Maze Runner: Post-Apocalyptic YA Starring Dylan (Shirtless) O’Brien

the_maze_runner_14“The Maze Runner” opens this weekend, with the sleek look of a young adult franchise in the making.

The adaptation of James Dashner’s post-apocalyptic bestseller mixes a dash of “Lord of the Flies” and a touch of “The Hunger Games” in its story of a group of teenagers who must outrace some nasty creatures and a dangerous, perpetually shifting labyrinth as they struggle to survive.

Though “Maze Runner’s” book sales fall short of “Twilight,” “The Fault in Our Stars” and other young adult hits, it may be able to broaden the audience demographically. The action elements should bring in boys, unlike the film adaptations of those books which played primarily to girls.

The picture has another attraction: Dylan O’Brien, the often shirtless star of “Teen Wolf,” plays the lead role.

 

the_maze_runner_13In surveys prior to the film’s release, both males and females have said they woud see the picture, which is rather unusual for a YA book adaptation.

Action-driven projects like “The Hunger Games” started out with women outpacing men in desire to see the film. And while the “Maze Runner” books are nowhere near as popular as “The Hunger Games” or “Twilight,” appealing to both genders could help the studio launch a movie franchise with the story of a boy whose memory is erased and must try to escape from a maze in which he finds himself trapped.

The studio asked f/x expert Wes Ball, who makes his directing debut on “The Maze Runner,” to work on a script for the second book in the trilogy, “The Scorch Trials,” but that will depend on its box office results.

Featuring “Teen Wolf” actor Dylan O’Brien and “We’re the Millers” star Will Poulter, the $30 million-budgeted project is currently a “first choice” among men under the age of 25, offering a sci-fi storyline with potential male appeal. Yet the film has largely been promoted towards young women in recent weeks, with ads on ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars” and stories on gossip sites like Just Jared. O’Brien is a favorite hunk among teen girls, making it easier for Fox to appeal to both sexes.

the_maze_runner_8As Hollywood learned the hard way with recent YA adaptations like “The Giver,” “Beautiful Creatures” and “Mortal Instruments,” not all movie versions of popular novels strike gold at the box office, so it’s critical for lesser-known properties to cast a wider net to young audiences.

After the $280 million grossing worldwide success of “The Fault in Our Stars,” producers Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen are trying to capitalize on more books with youthful appeal after “The Maze Runner.” Their company, Temple Hill Entertainment, is working on adaptations including Ava Dellaira’s debut novel “Love Letters to the Dead” and Nicholas Sparks’ “The Longest Ride.”