Friday, June 6, 2014

The List!!!: 5 YA Novels-To-Movies That Have Changed Pop Culture Forever

In The List!!!, I do a list that just reeks of being click-bait, analyzing a particular topic or subject that pertains to something major occurring in pop-culture. This week, in honor of The Fault In Our Stars, I look at five YA novel movie adaptations that have had a particularly notable impact on pop culture.

I should note that, in terms of making it onto this list, I'm not talking entirely about quality of these five movies specifically (I haven't seen Twilight, for instance, rendering any critical thought on it beyond "Robert Pattinson needs to smile every once and a while" moot), but rather just what kind of impact they've had on film and pop culture. Onto the list!!

Harry Potter: I once noted in my AP English class that when it came to popular YA novels, most of them fell into a particular band from the 60's/70's. Harry Potter was The Beatles of the whole craze, making exemplary work in terms of quality, as well as setting the standard for all to come in its medium. Even all these years later, the adventure of The Boy Who Lived are just riveting, whether they're told through books, movies or incoherent ramblings on Tumblr. When it popped up in movie theaters in November 2001, it shattered box office records, a feat that would be par for the course for the successive films. Even better ,it garnered great reviews that showed how powerful cinematic fantasy can be.

Twilight: How has it been six years since 2008? Ah, that was the year that whole Twilight craze consumed a nation. While it's imprint on pop culture somewhat fizzled by the time Breaking Dawn made it to multiplexes in late 2011, there's no denying how insane this thing was for a while there. Team Edward and Team Jacob adorned apparel that was worn as a point of pride (that apparel is probably now gathering dust in some Hot Topic in Kansas) and proved how powerful an audiences connection to a certain set of characters could be.

The Hunger Games: This 2012 film (based on a book which in that AP English class I referred to as The Rolling Stones of the YA novels) was expected to be big, but it making over $400 million was not in the cards at all. Spawning a hit franchise for Lionsgate that seems to be only growing in popularity, the film utilized a unique environment to lure in viewers both accustomed to the books and newbies. Not only has it spawned an infinite amount of dystopian tales in years since, but it's also given rise to both Jennifer Lawrence and female action heroes. While I didn't care at all for the first movie (absolutely adore the second one though), that kind of progress makes the odds very much in this franchises favor.

The Notebook: A little romantic-drama from 2004 that made a not-so-little $81 million wouldn't seem to fit in with the company of Katniss and Harry Potter, but it's spawned a whole subgenere; the Nicholas Sparks movies. Very few of them earn critical raves (the only one I've brought myself to watch is Safe Haven, which was garbage) but they are consistent moneymakers that never seem to draw out a reliable crowd.  Expect this October's The Best Of Me to follow The Notebooks example and become another Nicholas Sparks inspired smash.

Vampire Academy: The first time I saw the trailer for Vampire Academy, I was almost positive that it was some kind of Airplane!-esque parody of YA novel cliches. Nope; this thing was as legitimate ploy to grab the Twilight audience and make The Weinstein Company a reliably successful franchise. That didn't happen; a 10% on Rotten Tomatoes ensured anyone over 18 would stay far, far away and its fanbase seems to have been extremely tiny, since it only resulted in $7.7 million at the box office. The epic failure of this movie seems to be as impactful as the success of the previous four movies, as the rush to cash in on the YA novel craze has simmered down a bit.

Of course, the success of Divergent likely is making executives eager to find the next Harry Potter, but hopefully Vampire Academy reminds them how haywire things can go financially.

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