The young adult novel has begat the young adult movie – and they to be basically taking over the multiplexes in recent years. But is it time to forget labels that give us preconceptions about these movies, especially in the wake of the critical and commercial success of The Hunger Games?
Divergent director Neil Burger certainly thinks so, and we talked to him about the stigma of the ‘young adult’ tag in a recent interview:
“I think there is a stigma to it,” says the filmmaker when we ask about Divergent. “Certainly it’s based on a young adult novel but for me I wasn’t interested in making a young adult story. It appeals to young people but to me the story is an adult story and the themes are adult. Grown up, mature, nuanced and universal ideas. So that’s what I was going for and I think that’s what we’ve got.”
And the evidence suggests that audiences are more willing to accept these movies as well: “In North America half the audience has been over 25 and have been connecting to it. But there’s definitely a stigma attached to the young adult thing. And I think in a way we actually have people rooting against us because there’s a lot of critics out there who didn’t like the Twilight movies and they feel like this is just a retread.”
The Hunger Games has also been a good and bad thing, according to the director: “Or that we’re somehow copying The Hunger Games. Which – on one hand we probably wouldn’t be here without the success of The Hunger Games but it’s a different story. And I don’t know that people with Captain America are saying – well here we go with another Batman, Superman, and Iron Man movie! It’s a particular genre and we’re exploring different ideas within that genre.”
There’s room for all kinds of different movies at the box office and tagging these films under the same young adult banner does a disservice to the talented folks in front of and behind the camera who are trying to create something with a unique voice and aspect.
Divergent is in cinemas from the 4th of April. Read our full interview with director Neil Burger here.