The next movie featuring Divergent stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort is not the next Divergent or Hunger Games. In fact, it has the chance to be something much more special.
The Fault in Our Stars appears to be getting the treatment that its aforementioned dystopian predecessors have had when it come to advertising. Jethro Nededog of The Wrap reported that MTV will air a new "sneak peek" of the movie during the MTV Movie Awards pre-show, and stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort will be presenters at the ceremony. A Catching Fire trailer debuted at last year's Movie Awards, and trailer for Divergent premiered during the last VMAs pre-show. But the more analogous situation came back in 2012 when MTV hyped up The Perks of Being a Wallflower during the Movie Awards.
The Fault in Our Stars and The Perks of Being a Wallflower have more in common than just their similar trailers. Both are based on beloved young adult novels—by Stephen Chbosky and John Green, respectively—that have nothing to do with vampires or totalitarian societies. Perks follows Charlie, a shy teenager suppressing a deep childhood trauma. The Fault in Our Stars tells the story of Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, who meet in a cancer support group.
In a story in Entertainment Weekly published today, Nicole Sperling asked: "Divergent worked. Now what?" Sperling explained that Divergent both proved that it was possibly to have a YA success with something other than The Hunger Games or Twilight, and that the industry seems to be moving in a direction where YA isn't code for fantasy or sci-fi.
Still there's clearly hope that something like Fault can end up a juggernaut too. Producer Wyck Godfrey told Sperling: "I really believe that this little movie about two kids with cancer falling in love for the first time is going to be a huge event." Perks ended up with a modest box office of $17.7 million, domestically. The Spectacular Now, a recent movie (also starring Woodley) based on a YA novel that had nothing to do with anything supernatural, was a critically adored Sundance hit but made little impact at the box office. It was also rated-R, which means that there was a chance actual teens who wanted to see the story of a young alcoholic fall in love would not be admitted. Studios go out of their way to make sure these potentially hit movies aimed at teens stay PG-13 (even when there is mass killing involved) in order to draw in more of their target audience.
Godfrey is also clearly hoping that he can both have a success with The Fault in Our Stars and repeat it to a certain extent. He has signed on to also produce an adaptation of Paper Towns, another book by Green. "Green is just one of many, many authors still writing books for young adults, about actual teenagers; he’s also massively popular, which helps explain why Hollywood turned to him first to kick-start the real-kids-on-screen revolution," Katey Rich wrote at Vanity Fair.
Rich connected the news of the second Green adaptation to the fact that yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the day the Breakfast Club met in John Hughes' classic movie. (Watch the first minutes of the movie to hear March 24 come out of the mouth of Anthony Michael Hall in voiceover.) As Sean O'Connell pointed out at CinemaBlend, The Breakfast Club seems like an anomaly these days when the consummate image of a teen in a movie is Kristen Stewart mooning over a sparkly vampire or Jennifer Lawrence aiming her bow and arrow. (For what it's worth, The Breakfast Club was rated-R.) The Fault in Our Stars promises to be something different, and Godfrey clearly hopes the box office will bite. But don't expect dystopia to go away anytime soon: both The Maze Runner and The Giver are on their way into theaters.