Fantastical teenage adventure/drama book-turned movie series are all the rage nowadays and everyone wants to be more the next Twilight, less the next Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant. Fox is certainly hoping to appeal to the under-20 demographic with its new cinematic adaptation of James Dashner’s bestseller, The Maze Runner.

Original Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke will helm The Maze Runner, which now has a screenwriter in the form of Noah Oppenheim – an Emmy-winning producer who’s recently been trying his hand at the art of movie scripting.

Oppenheim was recently signed on to pen the English-language adaptation of Swedish thriller Snabba Cash as a starring vehicle for (former) High School Musical heartthrob Zac Efron. His screenwriting career really took off with his Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis biopic, aka. Jackie. That script was heavily praised by Steven Spielberg and was seemingly set to be directed by Darren Aronofsky and star his fiancee, Rachel Weisz, before the two split and the former signed on for Wolverine 2 – two entirely unrelated events, as far as we know. Moving on…

24 Frames was responsible for this scoop about The Maze Runner, the sequel to which is titled The Scorch Trials and has been on the New York Times’ hardcover bestseller list since it was released in fall of 2010. Dashner plans to round out his series as a trilogy and Fox should be quite willing to bring all three of his novels to the big screen – assuming the first film adaptation is a hit, of course.

Here’s a description of the setup for The Maze Runner:

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Besides the obvious Adam/Eve allusion in this premise, The Maze Runner has drawn numerous comparisons to The Hunger Games trilogy with the “young people in peril” setup and its dystopian setting. Hardwicke may be best (or, rather, infamously) known nowadays for tackling the first entry in Stephenie Meyer’s supernatural creature romance series-turned cash cow, but she has a long track record of handling stories about the difficulties of pre-adulthood in lesser known works like Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown, and a cinematic version of The Nativity Story.

Hardwicke’s “edgy” fairy tale pic Red Riding Hood will arrive in theaters this spring and the subject matter of The Maze Runner is of a similar vein – like all her directorial work, really. Regardless of how one feels about Twilight, there’s no denying that Hardwicke is an auteur in her own right; has a unique visual style; and is even responsible for crafting some quality coming-of-age stories that are both gritty and yet not entirely rooted in the everyday world.

Keep an eye out for more information about The Maze Runner in the near future.

Source: LA Times