Young adult movie adaptations have been some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters in recent years. They originated with a resurgence in young adult novels.
J. K. Rowling’s phenomenal Harry Potter books were largely responsible for popularizing the genre again when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published in 1997.
As soon as Warner Bros. started adapting the Harry Potter books to the big screen in 2001, movie adaptations of popular YA series became the next big ticket.
When adapting books like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Twilight into movies, a lot of careful decisions have to be made. Since a lot the fans for the books are teenagers or young adults, they are going to be that much more passionate about seeing their beloved stories and characters adapted well.
Every fan has something that they would have changed about the finished product and hopefully plenty of things they liked.
However, many fans may not know the stories behind some of the most important decisions with regards to their favorite YA movies. Plenty of movies made drastic changes late into the production that affected the movie overall.
Could you image what the Twilight movies would have been like without Taylor Lautner as Jacob or if the Harry Potter movies had been animated by DreamWorks Pictures with Steven Spielberg directing?
There are a lot of things that could have been radically different about the YA movie adaptations we’ve come to know and love, for better or worse.
With that said, here are the 10 Last Minutes Changes That Hurt YA Movies (And 10 That Saved Them).
19 HURT: CUTTING JACK’S END IN THE MAZE RUNNER: SCORCH TRIALS
In The Scorch Trials by James Dashner, Jack gets struck by lightning during the thunderstorm in the Scortch. He gets severely burned and his leg is blown off. He is presumed deceased from shock or blood loss.
The Maze Runner movie introduces Jack a bit earlier. Jack is one of the Gladers who rebels against Gally and tries to escape the Maze.
The movie changed his passing, although most fans didn’t get to see it. The Gladers escape the WICKED facility and then Jack is never seen again.
There is a 20 second segment of deleted extra footage that shows what happened. Cranks jump on Jack, sending him tumbling over ledge and falling to his demise.
They could have at least kept the scene in to the avoid confusion among observant fans.
18 SAVED: RECASTING BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD AS VICTORIA IN TWILIGHT
In the first Twilight movie, antagonist vampire Victoria was played by Rachelle Lefevre.
Unfortunately, Lefevre exited the role before Victoria got her most important arc in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Bryce Dallas Howard took over the role. She was already known to audiences from her roles in Lady in the Water and Spider-Man 3.
The producers certainly needed to fill the role for Eclipse ,since Victoria becomes the main antagonist. She creates an army of new born vampires to hunt down Bella and the Cullens.
Victoria wants Edward to suffer since she blames him for taking down her mate James in the first movie Howard brought a convincing ferocity to the part. Her drive for vengeance is palpable throughout the movie.
Thankfully, Dallas Howard handed in a stellar perfomance as the evil vampire, so we're glad that she was brought in.
17 HURT: CUTTING THE STABBING FROM DIVERGENT
The Divergent series is rife with tribal politics and violence. Plenty of fans of the book series insist that the movie version is significantly watered down compared to what was covered in the source material.
One of the prime examples is in a deleted scene during Tris’ initiation into the Dauntless faction.
Peter is one of Tris’ main antagonists in the movie, and is played by Miles Teller. In the books, he’s much more menacing rather than sarcastic.
During the initiation, he stabs one of the other inductees in the eye during the night in order to rise to the top of the Dauntless ranks.
The filmmakers shot this scene, but cut it from the theatrical release.
If they had kept the scene, and had wrote Peter to be more of a real threat, then perhaps the Divergent movies could have had much more bite.
16 SAVED: HARRY POTTER WASN’T ANIMATED
The Harry Potter books were just becoming a sensation when Warner Bros. decided to launch a movie adaptation. It had considered DreamWorks as a co-producer and decided on Steven Spielberg to direct the first movie at least.
However, DreamWorks had one condition: the movie had to be animated.
Were there plenty of successful animated family movies at the time? Yes. Could Steven Spielberg have made a worthwhile Harry Potter animated movie? Probably.
However, DreamWorks also wanted to include events from the first few books into one movie.
Thankfully, Alan Horn, Warner Bros.' president at the time, wanted to maintain the narrative integrity of the books in the movie adaptation.
With hindsight, we can confidently say that the Harry Potter movies, cast, and crew all benefited from the live action production.
15 HURT: STUDIO MEDDLING WITH GOLDEN COMPASS
New Line Cinema had a lot riding on the success of Golden Compass. The studio wanted its own YA fantasy franchise in answer to Disney’s success with the Narnia movies.
One important difference between the books and movie is that the His Dark Materials novels by Phillip Pullman have explicitly critical commentaries on religion and authority figures.
This led the studio to push for these elements in the film to be more ambiguous. The production changed directors and writers several times before it was finished.
Much to book fans' dismay, the sequence of events in the movie were changed for no discernable reason.
The ending was also much lighter and softer that the ending of the first book. If the studio had been bolder, it could have at least delivered a movie that fans would have appreciated.
14 SAVED: NOT LETTING SAM LIVE AT THE END OF BEFORE I FALL
In the YA novel Before I Fall by Lauren Olliver, reluctant high school mean girl Samantha meets an untimely end in a car crash.
However, she mysteriously wakes up at the start of her last day again. In fact, she seems to be stuck reliving that day again and again.
As she relives the same day over and over, she learns more about the various people in her life. Ultimately Samantha decides to take this last day of hers and make a positive impact.
Director Ry Russo-Young considered changing the ending of the movie to be more uplifting.
They shot the uplifting alternate ending, but ultimately decided not to use it. Instead, the movie stayed very faithful to Olliver’s original novel.
13 HURT: CUTTING REMUS AND TONKS LAST SCENE IN DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2
Lupin and Tonks are among some of the most beloved characters in the Harry Potter franchise, so fans were overjoyed when they officially became a couple in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
The movies kept them in a relationship, even if we didn’t get to see many tender moments between them. This is why this cut footage is especially missed.
As Remus and Kingsly Shacklebolt lead the defense of Hogwarts, Tonks shows up right before the fighting starts. She assures him that their child Teddy is safe and that she belongs by Remus’s side tonight.
Other than this footage, we only see Remus and Tonks reaching out for each other before Harry finds them among the deceased in the Great Hall.
This scene would've offered us a deeper look at their touching relationship.
12 SAVED: SHOWING THE WHOLE BATTLE IN THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE
The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis are among the most famous fantasy works of the last century.
After New Line Cinema successfully brought The Lord of the Rings to life on screen, Disney set their sights on a big screen live action adaptation of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
There are many different sensibilities between 1950s high fantasy and new millennium family friendly blockbusters. To draw in a bit more excitement for the movie, the producers decided to shoot all of the final battle in the movie.
In the books, the reader only sees the battle from the perspective of Aslan, Susan, and Lucy, when they arrive with reinforcements to save the day.
The movie also shows us Peter and Edmund throughout the course of the battle.
11 HURT: SPLITTING MOCKINGJAY INTO TWO MOVIES
Just as the Harry Potter books had set the trend for many popular YA novels that followed, the movie adaptations also set precedents.
Many fans agree that splitting the final book into two movies was a wise decision. However, was it necessary for every YA movie adaptation to split their last book into two movies? Probably not.
Many fans believe that the last book in the Hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay, didn’t need to be split.
While it was fine that Part 1 and 2 each focused on different themes at the end of Katniss’s struggle, it could have fit in one movie.
It didn’t help that the filmmakers cut plenty of scenes that fans wanted without adding in anything too interesting, especially in Part 1.
6. SAVED: CORRECTING DUMBLEDORE’S ORIENTATION IN THE HARRY POTTER MOVIES
In an interview in 2007, J. K. Rowling told an audience of avid Harry Potter fans that she had always imagined Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore as gay.
These days, many fans wish that Rowling had found a way to include this into the books as more than subtext. However, it is still nice to have a LGBTQ character as one of the most complicated and ultimately good characters in the series.
Rowling also made sure to keep Dumbledore’s orientation consistent in the movie, even if it was still left ambiguous.
In the script for Half Blood Prince, there was going to be a scene where Dumbledore was going to tell Harry about a girl he once had romantic feelings for.
Rowling scribbled in a note telling the screen writer that Dumbledore was in fact gay.
10 HURT: GARY ROSS NOT DIRECTING CATCHING FIRE
The first Hunger Games movie was a huge success for Lionsgate. It was a star -making role for Jennifer Lawrence and the highest profile movie yet for director Gary Ross.
Ross was apparently lined up to direct the sequel, Catching Fire, and was already in further collaboration with author Suzanne Collins.
Around April 2012, Ross suddenly announced that he would not be directing the sequel.
Ross's announcement surprised the executive at Lionsgate. Nevertheless, Francis Lawrence accepted the director’s chair in early May of that same year and the studio rewrote the script.
One has to wonder how the franchise may have been different if Gary Ross had continued directing the Hunger Games movies. Would it have had just as much success?
9 SAVED: THE BATTLE TWIST IN BREAKING DAWN PART 2
For most of the Breaking Dawn book, the Cullens prepare for a final confrontation with the Volturi. The Volturi will not permit Bella and Edward’s daughter to live, as they believe her to be an immortal child.
The forces allied with the Cullens and the Volturi all assemble. However, before the battle can begin, a newly introduced character arrives and helps convince the Volturi that Resesmee isn’t the threat they believed her to be.
The dialogue-heavy climax may have worked in the books, but movie goers could be forgiven for wanting a more action packed ending.
In the movie, we actually get to see the vampires and werewolves slug it out, and we still get the happily ever after ending.
It turns out that Alice projected the final battle as a vision to Aro in order to show him what would happen if they fought.
8 HURT: CUTTING TEDDY LUPIN FROM DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2
Not long before the battle of Hogwarts, Tonks and Remus have a baby named Teddy.
Tonk's family kept him safely in hiding, but both his parents perished during the battle. He appears grown up in the epilogue 19 years later.
In Deathly Hallows Part 2, Luke Newberry was cast as Teddy Lupin and shot scenes as part of the epilogue.
Unfortunately, all of his scenes were cut, and they didn't even make it into the deleted scenes for the home release.
His absence feels especially weird because, as is, Teddy is only mentioned in the movie when Harry sees the apparition of Remus brought back by the resurrection stone.
Shouldn’t we have gotten to see Teddy living in the better world that his mother and father fought and sacrificed their lives for?
7 SAVED: GRANTING THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER A PG-13 RATING
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky always had issues from strict parents and school boards who wished to censor it after it was first published in 1999.
When Chbosky got to adapt the story to the big screen, the Motion Picture Association of America assigned the movie an R rating at first, based on “teen [sustance] and alcohol use, and some [adult] references.”
This would have limited the accessibility of the movie, as it is targeted at younger audiences. It also could have stigmatized the movie's important topics of mental health and relationships.
Fortunately, the appeals board re-rated the movie to PG-13, for “mature thematic material, [substance] and alcohol use, [adult] content including references, and a fight – all involving teens.”
6 HURT: CUTTING THE BAR SCENE FROM LOVE, SIMON
Love, Simon is among the few big screen YA novel adaptations to feature a gay male protagonist. The movie is based on the book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.
Nick Robinson plays the titular Simon, who is struggling with coming out as gay in high school.
Since showing a fully fleshed out gay high school drama was the goal of the movie, there are many different relationships and experiences Simon goes through.
One really exciting scene that didn’t make the cut included Simon and his friend sneaking into a college gay bar. Simon drinks while underage, gets mistaken for older than he is, and is eventually thrown out.
It's a shame that the scene was cut, as it showed a lot of Simon's character and would've been relatable to viewers.
5 SAVED: HANDLING PHILLIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN’S PASSING IN MOCKINGJAY PART 2
Phillip Seymour Hoffman joined the cast of The Hunger Games as Plutarch Heavensbee. He becomes the Head Gamemaker after Seneca Crane and secretly orchestrates the plot to break the tributes out of the 75th Hunger Games.
Heavensbee also leads the Districts' rebellion against the Capitol.
Hoffman completed his scenes for the release of Mockingjay Part 1, but he unfortunately suffered a fatal substance overdose in February 2014.
He had yet to film a scene between Heavensbee and Katniss where he imparts some final wisdom to the heroine.
Instead, Katniss reads a note narrated by Woody Harrelson’s Haymitch Abernathy in the movie. Hoffman’s Heavensbee still appears in the film for a few minutes and still provides us with a noteworthy performance.
4 HURT: CUTTING HARRY AND PETUNIA’S SCENE IN DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1
We see less and less of the Dursleys as the Harry Potter movies go on. It’s an understandable element to trim for the movie adaptation, what with the war in the wizarding world growing more and more dire.
However, a scene was shot and then cut from Deathly Hallows: Part 1 that touched on a very different dynamic between Harry and the Dursleys.
As Petunia is about to go into hiding with Vernon and Dudley, Harry tries to assures her that it’s necessary.
“You think I don’t know what they are capable of?" Petunia says, "You didn’t just lose a mother that night in Godrick’s Hollow, you know. I lost a sister.”
In this moment, Harry is reminded that both he and Petunia have far more in common than either of them ever admitted to each other.
3 SAVED: KEEPING TAYLOR LAUTNER AS JACOB BLACK IN NEW MOON
From the very beginning of the Twilight franchise, Bella and Jacob Black were close friends. Taylor Lautner’s Jacob appeared in the first movie with long hair and a somewhat wiry frame.
When it came time to begin production on the sequel, for a while it looked like Lautner wouldn’t be returning for the role since he was deemed too small for the part.
Lautner discussed how he got to keep the part in an interview with MTV in 2009: "I tried to focus on what I could control the whole time and not let whatever was going on outside get to me. And that's what I did."
"As soon as [director] Chris Weitz became attached, I had all my work done that I had been doing over the past nine, 10 months,” said Lautner.
Considering how vocal Team Jacob became, it’s safe to say that the filmmakers made the right call with keeping Lautner on board.
2 HURT: WAITING UNTIL 2014 TO ADAPT THE GIVER INTO A MOVIE
The Giver by Lois Lowry came out in 1993. It’s one of the most critically acclaimed recent YA dystopia novels of the last 25 years. Without it, there may have never been The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, or Divergent.
Jeff Bridges was interested in adapting the book to the big screen as early as 1994. He had envisioned his father Lloyd Bridges in the title role, but unfortunately Lloyd Bridges passed away in 1998.
The movie adaptation languished in development hell until 2014, when Jeff Bridges himself took on the role of the Giver.
By then, the books inspired by The Giver were already successfully adapted into Hollywood blockbusters. However, The Giver’s themes and the look of the movie felt too familiar to distinguish itself.
1 SAVED: MAKING WALLACE ADOPTED IN A WRINKLE IN TIME
In Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, Meg’s relationship with her family is one of the most important in the story, personally and thematically.
In adapting the book to the big screen, the screenwriters and director Ava DuVernay wanted to respect the book’s themes but also update some details for a modern audience.
Meg has a younger brother named Charles Wallace in the book. In the recent movie, Charles Wallace is an adopted member of the Murry family. He is played by Filipino-descended actor David McCabe.
Screenwriter Jennifer Lee explained the reason behind the change: “we're speaking to every family. And we're not saying it has to be related or blood or one type of family.”
Are there any other last minute changes in YA movies that you’ve heard about? Do you think they helped or hurt the movie? Let us know in the comments!