With the latest book-to-film YA movies being slumps at the box office, I was brainstorming about which upcoming films I feel have the potential to jump out of that valley of misfortune, due to true and exciting originality. I had the chance to visit the set of The Maze Runner in Louisiana, and while I can’t reveal anything about my trip just yet, I feel like the film will be a success for a variety of reasons. Of course, marketing and advertising will play a big part in box office numbers, but it has many huge advantages in the bag already. I thought I’d share them with you! The film stars Dylan O’Brien, is being directed by Wes Ball, and is based on the novel by James Dashner. It hits theaters on February 14th, 2014.
1. It’s aimed at young guys (but girls will love it too)!
Woah! A young adult GUY movie? That’s different for this genre at the moment. After Twilight, almost every YA film made has been aimed at least somewhat towards women. Beautiful Creatures, The Host, The Mortal Instruments, none of them are guy movies. The base audiences of these films have been 80% women. Attracting more than 20% of guys to the box office can only be a good thing for their numbers!
The thing about male-based movies like The Maze Runner is that unlike guys and chick-flicks (generally, guys don’t like chick-flicks)…girls will also like this movie! I’m certainly excited for it. This is a mature story, as well. It’s a mature action packed adventure that both guys and girls will love, and both young AND old people will love. It’s not dumbed down for young people – unlike Percy Jackson, it’s going to feel real.
2. The cast is nearly entirely male – and they aren’t all described as impossibly attractive. What?!
Bella, Tris, Katniss, Clary – the latest heroes of this latest YA film craze have all been women. There’s an obsession with the “strong female lead” which is absolutely awesome (I absolutely love The Hunger Games, Divergent, and many other books with badass female protagonists) but people are looking for something new at the box office in the YA genre. For some reason, guys and girls can relate to a male hero but males are reluctant to relate to a female hero. I personally don’t believe Harry Potter wouldn’t have been as successful if the titular character were a girl. Sad, but true. Like Harry Potter, Thomas is an unlikely hero. He isn’t particularly athletic or confident at the beginning of the story, but we grow with him.
3. It doesn’t fit into any popular ‘genre’ exactly – this makes it stand out!
Supernatural? Not really. Dystopian? Sort of. We don’t really know for most of the book since the entire plot shrouds our world in mystery. Romance? Certainly not. Is there a love triangle? Nope. If it must be categorized, it would be put into the “Sci-fi/Dystopian” mold. This has much wider appeal than fantasy. There are no vampires, no Shadowhunters, there are no passionate make-out scenes. The plot-point of the maze is extremely intriguing, so the audience is right there, gripped like James Dashner’s characters.
4. It features talented up-and-coming talent, mixed with seasoned veterans.
Dylan O’Brien, an up-and-comer, plays the lead in this film. He has a huge fan base from his role of Stiles on Teen Wolf (seriously, have you been on Tumblr, recently?) and he’s refreshingly goofy and hilarious. We also have a cast of seasoned British actors like Thomas Brodie-Sangster of Game of Thrones, Kaya Scodelario of Skins, and Aml Ameen of The Butler. Then, we have Patricia Clarkson…she was nominated for an Academy Award! Plus, we have total newcomers like Blake Cooper as Chuck. This is a seriously impressive cast.
Wes Ball, an extremely talented young director (he created the short film, Ruin), has taken on this story as his first movie. So he’s diving into it with fresh eyes and understanding – and a lot of care and love. Then we have people like Wyck Godfrey, who is producing some of the biggest book-to-film adaptations the world has ever seen – Twilight, The Fault in Our Stars, and more. He knows what he’s doing. Experience, mixed with the wide-eyed excitement of talented newcomers is key here!
5. It’s based on an extremely popular book with a fanbase that reaches hugely wide demographic.
My 12 year old brother absolutely loves The Maze Runner, I love The Maze Runner. I’m a 21 year old girl! This is an extremely wide appeal. The world is always looking for something truly original, and I feel like this story fits the bill. The book is hugely popular, and has been for a while. The Facebook page of the film already has over 100,000 ‘likes.’ If that’s not proof of the pudding, I don’t know what is.
Some girls will want to see it for the guys (if their Comic Con audience was any indication – it was probably half Dylan O’Brien fangirls), some will be drawn in by marketing, some by the book, and men will see it because they can identify with a male lead/cast. Of course, there’s all the action, interesting relationships, that aren’t too sappy. It’s just logic. Not all guys are into The Host and various other YA adaptations because they have female leads and are trying to sell romance. The Maze Runner appeals to everyone.