The film adaptation of Fallen, the first film in Lauren Kate’s New York Times bestselling YA romance series about forbidden love, angels and fabulous stock photo girl in prom dress covers, has been on the cards pretty much since the first book was released. Now, it’s finally becoming a reality, with filming currently taking place in Budapest and the cast including Jeremy Irvine and Joely Richardson. Scott Hicks, director of Oscar winner Shine, is behind the camera and a release date has not yet been set but will be sometime in 2015.
When news reached Camp Bibliodaze that the Fallen movie was actually happening, we were a little surprised. While gossip of the “YA Movie Curse” from mainstream publications has somewhat died off now that the Divergent series is set to become an unnecessary quadrilogy, prospects for a paranormal YA revival don’t look strong. Fallen will follow not only in the steps of upcoming dystopian films such as The Giver and The Maze Runner but also a string of paranormal romance adaptation flops, from Vampire Academy to The Mortal Instruments to Beautiful Creatures. While the four series have varying levels of popularity, Kate’s one does have a fanbase and it’s not hard to see what a studio would look at that group of dedicated young women and think they have a guaranteed hit on their hands. Studios follow trends rather than starting them. That’s one of the reasons adaptations are so popular. They come with a fanbase which guarantees at least a percentage of ticket sales and if it proves successful then there’s plenty of sequel potential.
Unfortunately, a fanbase will only get you so far in Hollywood. Even with ten million book sales in Kate and Fallen‘s favour, that doesn’t necessarily translate to box office hit. Nine times out of ten, the project requires crossover appeal. Twilight didn’t need it because it came ahead of the curve and had sold decidedly more books. While the same can also be said for The Hunger Games, the inherent appeal to all ages and genders certainly didn’t help. That too was ahead of the game. While Divergent followed in Katniss’s footsteps, Veronica Roth’s series is one of the few that can call itself a bona fide publishing smash, and that’s based only on three books.
I struggle to see what new things Fallen brings to the table. While I can’t objectively say that I liked the book (I actually thought it was pretty terrible but I’m not the target audience), it will have to cope with the same kind of expectations and cynicism its paranormal predecessors met. The comparisons to Twilight will inevitably be made, just as they were when the books were released, and it will take a savvy promotional season to manoeuvre those traps. Even if they embrace the comparisons, they face accusations of being derivative and behind with the times. Publishing and movie-making can be slow in these areas. Will the love for the series and dedication of its fans hang on to 2015? Kate’s latest book, the first in a new series, charted on the New York Times YA list and over 100,000 sales is nothing to sniff at, there’s not a lot of buzz around it right now. These things do add up. The other paranormal adaptations were also of series that were either continuing to be published or had sequels/prequels/spin-offs being published, while Fallen has already wrapped up.
It’s probably extremely premature to be thinking about this but it’s also something the producers have to deal with. Time will tell if Fallen will rise at the box office or drop off without much notice. Keep an eye out for a release date. That’ll tell you everything you need to know about producers’s hopes in the project.