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YA Wednesday: Will This Be the Next Big YA Movie?


SpectacularNowCoverThe Spectacular Now has all the makings of a box office hit along the lines of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.  It's got a great cast including Shailene Woodley, who seems to be the YA movie darling of the moment, and is based on a fantastic novel that was a National Book Award Finalist. Early screenings of The Spectacular Now at Sundance and other film festivals have people buzzing, and there is still time to read the book before it releases to a wider audience on August 2nd. 

It's always a huge deal for an author when their book actually makes it to the big screen, but even then they have to be okay with how much gets changed in order to fit the constraints of movie making-- particularly having to tell the whole story in 2+ hours.  Tim Tharp, author of The Spectacular Now, shares his experience of watching the movie adaptation of his book in the guest post below, and you can also check out a movie still, courtesy of A24 Productions.

The audience bolted forward. A grown man cried out, “Oh, no!” It wasn’t me. I already knew what would happen because the film, The Spectacular Now, was based on my novel. I won’t spoil the book or movie by telling you what that scene was about, but the viewers’ reaction showed how invested they were in the character of Aimee Finecky (beautifully played by Shailene Woodley). I didn’t write the book with a film in mind and, when I first learned it might be turned into a movie, I worried that my story about Aimee and her harrowing romance with a charming but directionless teenager named Sutter Keely (Miles Teller) would turn into one of those typical raucous teen party comedies. Or maybe Sutter would turn into a vampire. What I got instead was a gorgeous rendition of a story and characters that I’d worked so hard to make live and breathe.

The first time I saw the film was at the Sundance Film Festival last January, and I’ll admit I couldn’t help wondering about parts that had been left out. And I don’t mean just the parts from the book, but also from what I’d read in the screenplay and seen on set in Athens, Georgia. But the second screening was different.

This time I became almost as fully immersed in the hearts, minds, and struggles of the characters as when I wrote the novel. Near the end, I was so emotionally involved that I began to wonder how I would stand up in front of the audience for the Q&A once the credits rolled. It seemed equivalent to being yanked away from my keyboard in the middle of imagining these people in the first place.

By the time I left the festival, the good reviews were pouring in, and A24 Productions had bought the distribution rights. The release date has been set for August 2013. Of course, as a novelist and booklover, I still think the novel has more layers, humor, joy, and pain, if only because it’s longer, but I also know that if I had nothing to do with the film, I would have loved it. There is a story about Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and how he hated to see Jack Nicholson, the star of the movie based on his novel, on the book’s cover. Not so for me. I’m perfectly happy to see the pre-prom photo of Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller on the cover of The Spectacular Now.--Tim Tharp


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