They’re no “Divergent”: Eight young-adult movie franchises that died untimely deaths

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Topics: slideshow, divergent, vampire academy, Shailene Woodley, Jennifer Lawrence, Kristen Stewart, Twilight, Ender's Game, abigail breslin, Lily Collins, The Mortal Instruments, percy jackson,

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    They're no "Divergent": Eight young-adult movie franchises that died untimely deaths

    “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones”

    How could such a well-titled movie franchise go sour? The six-part YA book series became a one-part movie franchise in 2013 when Lily Collins (daughter of Phil) took on the role of rune-interpreting teenager Clary Fray. Clary's story isn't iconic in the way that Katniss Everdeen's is -- and part of that has to do with just how charismatic "Hunger Games" star Jennifer Lawrence is, or that the story of a secret underworld of demons and werewolves, particularly one pilloried by critics for being overloaded with ugly CGI, simply isn’t much fun.

    They're no "Divergent": Eight young-adult movie franchises that died untimely deaths

    "Beautiful Creatures"

    This florid 2013 release created a complicated -- maybe too complicated -- mythology around its witch characters, and failed to make breakout stars of Alden Ehrenreich or Alice Englert. But at least it gave Viola Davis some movie work!

    They're no "Divergent": Eight young-adult movie franchises that died untimely deaths

    "Percy Jackson"

    This franchise managed to make it to two films! But its plot, about Greek gods moving among humans, didn’t make quite the same impact on moviegoers as it did on readers -- there was a sense of fun missing -- and the second film, “Sea of Monsters,” was a disappointment domestically.

    They're no "Divergent": Eight young-adult movie franchises that died untimely deaths

    "Vampire Academy"

    Vampires are hot … right? Well, maybe not quite so much so in 2014, when the adaptation of Richelle Mead’s novels about girls learning to fight evil vamps at a paranormal school came and went without making an impact. It wasn’t screened for critics -- although those who went out to see the movie on their own dime didn’t have much good to say.

    They're no "Divergent": Eight young-adult movie franchises that died untimely deaths

    "The Host"

    Aside from vampires no longer being automatically money in the bank, another sign of the waning power of the “Twilight” phenomenon was author Stephenie Meyer’s other property, the aliens-possessing-humans saga “The Host.” Sure, there was only one “Host” book to begin with, so the lack of a sequel can’t be construed as evidence of failure; let’s look instead at the box office and general lack of excitement. “The Host” came out in 2013, after the “Twilight” movies had run their course. Maybe it was just too late.

    They're no "Divergent": Eight young-adult movie franchises that died untimely deaths

    "City of Ember"

    Poor Saiorse Ronan! The “Atonement” actress didn’t break out to megastardom with “The Host,” and she already had a black mark on her ledger for this flick, in which Bill Murray played the mayor of an underground city powered by a failing generator. Who doesn’t love a story of the complicated politics and energy policies of cave people?

    They're no "Divergent": Eight young-adult movie franchises that died untimely deaths

    "Ender's Game"

    Ronan isn’t the only Oscar nominee to strike out with a kiddie franchise. Abigail Breslin of “Little Miss Sunshine” took a supporting role in this adaptation of the Orson Scott Card novel (which featured past Oscar attendees Asa Butterfield of "Hugo" and Hailee Steinfeld of "True Grit"). The movie neutered the book’s conservative politics and its violence and ended up with, well, not much to recommend it at all. More work for Viola Davis, though! (Poor Viola Davis.)

    They're no "Divergent": Eight young-adult movie franchises that died untimely deaths

    Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

    The American Girl book-and-doll franchise has more staying power than just about any of the aforementioned sci-fi franchises. Which is why it’s so surprising that it works for direct-to-DVD releases, but didn’t quite connect when brought to the big screen with, yep, Breslin once again. Jennifer Lawrence and Shailene Woodley have all the luck!

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Daniel D'Addario is a staff reporter for Salon's entertainment section. Follow him on Twitter @DPD_

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