Let’s face it, Summit Entertainment continues to make films because of the insane profits from the “Twilight” franchise. The three films already released from the franchise have grossed a combined $1.8 billion worldwide from theatrical releases alone, and that doesn’t include DVD and all the film licensing the company also has a meaty stake in. The success of the series showed a massive untapped potential in teenagers and the young adult audience (that wasn’t the “Harry Potter” crowd) and studios took notice immediately. While, in the three years that have passed (the first film was released in 2008), not one studio has released a viable competitor or contender to usurp the “Twilight” throne, but it’s not for a lack of trying.
Lionsgate has the first of the “Hunger Games” films arriving in theaters on March 23, 2012 — which seems like the first serious threat so far — the “Twilight” producers are already developing the young-adult sci-fi series “Legend” that Jonathan Levine (“50/50“) hopes to direct, Disney already did their best with “I Am Number Four” (a continuing franchise seems in doubt). “The Twilight Saga,” author Stephenie Meyer is already developing “The Host” with director Andrew Niccol, and chances are if the project stars Dianna Agron, Lily Collins, Liam Hemsworth or Alex Pettyfer, it might be something that’s aiming to have some “Twilight”-esque appeal.
Now Warner Bros. is getting in on the action (not that they and every other major studio doesn’t already have two or three options at hand). Last week it was announced that WB had acquired rights to “The Scorpio Races,” a young adult fantasy novel by Maggie Stiefvater. (the bestselling author of the werewolf-ian romance, “The Wolves of Mercy Falls” trilogy; 1.6 million books printed in the U.S.). Just hitting shelves this October, “The Scorpio Races,” centers on a fantastical land where flesh-eating water horses (based on Celtic lore) emerge from the water each November. These equines menace and terrorize the local townspeople, but young island residents — both brave and foolish enough to try and ride these majestic and fearsome creatures — attempt to tame the savage beasts and thus the “scorpio races” emerge.
Perhaps more important is the production duo behind adapting the books for the screen. David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith and their KatzSmith Productions were featured in Entertainment Weekly this past week and the pair were spotlighted as savvy young producers to watch. Seth Grahame-Smith is the best-selling author behind “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” and “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” (both of which are currently being adapted into films) and Katzenberg is the son of one DreamWorks Animation chief name you might know: Jeffrey Katzenberg.
KatzSmith Productions also has a “Beetlejuice” sequel in development and already launched the very successful MTV scripted TV comedy, “The Hard Times of RJ Berger.” They are also working on “From Mia With Love” which EW describes as ” ‘Weird Science‘ for the modern age, “Night Of The Living,” which is a stop-animation project they’re producing with Tim Burton (who also produced ‘Vampire Hunter’), and “Unholy Night,” an unpublished Grahame-Smith novel that’s familiar if you know his approach: taking the three wise men story from the Bible and turning into an action adventure twist on the Nativity story. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. So regardless if “The Scorpio Races” is your cup of tea — and if you’re an adult, chances are it’s not — these two are producers to watch. [THR]