'Divergent,' 'Mockingjay' Highlight 2014's YA Movie Theater Takeover

This year is prepping for a young adult takeover at the movies. It's almost as if movie studios predicted the box office domination of Jennifer Lawrence's Catching Fire, based on based on Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games series, as 2014 currently has nine YA adaptations slated for release — including both new hits and genre classics.

Catching Fire topped the box office in 2013, making an astounding $409.4 million, which beat out the surefire action blockbuster Iron Man 3 at $409 million. This is particularly important for women in the movies, as the YA adaptation was the first movie with a female lead to win the box office since Linda Blair and The Exorcist (and that was in 1973, for those keeping track). Female protagonists are not uncommon in young adult literature — six of the nine YA movies coming this year have a female lead — including the next installment of the Hunger Games. So 2014 is shaping up to be another banner year for women. But can leading ladies surpass Katniss? Shailene Woodley, for one, is banking on it.

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'The Fault in Our Stars'

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John Green’s beloved book is already a YA classic only two years after its initial publication. And that means it’s one of the most hotly anticipated movies of the year. Shailene Woodley stars as Hazel, in the first of her two major YA roles this year, and relative newcomer Ansel Elgort plays Gus, the couple at the center of the love story. (Strangely, Elgort will appear as Woodley’s brother in another YA movie out this year.)

Green’s book is about two cancer patients who meet in a support group for kids, but it’s not another cancer book and it won’t be another cancer movie, because as Hazel says, “cancer books suck.” The movie, however, has already seen some controversy over its tagline, but that just goes to show how invested fans are in the novel, which will likely lead to a massive turnout at the theaters.

Expected release: June 6

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'The Giver'

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The Dude Jeff Bridges takes on the titular character in Lois Lowry’s Newbery Medal-winning 1993 novel about a seemingly utopian society that adheres to the value of “sameness” in order to eliminate pain and strife. Actor Brenton Thwaites will play the protagonist Jonas (despite being more than 10 years older than the book’s character), and the rest of the cast is major, including Meryl Streep, True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgård, Katie Holmes, and — wait for it — Taylor Swift.

Expected release: August 15

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'Vampire Academy'

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“I don’t know about you, but my school can get a little insane,” begins the trailer for Vampire Academy, adapted from Richelle Mead’s series of the same name. But at this school, half-human/half-vampire Rose Hathaway is training to protect Moroi, the peaceful and mortal vampires, from the Strigoi, the dangerous, immortal vampires, so her measure of “insane” may be skewed from others’. Look for Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland as Natalie in her first major movie role.

Expected release: February 14

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'Mockingjay' (Part 1)

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Mockingjay picks up after Catching Fire’s cliffhanger ending, and there’s a revolution brewing. The final book in Suzanne Collins’ series is being broken up into two parts, with the second slated for 2015, presumably to maximize profits. Will Peeta make it out of the Capitol alive? Will Katniss join the rebellion? Will handsome Finnick take off his shirt again? It seems the only question we really know the answer to is “Will this movie be huge?” Yes. Yes, it will.

Expected release: November 21

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Perhaps the best real contender to Mockingjay this year is Divergent, based on Veronica Roth’s novel of the same name. Roth’s novel builds a world where citizens choose a place to live based on what they believed caused the destruction of their world. Tris, played by Shailene Woodley, who clearly has a great agent, is an Abnegation-born teenager who chooses to leave her family behind to choose Dauntless, but there may be more to her personality than even she knows. The Internet was abuzz with a clip released last month, so interest is brewing for this YA movie, despite issues fans have with the series.

Expected release: March 21

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'If I Stay'

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Gayle Forman’s heartbreaking 2009 novel won loads of critical acclaim and commercial success, so it’s no surprise that the rights were snapped up for a movie. The story follows 17-year-old Mia, to be played by Let Me In’s Chloë Grace Moretz, after a tragic car accident that killed her family. Mia doesn’t remember much about the accident, but as her memories come back to her, she must cope with her grief and loss and face difficult choices. The movie faced some shakeups with casting and directing, with Dakota Fanning originally attached to the lead, but it seems set for release this summer without complications.

Expected release: August 22

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'The Maze Runner'

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The movie adaptation of James Dashner’s dystopian YA novel is stacked with young, up-and-coming actors. But based on the plot, we’re not sure who will make it out alive. Every 30 days, a boy is lifted into the Glades, without knowing who he is or how he got there. And every morning the stone walls to the maze that surrounds the Glades opens. But one day, a girl arrives, played by Skins’ Kaya Scodelario, and she delivers unexpected news. The boys are played by Love, Actually and Game of Thrones‘ Thomas Brodie-Sangster, We’re the Millers’ Will Poulter, and Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien, among many others.

Expected release: September 19

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Luce is sent to reform school after being blamed for the mysterious death of her boyfriend in Lauren Kate’s Fallen. But, there she’s drawn to Daniel, with a nagging feeling that they’ve met before. The supernatural story spans centuries, following a couple that continues to find and lose each other over the thousands of years. Addison Timlin plays Luce, in her first major starring role, alongside War Horse’s Jeremy Irvine as Daniel.

Expected release: Slated for 2014

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'The Hobbit: There and Back Again'

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Who knew a 300-or-so page book could be stretched into three movies? Apparently, Peter Jackson. After many years in the making, plus a dispute with directors, the first leg of The Hobbit journey, starring Martin Freeman as Bilbo, finally made it to screens in December 2012. The Desolation of Smaug followed up in December 2013 with impressive box office numbers, despite a not-so-warm critical welcome. Whether you’re a fan of the adaptation, or feel compelled to see if because you’re a fan of the book, the final installment hits theaters this year. And then we can finally work on a Galadriel movie.

Expected release: December 17

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