Since the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises reached their respective conclusions with towering legacies of box office success, and with The Hunger Games already off to a strong start, film studios are acutely aware of the selling power of young adult fantasy, and many seem to be racing to find the next Harry Potter, Bella Swan or Katniss Everdeen in the pages of modern teen fiction.
Upcoming contenders include The Seventh Son, which stars Jeff Bridges and Ben Barnes and is an adaptation of Joseph Delaney's novel "The Spook's Apprentice", and the wordily-titled Mariah Mundi and the Midas Box, based on the book by G.P. Taylor with a cast that includes Aneurin Barnard, Michael Sheen and Lena Headey. Coming in from the sci-fi genre is The Maze Runner, from James Dashner's young adult novel of the same name, which takes place in an insular slice of a mysterious, dystopian future.
Since the lead actor of The Maze Runner comes from a popular MTV show, perhaps it's appropriate that MTV News should be the site to release the first images from The Maze Runner. For those who have been following the book series, this is a great opportunity to see how well that vision was translated to the big screen by screenwriter Noah Oppenheim (The Today Show) and director Wes Ball.
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The 'maze' of the title refers to an enormous stone labyrinth - the walls of which can be seen in one of the above images - which is inhabited by ugly creatures with a vicious sting, called Grievers. At the center of the maze lies an area called the Glade, inhabited by a community of male youths called Gladers. The main character, Thomas, wakes up in the Glade with no memory of his past life, and must learn how to survive among the Gladers and uncover the secrets of their entrapment in this strange world.
Thomas is played by Dylan O'Brien, who is currently best known for playing Stiles Stilinski on MTV's Teen Wolf. As one of a dwindling number of human characters on the show, Stiles is often forced (reluctantly) into a sidekick role, so it's quite gratifying to see O'Brien take the lead for a change. Also shown in these photos is Teresa, the only girl to ever show up in the Glades, who is played by Skins star Kaya Scodelario, along with other key supporting characters like Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Minho (Ki Hong Lee) and Alby (Aml Ameen).
[UPDATE: If you're a fan of the book series and you're planning to head to San Diego Comic Con this month, you may be interested to hear that James Dashner will be in attendance. The author recently confirmed his attendence his attendance on Twitter:
I'm not sure about Comic Con, guys. I'll be there for sure, doing things on Friday and Sunday. But the cast? Don't know. #dashnerchat
— jamesdashner (@jamesdashner) June 28, 2013
Dashner was unable to say for certain how many of the cast members will be in attendance, but Dylan O'Brien is taking part in a Teen Wolf panel - could he take part in some promotional work for The Maze Runner as well?]
The Maze Runner is next year's romantic treat, arriving in theaters on February 14, 2014.