Far be it from me to gloat about the failure of something I predicted, because I would be more than happy to be wrong and add a new franchise to my Fandom Belt, but I’ve admitted before to not understanding the rabid fan base of the book ‘The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,’ after I couldn’t even get through half of it. I am unabashed with both my love for young-adult genre books and my high-tolerance for literary junk-food, but this one was just a swing and a miss for me.
The Hollywood Reporter has announced that producers are “delaying” production of the film’s sequel in order to “analyze the results to date and reposition the franchise in order to maximize results for future installments.” Is “delaying” Hollywood talk for “cancelling”? What exactly does it mean to “reposition” a series? Short of miraculous DVD sales (that did historically save shows like ‘Family Guy’ and ‘Futurama’), I can’t imagine the trajectory for this franchise is headed anywhere but downhill.
Cassandra Clare is known to have her start in fanfiction, and I will further discredit myself and my taste in media by saying I believe there are truly brilliant works of fanfiction out there. This book read like an eighth grader’s writing assignment, fraught with overdone love-triangles, arbitrary tension between random characters, and the trite trope of “there’s a whole world you don’t even know about, you’re not as boring as you think, and by the way you’re the only one who can save us.” In the fourth or so chapter, I texted my friend who had read it with a prediction of the ending, and she admitted I was spot on. I’m honestly not trying to toot my own prediction horn; I’m trying to explain it was a clear call to make, even for a “mundane” like me.
I will say again that I was shocked when news of Sigourney Weaver’s casting for the second installation hit news outlets. It seemed a bit premature for an untested film franchise, but I supposed I couldn’t argue with book sales. And, hey, some film deals are being secured before the books they’re based on are even published! But what the heck do I know? I’m not a big-shot movie or network exec. I’m just an average Joe who loved ‘Firefly‘ and ‘Arrested Development,’ and look how that worked out!
In all seriousness, I will be very interested to see what comes of this and the two untested book-manuscript-to-film franchises set to hit theaters next year. Again, I will discredit any street-cred I may have by saying that I enjoyed the first ‘Twilight’ book and the first movie. Melissa Rosenberg brilliantly adapted the source material and Catherine Hardwicke captured the exact tonality on the screen. But it wasn’t a fluke. Yes, opening night may have just been fans who were going to see it regardless, but second and third theater viewings, DVD sales, and tons more attributed to its success. With ‘Beautiful Creatures‘ on a smaller scale and now ‘The Mortal Instruments,’ it’s hopefully becoming more obvious that book sales don’t always translate into box-office hits. A production team can’t simply phone in an adaptation then sit back and play the waiting game while ‘tweens save up their allowances for opening weekend.
I would have liked the movie to be a success, but more than that, I wish the source material had been better. I’m constantly met with a bemused expression of pity when I admit that I, a 33-year-old woman, enjoy the “young adult” genre, but with the caliber of books out there in that genre, I don’t understand how that’s still a thing. I can’t help but think “The Mortal Instruments’ and its ilk are partly to blame. I have high hopes that next year’s ‘Divergent’ and ‘Maze Runner’ will do wonders for the genre and make their rabid fans and out-of-touch studio executives alike very happy.