Teen Fiction on the Silver Screen, part 1
In the past few years, we have seen a real influx of movies based upon popular teen titles, Harry Potter and Twilight being among the most popular. As we speak the first Hunger Games movie has finished filming and is set for release in March of 2012. Upcoming titles include The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Heist Society and the Chaos Walking trilogy.
To be more accurate, although the Hunger Games has finished filming and Perks is currently filming, Heist Society and the Chaos Walking trilogy have been optioned. This means that a film company has bought the rights (the option) to make a book into a movie, but it doesn’t guarantee that it will happen. Ally Carter, author of Heist Society, talks about that on her page. In fact, the Gallagher Girls was optioned and never filmed and the option has since run out, which means that the rights have now gone back to the author. So she can try again or decide not to make it into a movie. I think the Gallagher Girls would be a fun movie – and they would have such great titles. (Note: Ally Carter even has a nice, informative post entitled How Movies Happen. Thank you Ally Carter!)
For a real look at how a book may or may not be made into a movie, look no further then Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Ender’s Game is a great book that would make a great movie, although I bet it would be expensive to make it well. For years now there has been talk of this iconic teen sci fi title being made into a movie. Today you can even find a press release indicating that they are casting roles for the big screen pic. Whether or not the title ever gets filmed – well, we’ll have to wait and see.
You can look at the movie blog and see that they have been talking about making the book into a movie way back in 2008.
If you click on this link there is a good, short informational YouTube video on how a book becomes a movie. Go on do it – you know you want to follow the link and watch the video. It’s very informative.
As a librarian I can’t help but wonder, does turning a movie into a book result in more reading? Anecdotally I would say yes (deep research that is). After the release of I am Number Four into the theaters there certainly seemed to be and increase in demand for the book title. And it seems as if many people are coming looking for the sequel, the Power of Six. I think, in addition, real interest in books is generated when publishers create spin offs of characters that keep the kids and teens coming back for more; think the Glee spin offs and the new teen series the Carrie Diaries that focuses on a younger Carrie Bradshaw (also apparently coming soon to a theater near you).
Are you looking for a tv or movie tie-in? Look, too, at your manga collection. Several manga series are or have been popular cartoons on the Cartoon Network. Others are popular movies or anime series. Think Yu-Gi-Oh, Naruto, and Bleach. In fact, many libraries have great success having anime clubs. Mesquite library has one with a blog. Side note: there are some resources that discuss how to start an anime club at the MIT Anime Club and librarian and graphic novel guru Kat Kan has had several articles appearing in VOYA.
Of course nothing is a bigger book killer than a bad movie! For every Harry Potter and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, there are the Blood and Chocolates (loved the book, hated the movie).
So why do we care about teen books being made into movies?
1. Marketing Potential!
As soon as you hear that a book has been optioned into a movie, get the word out to your teens to generate interest in the book. The thinking seems to be well, if they are going to make it into a movie it must be good. As the movie films, share news stories to keep interest high. A bad movie can kill a book, but the buzz generated while a movie is in production can boost interest so tap into that interest before the movie even comes out.
2. Programming Potential!
As the release date for a movie approaches, create an exciting and fun program. It doesn’t have to just be for big ticket movies like HP, Twilight or the Hunger Games. They don’t always even have to be big, one time attendance affairs. For the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, we passed a pair of old blue jeans among our branches and invited teens to come in and graffiti them. Think of all the fun you can have with a Holes themed program, including a fun hole digging contest (just kidding on that one). And with Hoot you could do some environmentally friendly crafts – a great tie-in for Earth Day. They can also be a good basis for contests. Here you are tapping into popular culture and your administrators see collection tie-ins – it’s win, win!
3. Tie-in Potential!
Some series, such as Glee or Supernatural (or Buffy of old) will release tie-in titles. As teens become invested in characters and storylines, the library can use this interest to promote recreational reading by providing access to tie-in titles. Some of the older series still have a lot of pull, think Star Trek, Star Wars and interestingly enough Charmed it seems. But there are a ton of series currently on TV that are based on popular teen books: Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle, Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game. Note: the Nine Lives of Chloe King has already been cancelled, which is too bad because I kind of liked it.
4. Raising Your Coolness Factor Potential
Let’s face it, we are supposed to be information specialist and we need all the cool factor points we can get with our teen audience. Knowing something before they know it proves to our audience that we are indeed information specialist – and that we are wicked cool. So make sure you spend time perusing sites so you can surprise teens with what you know. Check out places like comingsoon.net, popwatch at Entertainment Weekly, teen.com, aintitcoolnews (for sci fi and fantasy info) and perennial industry favorite Variety. Movie Insider is a site that talks about in production movies, shows trailers and posters and more, check it out. Even IMDB has some information, including a calendar that looks at upcoming release dates. I recommend checking it quarterly to plan your program and display calendar.
5. Social Media Potential
Frequently we see librarians discussing how to successfully use a Facebook page or Twitter feed. Look no further! Sharing news of upcoming adaptations, pictures from the set, etc. can be a great way to utilize your social media page. By doing this you achieve all the above goals and you keep in contact with your audience. It can be as simple as one click – share the online news story – or you can develop the information into fun online contests. The site filmwise has a variety of fun online movie games, including the popular invisibles, that you can share with your teens. Invisibles is a fun game that removes the person from a movie screenshot and asks you to identify the movie. Remember, too, that your teen magazines and sites will often have popular culture trivia that you can share. And you can always make your own, just allow yourself to get creative . . .
So even though we are ultimately trying to promote reading and our collections, the big and little screen can help us reach these goals. Tap into that potential!
Next blog post, we will talk more specifically about some of the various teen titles adapted to film and television past and future.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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