There are three basic rules for a winning YA adaptation:
1) Modern English-speaking city hiding a fantastical underworld.
2) Moody soundtrack.
3) Jamie Campbell Bower.
While the first two are a given, you might find the third a bit perplexing — is it really necessary to cast The Mortal Instruments’ perpetually shirtless Shadow Hunter in whatever tween-appeasing adventure flick you might be constructing? If you want it to sweep the box office, then sure. For those unaware, Campbell Bower has played supporting roles in the blockbuster film franchises of Harry Potter and The Twilight Saga, and has done quite a favor for both series.
It’s true that Campbell Bower’s newest release, in which he plays the male lead, has only taken in $14 million at the box office since opening last Wednesday. But perhaps it pays to be sneakier about utilizing the genre’s secret weapon. After appearing in Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd, the action-thriller RocknRolla, and a Dutch film called Winter in Wartime, Campbell Bower broke into the YA world with New Moon — the second film in the series, which, with a $143 million opening weekend, more than doubled that of its predecessor Twilight, and stands as the best premiere for the five-film set on the whole.
Of course, Campbell Bower’s contributions to the lives of Edward and Bella didn’t cap there. While his absence from Eclipse resulted in the meager opening intake of $65 million, the actor’s return for the two-part Breaking Dawn finale offered $138 and $141 million premieres, proving beyond a shadow hunter of a doubt that audiences are most excited to flock to a Saga installment that is chock full of the JCB.
And what of Hogwarts? You might recall the actor’s turn as a young Gellert Grindelwald in the series’ penultimate episode, The Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Once again, the glory takes form in the pioneer weekend: the film ranks as Potter’s second highest opening gross with $125 million. So although we wouldn’t dare challenge his majesty Daniel Radcliffe for his YA crown, nor Lord Robert Pattinson of his place in the royal family (you’ll recall that not only was he one of The Twilight Saga‘s headliners, but was also Hogwarts student Cedric Diggory in Goblet of Fire), but we will at least bump Campbell Bower up to knighthood.
With only five YA titles to his name, JCB boasts a collective genre intake of $1.18 billion (to Pattinson’s $1,654 for the Twilight Saga and Goblet and Radcliffe’s $2,391 of Harry Potter money), and an even more impressively comparable collective opening gross of $561 million (to Pattinson’s $660 and Radcliffe’s $824). Up against the actors’ lengthier résumés (Pattinson has six YA movies, Radcliffe has eight), it appears that Campbell Bower is moving along steadily to reach the level of stardom — or at least box office success — occupied by his whimsical brethren. And as sequel pull never hurts, maybe we’ll be seeing a hefty upswing with the second (and third) Mortal Instruments movie. Make room in the palace, Radcliffe and Pattinson. With a budding franchise gearing up for potential grandeur, the days of wizards and vampires might be soon overshadowed.