Welcome to the second installment of Unfinished Movie Series based on Adaptations of Book Series. Established book series are popular movie franchise starters. They have established audiences the filmmakers hope people will come to movies to see and make a success. The Percy Jackson book series, Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events and the Sci-Fi Ender’s series all have those established audiences, but that does not mean it translates into a finished series.
In 2004, 20th Century Fox bought the rights to the first Percy Jackson book, The Lightning Thief, a series of young adult books that mixed modern day teens with Greek Mythology. Filming began in April 2009, with high hopes by the director about the series. He specifically mentioned that the cast was chosen so they could star in the sequels. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief was released on February 12, 2010, with a budget of $95 million. Rotten Tomatoes gave the first movie a 49% score. The movie went on to gross $226.5 million at the worldwide box office ($88 million US). In October 2011, a sequel was officially approved and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters went into production. Sea of Monsters was released on August 3, 2013, with a budget of $90 million. Rotten Tomatoes only gave a score of 41%. The moved grossed a total of $202.2 million at the worldwide box office ($68 million US). Since then, there has been no official news about a sequel. Logan Lerman, the main star of the series expressed in 2015 that he felt he and his co-stars were getting too old for the series.
The adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s a Series of Unfortunate Events started out well enough, when Nickelodeon Movies, a production company under Paramount Pictures bought the rights the book series in May 2000. While initially series author Daniel Handler was attached to write the script, after eight drafts for the script were written, the producer left over budget problems and the initial director left as well and Handler was let go. Then a new director, Brad Silberling, and new writer, Robert Gordon, were hired in 2003. Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events was finally released on December 17, 2004, covering (loosely) the first three books in the series, The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, and The Wide Window. The movie had a budget of $140 million. Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie a 72% score, indicating generally positive reviews. However, the movie grossed only $209.1 million worldwide ($118.6 million US). A sequel was never officially put in production, and while Handler mentioned in 2008 and 2009 there were talks about sequels (a stop-motion sequel was briefly considered), the movie series seemed dead. But in 2014, a new series adaptation was announced for Netflix. On January 13, 2017, eight episodes, covering The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, The Wide Window and The Miserable Mill, were released, and while Netflix refuses to release official numbers, it received a 93% score on Rotten Tomatoes. The second season has been green-lighted, so there’s hope that the new series will be completed.
Ender’s Game is the first and most famous novel in a series of Sci-Fi novels about Ender Wiggin. The book was published in 1985, but, the author, Orson Scott Card was reluctant to give up creative control of the story for a long time. After several false starts, in 2009 when Gavin Hood was attached to write and direct, Ender’s Game finally got off the ground. While Card had written six drafts in the early stages of development, it was Hood’s screenplay that was used in production. Filming began in 2012, and the movie was released on November 1, 2013, with a budget $110-$115 million. Ender’s Game was given a 60% score on Rotten Tomatoes. The worldwide gross was $125 million ($61 million US), and given the budget was considered a box office bomb. While there were talks of a sequel, given the movie’s performance, it seems very unlikely.
Every studio and author want the financial success of the Harry Potter or the Twilight franchises. However, translating successful book series into successful film franchises is not as easy as it sounds. Here are three more unfinished movie series based on book series.