Happy Thursday, Reading Nook!
Today, we're proud to share two different posts as a part of the Brutal Youth blog tour!
First up, we have author Anthony Breznican sharing thoughts on Hollywood adaptations of YA books, and how we can support the projects that we want to see on screen.
He also shares some thoughts on what he would like to see for a potential adaptation of Brutal Youth!
A guest post from Anthony Breznican:
Author of Brutal Youth
June 2015, Thomas Dunne Books
Q: There's been an uptick in book-to-film adaptations recently, particularly for works derived from the YA genre.
However, Tom and I both feel that Hollywood tends to pick novels to adapt that dwell within familiar territory - e.g. the hero stories; the dystopian dramas; the romance sagas, and the standard high school outsider vs. the high school clique tales. These adaptations are always great and highly enjoyable, but we feel like they don't necessarily have the capacity to shock and/or provoke the way some really excellent, existing YA books can - e.g. your book.
So as someone who also works in entertainment journalism, what do you think it's going to take to encourage Hollywood to seek out the genuinely thought-provoking YA titles? And what does Hollywood need to do to inevitably make a film as thought-provoking as its published counterpart?
And finally, how would you like to see Brutal Youth be adapated into a movie? Just what do you think would be needed, to make sure that the script stays true to the heart of the story?
Studios have to place big bets because they can’t survive on little victories. If a movie costs $20 million to produce, and they make $30 million, or even $40 million, it’s not really worth the time or effort. (Especially after you factor in marketing costs, which can be as big as the budget.) They need to spend $200 million on a movie, and an equal amount in advertising, to earn maybe $600 million or a BILLION – plus sell a lot of t-shirts, toys, breakfast cereal, dog food … you name it.
So they gravitate toward books that lend themselves to epic-scale storytelling, like The Hunger Games, Twilight, The Maze Runner. A book with a more intimate story has to not just explode, but go supernova -- like John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars – before major studios will decide it’s worth adapting.
That’s all the reasons why these movies don’t happen, but here’s what’s changing that point of view. Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower was a great book that he made into a beautiful film, but even then the studio didn’t know how to sell it. It still found an audience, but it was a sleeper hit. That showed there was an audience for these kinds of introspective YA adaptations. And you are seeing more of them, although they don’t always hit big. The DUFF was a recent example of a great film that ended up doing most of its business on video-on-demand. Going back a few years, The Spectacular Now was another YA adaptation that deserved a bigger audience than it got. There’s kind of an ebb and flow. A step forward, a step back.
There are viewers out there who want these films, and they’re not expensive to make, but distributors are reluctant to spend the money to market them that would push the projects toward the big payday: A $20 million film that earns, say $80 million or $100 million. The day we see a few small-scale YA films earn that kind of box office, it’ll be gold rush time for these kinds of adaptations.
But I’m optimistic. Just today, I saw Ava Dellaira’s crushingly beautiful Love Letters to the Dead has signed on Twilight’s Catherine Hardwicke as a director, and Fox Searchlight picked up the independently financed adaptation of Jesse Andrews’ Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. If the indie film world keeps making these films, and fans out there rally to support them, we’ll see a lot more.
As for Brutal Youth …. I love movies, so I would get a kick out of seeing a filmmaker adapt it for the screen. I like to think it has a fast-paced story to it, and some colorful, rambunctious characters, so maybe someone will decide to give it a shot someday. But my personal preference would be to see it turned into a TV show.
I think Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Empire, and shows of that sort are like novels on television. Brutal Youth is an ensemble story, set in the 1990s, that tells the story of these good kids trying to stay that way in a bad place, while facing down a lot of corrupt authority figures and scoundrels. It happens to have nine sections that could be broken up into episodes, and that leaves room to add a little more. A series gives the characters a chance to breathe, to let the story play out while we get to know these individuals. Also, the opening of the book has a big action sequence and that would look awesome if it was done as a pilot episode with one long take!
It’s a longshot, but that’s okay. I wrote it as a book, not a screenplay, and the story lives in those pages. When people are in the mood for a teenage wasteland full of double-crosses, broken hearts, and other shenanigans, I hope they find it a worthy read.