The big-screen version of author Veronica Roth's youth-dystopia Divergent will bow in theatres on March 21st, and its producers are clearly hoping for another blockbuster series à la The Hunger Games—or the Twilight or Harry Potter films. The goal now is to make a giant, culture-defining juggernaut that will bring in boatloads at the box office and become a guaranteed-sequel moneymaker. There's something particularly appealing about the grail of the successful YA epic fantasy/sci-fi franchise, too, a kind of magic that comes only when you manage to embed a story in the consciousness of most of the children – and yes, young adults – in America and beyond. It's about as close as pop culture ever gets to creating religion, really; just think of how many times the young must ask themselves, "What would Katniss do?" It would horrify evangelicals just to think about it.
That said, it's a tricky wicket, the creation of something that actually sticks in the bigscreen YA adaptation genre. The last few years have brought a mixed bag of results, and here are some of the lessons we've learned from both flops and blockbusters as we count down the big-screen YA epics from least to most successful.
By Michelle Dean