Now, to be clear, the young adaptation craze started way before Twilight surfaced in 2008. In fact, it could be argued that Harry Potter was the one that helped bring more light to this genre, but Twilight and Harry Potter go after different audiences. Twilight is geared towards younger women, whereas men are better suited in the world of Harry Potter. However, there’s no denying popularity of Twilight and how it sparked a host of female-centric dystopian future young adaptations novels. The Hunger Games only further drove the genre into a hot commodity and soon thereafter, young adaptations such as Divergent, Host, The Vampire Academy, The Mortal Instruments, The Fifth Wave popped up. However, as time moved on and the Twilight craze died down, so did the interest in the genre as a whole. Despite being slightly down for Mockingjay Parts I and II, The Hunger Games managed to finish strong, but the same can’t be said for any other YA adaptation, with the Divergent series being the most notable failure from the bunch. With the craze dying down, so did the movies. As each year passed by, less and fewer Twilight or Hunger Games-type films stopped being greenlit by executives. Of course, the genre will never truly be dead as book adaptations are a popular source for producers and executives, but how did a genre that was so hot in pop culture in 2008, get so cold by the time 2018 arrived?
The big factor is simply quality. Now, when it comes to adaptations, it can surely be very tricky. Condensing a 400 plus page book down to a two-hour film is challenging, though not impossible. Often, some things that are written on the page can’t be translated on screen, so changes are vital, but when it came to dystopian young adult films like Hunger Games, the formula became obvious: A strong-willed and determined female as the protagonist. Check. A shady and corrupt world with some type of unjust ruling. Check. Two dreamy, young guys fighting over one girl to create a bland and unnecessary love triangle. Check. The romantic angle is given more importance than the interesting premise that brought butts to the movie theater. Check. The crazy thing is that these YA novels have premises with strong potential. Divergent is about a world divided by factions based on virtues.
It could’ve had an interesting voice about modern society and how it treats people who are built differently, but it the films ultimately end up being a generic sci-fi vehicle that doesn’t truly capitalize on the uniqueness on its premise. It’s anchored by the unnecessary love angle that’s mostly there to satisfy the young audiences and the ideas presented aren’t fully fleshed out onscreen. It should be noted that I’ve never read any of the Young Adaptation novels like Twilight or Divergent. The chances of the books doing a better job of painting the colorful world or characters is pretty high, but I shouldn’t have to check the books to understand the movie. The Host is about an alien race who takes over the minds and bodies of mankind. Again, another premise ripe for potential, but it dives into romantic silliness and sidesteps the intriguing elements that really could’ve made this a great sci-fi epic. The point is that the YA adaptations feel trapped by the Twilight model. Fans of the Twilight films went nuts on the romantic aspect; With legions declaring Team Edward or Team Jacob. In turn, executives likely felt that these elements were crucial to the success of the franchise. It’s an understandable thought process, but let’s be real, no one is going to remember Twilight because of its amazing cinematic quality. But when you plaster the same formula onto every movie, the model grows tiresome. It worked for The Hunger Games because the films were actually decent spectacles that didn’t rely on the romantic crap throughout most of its runtime. But the issues are far greater than the teen romance plot, the films were ultimately bad. Like I previously stated, Twilight will never be remembered for its storytelling, but the franchise stood out as different at the time, which likely aided in its popularity. I know we live in a world where films like Transformers can be global smash hits, but audiences do eventually get tired of bad films. The genre failed because the quality never captured the magic of the Twilight series nor was it even as close to as good as the Harry Potter franchise.
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