The Giver - Jeff Bridges and Brenton Thwaites (header)

It’d be easy to assume that Philip Noyce‘s The Giver is just another Hunger Games knock-off, given that it’s yet another YA adaptation set in a dystopian universe. But in truth, it’s a film that Jeff Bridges has been working on for almost twenty years — way back before Katniss Everdeen was even a twinkle in Suzanne Collins’ eye. Heck, before J.K. Rowling introduced the world to Harry Potter.

Based on the novel by Lois Lowry, The Giver unfolds in a seemingly utopian society which has not just eliminated, but completely forgotten concepts like war and poverty. When protagonist Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) comes of age, however, he learns that this pain-free existence comes at a cost. He is chosen to bear the burden of remembering the past so that others won’t have to, and begins to receive memories from the Giver (Bridges).

The first images from the film have just been released, and you can check them out after the jump.

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Fox Will Develop James Frey’s YA Novel ‘Endgame’

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Briefly: James Frey created the story that spawned the novel and film I Am Number Four, and while that was a non-starter as a franchise, he’s got another YA property in the pipeline. Frey is writing a novel called Endgame, which will be published next year, and is intended to launch a novel series. Now Fox has bought in, and will develop the story as a film. Frey will script.

There’s no real info on the story, which THR says has been “described as Hunger Games-like in tone by several sources.” Pretty much par for the course at this point that a new YA story would be compared to one of the most successful existing YA franchise, so that doesn’t tell us a whole lot.

The Fault in Our Stars poster header

Shailene Woodley has two highly anticipated YA adaptations out this year, one of which (Divergent) is being touted as the next Hunger Games. And indeed, it has everything an on-trend teen flick needs right now: a dystopian setting, a kickass heroine, and plenty of action.

But for my money, the far more promising one is The Fault in Our Stars. Woodley plays Hazel Grace, who meets and falls for a boy (Ansel Elgort) in her cancer support group. While the premise has the potential to get real sappy real fast, the source material by John Green gained lots of fans, of all ages, for its honesty and wit.

If director Josh Boone manages to retain that vibe, this could be 2014′s The Spectacular Now. It certainly helps that he’s got the writers of The Spectacular Now, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, working with him here. Check out the first image from the movie after the jump.

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The Spectacular Now at Sundance

In an age when the phrase “teen drama” suggests hardscrabble dystopias or lovelorn werewolves, what’s extraordinary about The Spectacular Now is how ordinary it is. The leads are two kids that could be from any town in America, and their romance is neither epic nor star-crossed. Stories like this one surely play out dozens of times a day all over the world.

But despite that ordinariness, or more likely because of it, The Spectacular Now is also one of the best teen dramas of recent years. Under the direction of James Ponsoldt (Smashed), The Spectacular Now is a pitch-perfect depiction of adolescence, warm and funny and sad without ever veering into forced sentimentality.

It’s a tough balance to pull off, and during a recent press stop in New York I got the opportunity to ask him how he managed to get it right. We also talked about why the kids in The Spectacular Now drink so much, how he took advantage of Kyle Chandler‘s Coach Taylor image, and which Arrested Development star he’d love to work with. Hit the jump to read the full interview. (Some spoilers for The Spectacular Now follow.)

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Welcome to Yesterday Screenshot

A group of high school kids discover the ability to travel in time. That’s the simple logline of Welcome to Yesterday, formerly called Almanac, which just released its first trailer. Starring a slew of young newcomers, the found footage sci-fi film was written by Jason Pagan and Andrew Stark and is directed by Dean Israelite. It’s scheduled for release February 28.

Jumping back in time ourselves, on July 1 of this year I was on the Atlanta set of the film. We spoke to all the principal actors, writers, producer and director to find out how Platinum Dunes’ first foray into the world of micro-budget genre filmmaking was looking. What we found was a very logical, interesting and angsty take on found footage and time travel. This was definitely not the heavily Back to the Future Part II influenced plot originally rumored.

Watch the trailer below, and read a bit more about our visit to the set. Read More »

Ridley Scott / Fae

Just as no young male actor seems to get anywhere these days without toplining his own comic book franchise, few directors at the moment seem immune to the allure of YA adaptations. The latest to jump on the angsty-teen wagon is Ridley Scott, who’s just optioned the fantasy novel Fae. Hit the jump for more details on the story.

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone

As The Hunger Games: Catching Fire quickly races towards becoming the highest grossing film of 2013, it’s no coincidence studios continue to close deals for similar young adult fare. The latest is Universal, which just signed director Michael Gracey to direct Daughter of Smoke and Bone, the first in a YA trilogy written by Laini TaylorStuart Beattie (Pirates of the Caribbean) adapted the screenplay.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone follows a young woman whose father sends her all over the world on the search for human teeth. Eventually, she realizes he’s in the middle of an epic, etherial battle between good and evil. Read More »

Vampire Academy

Paranormal YA characters tend to be a pretty mopey lot, whether they’re pining after sparkly vampire boyfriends or stressing over whether they’ll use their witchy powers for good or evil. But the tough, sarcastic leads of Vampire Academy look like a welcome exception.

Rose (Zoey Deutch) is a snarky ass-kicker in the Buffy Summers mold, though she protects bloodsuckers instead of fighting them; her charge and BFF is Lissa (Lucy Fry) is a vampire princess whose royal lineage doesn’t stop her from hating high school.

Their wisecracking powers come from the folks behind the camera: Director Mark Waters is best known for having helmed Mean Girls, while his screenwriter/brother Daniel Walters famously penned Heathers and Batman Returns. Watch the newest trailer after the jump.

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