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'Hunger Games' Success Proves Dystopia Is the New Supernatural

Lionsgate

From "Nosferatu" to "Twilight," supernatural movies have never gone out of style. Vampires and their monster homies have enjoyed a constant stream of cinematic exposure since the turn of the last century, but they've never been more pervasive than in the last few years, breaking out of horror confines and sparkling their way into other genres.

We'd be naive to say supernaturals are on their way out — they'll never leave, and we wouldn't want them to. But we'd be blind not to notice the creepy new sheriff in town: Dystopia.

As themes go, it's nothing new ("Children of Men," "Blade Runner"... "Idiocracy") but amidst the insane success of "The Hunger Games," studios are snapping up the rights to similar books the moment they land on shelves — and in a few cases, before that.

So move over, monsters. In honor of "The Hunger Games'" record-breaking opening weekend, we're looking at some horrifying visions of future governments that will soon make the leap from page to screen.

"Divergent" By Veronica Roth

HarperCollins

The Gist: Roth's futuristic Chicago is divided into five separate communities: Abnegation (selfless), Candor (honest), Dauntless (brave), Amity (peaceful), and Erudite (intelligent). At 16, each citizen decides which virtue to embrace — singularly and permanently. Like all dystopian stories, this "perfect system" has a few skeletons in the closet, which Dauntless initiate Tris uncovers (with the help of her hot hottie mentor).

Movie status:
Summit is developing this, with "Snow White and the Huntsman" writer Evan Daugherty tackling the adaptation. Check out our interview with Roth for her take on the progress.

"Ender's Game" By Orson Scott Card

Tor

The Gist: Proof positive that the Dystopian genre is no flash in the pan — "Ender's Game" was written in 1985. Living on a far-future Earth, twice threatened by a species of insectoid aliens nicknamed Buggers, the government of "Ender's Game" puts small children in horrifically violent situations to locate and train the tiny fleet commanders who will one day save the planet. It's a small price to pay for the safety of humanity... unless you believe little kids shouldn't beat each other savagely with weapons, or something.

Movie status:
The film version will be released on March 15, 2013 by Summit, starring Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin and Harrison Ford. "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" director Gavin Hood is running the show.

"Legend" By Marie Lu

Putnam

The Gist: Day is on the run from a military government in what used to be the United States when he meets June, a military prodigy from an elite family. Though Day is accused of murdering June's brother, the two stumble on the Republic of California's dirtiest secrets together. Warning: You might want to marry Day, even if you're a boy.

Movie status:
It's being produced by "Twilight"'s Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen, and directed by "Warm Bodies" helmer Jonathan Levine. Check out Hollywood Crush's interview with Lu about the adaptation.

"Matched" By Ally Condie

Dutton Juvenile

The Gist: If "The Handmaid's Tale" and "The Giver" had a clever little baby, it would be Condie's first book in a series of dystopian YA novels. Cassia is a happy, well-adjusted teen living in some undetermined future where mandatory mates are delivered by pictures on digital information cards. It's only when a glitch flashes the wrong boy's face that Cassia considers the relative merit of dating options — and therefore questions the whole nature of her world.

Movie Status:
Disney snapped up the movie rights —and "Rock of Ages" director Adam Shankman is lined up to produce.

"Chaos Walking" Trilogy By Patrick Ness

Candlewick

The Gist: A post-plague world populated only by men — and polluted by a constant stream of audible inner monologues called "The Noise" — is suddenly turned upside down for teenager Todd when he meets... a girl... though Todd's own government swore they were all dead. Uh oh.

Movie Status:
Lionsgate's announced plans to adapt "The Knife of Never Letting Go" — the first book in the "Chaos Walking" trilogy — for the big screen, with Doug Davison ("The Departed") set to produce.

"Shatter Me" By Tahereh Mafi

HarperCollins

The Gist: HarperCollins has called Mafi's debut novel "'Hunger Games' meets 'X-Men'" and we can't disagree. An invigorating blend of romance, super-powers and post-apocalyptic survival techniques on a police state stage, "Shatter Me" was basically made to be a movie.

Movie Status:
20th Century Fox bought the rights — read an interview with Mafi about it on theFABlife.

"Delirium" By Lauren Oliver

HarperCollins

The Gist: Love is a disease — everyone who's ever been dumped knows this. But in "Delirium," love is literally classified as a disease, and citizens of Oliver's future society receive a mandatory surgery to cure them, for the good of a healthy, sane community. Unless they, like, escape and fall in love with a fellow rebel. For instance.

Movie Status:
Producers Paula Mazur and Mitch Kaplan are developing "Delirium" for Fox 2000. Oliver talked to theFABlife about her involvement with the movie.

"Under the Never Sky" By Veronica Rossi

HarperCollins

The Gist: Aria has lived her entire life in a dome, generations after the outside world was deemed uninhabitable by the government. After she's banished from the dome in a vicious political maneuver, she teams up with a love interest hunter who has his own reasons to challenge those in charge of her home.

Movie Status:"Under the Never Sky" been optioned for film by Warner Bros.

"Uglies" By Scott Westerfeld

Simon & Schuster

The Gist: In Tally Youngblood's society, ugliness is a thing of the past — upon citizens' 16th birthday, they each get plastic surgery that removes unsightly bumps, blotches and, oh, the ability to think like normal, intelligent people. Unfortunately, the surgery is very mandatory, and the penalty for escaping it is steep. Just maybe not as steep as the penalty for not escaping, you know? We love thinking.

Movie Status:
20th Century Fox and producer John Davis bought the film rights to the novel.

"The Selection" By Kiera Cass

HarperTeen

The Gist: In the former U.S., citizens are separated into a rigid caste system that dictates their love lives, their professions and more. Only one thing can elevate a girl above her inherited station: a "Bachelor"-esque dating competition created by the country's ruling family to find Prince Maxon a wife. Outside the castle, there's civil unrest and a little starvation, but inside: pretty dresses, etiquette lessons and TV cameras. Fun for everyone! Well... everyone inside the castle.

Movie status:
We think this would make a great movie, but the geniuses at the CW went and made a pilot with the adorable Aimee Teegarden and Ethan Peck — even though the book's not coming out until April. With "Angel" and "Vampire Diaries" writers Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain onboard, we have high hopes.

And more!

These haven't been optioned — yet — but they're a few more excellent examples of dystopian fiction and we'll be monkey's uncles if some studio doesn't snap them up soon: "Partials," "The Eleventh Plague," "Enclave" and "Across the Universe."

Watch this exclusive interview with "Hunger Games" star Jennifer Lawrence:

Originally published November 29, 2011 at 5:01 p.m.

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