The next teen blockbuster: Let the young blood in

With the Harry Potter and Twilight film series set to weave their magic for the final time, Sarah Hughes takes a look at the movies jostling for the top position

With Harry Potter preparing to wave his wand for the last time on screen and star-crossed lovers Edward and Bella soon to overcome their last romantic hurdle, Hollywood executives are falling over themselves to track down the book that can become the next Twilight or the new Harry Potter.

Predicting a bona fide teen hit is not as easy as it might sound, as the producers of the recent Percy Jackson film, The Lightning Thief, could no doubt ruefully attest. On paper, Rick Riordan's bestselling series about a troubled teen who turns out to be the son of Poseidon should have been a huge success. The books are fast-paced adventure stories, particularly beloved by boys, the cast featured Pierce Brosnan, Uma Thurman and Sean Bean, and Chris Columbus, who helmed the first two Harry Potter movies, agreed to direct.

While The Lightning Thief, which was released last February, performed respectably at the box office, fans took to the internet to register their disappointment, claiming that the story had been "butchered" and replaced instead by a "formulaic, cheesy plot" of the sort you'd find in "any fantasy/action film". The main actors have signed deals for a sequel, but Fox have yet to confirm whether it will actually be made.

Similarly, Eragon, the 2006 adaptation of the first novel in Christopher Paolini's fantasy series The Inheritance Cycle, was a box-office flop, condemned by fans as a travesty and mocked by critics as "unintentionally hilarious". Plans for a sequel were quietly shelved.

So what is the secret to creating teen cinematic gold? The makers of the upcoming reimagining of the tale of Little Red Riding Hood hope that using director Catherine Hardwicke, who directed the first Twilight movie, will be enough, and certainly the trailer has more than a whiff of the hit vampire franchise in its hints of forbidden love, werewolves and something nasty lurking in the dimly lit, foreboding forest.

Similarities to previous blockbusters are of no use, though, without positive press. Although movies can be sunk by bad reviews, they can also be saved by the right kind of coverage. Twilight, for example, might have been a genuine word-of-mouth publishing phenomenon, but the films were certainly helped by Entertainment Weekly's near-obsessive coverage – at one point, barely a week seemed to go by without some reference to the films – and by endless tabloid speculation over the relationship between the franchise's young stars, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart.

This type of synergy is almost certainly what Lionsgate are hoping for ahead of their adaptation of Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games trilogy. The books, which take place in a futuristic world where teens fight to the death in televised gladiatorial contests, have topped US bestseller lists and attracted a fervent fan base with discussion already raging over who should play self-sufficient heroine Katniss Everdeen and which teen heartthrob could step up, RPattz-style, to play her fellow competitor Peeta Mellark. The fact that Entertainment Weekly are already running an online site dedicated solely to things Hunger Games-related makes it the most likely contender for Twilight's throne.

It's not, however, the only one. As vampires and wizards become passé, a whole host of other supernatural creatures are stepping into the breach with films about fairies, werewolves and angels all hoping that huge book sales will translate into box-office success. Will any of them succeed? Here's our guide to the main contenders.

The teen phenomenon: The Hunger Games

What's it about? Suzanne Collins's trilogy about a world in which teens must fight each other to the death in a televised gladiatorial contest is a treatise on the horrors of war and a compelling cross between Battle Royale and The Running Man. With a refreshingly proactive heroine, two male love interests and, in Haymitch Abernathy, the book's frequently drunk mentor, a great role for an older actor, this is set to be a huge hit.

Who's involved? Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville) will direct. Everyone from Emma Roberts and Saoirse Ronan to Kick-Ass's Chloe Moretz (who recently said she'd "die to play Katniss") have been touted for the lead role. Kaya Scodelario (aka Skins' Effie) and Kick-Ass's Lyndsy Fonseca have also been mentioned and there's growing fan support for Jodelle Ferland, best-known as Twilight's Bree Tanner, who is seen as the closest fit to Collins's description of Katniss as olive-skinned and grey eyed.

Will it be a success? The Hunger Games is not for the faint-hearted and the film's makers are going to have to tread a very fine line between staying true to the book's premise and getting the PG-13 rating it needs.

When is it released? Provisionally 23 March 2012



The one that hopes it's the new Harry Potter: Artemis Fowl

What's it about? Described by author Eoin Colfer as "Die Hard with fairies", the bestselling Artemis Fowl novels are about an Irish teenage criminal mastermind and his various attempts to rebuild his family fortune, usually by nefarious means. There are currently seven titles in the series with an eighth and final book planned.

Who's involved? The film rights have been sold. The project was on the verge of being greenlit. Colfer turned in a script, Irish director Jim Sheridan signed on and Robert De Niro's Tribeca Productions were reported to be involved. And then nothing. First there were delays following the writer's strike. Then there were problems as the Weinstein brothers sought to divorce themselves from Disney. Most recently, Colfer said there were issues as to whether the film should be live action or CGI.

Will it be a success? Yes, if they can get it off the ground. Colfer's books are tightly plotted, very funny and feature entertainingly aggressive fairies and an anti-hero you can't help but root for.

When is it released? Sadly, no one knows.



The one that looks very like Twilight: Red Riding Hood

What's it about? A gothic retelling of the story of Little Red Riding Hood complete with werewolves, medieval settings and a very Company of Wolves meets Twilight feel.

Who's in it? Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Thirteen) directs from a script by David Johnson, who wrote the frankly terrifying Orphan. The reliable Amanda Seyfried uses her big eyes to great effect in the title role; Lukas Haas, aka the boy from Witness all grown up, plays the love interest with a dark secret. All this and Julie Christie as Red Riding Hood's grandmother; what more could anyone want?

Will it be a success? Judging by the trailers it could either be a superbly cast dark fantasy that's more Angela Carter than Stephenie Meyer or a hammy, incoherent and melodramatic mess.

When is it released? 15 April



The dark fantasy: Wicked Lovely

What's it about? Melissa Marr's lavishly written series for older teens is set in a vividly realised world where fairies not only exist, they are downright dangerous. Marr draws on mythology and folklore to tell the tale of cursed Summer King Keenan, his lost love, Donia, and Aislinn, the human girl who holds the key to their survival.

Who's in it? No actors confirmed, but Boys Don't Cry director, Kimberly Peirce, has signed on and Caroline Thompson, whose writing credits include Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Corpse Bride, will adapt the screenplay, which suggests that this could be a class act.

Will it be a success? Marr's clever series, which concludes this month with the publication of Darkest Mercy, grows more complex with each book, touching on difficult subject matter. These are not Disneyfied fairies, but rather something much closer to the malevolent creatures of old folk tales and, as such, there's no guarantee of a happy ending.

When is it released? 2012



The Disney contenders: Wings and Fallen

What are they about? Disney has recently optioned both of these bestselling teen series. Wings, based on Aprilynne Pike's hit novel, is about a sheltered teen who makes the unwelcome discovery that's she's actually a fairy changeling. Fallen is an adaptation of Lauren Kate's 2009 fantasy novel about fallen angels at a reform school.

Who's in them? No word yet on casting for Fallen. Teen queen Miley Cyrus will play the lead role in Wings.

Will it be a success? Fallen seems darker than standard Disney teen fare and it's hard to imagine that the storyline won't be toned down by the Mouse House. Wings, which is to be a made-for-television movie, has a better shot at being the new Twilight – and the producers of that franchise are involved.

When are they being released? No date set for Fallen. Wings will air on television later this year.

Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor