SDCC 2013: YA Fiction Movie Adaptations Dominate Hall H

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Recently, the fervor around young adult fiction/fantasy novels has been on the rise, creating huge fan bases for series like The Mortal Instruments, The Hunger Games, Divergent, and the long time favorite, Ender’s Game.

And big followings mean big movie adaptations. The studios came to Comic-Con in full force to share their take on these epic stories. And fans lined up all night to see if Hollywood could live up to their expectations.

Thursday afternoon gave the first YA panel as Summit Entertainment introduced Divergent (written by Veronica Roth, directed by Neil Burger) and Ender’s Game (written by Orson Scott Card, directed by Gavin Hood.) Having read both books, I, like many others, low-balled my expectations out of fear of having my favorite stories ruined. However, after seeing both panels, with as-yet unseen footage, in a room of 6500 people all screaming about the same thing, it was hard not to beam with excitement. Divergent kicked off the excitement with the majority of the cast taking the stage. Unfortunately, no Kate Winslet or Maggie Q, but most of the younger actors made their appearances. The author, Veronica Roth, and director, Neil Burger also made their way onstage. And then the clip rolled and I failed to contain my excitement as even the tiny teaser footage exceeded my expectations. The sets and the costumes and characters were on point and seemed to be very faithful to the novel. Notably, the panel insisted that the movie pays true homage to the novel and the story line is not expected to be altered; literally a reader-to-movie-goer’s dream. By the end of the panel I was on the edge of my seat in a giant room with only one thought in my head, “I really hope Ender’s Game is this good.”

Minutes later, they brought out the Ender’s Game cast one by one, letting Mr. Harrison Ford to take the stage last, causing the entire hall to go completely nuts. And as soon as the hall went black and the footage started rolling, I held my breath for what’s next. And just as before, maybe even a little more so, I lose it. I can hardly sit still as I look around for confirmation that what I just witnessed was, for lack of a better word, awesome. The footage looked so fantastic that I ignored the fact that Asa Butterfield is about a decade older and a foot and a half taller than Ender. The panel itself was decent. Most people just sat their starstruck by Han Solo/Indiana Jones, but all in all I am extremely excited for this movie, and that’s coming from someone with much trepidation going in, thinking they were going to ruin her favorite books.

On Friday, the Sony panel unveiled their upcoming YA adaptation, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (written by Cassandra Clare, directed by Harald Zwart). Most of the major cast was there, which included Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower. Author Cassandra Clare also made her way onto the panel. The basic plot is revealed in the footage, revealing a shadow world where all sorts of vampires, werewolves, faeries, and warlocks all exist in a world within our world, layered on top of ours, and the shadowhunters are around to keep the demons at bay. I was surprised that the footage they showed us was accurate in portraying specific scenes from the book. And the effects for all the demons look visually stunning. I’m excited for this one.

Saturday was the Lionsgate panel, which revealed many movies, including the highly anticipated sequel to The Hunger Games, Catching Fire (written by Susan Collins, directed by Francis Lawrence). As anticipated, the beloved Jennifer Lawrence made her entrance with a standing ovation. The trailer they showed was a bit of a let down, as Yahoo had released it an hour before the panel. However, it looked visually stunning, as one would expect after having seen the first movie. The costumes alone were amazing.

Considering the pressure from fans to get things right when adapting their beloved Young Adult novels, the studios got it right for the most part. Hopefully all of these adaptations turn out to be more than just the 2 or 3 minutes of exclusive footage teased us to believe.

Images: Summit, Lionsgate, Sony

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