The newest YA book-to-movie adaptation shows mean girls doing what mean girls do best: spreading vicious rumors around their elite boarding school and going straight for the jugular – in this case, literally. The Weinstein Company is releasing Vampire Academy, based on Richelle Mead’s six-book paranormal YA series, on February 7. The books center on vampires enrolled at St. Vladimir’s Academy, which caters to a student body made up of various vampire species. Rosemarie “Rose” Hathaway, who narrates the series, is a teenage dhampir – half human/half vampire – who is bound to her best friend Vasilisa “Lissa” Dragomir, a Moroi, or a benevolent vampire. Rose is training to be a guardian at St. Vladimir’s, to protect Lissa from the nefarious Strigoi vampires.
Vampire Academy, the first book in the series, was published by Razorbill in 2007. Frostbite and Shadow Kiss followed in 2008; Blood Promise in 2009, and Spirit Bound and Last Sacrifice, were released in 2010. As of 2013, the series has sold nine million copies in 35 countries.
The film adaptation, starring Zoey Deutch as Rose, Lucy Fry as Lissa, and Danila Kozlovsky as Rose’s older love interest, Dmitri, is directed by Mark Waters, with a screenplay by Daniel Waters, his brother. The siblings’ film credits include dark high school comedies turned cult classics: Mark directed Mean Girls (2004) and Mark wrote the screenplay for Heathers (1988). Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters marks their first film collaboration.
Have Vampires Grown Long in the Tooth?
Last year was a chilly one for paranormal YA movies, with disappointing box office returns for Beautiful Creatures and Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Vampires have certainly had their time in the sun, so to speak, but could Vampire Academy bring bloodsuckers back into the limelight? An article on Hollywood.com suggested that, based on the trailer, a longer scene from the film released by MTV, and the directors behind the project, “Vampire Academy doesn’t just look like a really cool vampire movie.... [I]t looks like it’s going to be a really cool teen movie. (We’re not saying it’s as good as Mean Girls and Heathers just yet, but it could be).” Razorbill president and publisher Ben Schrank, who edits the Vampire Academy series, also has high hopes. Commenting on what he called a “rather dark movie landscape,” Schrank told PW, “Vampire Academy promises to be a welcome respite for fans and newcomers. The Waters brothers stayed true to Richelle Mead’s story while also bringing their own signature teen feel. The buzz has been huge and we think this will be the surprise hit of the season.”
Penguin’s movie tie-in program includes an official illustrated movie companion from Razorbill containing photographs, behind-the-scenes insights into the making of the movie, and interviews with cast and crew, as well as a Vampire Academy Mad Libs from Price Stern Sloan. Razorbill also recently published the third graphic novel adaptation of Mead’s series, Shadow Kiss: A Vampire Academy Graphic Novel.
Perhaps buoyed by awareness of the forthcoming movie, the Facebook page for the Vampire Academy series hit a milestone recently: one million followers. Penguin reported that book sales for the final five weeks in 2013 rose 51% over the previous five weeks. In mid-February, fans will learn whether these positive signs point to a return to the land of the living for paranormal YA on the big screen.
The movie's release date was changed after this article was published. The article has been edited to reflect the revised release date.