’t think the information is credible, it is. Just that it would get a lot more buzz and attention if websites like Variety, Deadline or even Entertainment Weekly were to announce it.)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – Universal acquired the worldwide rights to this story. That’s really about it. No one has been hired to do anything with it yet, or at least it hasn’t been announced. They’re probably waiting to see how successful the series becomes; the second book, Days of Blood and Starlight, comes out in November 2012. Personally, I love this story. (When I met the author last month, I couldn’t stop gushing; it was borderline embarrassing.) After Universal’s box office success with Snow White and the Huntsman, this kind of epic fantasy is likely something they are seriously considering. Honestly, they should just drop the SWATH sequel and make Daughter of Smoke and Bone happen instead, right?
Daughter UPDATE (12/18/12): Wow. I practically predicted this. Joe Roth and Palak Patel (the producers of Snow White and the Huntsman) are tapped to produce Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Clearly, this news shows that this project is a priority by getting these two very successful producers to back it. It’s fantastic news! I feel they heard my plea to forget the SWATH sequel and go ahead with Smoke and Bone. With such promising news, I can’t wait to see what else develops. It’s fair to expect some more updates and announcements regarding this adaptation in 2013, since Roth (who also produced Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and the upcoming Oz: The Great and Powerful) is a producer who makes projects happen. (Literally, trying not to freak out in excitement right now.)
Reboot by Amy Tintera – Reboot was optioned by Fox 2000 in February 2012 and now has just landed a screenwriter. Lindsay Devlin has been hired to adapt the YA sci-fi novel about re-animated from the dead teen soldiers. Devlin is a newbie, formerly being a development executive. Reboot seems to be her first script, so I can’t judge her on previous work. As for Reboot itself, I haven’t heard of the book until now. It doesn’t release until Spring 2013, but Hollywood is surely generating some positive buzz for this book. The whole “re-animated teen soldiers” thing sounds interesting and different from other YA. If good, it can easily be on the stand-out YA debuts of 2013, which would no doubt help its movie adaptation chances. Fox 2000 has A TON of YA options and has yet to go into production with any of them. I’m curious to see what or if they’re going to finally do with all those eggs in their baskets.
Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick – Hollywood is starting to take a deeper interest in angels. Just a month after the rights for Susan Ee’s Angelfall were nabbed, Hush Hush is optioned by LD Entertainment. LD produced a handful of great films like Biutful, The Grey and along with a few horror films. Hush Hush looks to be their first YA adaptation, and they seem pretty confident that it’s going to happen. No doubt this small studio will need to team up with a big studio to distribute, but for now, they plan to begin production in fall 2013. Patrick Sean Smith, the creator of ABC Family’s Greek, is set to adapted the first book. According to Fitzpatrick, it took them around a year to hammer out the details, which is sort of a long time and makes me wonder why it took that long. I enjoyed the Hush Hush saga and can see it transitioning into film well. I do hope it does make it, but as positive as this movie news seems, I won’t hold my breath and neither should you until more substantial news, like a director or casting announcements, make our way.
Divergent by Veronica Roth - As much as I love Divergent, I wasn’t expecting any news about its movie anytime soon. But lately, we’ve gotten quite a bit of exciting news. Evan Daugherty has written the script. (He also wrote Snow White and the Huntsman, which was better known for its style than substance. Let’s hope he does a better job with this.) Neil Burger (Limitless) is in talks to direct the film. Summit has just announced a release date for March 21, 2014, which makes me believe that Burger has signed on. If things keep going at this pace, then look forward to casting news in early 2013! UPDATE 10/18: It looks like we’re getting casting news way earlier than expected! Shailene Woodley (The Secret Life of an American Teenager) is in talks to play Tris. It’s likely that the deal will go through, and she’ll be leading this new YA franchise. Many are opposing this casting decision because Shailene physically doesn’t match the character and Secret Life… well, it’s isn’t the greatest show. Personally, I’m happy with this casting news. She was tremendous in The Descendants, and there’s a reason why Hollywood is setting her up with these big projects. (She’s also working on a deal to play Mary Jane in The Amazing Spider-Man sequel.) She’s talented, and frankly, that’s the only thing I’m concerned about when casting the characters in my favorite books. UPDATE 11/21: So Shailene is set to play Tris, and now Summit is in the middle of casting the male lead, Tobias. According to reports, Luke Bracey, Brenton Thwaites, Lucas Till and Jack Reynor are doing “chemistry” readings with Woodley. It looks like very soon Divergent will making it to the top of this list.
Angelfall by Susan Ee – Sam Raimi and his producing partner Robert Tapert bought the rights of Angelfall and the rest of the Penryn & the End of Days series with Good Universe. I never heard of Good Universe, but I have heard of Raimi, who directed the previous Spider-Man trilogy and the upcoming Oz: The Great and Powerful. (I also met him this past summer, and he’s really cool!) Right now, we only know that these group of producers like this story and are interested. It’s way too early to say if anything will come of it. I read Angelfall last month and loved it. It’s a nice, yet dreary spin on angels and dystopia. How are angels doing in movies these days? Eh.. It could be better, but I think Angelfall offers a refreshing take on angels that may intrigue audiences.
Unraveling by Elizabeth Morris – This book has been sitting on my Kindle for months, and I still haven’t had a chance to read it. I met Norris earlier this year, and learning about her book, I was very interested by its premise. It’s kind of like a YA 24 with a female lead. Therefore, I was not surprised to learn that Unraveling was picked up by MTV to be a scripted drama. If it does make it, it will join MTV’s already successful scripted shows, Teen Wolf and Awkward. I personally don’t watch MTV often, but I would consider tuning in if MTV does get this thriller on the air. (More points to MTV if they don’t take out the thrilling elements and turn it into a melodrama.) I’m not sure the chances of making it, but from what I heard, it’s closer to “will” than “might.”
Black City by Elizabeth Richards – Screen Gems closed a deal for the feature film rights for Black City. The book has gotten a lot of early praise from bloggers to media professionals. I’ve yet to read it because as of this moment, the first book of series isn’t even out yet. It releases in November 2012. Screen Gems is showing quite a lot of enthusiasm for this project; the press release states that they’re actively looking for a screenwriter. It’s still too early to see if anything will come of it. We don’t know how the book will sell, but with all the hype and now a possible film adaptation, it probably will. It sounds like another Romeo and Juliet, set in a dark twisted world. We get a lot of that in YA, so I wonder if there’s anything about it that sets it apart from the rest.
Soul Seekers series by Alyson Noel - Arnold Rifkin of Cheyenne Enterprises has optioned screen rights on Soul Seekers. The first book, Fated, is already out and the sequel is due in November 2012. I have yet to read any of Noel’s books, but I’ve seen them everywhere. This new series sounds very interesting; I dig the integration of Native American spirituality into the plot. All of Noel’s other books have been optioned by various studios and producers. Nothing has happened with those projects yet, so it’s tough to know what to expect of this.
The Selection by Kiera Cass - Here’s another one that’s had some trouble. The CW optioned The Selection, months before it was published, last year. It even got as far as filming a pilot episode. Aimee Teegarden (Friday Night Lights), William Moseley (The Chronicles of Narnia), and Ethan Peck (Gregory Peck’s grandson) were cast as the leads of the dystopian The Bachelor-esque story. This past Spring, I, along with many others, were expecting The Selection to get picked up for CW’s Fall or Mid-Season slate. Nope. Nada. In fact, it started being reported that the pilot wasn’t very good and didn’t impress the bosses. Luckily, it sounds like The CW isn’t ready to give up on it yet. At TCA 2012 (a major TV conference), the CW president said that he really wants The Selection to work, and it’s currently being redeveloped to hit the right tone. He says he’s looking for something inbetween Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games. I guess I can see that with The Selection, but it’s way too tame and not deep enough to affect audiences like Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games have. (But, hey, this is The CW that we’re talking about…) The latest update comes from the author Kiera Cass. She confirms the the pilot is being reworked and reshoots will begin early next year. So far, only Aimee Teegarden is returning; Cass says the new casting announcements will come this Fall.
Embrace by Jessica Shirvington – Literally, every other industry article on YA adaptations calls them “a potential successor to Twilight.” That’s really all the insight they can give? Anyway, The CW has teamed with Steven Spielberg‘s Amblin Television to adapt the book as a drama series eyed for next season. Now… as you’ll see later on in this list, do not get your hopes up. Once it comes to setting up their new Fall season, many pilots end up on the chopping block. Apparently, The CW really wanted the TV rights to Embrace, so that’s a good sign. Bill Laurin and Glenn Davis will write Embrace. From what I found on IMDb, they wrote for a few Lifetime channel shows. Judge that however you’d like.
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvator – Man, Stiefvator is good at optioning the rights for all her books. Her latest book (which as I write this isn’t even out yet), The Raven Boys, was just picked up by New Line with Akiva Goldsman to produce. Goldsman is a solid name to have backing up the project. He’s produced many movies, including the successful Paranormal Activity films. He’s also a consulting producer on Fringe, which frankly gives him the most cred to make this project come to life. Also, I can’t say that New Line has entered the YA world before this, which may make The Raven Boys a priority to them. As with all movie rights news, it’s too early to tell.
Icons by Margaret Stohl – Clearly, the new thing is to acquire books before they’re released. You’ll be seeing that a lot from now on (or until YA proves it doesn’t bank in most cases). Stohl co-wrote Beautiful Creatures,, a popular YA novel which film just wrapped and is now in post-production. Alcon Entertainment decided to also buy the rights to Stohl’s upcoming alien YA book with Erwin Stoff to produce. There’s no plans to turn it into a film yet. In this case, it depends on the success of Icons, whenever it comes out, and Beautiful Creatures‘ box office results.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo - DreamWorks Studios has acquired film rights for Shadow and Bone. But what makes this extra special? David Heyman (the dude behind all the Harry Potter films) is set to produce the film. Only because Heyman is backing it doesn’t mean it’s happening anytime soon. He got a lot of press when acquiring The Night Circus a couple years ago, and there’s been no movement on that project since.
Matched by Allie Condie – Of all the YA novels, I’m sort of surprised by the movement on this project. I can’t say that I really care for the Matched series, but Disney and producer Adam Shankman (dude did Hairspray, Rock of Ages, The Last Song) definitely do! The latest is that David Slade is set to direct Matched. Slade is best known for directing the third Twilight film, Eclipse. It’s also considered the best Twilight film, but I personally believe that is because of the source material, not Slade’s directing. (If we’re handing out Twilight directing awards, that goes to Bill Condon.) Anyway, Shankman tweeted a few months ago that he was reading a draft for Matched, written by Kieran and Michelle Mulroney. They wrote Sherlock Holmes 2. Again, judge all this as you’d like.
Break My Heart 1000 Times by Daniel Waters- This book isn’t out yet but The Words‘ directors, Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal, have been hired to direct Break My Heart 1000 Times. Apparently, Jason Fuchs (Ice Age: Continental Drift) already penned the script for Gold Circle. I’m not too familiar with Gold Circle, but its clear that this will be a smaller production and that might make it more likely to actually happen. I did see Gold Circle’s Pitch Perfect recently, and it was beyond what I thought it would be. However, one of my least favorite things about The Words was its direction. Let’s hope Klugman and Sternthal have learned from the first time, since Words was their directorial debut. I have faith that they’ll come together to do the book justice. Now, I’m just curious to know if the book is even good…
The Planet Thieves by Dan Krokos – Warner Bros. acquired the rights to The Planet Thieves. The book won’t be released until May 2013. Obviously, the new marketing ploy at publishing houses is to sell those film rights quick and easy to get some early buzz going!
The Maze Runner by James Dashner - In early 2011, it was announced that Fox acquired the film rights and hired Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight) attached to direct and Noah Oppenheim to pen the script for The Maze Runner. However, no one drops a YA adaptation like Hardwicke, and she eventually left the project later that year. But Oppenheim did write a script; he doesn’t have any other screenplays in his repertoire, being a producer for several shows including The Today Show and The Buried Life. A few months passed by with no news, and it looked like this one was going to be shelved by Fox. But very recently, we got some exciting news that Wes Ball was hired to direct the film! The Maze Runner will be Ball’s feature film directorial debut. He’s worked crew for many prominent projects. (Check him out on IMDb.) At this point, things are looking good. Let’s just hope there’s no hiccups from now on.
Maximum Ride by James Patterson - The story of this adaptation has had a lot of ups-and-downs. Let’s start in 2007, when it was announced that Patterson will be the executive producer of the the film, alongside Avi Arad (X-Men, Spider-Man). A year later, Columbia Pictures bought the film rights. Catherine Hardwicke (Oh, hi again!) was said to be attached to direct, and Don Payne would adapt. I guess that never panned out because Hardwicke (surprise!) dropped the project, and I have no confirmation if a draft of the script was ever written. From 2010 and on, there’s been a multiude of rumors about the status of the film, and I couldn’t find any real sources to back those rumors up. The reason this is pretty high on this list is because in an interview, Patterson showed a ton of optismism about Maximum Ride actually becoming a film. He also says that Universal now has the rights. So that means Columbia relinquished the rights, but evidently Hollywood is still expressing interest. Here’s what USA Today reported from their interview with Patterson: “He says Universal Pictures, which optioned the series, has no deals with Marvel or D.C. Comics and could use a “good franchise,” aimed at kids, to fill that void.. ‘Maximum Ride is so visual, more so than Twilight or Iron Man,‘ he says. It’s inspired 10,000 videos on YouTube, ‘some of which are pretty incredible.’”
Legend by Marie Lu – Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen (Twilight producers) will produce Legend with CBS Films (aka the studio that brought us Beastly). Andrew Barrer and Gabe Ferrari will write the script; 50/50 director Jonathan Levine is attached to direct. Levine just finished directing YA crossover Warm Bodies, a real good zombie book by Isaac Marion. At San Diego Comic-Con, Lu said that the script was written and already passed along to CBS Films. Godfrey, who is literally having a hay day with YA, also confirmed that the movie is moving along “swimmingly.”
The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare- The film rights are optioned by the same studio that is making The Mortal Instruments. Clare talked about what it would take to make The Infernal Devices. She sums it up nicely: “it’s optioned for film by the same people who optioned The Mortal Instruments. Again, ideally, they’d love to make them into movies. Steampunk/historical movies are very expensive to make, so they’d need a big studio commitment, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t get one. They are, however, concentrating on making TMI right now, so I wouldn’t expect news about the ID film project for a while.” Basically, if The Mortal Instruments is a box-office success, it’s happening. Modest box-office result? Forget about it.
The Diviners by Libba Bray – Bray’s latest, a novel set in the 1920s, was optioned months before its release by Paramount and Fake Empire. If you’ve watched The O.C. or Gossip Girl, you know Fake Empire (aka Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage) as the studio behind them. But in the case for The Diviners, their intention is to adapt it into a film, not a TV show. I haven’t read the book yet, but I’m a huge fan of Libba Bray. (UPDATE: I have now read the book, and it’s excellent!) All of her books are fantastic, and she’s easily one of the best YA writers… ever. I’m also excited to hear that Bray was hired to adapt the screenplay and will be an executive producer. She probably learned her lesson from what happened A Great and Terrible Beauty (which you’ll find out about later in this post).
Gone by Michael Grant – The latest news on Gone comes from the author in this video. He explains how he’s trying to get Gone to be adapted either for film or TV. Apparently, talks with Sony and Lionsgate didn’t go well. It’s hard to get a studio to promise to make an adaptation. (Such a fickle industry!) Also, it sadly is an indicator that the content in Gone isn’t what producers want right now. Anyway, Grant does a great job explaining the movie status, so I’ll let him do it for me!
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak – The Book Thief has become one of those staple YA books that people make you feel bad for not reading yet. (Okay, OKAY, I will read it. Someday.) Fox 2000 nabbed the rights sometime last year and early this year hired Brian Percival (Downton Abbey) to direct. The script has been written by Michael Petroni (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader). The latest news to come from it was a casting call announcement in May. Since then, no word on casting news or any movement on the project. Fox 2000 has a lot of YA adaptations on its hands and has yet to go through with one of them. Honestly, from what I hear (and being a Downton fan), this is one they should follow through with. Only time will tell though.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green- As much as I love when books are turned into movies, I can’t say I’m ecstatic about this. The Fault in Our Stars is one of the best books I’ve ever read, and immediately after finishing it, I said “This can’t be a movie. It will be ruined!” Now, that is terribly uncharacteristic of me, seeing as I can’t stand when book people complain “The movie will ruin it! Wah!” There is just something so precious about this story, and the fact that Wyck Godrey, of all people…. Sigh. I can’t finish this. If you’ve been reading down the list, you know Godfrey has his hands full with YA adaptations, especially because of his success with Twilight. Fox 2000 acquired the rights to TFiOS early this year with Godfrey set to produce. Since then, this project has been moving steadily. In March, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (500 Days of Summer) were tapped to adapt the screenplay. In May, Godfrey tweeted that he read the first draft and called it “the best script ever!” He also confirmed to a fan on Twitter that the movie “will happen.” I love 500 Days, and it had a fantastic, smart script. I really REALLY hope Neustadter and Weber do the story justice because God forbid you ask me to trust Wyck Godfrey to not turn this into some sappy Nicolas-Sparks-esque melodrama.
The 39 Clues series by Various Authors- This one caught Steven Spielberg’s eye back in 2008, when he optioned The 39 Clues series. Spielberg hired Jeff Nathanson to adapt the screenplay. He’s written movies like Rush Hour and Catch Me If You Can. (Sidenote: Nathanson is currently working on a Minni Vannilli biopic. WTF?) Fast forward four years, and we finally see movement on this project again. This past May, Shawn Levy signed on to direct The 39 Clues for DreamWorks. Levy has directed Night at the Museum and most recently, Real Steel. He is clearly the right guy to handle a family-friendly action-adventure like 39 Clues. I hope he does it. His schedule seems very full, as he’s attached to so many projects. Let’s hope this one doesn’t slip through his fingers.
Heist Society by Ally Carter – I love when there’s a multi-studio bidding war and then nothing comes of the project. Not sure if that exactly applies to Heist Society, but we’ll see. Back in June 2011, Warner Bros. won the film rights and set Drew Barrymore to produce and direct the film. Shauna Cross was hired to pen the script. I couldn’t have picked a better team to turn Heist Society into a movie. I really dug Barrymore’s Whip It; Cross also wrote it. However, since then, there’s been NO word if this project is headed anywhere. The latest update we have is Ally Carter’s post here. She pretty much explains how movies happen, which I’m going to assume that she has nothing to say about the movie because nothing is happening with the movie. Barrymore recently had a baby, and who knows if plans have changed with her or WB. Things aren’t looking good for this one, which is a shame because Heist Society is such a fun book.
Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness – Charlie Kaufman (Yes, that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind & Being John Malkovich Charlie Kaufman) is adapting the screenplay for the first book of the trilogy, The Knife of Never Letting Go. Just thought I’d say that from the get-go. I love Kaufman’s work, and the fact that he’s interested in YA dystopia is awesome. I haven’t read Chaos Walking, but it sounds very good. Lionsgate owns the film rights, and after the success of The Hunger Games, I’m sure they’re very curious to see how Chaos Walking does. I think they’re going to wait to see how popular the books get and how great of a script Kaufman turns in.
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater – This is the only book of Stiefvater’s that I’ve read, and it is wonderful. I want to see this as a movie. This is what War Horse should have been. (Yeah, I said that.) In October of last year, Warner Bros. nabbed the rights for The Scorpio Races and partnered up with KatzSmith Productions. KatzSmith is made up of David Katzenberg (son of the K in DreamWorks SKG) and Seth Grahame-Smith (He made Abe Lincoln a vampire hunter). Both are relative newbies to Hollywood, but they’ve managed to find mild success so far. Not much has happened yet. The latest news came in April when Stiefavter tweeted that she met with KatzSmith Productions, meaning that, at the time, they were still interested.
Delirium by Lauren Oliver – Fox 2000 (oh hey, them again!) made a big deal with Lauren Oliver in early 2011. Not only did they buy the rights for Delirium, but they also signed a “first look” deal for all future books written by Oliver and all books published under Oliver’s company, Paper Lantern Lit. Since then, there hasn’t been any real updates on the status of Delirium until a few months ago when Oliver said in an interview that a first draft of the script was finished. Here’s what Oliver had to say about the script: ““I felt the script was remarkably faithful to the book, which is fascinating, because it managed to condense 400-ish pages into a slender, moving, and breakneck-paced script of about, I don’t know, 120 pages.” Click here to read more of her thoughts on the script. So who has written the script? I have NO idea. Remarkably, there is no mention of who was hired to adapt the screenplay anywhere.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – This IS a movie! Yay! It’s currently in post-production and was originally set to release in March 2013. However, Summit pushed it back to November 2013 to capitalize off the inevitable success of Hunger Games sequel: Catching Fire. There’s many longtime fans anticipating this movie, myself included. It has a pretty great cast. Asa Butterfield (Hugo) plays Ender, alongside Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis, Abigail Breslin and more. Gavin Hood wrote and directed film. His recent work includes X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Oii…) and the TV show Breakout Kings.
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa – Around the time the first book in the Blood of Eden series was released, Palomar Pictures optioned the rights to the series. No doubt Palomar is looking to make a deal with a bigger studio to help finance this project. I really like The Immortal Rules. It’s a mix of both vampires and dystopia, and that may be its biggest selling point.
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver – Another one of Oliver’s books. Undoubtedly these rights belong to our dear friends at Fox 2000. This happened in 2010 when Maria Maggenti (Monte Carlo) was hired to adapt the screenplay. However, this past March, Gina Prince-Bythewood was in negotiations to direct, and at that time was doing a rewrite of Maggenti’s script. Since then, we haven’t heard anything new. Prince-Blythewood is a fine choice for a story like Before I Fall. She’s directed movies like The Secret Life of Bees and Love & Basketball.
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld – In June 2009, Westerfield posted on his blog that he was talking to producers about an Uglies movie. So I’m assuming at the time that the book was already optioned. By who? We shall find out… two years later. In mid 2011, Westerfield posted a press release saying, “Producer John Davis and the founders of Lola Visual Effects (Lola VFX) will team to finance, develop and produce a theatrical, live action feature based on Scott Westerfeld’s New York Times best-selling Uglies.” It sounds like John Davis was the producer Westerfield was speaking to in 2009, and he finally managed to find another team to help finance the film. So what’s the deal with the film now? Well, the latest news is from this interview with Westerfield. He says that he’s received a round of questions from the screenwriter and expects a first draft on March 23 (2012). Assuming it all went to plan, there is definitely a first draft of the Uglies movie in existence. Who is the screenwriter? I don’t know. This looks like a smaller production but luckily, it’s being financed by a VFX team.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – In 2011, David Heyman (Harry Potter producer) nabbed the rights to The Night Circus with Summit Entertainment. A year later, they hired Moira Buffini to pen the script. Buffini wrote the latest Jane Eyre adaptation and the upcoming vampire film, Byzantium. The combination of those two credits makes her a perfect fit for the epic and whimsical Night Circus, which was one of the best books I read last year. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been any news in months. With Heyman picking up projects left and right, I fear that The Night Circus might be shelved. It wouldn’t be a cheap project. It’s a period drama, and those usually need a higher budget. But it’s truly a magical story, and I would absolutely love to see it on the big screen. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater – Unique Features, along with Warner Bros. optioned the rights to the Shiver trilogy. They brought on board Nick Pustay (Ramona and Beezus) to write the script. In 2010 and 2011, we learned that the script has been written, and an Oscar nominated director was attached. However, we have yet to find out which Oscar nominated director that is or if he/she is even still attached to this project. The latest comes from a tweet from Nick Pustay, where he confirms that the script is finished and the team of producers were now pursuing a financial deal. If they did make a deal, we would have heard about it already.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – I’m sort of cheating by adding this book to the list, but I always felt that it had some YA crossover appeal. Either way, A Discovery of Witches is a fantastic book, and obviously Warner Bros. thought so too, since they bought the rights in early 2012. WB hired Pulitzer Prize winner David Auburn to adapt the screenplay. He’s best known as the playwright behind Proof and the screenwriter for the Sandra Bullock/Keanu Reeves romantic drama, The Lake House. Auburn is a great writer, so I’m thrilled to see that WB chose him to adapt the dense, but wonderful A Discovery of Witches. One thing I’m concerned about is whether ADOW will get the greelight based off the success of WB’s Beautiful Creatures, which is also about witches. I absolutely hope not, if the Beautiful Creatures‘ trailer is something to judge by. Appealing only to book readers will not make Beautiful Creatures a success. I don’t want to see ADOW get shafted because of WB’s warped expectations on some other movie.
Wither by Lauren DeStefano - Prospect Park and Violet House productions bought the rights to the first book of the Chemical Gardens trilogy. The producers are Jeff Kwatinetz and Rob Carliner of Prospect Park banner and, interestingly, Aly and AJ Michalka of Violet House. (The real news here is that Aly and AJ have a production company; say whaaaaaat?) Anyway, just like most adaptations so far, no serious plans have been announced about Wither yet. I did read the first book and thought that it could’ve been a lot more interesting than it actually was. It’s kind of like if you mixed Big Love with Downton Abbey in a sci-fi dystopia with star-crossed lovers as the leads. These two production companies are small ones, so they’ll probably need to do some sort of financial deal with a major studio.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – We reported a little on Miss Peregrine’s late last year. If you’ve been following, 20th Century Fox nabbed the rights to Riggs’ odd and myserious story. Since then, Jane Goldman (X-Men: First Class) was hired to pen the script, and Tim Burton was attached to direct. I’m sure Goldman has a draft of the screenplay done already. No word when or if Tim Burton plans to start this project going. This kind of book is definitely up Burton’s sleeve. It has a creepy/endearing quality to it. I hope he sticks with the project.
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr – Wicked Lovely has had some ups-and-downs. Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Picture Show partnered with Universal to bring the book to the big screen. You will see this happen a lot: smaller production companies working with major studios to help finance a project. So, this was the case with Wicked Lovely. They got a screenwriter, Caroline Thompson (Edward Scissorhands), and a director Mary Harron (American Psycho). It was looking pretty good… until Universal dropped it in August 2011, along with many other titles (A movie based on a Ouija board was one of them. Thank goodness.). The latest update comes from the author’s site which says that the people at Wild West are still giving it a go. I’m sure they spent the last year trying to team with another major studio, obviously to no avail. Will it happen? At this point, it doesn’t look likely. It’s hard to do a movie primarily about faeries. Everyone loves Tinkerbell, but there’s a reason all of the movies centered around her go directly to video. Selling faeries to an audience outside of young girls isn’t easy. Actually, even getting people to read about faeries is hard. I don’t even like stories about fae. I read one book, and it just didn’t work for me.
Looking for Alaska by John Green – You’ll notice that many older YA novels have been put through the ringer in Hollywood. And really, it’s something you should expect from half of the newly optioned ones. While the recent big successes of YA adaptations have been duly-noted, Hollywood is still overly careful on what to put out next. Looking for Alaska was published in 2005 and received many critical accolades. It’s a great book, one of the best YA ever written. Hence, Paramount captured the rights quite quickly and hired Josh Schwartz to pen the script. Schwartz did write the screenplay. How do I know? Green wrote about it when explaining what ultimately happened with this project on his Tumblr. Also, I read the script. Schwartz renamed it Famous Last Words, appropriately. It’s a VERY faithful adaptation of the book. I mean, all he did was put the actual book into screenplay format. There are a couple minor things missing, but it seriously is just like the book, which is okay with me because, like I said, it’s a great book. (Schwartz did add in some great song queues though. Muse’s “Invincible” was in my head for awhile after reading it.) Unfortunately, Paramount shelved it. Indefinitely. I don’t think they’ll go back to it, unless The Fault in Our Stars becomes a HUGE box office or critical success. Emphasis on HUGE. Maybe we’ll get it down the road, way down the road, like The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Either way, no worries. There’s no doubt that Looking for Alaska will live on as a YA classic.
Unearthly by Cynthia Hand - Carol Mendelsohn (CSI) bought a slew of rights to set up at different networks. One of them was Unearthly for The CW. Nothing happened though. It never got the greenlight to be filmed as a pilot. As the author states on her website, “we’re sort of back to square one, film-wise.” I love the Unearthly series, which is surprising because stories about angels aren’t usually my forte. However, Unearthly surprised me. To be honest, a show on The CW is the right call for it. The way the story is spread out over time makes it very TV-friendly. Therefore, I’m sorry to hear that it didn’t work out.
Wings by Aprilynne Pike – Back in 2009, Disney, along with producers Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen, acquired the rights to Wings with Miley Cyrus attached to star. Two years pass by, and nothing happens. Finally, we get some word about the project. It seems like author Aprilynne Pike has been in negotiations with Disney (probably on-and-off) for two years! In this blog post, she says that she finally signed the contract for Disney to make a movie. Why did it take two years? Pike does a good job not really answering that. Usually, these things get hammered out quite quickly. I can’t assume why it took so long, but I doubt that Miley Cyrus is still attached. In fact, I don’t see this becoming a movie at all. As I said with Wicked Lovely, faeries are really hard to sell on screen. Wings definitely takes a different approach with them, but faeries are faeries. I can’t see audiences get hung up on them like vampires or werewolves.
Blood Red Road by Moira Young – Scott Free U.K. nabbed the rights to Blood Red Road, and it particularly caught director Ridley Scott’s eye. No word on whether he’ll direct it, but Jack Thorne was hired to adapt the screenplay. Thorne has done a mixture of film and TV writing that includes Skins, Shameless and The Scouting Book for Boys. Although I haven’t read it, I hear Blood Red Road get compared often to The Hunger Games. Not sure how accurate that comparison is, but I’d like to see British production tackle YA dystopia. It’s hard to say whether or not this will happen. If we get through 2013 with no new updates, well… UPDATE 11/26: I finally read this book and the sequel. It’s totally wrong to compare it to The Hunger Games. Yes, both are dystopia with corrupt governments, but the Dust Lands books are quite distinct in the way they are written and told. I want them to be a movie so bad.
The Hands of Forest and Teeth by Carrie Ryan – According to Ryan’s website, Done Deal Professional announced that The Forest of Hands and Teeth movie is moving forward with Peter Iliff as scriptwriter and director and with 7 Star Pictures and John McAdams producing. This all happened in 2011. But surprise, nothing has happened since! There was a rumor that Kristen Stewart was attached for a time, but Stewart is probably steering clear of YA adaptations after getting suprised by the Twilight juggernaut. I think this is a case where producers really want to make something, but don’t have the money. Could this happen? Never say never. Still, it’s not likely.
Shatter Me by Tarereh Mafi – I reported about this in early 2012, after I had read Shatter Me. 20th Century Fox, or the Fox-based Chernin Entertainment, have acquired the rights to this novel many months before it was published. As expected, no other developments has happened since then. I liked – but didn’t love – Shatter Me. The series has potential. It’s definitely different than other YA when it comes to the style of the first person narrative, which I find hard to imagine seeing on screen. (Not to say, it’s impossible to adapt well.)
Through To You by Emily Hainsworth – The team behind Like Crazy, the long-distance romantic drama that was a hit at Sundance 2011, was in negotiations to take on the Paramount-acquired Through To You. Also teamed with production company, Montecito Picture Co. (Up in the Air), their plan was to have Drake Doremus direct, Jonathan Schwartz to also produce, and Ben York Jones to adapt the screenplay. No word if the negotiations came or fell through. Hopefully, they worked out because I think the Like Crazy team would be a perfect fit for this adaptation. It deals with romance and alternate universes; from Like Crazy, you know these guys will add an interesting dose of realism to this sci-fi world.
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher – This seemed to be a hot property in late 2010 and early 2011. 20th Century Fox bought the rights with Taylor Lautner attached to star. A few months later, it was reported that Emma Watson was a top contender to star opposite Lautner. Adam Cooper & Bill Collage (Accepted) were hired to adapt the screenplay. Things were looking good for Incarceron, until the Lautner-starring action film, Abduction, completely flopped at the box office. It was also a critical flop, and people really started to question Lautner’s acting abilities. Will Incarceron happen? I doubt it will with Lautner involved. With the recent praise for her performance in Perks of Being a Wallflower and an upcoming Sofia Coppola film, Watson is probably focusing a different projects.
Firelight by Sophie Jordan – Mandalay Pictures bought the film rights for Firelight back in September 2010. A few months later, Nick Pustay (He sounds familiar…) was hired to adapt the screenplay. It’s almost two years later, and nothing new has happened. I sort of find that surprising with the success of Game of Thrones. Lots of people love dragons, and a story about two teens that are descendants of dragons sounds awesome.
Wake by Lisa McMann – In mid-2010, Paramount and MTV Films picked up the rights to Wake. At the time, Miley Cyrus was considering the lead role, and Christopher Landon (Disturbia) was hired to adapt and direct. The last we heard about the status on Wake was in ShockTilYouDrop.com’s interview with Landon in the beginning of 2011. He pretty much describes what Wake is, and that they’re making it into a vehicle for Cyrus to help free her from the Hannah Montana image and turn into something edgier. Well… with Miley’s new look, engagement and other things, obviously she’s not in need of an edgy makeover. I doubt she’s still attached to Wake, and it’s hard to say if this movie will happen or not. Right now, I would lean more toward the negative.
If I Stay by Gayle Foreman – At one time, If I Stay was a pretty hot property, and it looked like it was going to be a movie. But that was before we knew all better. Summit Entertainment nabbed the rights to If I Stay in 2009. Catherine Hardwicke (You know where this is going now…) was attached to direct the film, Shauna Cross (She sounds familiar too, huh?) was hired to adapt the screenplay. Dakota Fanning was also attached to star in the film. However, both Hardwicke and Fanning dropped the project. Cross did write a script, which Foreman says is amazing. The most recent news comes from a blog post, where Foreman goes over what has happened with the movie so far. She still retains hope that it will become a movie one day. I think it’s fair to still have hope for this project, and I hope Summit decides to make something of it eventually.
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi – Warner Bros. won the film rights to Under the Never Sky a year before the book was published. It was a hot property, and many people were interested in Rossi’s dystopian tale of romance. I must say Under the Never Sky is amazing, and it would be a great film. It’s very different from other YA dystopia, and as a film, it will set itself apart from The Hunger Games or the upcoming Divergent. From the list, we know that WB has a lot of YA properties, but this is one they should take seriously.
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan – Cohn and Levithan’s first collaboration gave us the wonderful and witty Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Contemporary teen movies like that don’t happen very often. Possibly once every year or two. Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares can definitely be one of those movies, if it actually happens. Scott Rudin (major producer in Hollywood; produced one of the best movies of all time, The Social Network) bought the rights to this for Lena Dunham to write and direct. This happened before Lena’s show, Girls, became a hit on HBO. I knew from the get-go that Lena is the right person for a story as quirky and smart as Dash & Lily’s. It’s definitely similar to “let’s go all around NYC” thing that Nick and Norah had going. Yet, it has very different characters and situations. I really hope that there is still plans to make this happen. If you haven’t read this book yet, DO IT NOW. I re-read every year around Christmas; it’s lovely.
Tempest by Julie Cross – Another New York City-set novel, Tempest is another great read. It’s a time-travel story that is engagingly written. I suppose Summit agreed since they bought the rights in Fall 2010. Sonny Mallhi (The Strangers) will produce with Brendan Deneen (Outlander) and Roy Lee (The Strangers) executive producing. AS USUAL, no further plans have been made yet. With all the mystery, intrigue, and back-and-forth with the time travel, I actually think that Tempest can work very well as a TV show. Keep that in mind, Summit.
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green – Green announced in one of his Vlogbrothers videos that small production company, East of Doheny, optioned the rights to Katherines in December 2007. Green was also asked to adapt the screenplay. I’ve never heard of East of Doheny, and their website is now defunct. The most recent news comes from Green’s website, where he explains what happened with the movie: “An Abundance of Katherines was optioned by a small production company that in the end couldn’t get a movie together; we’re now working with a different production company with the hopes of setting it up somewhere, but that’s a long way off.” Meaning = it’s not priority right now. I can see why movie studios aren’t exactly embracing Katherines. While I think it’s a great book, the characters and/or story won’t appeal to a general audience. However, I still hope to see it on screen one day. If The Fault in Our Stars does happen and is successful, no doubt producers will be taking a better look at Green’s other novels.
The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan - The Gotham Group is handling the rights to The Kane Chronicles series. This isn’t the first time that Riordan’s books have been adapted into movies. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief was a modest hit when it premiered in early 2010. A sequel has already been filmed, and 2oth Century Fox is planning on releasing it August 2013. No moves have been made yet to turn this series into a movie. Gotham Group has produced films like The Spiderwick Chronicles and Abduction. They’re also working on The Maze Runner. I have a feeling that they’re waiting to see how the next Percy Jackson movie does, before they move ahead with this one.
Fallen by Lauren Kate – If you google what’s up with the movie status for Fallen, it can be quite confusing. The only real news is that Disney optioned the first book of the series. The Australian publisher says a movie is coming out this year or next. That is not true at all. The rights are just sitting on the shelf at Disney, waiting for angels to be the next big thing. I wasn’t crazy about Fallen, so I’m not surprised that nothing has happened with it yet. I feel like it would work better as a TV show.
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray – The last on the list (as of this moment)! A Great and Terrible Beauty has had many ups-and-downs. This is unfortunate because it’s one of my favorite books ever. In 2006, Icon acquired the rights for AGATB, and Charles Sturridge (father of Tom Sturridge a.k.a. RPattz’s bestie and Sienna Miller’s baby daddy) was the one to set that up at Icon. He wanted to write and direct the adaptation. Sturridge starting working on a script, but then that Writer’s Strike happened, which stalled many projects, AGATB included. Time passed; Sturridge started to work on a different project. Finally, Icon relinquished the rights, and we’re right back to square one. It’s not fair to think that AGATB won’t ever happen, but right now, I say it’s unlikely. Obviously, Bray is focused on writing her new series and adapting The Diviners. Plus, as you know, period movies are more costly. So a fantasy, period pic would be extra costly. Here’s to hoping that down the road, A Great and Terrible Beauty will have its day in Hollywood.
Congrats to these adaptations! They’re about to hit the big screen (if they haven’t already!):
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl -This WILL be a movie! Beautiful Creatures is now in post-production. Richard LaGravenese wrote and directed the film. I loved his script for Water for Elephants, despite how it was executed during filmmaking. I have positive feelings about this movie, especially because the cast includes Emma Thompson, Viola Davis and Jeremy Irons. Alcon and Warner Bros. will have it ready to hit theaters February 13, 2013. Right on time for Valentine’s Day. Oh, and the teaser just premiered! I both love and hate this teaser. As someone who has read the book, I love it. It looks to be a great re-imagining of the story. It definitely has a cool mixture of southern gothic and whimsy going on. But for anyone who has not read the books, they would have NO clue what this movie is about! It’s just an incoherent mess of clips put together. I know these books are bestsellers, but WB needs to sell this to more than just the book fans. UPDATE 11/21: The international trailer is now out! Unlike the first trailer, it makes better sense, but it does give a lot of the story away. Watch it below:
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare - This will definitely be a movie. It’s currently filming in Toronto, Canada. After a few ups-and-downs last year, the movie finally gained momentum this year with a new director (Harald Zwart) and a bunch of new cast members to join Lily Collins, who plays the lead character, Clary Fray. Click here to see the cast on set and in character. Expect the movie to arrive in theaters August 23, 2013. Here’s to hoping that there’s no hiccups during production or post-production that may delay a release! UPDATE 11/21: The first trailer for City of Bones debuted last week and it totally impressed fans! Watch it below:
WHEW! You have NO idea how long this took me to write. But I’d say it’s worth it. As time goes on, I’ll update the list with the latest developments and new adaptations. If you’ve been keeping count… Fox (counting both 20th Century and Fox 2000) has acquired the most YA adaptations with 11. Warner Bros. is next with 6. Summit has 5; Paramount 4; Disney 3, Universal and DreamWorks each have 2. The number of projects Catherine Hardwicke has dropped? 3.
Sound off your thoughts on some of these adaptations or books that I may have missed!