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Can 'Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children' translate to the silver screen?

'Peregrine,' which opens on Sept. 30, is the newest attempt by Hollywood to translate bestseller status into hit box office. But it's been a bumpy road recently for young-adult film adaptations.

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'Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children' stars Asa Butterfield (l.) and Ella Purnell (r.).

Jay Maidment/20th Century Fox/AP

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A film adaptation of Ransom Riggs’ bestseller “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” will soon arrive on the big screen, the newest young adult book adaptation that is trying for the success of past hits such as the “Harry Potter” and “Hunger Games” series. 

“Peregrine” stars Asa Butterfield as Jake, a teenager whose grandfather (Terence Stamp) tells him stories of a strange home for children. Soon, Jake gets the opportunity to find out whether his grandfather’s stories were real. 

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The film co-stars Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson, Judi Dench, and Rupert Everett. 

The movie is the latest attempt to create a film success out of a young adult bestseller. The literary genre is one that can pay off in a big way, as with the success of the “Harry Potter” or “Hunger Games” movies, but in large part the genre struggles at the movies. 

Consider the “Divergent” series. The films are based on the bestselling books by Veronica Roth but each film – three were released – grossed less than the one before it. This past summer, the studio behind the “Divergent” films, Lionsgate, stated the series would be concluded with a television film and a TV series based in the same fictional universe rather than the planned fourth film. 

And some had felt the young adult movie genre was struggling even before "Divergent"'s plummet. Todd Cunningham of TheWrap noted that the 2015 movie “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials” opened to a lower gross than the first (the movie would go on to gross less than the first domestically as well) and that the 2015 adaptation of the John Green YA novel “Paper Towns” did not do as well financially as the 2014 John Green adaptation “The Fault in Our Stars.” 

“The next crop of would-be YA blockbusters haven’t really caught lightning in a bottle the way ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Twilight’ did,” Mr. Cunningham wrote of these films. “[B]ut Hollywood shows no signs of backing away from the genre, filmmakers and studio executives tell TheWrap, because the financial payoff from the box office, merchandising and licensing is massive if they do find the next Harry or Katniss. And the projects can still make significant money even if they don’t become megahits.”

However, Salon writer Nico Lang saw the news that the last “Divergent” movie would arrive on TV as a sign that the YA movie genre is in serious trouble. 

“The humbling of ‘Ascendant’ mirrors the fate of the YA genre as a whole, which has been experiencing diminishing returns in recent years,” Mr. Lang wrote. He cited the “Potter” series as the origin of the recent popularity of the genre. “The genre, however, hit its peak in 2013, [with] ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.’ ” 

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Will “Peregrine” be able to succeed where other YA adaptations have recently struggled? There are two sequels that could serve as source material for other movies if “Peregrine” finds an audience. 


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