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Thursday News: Mortal Instruments box office bomb could affect future book...

But MI isn’t the first post Twilight big budget YA book to flop. Earlier this year was the star studded Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia which earned only $7.5 million at the box office.  This doesn’t really bode well for Divergent.

Clare shouldn’t be too unhappy. The promo around the movie brought her books back onto the bestseller lists. Fifty Shades is due out in August of 2014 and hasn’t even gotten a cast yet. I suspect all those romance books snapped up for movie adaptions will be cast aside. Wall Street Journal

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. KT Grant
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 05:32:19

    It’s interesting how a book adaptation flops but the book it’s based on has a big bump in book sales. I also wonder what this means for Ender’s Game in November, especially about the call to boycott the movie?

    The trailer for Divergent was a big disappointment. I can’t see this movie doing well when it’s released in March. Although, I bet Catching Fire will do even better box office than The Hunger Games.

    As for the Fifty Shades movie, that is going to be one major trainwreck. How can they expect to release it on 8/24/14 when they don’t even have a principal cast yet?

  2. Carolyne
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 06:29:05

    Not that I’d ever have given the Mortal Instruments movie any box office anyway, but the trailer and general ad campaign just show bland-looking people doing unspecified things, nothing to intrigue people who haven’t read the books.

    As for all the people who must have bought the books… Maybe the books are the “also reads” of fans of other series? Or people are way too busy getting back to classes and will wait for streaming/DVD? Or…? Beats me. But there wasn’t the same buzz around it as Twilight or Hunger Games, at least not enough to penetrate my indifference.

    Maybe it’ll prompt a turn toward a different type of YA movie adaptation rather than copycats. Or maybe this movie just wasn’t good and the next Hunger Games movie will boost the urge to do adaptations again.

  3. Anne
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 06:33:35

    I haven’t read Mortal Instuments, though I know several of my friends loved it. I saw the trailer many times but couldn’t begin to tell you what it was about. Maybe I wasn’t the only one?

  4. Shelly
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 06:56:55

    I think the reason why these book adaptations keep bombing is that they’re trying to replicate the Twilight phenom – meaning they’re trying to cater to the teen female audience. These books did well because they had wide appeal to a more diverse audience and I don’t think the studios get that. The previews and the films themselves seem to focus way too much on the romantic elements. Focus on the story. It’s why Hunger Games has thrived and Beautiful Creatures (a book I really liked, BTW) was a huge flop. The movie was just sappy and silly.

  5. Meri
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 07:14:47

    @KT Grant:

    It’s interesting how a book adaptation flops but the book it’s based on has a big bump in book sales. I also wonder what this means for Ender’s Game in November, especially about the call to boycott the movie?

    All you need is for a fraction of the people who see the promos/watch the movies to buy the book, and you have a bump in sales. You have to figure that quite a few people would have never heard about MI without the movie and were sufficiently curious to pick it up as a result. Ender’s Game is better known, so you may not get the same effect.

    As for the Fifty Shades movie, that is going to be one major trainwreck. How can they expect to release it on 8/24/14 when they don’t even have a principal cast yet?

    In addition, I don’t see how the sexual content in 50 Shades can be translated to the screen without getting slapped with an NC-17, yet if they tone it down, the fans may lose interest.

  6. Amanda
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 08:09:10

    I think the fad of movie adaptions being a big hit even when the movie itself is not that good is over, the Host and now MI show this.

  7. Rachel
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 08:27:57

    @KT Grant: Why is there a boycott of Enders Game? Just curious.

  8. Isobel Carr
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 08:50:19

  9. Isobel Carr
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 08:52:24

    And I’m in moderation! Short version without links: the author (Orson Scott Card) is a bigot. Google him. The info isn’t hard to find.

  10. DB Cooper
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 09:37:06


    I saw the trailer too. About all I came up with was: “A bunch of teens–wanting more status and importance than they really have–suddenly find out that they’re magically awesome and at the center of world shaking events that most adults have no clue about.

    Oh, and they look pretty, and are seen by other pretty people while doing it.”

    And then I realized “My God, I remember way back, when I thought adults were all dicks for thinking of teens like that.” *

    (* Apology to mom, dad, and all the older folks I used to scrunch my face at. I am now on the other side, like you always said I would be). :D

  11. DB Cooper
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 09:44:32

    RE: 20 of the biggest dick moves in literature…

    Kind of let down by the list there towards the end (namely in the early teens of the list). I mean if you yourself are going to excuse the actions of the character, especially when the actions are totally predictable when viewed both logically and pragmatically, then I think you could probably find something that was a little more A-hole-ish to take its place, don’t you?

    Now, #11, I HAHAHA-ed out loud for. It really is a dickish move to tell your assistant–who looks up to you and your impressive deductive abilities–“Your observational abilities are improving, Watson, but you’ve missed all the clues that are of actual importance to this case. again.”

    …case, after case, after case. :D

  12. cleo
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 09:58:38

    @DB Cooper: LOL – your comment made me choke on my yogurt. Hilarious. I am also on the other side, teaching a bunch of eye-rolling, know-it-all late teens who are exactly like I was – it’s some kind of cosmic retribution, for sure.

  13. P. Kirby
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 12:17:17

    Not a defense of the Mortal Instruments movie, but, as of late, it seems like studio greed has gotten rather out of hand. I mean, if a big budget movie doesn’t make a ga-gillion dollars on its opening day, if people aren’t selling a kidney to buy a ticket, it’s deemed a flop. And, um, yeah, I get that “big budget” means the studio has some money to recoup, but several recent so-called “flops” did just fine and will make even more overseas.

    So, to me, “flop” is sort of overused lately.

    I read the first Mortal Instruments book and found it bland and derivative. And…I usually love derivative, but the book’s fan fiction origins were scrawled over the pages in flashy neon letters.

    The Hunger Games series, along with Harry Potter, are one of my fave books ever (I’m much older than the target demo). So when deciding what movie will get my limited at-the-theater money, I’m obviously going to go with the known, winning quantity–Hunger Games, Catching Fire–and consign Mortal Instruments to a Netflix night.

  14. Maite
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 14:29:56

    On Teenage flops….
    I think the main problem is that studios believe all best-selling YA books can be converted into cross-demographic movies millions of people will pay to watch in movie theaters. Which, to be fair, occasionally works with books.
    First: A lot of best-selling YA series (Eragon, Twilight, Mortal Instruments, etc) have their main character as an empty slate who gets to live every teenage fantasy, and none of the consequences. The appeal to the reader is projecting into that character, which is quite harder to do into an actor.
    Second: As the scriptwriter for “The Core” said: “I don’t get paid to write scripts. I get paid to not punch people in the face [when they insist on nuclear explosions in the center of the Earth].” How about a Robin Hood movie where the Nottingham is the hero, investigating murders using 12th century CSI techniques? Sold for 7.2 million! Three years later: New Robin Hood movie, nothing original! Full Story:
    Third: There’s so much money involved, they need to draw tons of people into watching it. So they throw more money into the movie, create scenes solely for trailer purposes, do a massive marketing campaign, modify the script so that we can appeal to every demography. Please everyone means pleasing no one.
    TL;DR: Mortal Instruments could have avoided being a flop is they had thrown less money at it.

  15. Carolyne
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 15:29:01

    @Maite: I hadn’t heard the story about Nottingham. I’d have loved to have seen that movie!

    (And the article included a pic of Robin of Sherwood, one of my nostalgic favourites…)

  16. Bitchie
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 15:36:55

    I wonder if part of the problem with all these YA themed adaptions is the type of books they are adapting, and how. They saw the success of Twilight and snapped up anything popular and paranormal they could find, but at the end of the day, the success of Twilight isn’t due to the vampires and werewolves, but due to the love story, good or bad. Grown women and young girls were swooning over Edward Cullen, tortured broody hero, not Edward Cullen, vampire.

    But the studios grab up the paranormal, when what people were swooning over was the first love, tortured romance aspect of Twilight.

    And I still don’t get why The Hunger Games gets lumped in, when the only thing it has in common is that it’s YA. It’s not paranormal or supernatural in any way, and it’s not even a romance, really.

  17. Erin Satie
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 16:03:16

    Yeah. I’d second a lot of the comments above me. About how studios are missing the point when they produce these book adaptations (emphasizing where the stories are the same, rather than capitalizing on where they’re different), about how silly it is to take a small number of YA franchises and assume that it’s possible to draw broad conclusions about trends, about how the need to make huge amounts of money is resulting in a homogenization that ultimately drives people away from theaters.

    When I think about it, the best adaptations come from authors who have the luxury of saying ‘No.’ Maybe I’ve been down the GRR Martin rabbit hole for too long, but that’s one thing he’s said about how HBO’s Game of Thrones turned out so well. He said NO to a lot of offers before he said ‘Yes’ to the David&Dan team. He didn’t take the biggest paycheck, either; he waited until he found producers who’d thought about how to overcome the roadblocks along the way, who’d read and thought about his books instead of just reading a blurb or summary.

    Maybe I’m messing up the chronology–someone want to correct me? Because I think by the time that GRRM, Rowling, SMeyers & Collins signed their movie deals, they’d made bank. They could afford to wait for the right offer (& more money in the long run), instead of choosing the ‘take the money & run’ option.

    On the other hand, there’s the Charlaine Harris example. Who would have thought an Alan Ball show could go so wrong?

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