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Wizards & Vampires to Dystopian Futures & Zombies – Where Studios Go Wrong Finding The ‘Next Big Thing’

November 7, 2011
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The major phenomenons in cinema are nearly always adaptations. J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings was an epic series that had a legion of fans with online fan websites, and it was popular with teens and adults. Then came Harry Potter, which revolutionized the franchise that stemmed from a mega-popular book series and brought in people from ages 8 – 80. Most recently the Twilight saga is the ‘it’ series, which built up a huge following in readership and online before the books were even optioned, and achieved the title of ‘phenomenon’ even though it’s readership is nearly entirely female. Every series is very different, new, and exciting; I don’t believe there will be two extremely similar phenomenons back-to-back. This makes them hard to predict! Now, with only one movie in the Twilight franchise left, what comes next?

The way we find out is to look in the online evidence. Of course, the “next big thing” is going to be a huge money-maker for whichever studio grabs onto that gem of a series, so everyone is trying to find it. I’ve found that many studios are nabbing the rights to just any new book with a catchy story, and funnily enough, many fans are latching onto their choices; gobbling up the novel and creating fan twitters, fan websites, and expecting that series to explode into Twilight-sized mega-hugeness! However, I don’t think the quantity-over-quality mindset will work well. It may seem like it could work, they think they can buy up the rights to many great new books that (I do agree) have fantastic stories and will make awesome movies. The studios are thinking: There must be a gem in the pack. One of these books might just have that draw to create a phenomenon.

The reason why this does not work is that the Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Twilight, all had huge readerships before the books were even picked up by a studio. Fans heard about the books becoming movies and were immediately worried, and questions popped up in their heads like: “Who is going to play my favorite character?” ” I don’t want them to ruin my favorite story on screen!” “I need to know what is happening, right now, in the production of this film!” Sure, these new books may be fantastic, but they don’t have the volume of bodies who are excited, anticipating, and shaking in their boots just waiting for the film to come out. Marketing and advertising can bring some of the general audience and draw in a few people that wouldn’t have seen the movie otherwise but this is not why the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises just worked. To create a phenomenon you have to have that pre-existing audience; that group of thousands or even millions that wants to see the movie even before casting or marketing begins.

Right now people have their eyes on The Hunger Games as the possible next big thing, and while I agree that is the closest franchise to this specific mold, the fanbase is not as big as Twilight and Harry Potter was before the films. We may be surprised by their passion though, and maybe the series will reach that level. Zombies are also becoming very trendy, with The Walking Dead, a popular television show on AMC, and the upcoming movie Warm Bodies, an adaptation of the novel by Isaac Marion. What do you think will be the next teen phenomenon?


Kimmy is a 21 year old nerdfighter who is the founder and editor-in-chief of Page to Premiere. When she's not writing about books and movies here or on her Hunger Games site called Mockingjay.net, she loves Tumblr-ing, eating sushi, drinking Thai iced tea, and being lazy with her cat Rue! She hopes to be a published author one day. You can follow her on Twitter at @kimmymary.


  • Andy E.

    I couldn’t agree more with this article. So many studios try to promote the next big thing but in the end they let some fans of that book down. (Case in point Eragon, Percy Jackson, etc.) Sometimes I think studios should think as fans or at the very least be fans of what they’re promoting so they’ll know why we’re so passionate about it. :)

  • Peeta81

    Without a doubt, the Hunger Games is the next TEEN phenomenon, but I don’t think people are right in saying that The Hunger Games are the next Harry Potter. Harry Potter is for all ages except maybe the last book and the last few movies., while the Hunger Games deals with more mature subject matter.

  • Annie

    I HOPE the next big series, after the hunger games, is the mortal instruments series. I agree, the problem is that books need tons of fans to become a phenomenon.. But I think if the story is actually good and has a lot of meat to it, just likem any other good movie, people will see the ads, read about it and hopefully go see it due to its merits as a story! :) REALLY REALLY hope TMI develops as a movie :)))

  • Erica Jane

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Kimmy.

    I honestly don’t think there is a next big phenomenon out there yet. The Hunger Games is certainly something similar, but it doesn’t have the following or the elusive IT power. I think the only way to see what the next phenomenon is, is to simply wait and watch.

  • Tricia

    I definitely agree as well.
    Personally, I’m very excited for the Hunger Games film and I think that it’s going to be pretty popular, but not like those other three. The whole dystopian theme is becoming big in books, though, and I think that if the Hunger Games does well they might go forward with other dystopian films.
    I can’t wait for Warm Bodies, and I’d love for it to be the next big thing, but I don’t know that it will be as popular and I don’t see them being able to make anything quite like it even if it is.

  • rane

    I would say that the Hunger Games would be the next ‘it’ thing. With a very talented cast and of course, a nice story, I’m sure that HG would be as big as the other franchise.

  • Lyra

    From my experience with talking to people The Hunger Games has more of a fan base than people think it does. I have been surprised several times to hear that certain people have read it, including a couple of my grandparents! It definitely has a minimum to the age range but so did The Lord of the Rings. Something else I think The Hunger Games has going for it is that its fan base is not almost entirely female. Out of everyone I know who has read The Hunger Games every single one of them liked it and I’d say about half of them are male. Personally I’m extremely excited for the movie but that is not the only reason I say that it’s very likely to be the next “it” movie.

  • Keneko255

    I completely agree that Hunger Games will the be the next
    Big Thing. It definitely has a large enough fan base to be “It”. There is already so much anticipation for the first film and every day more and more fans our joining the fan base. So many people have read this book including celebrities as well. I truly think that this franchise is going to be the next big thing of 2012. I’m so excited for the movie and can’t wait to see what other great franchises will be popular, The Mortal Instruments perhaps?

  • Hanna

    THE HUNGER GAMES !!! <3

  • Rae

    HUNGER GAMES!!!!

    Yay Hanna, you rock!
    I asked the same questions when I heard about the HG being turned into a movie and some of the actors I still do not like but I definitely think that they are staying as true to the story as they can.

  • Amanda

    I couldn’t agree more with Andy. Movie developers, in my own personal opinion, sometimes don’t think of the fans before they decide to make a movie. I loved the Eragon books, but hated the movie; the same thing with the Sword of Truth books and the tv show. If the film makers don’t make a movie true to the book, in the best way possible, it will be a flop.

    However, as for the new “it” franchise, I do think if they make them right The Hunger Games will be very good!

  • Raisa

    I think people should really look into the Generation Dead trilogy. Fantastic book!

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  • Neko

    As far as most of us can see, The Hunger Games trilogy is most likely the next big series. The book has already made a name for itself even when the movie isn’t out yet. But the fact that the series doesn’t have the fantasy feel that Twilight, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings has, it may not gather as much audience as the past movies. Then again, I hope that the uniqueness of THG can open the eyes of the audience that a good movie doesn’t need magic and/or supernatural beings.

    I’m rooting for THG, been a fan of the book since the very first page. And seeing the trailer, I’m confident they made the movie as similar to the book as possible.

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  • bookworm

    HUNGER GAMES!! look at other comments nuff said

  • unsufferableknowitall

    I agree with everyone about The Hunger Games being the next big thing. And I wouldn’t have it any other way, actually. I’ve heard about The Mortal Instruments and other books mentioned on the comments, but personally I think THG is just… wow. Not only it’s a completely different story from what we’ve been reading and watching in the last ten years, being that all three LotR, HP, and Twilight linger on the fantasy genre. But if you read the books you know that one of its most noteworthy aspects –aside from the terrific love triangle subplot and the dystopia thing going on– is how much it’s linked to our society, well at least in my opinion. I think the THG phenomenon is very timely and as all other great sagas, I’m sure it will deliver a great impact to both watchers of the movie and new book readers.
    On the fangirl note though, I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE EFFIN PEETA MELLARK ON ACTION ASDFGH! :D

  • Alysha

    I think maybe we look at something different. Lets steer away from the whole vampire, werewolf, wizard, zombie hype and go for more of an angel theme, that hasn’t been done for a while. For example, the Fallen series by Lauren Kate or The Hush Hush saga, The New York Times bestselling series by Becca Fitzpatrick, In my opinion would be great, if you haven’t read them, well your missing out on a good read and i suggest you go out and buy them. The Fallen series however, i think is more teen based so unlike Harry Potter the audience isn’t as widely spread, Hush Hush might be though, and thats obviously what is needed here. But still Fallen would make a great movie ( if done correctly). If some of you are shaking your heads and saying ‘no i disagree with the angel theme’ well then why don’t we just combine all those mythical themes into one?

    I bring you!
    THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS!
    By Cassandra Clare.

    Now this series brings you an extensive urban fantasy packed with just about every type of creature known to these themes. It’s vampires, werewolves, sexy demon hunters, warlocks, faeries, angels, forbidden love, you name it, it’s in these books. (Minus the Zombies).

    The books make you feel all sorts of emotions, you may laugh, cry, hate, envy, fall in love with characters even feel sorry for some. Thats what we want in a movie. And i guarantee it will have a wide spread audience. Well maybe not the kids but teens and adults definitely. They will love it!

    What do you think??

    Have you read the series, and do you think it could be one of the next big things in the movie world?

  • Alysha

    On another note, also as a fan of The Hunger Games
    I CAN’T WAIT!!!!!

    I absolutely loved these books and it could definitely be the movie of 2012.

    It also gives as a break from all the mythical creatures stuff.

  • Abby

    The Hunger Games for sure,
    but I think Divergent has a good shot at it too