Prompt 127: Young Adult Series
127. The Harry Potter books became extremely popular during the 2000s, with the series selling more than 450 million copies in total. What is your idea for the next big young adult book series? Would it be as popular as Harry Potter? Why or why not?
I feel like I should preface this by stating I've yet to read any of the Potter books, never played any Potter video games, and only when it was shown as a revival film had I seen any of the Potter films (I saw the first one, and so far that's it).
Now that the "Harry Potter phenomenon" cherry has been popped, I don't think it would be possible again for at least another 40 years. This is because until HP came along there was nothing to which it could be compared. Now anything that does happen will be - and is - compared to that series. Note that there have been a number of additional stories that have attempted to do the same thing - Lemony Snicket, Trolls, The Great Northern Railway (I don't think I have the name right... This is about a magic train that goes through a wintery landscape), The Narnia Chronicles, Legacy of the Guardians, etc. - and as far as I can tell none of them could come close. And now the principal actors are too old for most - if not all - those series to make additional, appreciated sequels.
In terms of success stories, the HP books had a lot going for them at the outset. First, there was a tremendous following of the books. There were a lot of books already made, and still more on the way. There were a bunch of legit, big-name actors in supporting roles that would carry the early films in the series until the kids grew up and became better actors. There was just enough realism and character development to hook in a non-fantasy audience. And shit-tons of money were somehow invested.
I think another interesting phenomenon is that by the time the original audience of Harry Potter 1 saw the last Potter film, they were old enough to have made kids of their own to take to the movies. It's like a specific generation (millennials, I guess?) was built around the Potter phenomenon.
The original Potter film could easily be seen as a "gateway" to the rest of the series. It's like introducing the "Settlers of Catan" or "Carcassonne" board games to someone who's been playing "Sorry" or "Uno" or "Monopoly" their entire life. Once you dipped your toe in it, it made the rest of that genre more digestible and captivating. The film industry was able to capitalize on that - plus the actors were gaining skills as they grew older - and ensured that the franchise would continue until it's fitting end.
That's another thing. The Potter films kick-started the trend of entire fiction franchises being adapted from books to film. The first film beat the original Lord of the Rings film, directed by Peter Jackson, by almost exactly one month. However, the Potter series was much, much longer and I'd say that from my casual perspective - I've seen one of the eight or whatever Potter films, and one and a half of the Tolkien films, mind you - the Potter series has more "mass appeal" (that is, less violence).
I'm sure there's going to be a 20-year (and maybe even 50-year) reunion of the surviving members of the original Potter cast. Due to her current political standing with the "woke" gender crowd, I wonder how likely it will be that the author is in attendance. In any case, it will be filmed, maybe a special streaming teevee pay-per-view experience, and hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions of people, will tune in. That's how massive the effect of the film series has been.
As for the next young adult series... Nah. I don't have kids, and R. L. Stine's "Goosebumps" books have already been turned into a Twilight Zone-style series. Even the various mythologies of the world have been plumbed sufficiently that there's little original ground that remains to be tread in that genre (and it would be hard to beat "Clash of the Titans," in the case of Greek mythology, for example). Thor's been bastardized by Marvel films to the degree that the concept of a faithful Norse mythology trilogy or series is dead from the neck up.
I have no idea what the next blockbuster "Young Adult Series" will be. But unless it waits for maybe another 20 years, it will never even come close to how gargantuan the Potter phenomenon has been.
I realize now that I spent a lot more time discussing the films as opposed to the books. But whatever. I read different book genres.
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