Like its protagonist — a boy who wakes up trapped in a giant, ever-shifting labyrinth guarded by biomechanical predators — the young-adult adventure "The Maze Runner" will try to navigate a series of imposing obstacles this weekend: a down year for moviegoing, a traditionally quiet month for new releases and, perhaps most forbiddingly, a landscape strewn with recent YA disappointments.
On the plus side, "The Maze Runner" does boast a rising star in Dylan O'Brien (
Some analysts are predicting an opening weekend as high as $40 million for the adaptation of James Dasher's book, which would put it among the biggest September openings ever (Fox is managing expectations lower, projecting an opening of about $20 million). Reviews so far have been generally favorable, though not effusive.
If "The Maze Runner" finds an audience, the movie could spawn a lucrative new franchise for Fox. But it's worth noting that for every hit YA adaptation, there have been plenty of failures. Here's a look at some recent hits and misses. We're keeping the focus on adventure, sci-fi and fantasy offerings ("The Fault in Our Stars" and "If I Stay," fit the category from an audience standpoint, but not a genre one). The survey shows that "Maze Runner' does have a few movies to model itself after--but that a happy escape is not a path oft-taken by many of these films.
"The Giver": Miss.
Lois Lowry's 1993 novel laid the blueprint for the now-familiar story arc in which a lone young hero challenges the authoritarian control of a futuristic society. But by the time the film adaptation arrived more than 20 years later, movies like
"Vampire Academy:" Miss.
"Twilight" and its parade of imitators must have bled the vampire genre dry, because by the time "Vampire Academy" (based on the Richelle Mead books) hit theaters, it opened to a dismal $4.1 million, far below the moderate $10 million that industry tracking had predicted.
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"Ender's Game": Miss.
Like "The Giver," the adaptation of Orson Scott Card's sci-fi classic took decades to make it to the multiplex (the book was published in 1985), and moviegoers apparently didn't think it was worth the wait. With a price tag north of $100 million, "Ender's Game" debuted to a mediocre $28 million and finished with $125 million worldwide; reviews were also mixed. "Ender's" underpeformance has put Lionsgate's franchise designs in doubt.
The adaptation of the first novel in Cassandra Clare's six-book series about a teenager (played by