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Hollywood is all about finding the next hot thing, whether that's a script, an actor, a director, a genre (vampires anyone?) or the ultimate discovery, a lucrative film series.
The seven "Harry Potter" movies have so far netted over $6 billion, while the first three installments of "The Twilight Saga" have earned just under $1.8 billion. That's nearing "Oprah" money, people! (As opposed to "Potter," which is nearing "Zuckerberg" money... but we'd rather be Oprah.)
And that's not even counting all the licensing and swag sales... you gotta figure another few hundred thousand in Edward Cullen lunchboxes alone.
Studio executives would happily hand over their firstborns to the Volturi for a lead on "the next 'Twilight' franchise" (trust me, I've prank-called). That's because finding such a rarity is about as easy as winning the lottery.
Paramount developed "Twilight" for three years before getting letting the rights slip to a then-little-known production company Summit Entertainment. Universal and United Artists passed on their options for "Star Wars," and 20th Century Fox gave Lucas hell through production, worried the over-budget film wouldn't amount to much.
The problem movie studios run into is trying too hard to find "the next _______." "The Twilight Saga" is as much the next "Harry Potter" as "Pirates of the Caribbean" is the next "The Lord of the Rings" or "Ice Age" is the next "Toy Story." Fanatics of one series aren't necessarily looking to glom onto a new similar thing.
It seems like every other week we're hearing buzz about some book being adapted for the big screen that its producers hope can be "The next 'Twilight.'" News flash, producers: There's only, and will only ever be, one "Twilight."
Before breaking down these wannabes, let's first explore what makes "Twilight," "Twilight."
Addictive Book Series: If a reader spends time with the books, they're definitely hooked for the films.
Odd Names: The Twi-Hard base are teen girls. They're tired of being an "Ann" or "Sarah" and enjoy fantasizing about being a "Bella," "Esme" or "Renesmee."
Moping Female Lead: Not to sound derogatory, but teenagers mope. High school sucks, dude. We identify with Bella because we're going through puberty, or have.
Heart-of-Gold Bad Boy: Vampires are heartless killers, but not Edward, who walks a thin line in between.
Supernatural Love Triangle: Who doesn't want to be desired by both a debonair vampire and beefy werewolf?
The following titles have all been called "the next "Twilight." While they all contain traits similar to Stephenie Meyer's series, here's why none of them are...
'The Hunger Games'
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Author: Suzanne Collins
Premise: In the distant future, teens must battle each other gladiator-style and overthrow an evil totalitarian government.
Movie: Production will begin late this spring with director Gary Ross ("Seabiscuit"). Hailee Steinfeld ("True Grit"), Jennifer Lawrence ("Winter's Bone") and Abigail Breslin ("Little Miss Sunshine"!) are rumored to be the frontrunners to star. Jodelle Ferland ("Eclipse") would also like you to know she's interested.
Addictive Book Series: The trilogy ("The Hunger Games," "Catching Fire" and "Mockingjay") are all regulars on bestsellers lists.
Odd Names: Yes, in spades: Katniss and Primrose Everdeen, Peeta Mellark, Haymitch Abernathy, etc.
Moping Female Lead: No, Katniss is oddly confident in the face of extreme tragedy for a teenager.
Heart-of-Gold Bad Boy: Gale Hawthorne, worst bad boy name ever, is rebellious and heroic at times, but isn't always well intentioned.
Supernatural Love Triangle: It's more sci-fi than supernatural, with futuristic technology and genetically-mutated creatures. There's a love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale, but it's kind of slapdash. They're too busy fighting The Man (a.k.a. The Capitol or President Snow) for love.
Why It Won't Be "Twilight": We're not going to lie, this has the potential to be a massive movie franchise, but it's more like "Battle Royale" meets "1984" than "Twilight."
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Author: James Patterson
Premise: The Flock, a group of young human-avian hybrids, battle human-lupine hybrids, global warming and pollution to save the world.
Movie: Catherine Hardwicke ("Twilight") is to direct her first 3-D movie, which should be released in 2013.
Addictive Book Series: With seven bestsellers complete, Patterson is writing an eighth for next year.
Odd Names: Maximum Ride, Fang, Iggy, Gasman, Nudge and Angel aren't all pretty names, but they're unique.
Moping Female Lead: The Flock's leader, Max, is portrayed as a tough, tomboyish and skilled fighter.
Heart-of-Gold Bad Boy: Fang, Max's second-in-command, is the quiet, strong type and cares deeply for Max... but he runs a blog. Bad boys don't have blogs. They have Twitter accounts (right, Charlie Sheen?).
Supernatural Love Triangle: Check. There is a bird-human love triangle among Max, Fang and Dylan, similar to Bella-Edward-Jacob.
Why It Won't Be "Twilight": While many of the above elements align, the story's ultimate tone concentrates more on teen heroism than teen love. Plus it's from the dude who wrote "Along Came a Spider." That movie sucked.
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Author: Cassandra Clare
Premise: Teen Shadowhunters hunt demons or Downworlders, while remaining invisible to humans.
Movie: Scott Stewart ("Legion") will direct the first film, "City of Bones," starring Lily Collins ("The Blind Side," Daughter of Phil!) and possibly Alex Pettyfer (Number Four from "I Am Number Four" and the beastly dude from "Beastly").
Addictive Book Series: Originally a trilogy, "City of Bones," "City of Ashes" and "City of Glass," Clare is releasing "City of Fallen Angels" in April due to high demand.
Odd Names: Clary, Jace, Isabelle Lightwood, Magnus Bane. We'll call them borderline odd.
Moping Female Lead: Clary is brought up human and realizes at 16 she's a Shadowhunter. She has mope potential, but stays too busy fighting demons.
Heart-of-Gold Bad Boy: Jace fits the mold. He's attractive but covered in scars from numerous demon fights.
Supernatural Love Triangle: Clary and Jace love each other, but may be siblings. Vampire Simon "likes likes" Clary, but she only likes him as friends.
Why It Won't Be "Twilight": It's world seems too complicated for film, mixing "Harry Potter," "Underworld" and "True Blood" and possible incest. ("Twilight" would never have incest.)
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Author: Aprilynne Pike
Premise: 15-year-old Laurel learns she's a faerie and must protect the gates of Avalon and her hippie family.
Movie: Disney optioned the rights and is developing it with Miley Cyrus in mind… until she gets caught with another bong.
Addictive Book Series: Stephenie Meyer endorsed the debut book with a cover blurb (as she did "Hunger Games"). "Spells," the second books, is coming in May.
Odd Names: Tamani is the most interesting name, and he's a boy.
Moping Female Lead: Laurel is a free-spirited vegan, forced to move into the city, instead of out into the woods, like Bella.
Heart-of-Gold Bad Boy: David, the human vegan love interest, and Tamani, the faerie love interest, can't really be classified as bad boys.
Supernatural Love Triangle: Totally, but not nearly as edgy.
Why It Won't Be "Twilight": Because faeries are NOT, and CANNOT, be the next vampires. Are you trying to make me cry?