First published on www.nielsen.com
(Editor’s note: We updated this article on April 16, 2014, to reflect the current print copy sales figures for the four series mentioned.)
Every year, it seems, a new film franchise based off a popular teen series climbs to the top of the box office. This year will likely be no exception. In March, Veronica Roth’s Divergent, the first book in the dystopian trilogy,was the latest in these teen genre franchises to debut in theaters. The arrival of this newest teen franchise begs the question: why have so many of the top films of the last 15 years been designed for a younger audience? We took a look at Divergent’s predecessors to see what turns a teen book series into a worldwide phenomenon.
Though J.K. Rowling may have initially intended the Harry Potter series for children, they had—and continue to have—a much broader appeal. Seventeen years after the first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, was published, the seven books (combined) have sold 1.4 million print copies since 2012 alone. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the Harry Potter franchise. The seven novels have been transfigured into eight movies that sold over 3.3 million discs last year, a number of soundtracks (the two Deathly Hallows soundtracks alone have sold nearly 120,000 copies since 2010), and eight video games. The successes of these different forms of entertainment based on the books have set the stage for the rise of several other recent franchises from teen genre.