“Bella and Edward sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G…First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes millions at the movie box office…”All right, I know it doesn’t rhyme like it’s supposed to but you get my drift – and if you don’t, let me expand on it a bit more.
First there was the wizardly wizard, Harry Potter – yes, that Harry Potter…then came the lovey-dovey and utterly adorable Bella and Edward from the Twilight saga…followed in their footsteps by the fearless Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games trilogy…and then the spunky cancer-stricken Hazel Grace and Gus from The Fault in our Stars…and now there’s Tris and Four, of the Divergent series.What do all of these characters have in common, you ask?They are all characters in hugely popular movies; characters which populated the pages of very popular Young Adult (YA) books by J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, Suzanne Collins, John Green and Veronica Roth – all of them now superstars in the world of YA fiction.
YA fiction, a genre directed to readers twelve and up, has become a global money-making machine that squeezes money from page turners as easily as juice from ripe, luscious grapes.Nearly a quarter of the two hundred top-grossing films worldwide that were tallied by Box Office Mojo have been directly adapted from books (excluding picture books, comic books or children’s tales).Of that quarter of top-grossing films, sixteen of them started off as YA novels and subsequently earned an impressive 13.4 billion at the box office.All of the YA books that are adapted into movies already have a die-hard fan base and that translates extremely well into box office success.
Of course, in addition to a readership of tweens and teenagers of both sexes eager to spend their hard-earned babysitting and after-school bucks, YA books are also widely read by grown-ups as well.A 2012 Bowker Market Research study suggested that about fifty-five percent of YA books are bought by readers who are eighteen years old and up, with adults between 30 and 44 accounting for twenty-eight percent of all YA sales.In box office lingo, this means that forty-five percent of Insurgent’s opening weekend audience was in their mid-twenties.
And it all started with young Harry…Harry Potter that is, J.K. Rowling’s now famous young wizard.The incredible popularity of the Potter books and the movies is unprecedented.The eight Harry Potter movies have generated a cumulative 7.2 billion dollars in box office ticket sales between 2001 and 2011.Of course, those readers familiar with the books will, for the most part, go to see the movie(s).On the other hand, those movie goers who are discovering the characters for the first time will invariably seek out the books in the series.
Most will agree that Rowling’s Harry Potter series would be a tough act to follow.Tough, yes…impossible, no – not when it’s followed by the sizzling love affair between the human teenager, Bella Swan, and the hot telepathic vampire, Edward Cullen, in the Twilight saga.Twilight’s angst-ridden vampire lovefest reaped in a total of 3.34 billion global box office dollars from its five installments as well as sales of over 116 million copies of the books.And let’s not forget the kick-butt female role model in Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games trilogy whose popularity helped bring in 2.3 billion dollars at the global box office as well as sales of 27.7 million copies of the books in 2012 alone.Next in this distinguished lineup is the Divergent series.Although Tris certainly has the kick-butt female role model thing going for her, along with a cute co-star with whom she obviously has chemistry, only time will tell whether this translates well into mega box office dollars for the franchise.
As long as authors keep churning out YA bestsellers, this promises no shortage of movies for the big screen – and huge box office returns in the process.