Although movie adaptations of books aren’t a new phenomenon in Hollywood, recent years have seen an influx of post-apocalyptic dystopian YA stories on the big screen. The most recent big blockbuster adaptation from a young adult novel, The Maze Runner, debuted in theaters this weekend. Following The Hunger Games, a critically and financially successful franchise, as well as Divergent, which was less well-received critically but was a box office hit, The Maze Runner had a high level of expectation to live up to - for both fans and casual viewers alike.
Reviews of The Maze Runner have been mixed - we considered it one of the better YA adaptations, though the film has its flaws - but after hitting #1 at the box office this weekend, 20th Century Fox has given the sequel a green light.
According to Variety, Fox has announced that the sequel, titled The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, will hit theaters in less than a year on September 18th, 2015. The followup will be based on author James Dashner’s second novel in the series, The Scorch Trials, and will continue the stories of Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow maze inhabitants.
The Maze Runner beat out other new releases, A Walk Among Tombstones and This Is Where I Leave You, for the top of the box office this week, grossing $32.5 million domestically and $37.6 million internationally (it only had a budget of $34 million). However, its sequel will be up against the action-adventure Everest starring Jake Gyllenhaal as well as an untitled Whitey Bulger biopic with Johnny Depp.
It may seem as if Hollywood has been inundated with an overwhelming number of YA adaptations - especially those attempting to launch franchises - but this type of film doesn’t necessarily guarantee success. While Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games ushered in the era of YA adaptations, recent years have seen many failed franchise starters: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (as well as Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters), Vampire Academy, and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, among others.
Though The Maze Runner may have its detractors, it’s one of the better YA adaptations, which is reflected in the film’s reviews as well as its box office numbers. Given the logical progression of the characters’ stories in Dashner’s The Scorch Trials - and the third installment, The Death Cure - it makes sense to continue the franchise with a sequel.
The Maze Runner is currently playing in theaters. The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials will debut September 18th, 2015.