What’s the next ‘Harry Potter’?

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‘The Hunger Games’

Premise:
Every year, one boy and one girl must fight to the death in a televised event, brought to you by the Capitol, the evil government in charge of the land of Panem (formerly known as North America, pre-apocalypse). Suzanne Collins’ young adult best-seller, from the same publisher as “Potter,” is the first in a trilogy.

The movies:
The first is filming now. Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar nominee, will play our heroine, Katniss Everdeen, while Gary Ross, of “Seabiscuit,” directs.

Chances of taking off: High. Collins’ themes (reality TV, kids at war) are relevant to adults, and the kids will enjoy the world created.

Release date:
March 23, 2012

‘Snow White and the Huntsman’

Premise: Inspired by “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” the plot finds our heroine cast out by a wicked witch and
ordered to die at the hands of a hunter. It’s the first of a planned series.

The movies:
“Twilight” star Kristen Stewart leaves one franchise for another, playing a tough version of Snow White. But we’re more into the dwarves:  Eddie Izzard and Bob Hoskins are among the seven.

Chances of taking off:
Fair. We love the cast, and it opens a few months before another Snow White project (starring Julia Roberts), but do young audiences care about classic fairy tales? Ask the producers of the box-office bomb “Red Riding Hood.”

Release date:
June 1, 2012


‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’


Premise:
A kid wakes up one morning, in modern day North America, and discovers his dad is the Greek god Poseidon — and mythological creatures are on the attack. Rick Riordan’s series, started in 2005, has five books so far.

The movies:
The first — subtitled “The Lightning Thief” and directed by “Potter” vet Chris Columbus — was released last year. The second — subtitled “The Sea of Monsters” — sends our hero on a nautical mission and is in the planning stages.

Chances of taking off: Define “taking off.” Despite a lack of buzz, the first film made more than $200 million worldwide. Last month, the studio locked down star Logan Lerman and hired a director for part two.

Release date: Not announced yet.

‘The Hobbit’

Premise: Written by J.R.R. Tolkien in 1937, this prequel to “Lord of the Rings” finds a young Bilbo Baggins battling orcs and spiders to save a kingdom. He also encounters some precious old friends.

The movies: Director Peter Jackson is back. Ian McKellan is back. Orlando Bloom is back. Gollum is back. This is (a reported) $500 million well spent.

There’ll be two films:
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and “The Hobbit: There and Back Again.”

Chances of taking off: The Blood of Numenor is all but spent. But these movies will be massive successes.

Release dates:
“An Unexpected Journey”: Dec. 14, 2012; “There and Back Again”: Dec. 13, 2013.


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