News Column

The Fayetteville Observer, N.C., Out and About column

November 22, 2013

YellowBrix

Nov. 22--"Catching Fire," the second installment in the "Hunger Games" film trilogy, hits movie theaters this weekend, and I wouldn't be surprised if it smashes the box office.

The films are based on the wildly popular novels written by Suzanne Collins and star Jennifer Lawrence, who won an Oscar for her leading role in "Silver Linings Playbook" earlier this year.

"The Hunger Games" debuted in 2012 and took in $400 million at the U.S. box office alone. No one should be hungry after that kind of success.

This success, however, may have roots elsewhere.

"The Hunger Games" and "Catching Fire" are examples of this burgeoning young-adult literature-to-movie pattern that began, not too long ago, with a boy wizard named Harry.

The success of author J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series and its impact on attracting young people to become avid readers -- especially in an Internet age -- is nothing short of astounding.

Ever since then, other book-to-movie series have followed suit, including "The Hunger Games," the "Twilight" series, the "Percy Jackson" series, the "Mortal Instruments" series, "Beautiful Creatures," and the upcoming "Divergent" film.

That's just to name a few, with "The Fault in Our Stars" starring Shailene Woodley expected to make a splash in 2014.

Beyond the silver screen, young-adult novels also have made an impact on TV, with a number of shows following similar themes and premises. Just look at "The Vampire Diaries" and "Pretty Little Liars" and the canceled "Gossip Girl," a few examples whose origins are found within the pages of young-adult fiction.

Mix in young people with vampires, werewolves, witches and fairy tales, season with a decent pinch of special effects, and you've got a show that can attract younger viewers. But it's not always a formula for success, as ratings aren't always positive for some of these shows.

Clearly, a major shift in the entertainment industry has been occurring for several years that has focused on mining the young-adult literature marketplace.

I'm not sure, however, how much longer this shift can sustain itself. I feel we're fast approaching the point where the quantity will outpace the quality of these novel-to-screen adaptations.

That probably won't be a problem for Collins' beloved series, however, as long as Lawrence is leading a cast that also includes Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci.

We'll see.

Staff writer Brian Dukes can be reached at dukesb@fayobserver.com or 486-3523.

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