5 YA stories to bring to film before Lionsgate revives Hunger Games or Twilight

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Aug 10, 2017

During Lionsgate's earnings call this quarter, CEO Jon Feltheimer told shareholders that Hunger Games and Twilight might not be dead as film franchises, despite there already being more movies in the series than books.

"There are a lot more stories to be told, and we're ready to tell them when our creators are ready to tell those stories," Feltheimer said. He did say, at least, that authors Suzanne Collins and Stephenie Meyer, respectively, would need to sign off on any expansion of their franchises. And of course, it's unlikely that Jennifer Lawrence or, really, any of the stars of either franchise would return at this point.

Young adult novel franchises moving to film can be a golden goose, especially when it comes to genre entertainment: The aforementioned series, Harry Potter (which has successfully expanded into prequel territory), and The Maze Runner have all been successes on the printed page and the big screen. And while there have been some misses with film series like Percy Jackson and Divergent, that doesn't mean Lionsgate or any other company has to go back to make what's old new again.

There are literally hundreds of Young Adult novels, many in movie-franchise-ready series, released each year. Here are five of our favorites that deserve a chance on the silver screen before trying to tap an already dry well.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Okay, this one's cheating a little because it has been optioned by Fox already (back in 2015), but there's been no movement on taking the trilogy to film since. A straight-up fantasy series, it centers on Adelina Amouteru, who survives a mysterious "blood fever" and eventually develops an ability to project illusions. She joins up with other Young Elites (powered kids) in The Dagger Society as she tries to fight the kingdom around them and her own dark urges. No question, this one will get to the big screen sometime soon.

Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse

Now, this is only one book, but the premise is such that it could be split in two if a prospective filmmaker so desired. The story features five main characters, all teens, who are linked across 100 years by one common goal: foiling a threat that could destroy two worlds and all their times at once. It's a puzzle that slowly puts itself together across five novellas that all come together in the end; there's probably not enough there to make it into five separate films, but for a one-off story, you can't go wrong. The cinematic nature of the five stories combining is begging for an adaptation.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

This trilogy from Libba Bray centers on 16-year-old Gemma Doyle in the Victorian era, who happens to have perilous visions of the future and of other worlds. As she navigates life at a boarding school, she discovers a new destiny for herself. This Gothic fantasy series hits a lot of the notes of the success stories above, with magic and high fantasy slowly interwoven into historical slice-of-life storytelling, high stakes and enough humor to keep it from falling into itself. It was optioned once in 2006, but that option fell through. Time for another shot!

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Nancy Farmer's series started about a decade and a half ago but may be more relevant now than it was when she conceived of it. In a frighteningly conceivable future, North America now has four countries as the drug lords have created Opium, a land between the US and Mexico that essentially funds and controls the worldwide drug trade. There's plenty of political ground to cover, and the hook is a distinctly sci-fi element: a clone of Opium's leader, El Patron, named Matteo Alacran, tries to fight his destiny and forge his own path. There are two books in the series.

Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang

This ongoing comic book series has a very easy, sellable elevator pitch: it's Stranger Things with an all-female group and time travel instead of inter-dimensional travel. As four 12-year-old girls -- Erin, KJ, Tiffany and Mac -- get caught up in adventure on Halloween in 1988, they get sent to the prehistoric past, the "future" of our modern day and beyond. Writer Brian K. Vaughan has laid out each arc as a focus on each girl, so it works as both an ensemble set of features and gives a chance for each young actress to shine. Why isn't this one happening already?