Farewell, “Twilight.” After four years, and five movies, there are (until the inevitable reboot/spin-off/extra sequel) no longer any movies in the super-popular Stephenie Meyer-penned vampire franchise to look forward to/dread. The final movie, “Breaking Dawn Pt. 2” (our review here) is in theaters, doing the usual blockbuster numbers, but for the near future at least, that’s it.
Which means many things, but among them, that there’s a big fat space in the hearts of the nation’s teenagers and moms for a new franchise. Ever since the first film hit it big in 2008, studio executives have been snapping up young adult novels in the hope of hitting the same vein, but, aside from “The Hunger Games” the handful of attempts that have hit theaters so far, like “Beastly” and “I Am Number Four,” mostly disappeared without a trace, and not just because they starred Alex Pettyfer. But now that space has opened up, expect the floodgates to burst apart, with 2013, and beyond, containing a number of contenders to replace “Twilight.”
So who else the potential to live up to the box office power of Edward and Bella? And which ones will be consigned to the bargain bin of history alongside “The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising” and “Red Riding Hood“? We’ve rounded up some of the more immediate contenders, and their odds, below. And as always, you can let us know your own thoughts in the comments section.
The Pitch: After a zombie uprising, one member of the undead, R (Nicholas Hoult) falls for, and saves, a human survivor (Teresa Palmer), who turns out to be the daughter of the leader of the anti-zombie army (John Malkovich).
What Are Its Chances? Of becoming a “Twilight“-style phenomenon? Not great. Of succeeding in its own right? Much better. The “Twilight”-with-zombies comparison has followed “Warm Bodies” around since its inception, but the first trailer recently revealed the film to be seemingly quite a different beast; closer to a hybrid of “Shaun Of The Dead” and “Perks Of Being A Wallflower.” With a proper sense of humor, a very appealing cast that also includes Dave Franco, Analeigh Tipton and Rob Corddry, and a semi-relatable premise, it actually looks kind of fun, which is more than we can say for most of these films. But there’s something icky about the premise in a way that wasn’t true of the brooding Stephenie Meyer bloodsuckers, and we can see the key young female audience being turned off by that, and by a dark, more action-heavy approach. Plus this sort of horror/comedy/romance has a tone that’s tricky to pull off, and while Jonathan Levine has been relatively adept at juggling that sort of thing in the past, this is his trickiest gig yet. Then again, “Zombieland” was a sizable hit, so there’s hope, just not necessarily with the Twihards.
When? February 1st, 2013
The Pitch: Two teens in the Deep South are drawn together by a strange connection and supernatural secrets.
What Are Its Chances? Moderate. The trailers look reasonably appealing, it looks well-shot, with plenty of effects, and with a cast that mixes Oscar-favorites (Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson, Viola Davis) and appealing newcomers (Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert). The Southern gothic vibe brings something a little different to the table (and lord knows that’s proved popular with “True Blood“), and with “The Fisher King” writer Richard LaGravanese at the helm, there’s a chance it could be halfway decent. Plus the forbidden love idea is always popular with the kids. But the premise doesn’t have the immediate grab of “Twilight” — are they witches? Demons? We’re still not entirely sure what the thing’s actually about — and with a February date right up against Nicholas Sparks adaptation “Safe Haven,” it could end up faltering at the first.
When? February 13th, 2013
The Pitch: In a world overrun by body-snatching aliens, a young girl in love (Saoirse Ronan) becomes possessed, but her soul still survives, living side-by-side with the alien presence.
What Are Its Chances? Well, “The Host” has one great advantage, in that it’s based on source material by Stephenie Meyer, the author of “Twilight,” which automatically places it a rung or two above the competition. And much of what made that series such a success is present in “The Host“: a love triangle, supernatural elements, shitty writing. And for non Twihards, there’s enough to look forward to including the excellent Saoirse Ronan in the lead, and “Gattaca” helmer Andrew Niccol at the helm. Then again, Niccol hasn’t made anything worthwhile since well, “Gattaca,” pretty much, and there aren’t immediate signs that that’s changed here. Again, the premise is a difficult one to get your head round, and certainly a trickier one to convey to an audience (the trailer doesn’t do a great job), and the tone is a little more sci-fi-ish than some of the competition. Open Road don’t have much of a track record (though neither did Summit before “Twilight,”) even if giving it the same slot as “The Hunger Games” suggests a certain bullishness. There’s no in-place sequels yet either, so it’s not the same kind of insta-franchise as many of these. We imagine Meyer’s name will get it a decent opening weekend, but where it goes from there remains to be seen.
When? March 29th, 2013
“The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones“
The Pitch: An ordinary New York teen (Lily Collins) discovers she is the latest in a line of Shadowhunters, a secretive society who battle demons. While battling, she falls for another Shadowhunter, Jace (Jamie Campbell-Bower).
What Are Its Chances? Decent. Unlike many of these contenders, “The Mortal Instruments” has a fervent fanbase already in place, the books having sold well, and fans devouring every bit of news about the movie over the last few months. And it already has the new Robsten in place, rising stars Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell-Bower having seemingly struck up an on-set romance that’s sure to make them tabloid fodder as the film gets closer. But will that be enough? The source material is hugely derivative, failing to bring much new to the table, and last week’s trailer didn’t help much, looking like the pilot for a new show a la “Supernatural” rather than a movie. And while the grown-up cast is decent — Lena Headey, Jared Harris, Jonathan Rhys Meyers — there aren’t a lot of big draws in there. Interestingly, the trailer seems to be selling the action/horror aspects more than the romance. Are they going after an entirely different crowd? Or are they banking on the fanbase from the books turning up regardless? We’ll see next August (a release date that doesn’t exactly instill a ton of confidence…)
When? August 23rd, 2013
“The Seventh Son“
The Pitch: In a medieval England plagued with supernatural creatures, young Tom (Ben Barnes), the seventh son of a seventh son, is taken under the wing of the legendary Spook (Jeff Bridges) to learn how to battle fearsome witches.
What Are Its Chances? Perhaps better at being the next Harry Potter than the next “Twilight.” Warner Bros, knowing the Potter saga was coming to an end, snapped up the rights to Joseph Delaney‘s “Wardstone Chronicles,” a while back, and the film finally went before cameras this year, with Julianne Moore, Olivia Williams and rising star Alicia Vikander also on board. The leads have been aged-up from the books to appeal more to teens, and certainly aren’t lacking in attractiveness, but the romantic elements don’t seem to be as important in the source material as in “Twilight” or “The Hunger Games.” As a result, it could end up appealing more to the effects-happy geek crowd. There’s some box office appeal in seeing Bridges in grizzled mentor mode, but Barnes is fairly untested outside the ‘Narnia‘ movies. Ultimately, this one doesn’t hit til next October, so Warners have some time to get their campaign geared up, but we wouldn’t hold our breath to see B-Barnes and A-Vik on tweens’ walls unless the material’s very different from what we’re expecting.
When? October 18th, 2013
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire“
The Pitch: Having survived the hunger games first time round, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is put in danger again by the machinations of the evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland)
What Are Its Chances? Already there. The first “Hunger Games” made nearly $700 million worldwide — $400 million in the U.S. alone, outgrossing every “Twilight” movie domestically. The first film was well liked, too, which would seem to suggest that the series can only grow from here. The advantage that the series has is that it appeals to a wider audience than the tweens/moms fanbase of “Twilight,” with young men drawn in by the action and sci-fi elements, and while new director Francis Lawrence, who’ll see the rest of the series through, wasn’t the most inspired choice, he’s a safe pair of hands. That said, we’re told that the books peak in quality with the first entry, so despite the flood of A-list screenwriters involved (Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt), the next film might not be as compelling. And it’s also worth noting that as with the first “Twilight,” “The Hunger Games” has been slow off the blocks internationally — it took only 40% of its box office abroad, meaning it ultimately ended up taking less worldwide than the “Twilight” sequels. Will that international audience fall into place for “Catching Fire?” Will it remain a principally American phenomenon or can the studio grow out its success?
When? November 22nd, 2013
The Pitch: In a dystopian future, society is divided into factions dependent on their qualities — honesty, intelligence, bravery etc. One girl, Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), discovers that she’s a “divergent” — someone with multiple traits.
What Are Its Chances? Pretty good. Penned by the 24-year-old Veronica Roth, “Divergent” became a best-seller on its release last year, and it’s only become more popular thanks to this year’s sequel “Insurgent.” “Twilight” studio Summit picked up the rights earlier this year, and have been moving tout suite with the project. “Snow White & The Huntsman” scribe Evan Daughtry is writing the script, Neil Burger (“Limitless“) will direct, and Shailene Woodley, star of “The Descendants,” and tipped by many as a future A-lister, has taken the lead role, with casting currently underway for the male part, Tobias. The concept is a simple, and powerful one, but there’s plenty of potential for “Hunger Games“-style action, and between “Twilight” and “Hunger Games,” Summit and Lionsgate know how to market to the target audience. And the studio certainly seemed to have anointed this as their “Twilight” successor, so expect this to get a real push when it hits.
When? March 21, 2014 essentially the same slot that saw “The Hunger Games” become a smash hit this year. It’s got tougher competition, though with Angelina Jolie‘s “Maleficent” the week before, and Darren Aronofsky‘s “Noah” the week after.
And The Others: After “Divergent,” things are more nebulous. There’s plenty in the works, but nothing else that’s publicly casting up or setting a release date yet. Among those that look more likely to move forward some time soon are “The Maze Runner,” which has shorts director Wes Ball helming, “Matched,” from Disney and “Twilight: Eclipse” helmer David Slade, “The Giver,” a Jeff Bridges-starring project which Philip Noyce will direct, and “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children,” which Tim Burton could direct. Slightly less certain is “The Knife Of Letting Go,” a dark tale set up at Lionsgate with Charlie Kaufman, of all people, adapting the script.
Beyond that, there’s plenty of projects in development. “Shiver,” “Vampire Academy,” “Angelfall,” “Daughter Of Smoke & Bone,” “Trylle,” “Wicked,” “Origin” and “Raven Boys” have all been acquired by various studios, along with various other projects we discussed in our last young adult round-up, films like “The Graveyard Book,” “The Scorpio Races,” “Pure,” “Delirium,” “Legend” and “Through To You.” But few have any talent attached beyond writers, and while some may end up moving forward in the near future, it’s all still up in the air. Have you read any books recently that you think could make for the next “Twilight” franchise? Let us know in the comments section. We promise we won’t try and buy the film rights ourselves…