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What's with the name?

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Officially Official

The Mortal Instruments Trilogy Put On Hiatus Following City of Bones‘ Financial Failure

The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes is already in production, but fans of the series might have to wait a bit longer than they initially anticipated to see it on the big screen. Possibly forever.

City of Bones, based on the first book in Cassandra Clare‘s Mortal Instruments trilogy, cost $60 million to make and has only earned $37 million (that’s worldwide, not domestic) since it came out three weeks ago. I can’t say I’m surprised: All the standard official trailers and promo clips came along prior to its release, but I never really heard any buzz about it other than from a few people I follow on Tumblr who like the books. Given the financial failure of the first film, production company Constantin Film has decided to delay the second to “analyze the results to date and reposition the franchise in order to maximize results for future installments.”

Here’s what Constantin Film’s Martin Moszkowicz had to say:

“Pushing back the start of production of City of Ashes was a decision we did not take lightly. But after speaking with all of our partners on the creative and distribution side, it was clear that it will be beneficial to have more time to reposition the film in the current marketplace. The Mortal Instruments series has an incredibly loyal and ardent fan base and is a best-selling book series. While taking Cassandra Claire’s [sic] vision to the screen we want to make sure to draw on the full potential of the franchise.”

They haven’t said they’re cancelling it, and they have at least one new actress—Sigourney Weaveralready attached. So the film could very well still see the light of day. After all, the Percy Jackson franchise went on a break after its first movie, and this summer’s Sea of Monsters still happened.

But something tells me we’re looking at a His Dark Materials situation instead. Like The Golden Compass, City of Bones was panned by critics and didn’t make a whole lot of dough, even though The Golden Compass had better reviews and the dubious benefit (yes, benefit) of a religious controversy to raise its profile. Simply put, no one outside The Mortal Instruments fandom really seems to care about the movies, and their enthusiasm and word-of-mouth alone wasn’t enough to push City of Bones over into being a mainstream success.

As the franchise loses momentum I see it fading quietly into the background, leaving only sad fangirls in its wake. But hey. Buck up, The Mortal Instruments fandom. I hope for your sake that I’m wrong.

(via: The Guardian)

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  • Mina

    Someone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but the main characters of this are a girl and two guys with whom there is some romantic tension, right? That’s the impression I’ve gotten. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s been so many YA stories about a girl and two (maybe romantic interest) guys lately that it’s getting harder for me to work up the motivation to move any of them to the top of my reading/watching list. It’s starting to all feel the same, even when the stories are sometimes very different.

  • AnnaB

    Great point, Mina. And truly, it appalled me that the movie was promoted that way in the first place. The closest thing to a Love Triangle that the actual story came was actually with Clary (heroine), Jace (leading man), and the leading man’s gay best friend, Alex. It was never Simon and Jace fighting for Clary’s affections, but Alex getting heartbroken over Jace falling for Clary. That said, that wasn’t even the focus of the story, either. The main focus of the story was Clary, finding out she was a Shadowhunter and that her mother was MISSING. I think if they stuck to that plot point, which was the main plot point, this could have done so much better. But now, they had to tout a love triangle that barely existed.

    Simon definitely had a thing for Clary, but it was almost comedic in the books, the way it was handled. It was never a focus.

    Ah, well. I like the books alright, but I’m not crazy about them. Still would’ve been nice if the movies took off, though. Clary would’ve been a good heroine.

  • thecynicalromantic

    It is, in approximately the same way that Superman, Batman, and Spiderman are all stories “about” a white dude who’s in a love triangle with a girl he knows and his own colorful-leotard-wearing secret identity.

    But nobody fucking complains that we’ve seen that story, like, soooooooo many times before oh god why on earth are they making another one, I cannot possibly bring myself to care. (Except me.)

    TMI is a story about a girl trying to save her mom and a magical artifact from a bunch of evil magicians, and discovering that she actually comes from a culture of demon-hunters. The romance is a subplot, because when was the last fucking time you saw a story without any kind of romantic subplot that wasn’t aimed at eight-year-olds? And even then, it seems like 90% of movies aimed at eight-year-olds do still have romance in them (subplot or even the main plot–I’m looking at you, entire Disney Princess line); it’s just permissible for the other 10% to exist.

  • Bonnie

    Part of the problem with the film was that they changed the entire end and left out large swaths of story that are important in the second book. A lot of hardcore fans of the series were angry, and didn’t go see it. Rule #1 if you’re doing a film like this, don’t change the overall tone and huge parts of the story. The fans will see it multiple times if you remain pretty true to the book.

  • JaneR

    Actually that $37mil is domestic (or, as us, non-Americans say “US market”). one of the producers tweeted that the movie grossed over $50mil worldwide after the Labor Day weekend and I think the latest numbers are somewhere around $70mil now. The movie debuted as #1 in many countries and stayed in top 10 worldwide.

    While I’m not saying this means that the second movie will definitely happen, the movie wasn’t as big of a flop as many people want the general public to believe. Sure it wasn’t a blockbuster hit, but it was still enjoyable.

    I’ve never been a die hard fan of the series (in fact I remember the fandom wanks around the author way back when), so it feels really weird to be here defending the movie; but I gotta say the reactions from reviewers annoyed me more than a little. There was more fight scenes in this movie than in Hunger Games, but what everybody and their uncle chose to concentrate on was the romantic subplot that took all of 20 minutes (once you sum up all the scenes together). Clary;s entire journey; trying to find her mother, trying to discover wtf is going on with her memories etc. would take place even if she never met Jace and other Shadowhunters. What they were, were convenient, they sped up her journey by giving her the necessary info, but she would eventually get there even without the blond hottie in leather.
    But nooooo, it’s just like Twilight because two male characters had the gall to be interested in the main female character.

    I’ll go now before I start ranting even more.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    That’s weird. Box Office Mojo has it as $28m domestic and $9m foreign, and they’re usually pretty reliable.

  • thecynicalromantic

    Yeah, the critiques of it quite frankly reeked of sexism. City of Bones was a squarely middling superhero movie. In fact, it was better than 4 of the last 5 superhero movies I’ve seen, because it avoided my 3 least favorite action-movie tropes (cartoon physics, consequence-free massive property damage, and failing the Sexy Lamp test)… but all of the *same people* who are apparently perfectly willing to be entertained by an endless rotation of other fluffy, plot-hole-riddled, escapist, shoddily scripted superhero movies SUDDENLY NOTICE that stupid action movie tropes are stupid when the superhero is a teenage girl. Every single fucking criticism I’d heard about it applies equally to at least 4 out the past 5 big dudely action movies I’ve seen (“Oh noez, thar is teh romances!!!1!11!” applies to 99 of the last 100 action movies I’ve seen. The 1 was ‘The Hobbit’). And the blatant double standards put me in the awkward position of defending mediocrity, when I am not generally hugely pro-mediocrity as a rule.

    I really wanted this movie to do well, and it’s not even because I was a huge fan of these books, but because the ability of any other YA books with female protagonists, particularly fantasy books, to get made into movies, rests fairly heavily its success. Twilight and the Hunger Games were huge hits, but the movie industry is dying to write those off as flukes (note to Hollywood: huge hits are ALWAYS flukes) and insist that YA Girl Movies Don’t Sell (I’ve even heard of people trying to insist that YA Girl movies don’t sell because The Host flopped, even though The Host was an adult novel!). Whereas they can make ten dudely dude action movies and if nine of them flop, well, the tenth one proves that dudely dude action movies are hugely popular and we should keep making them.

    So now the chances of the movies for “The Diviners,” or “Daughter of Smoke and Bone,” or “Graceling,” or any number of YA fantasies that are way better than TMI actually going forward are much slimmer. And that bums me out.

  • Austin Wildcatter

    I’m one of those. I have no interest in the story, but even if I did, the earlier taint with Clare’s (heh – I typed “Clary’s”) fanfiction soured me completely.

  • Anonymous

    “Many people” = a few hundred tops.

  • Chris

    The $9 million foreign Box Office Mojo is reporting is as of August 25, and therefore somewhat misleading. However anyone who is suggesting that City of Bones is doing great in international markets is dead wrong. In the few countries where it opened at number one it still opened at a weak number one.

  • Chris

    As of yesterday it has grossed just over $28 million in the US market, not $37 million.

  • Anonymous

    Typical Hollywood trying to bake blockbusters based on a formula. Last “Hunger Games” introduces a new trend, this year sees “Beautiful creatures”, “City of Bones”, “Ender’s game”, next year “The seventh son” and “Divergent”.

    But you know… the large mainstream audience doesn’t want to see a dozen variations of the same story they want original stories (and films that receive an above average inspired adaption).

    “Percy Jackson 2″ is not really a good example to quote. Neither concerning quality concerning a better adaptation towards the book, nor financially (just look how it flopped even more than the first film).

  • Anonymous

    Are you talking about “City of Bones”? Because the same funny-wise applied to “The golden Compass”.

  • Brittany K

    I haven’t had a chance to see it yet, so I can’t really say if the movie is good enough to warrant a sequel, but for the sake of the books I hope it is and I hope the sequel does happen.

  • Casey Serin

    Did anybody really think that the adventures of Cassandra Clary Potter the Vampire Slayer were box office gold waiting to happen? You option crappy, thinly veiled fan fiction, you get what you pay for.

  • Anonymous

    This had to have had some of the worst marketing I’ve ever seen. I saw literally nothing about this movie and had no idea it’d even come out. Were it not for the news articles about the controversy surrounding the author, I’d have had no idea this damn movie was even coming out!

  • roses

    I’m one of them as well. Don’t discount it, cjvannette.

  • rtuko

    Good. Now can we please stop making mediocre movies out of mediocre books in a bid to find the next Harry Potter franchise, please?

  • rtuko

    also, isn’t the girl related to one of the guys? Incest, yum!

  • Anonymous

    28m us, 9m worldwide, says box office mojo:

    you also have to factor in that a movie of that size likely had a marketing budget half as big as the production budget, so they’re 23m in the red – hardly fertile ground to grow a sequel from.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    I’m one of them. I honestly wish I were too young to remember when all the Cassandra Cla(i)re stuff went down, but I’m not, and I just can’t bring myself to support her in any way after everything that happened.

  • stopdropreload

    Yep. She burned more than a few bridges way back when. And between Tumblr, Twitter, and myriad blogs, it’s easy to keep the flames of fandom-wide disdain alive – and spreading.

  • Rizz Rustbolt

    Ah! So it’s not Twilight.

    It’s The Dark is Rising.

  • Anonymous

    I was thinking about this current YA-sci-fi/fantasy-must-have-love-triangle while I was re-reading the Harper trilogy from McCaffery. Just the lack of serious love interests for the main character in the novel felt so refreshing.

  • Alissa Knyazeva

    Holy shit, what MASSIVE marketing fail.

    I saw the trailer in theatres and rolled my eyes because the guy I thought was the love interest was like, the most stereotypical YA love interest-y guy you could find. The second it smelled of love triangle I was like, nope, I’m out. (I hate fictional romance with a passion of a thousand suns because it seems like no partners of fictional romantic relationships ever mature past kindergarden-level emotional development, and it seriously makes me want punch someone)

    But now I’m reading all of this stuff about the movie and damn, it actually sounds kind of interesting (Still very YA, but, whatever – a fun movie is a fun movie). I might have even gone to see it earlier had I been given an accurate representation of the plot – because it sounds like an interesting SF&F-ish movie featuring a female protagonist (and a prominent gay character, it seems?), which is something I definitely want to support.

    I just… wow.

  • JaneR

    whle my own correcion regarding US market were off, MatisyahuSerious quoted the right ones (thanks for that). 28m US + 37.7m foreign (everything but US)

  • realinvalidname

    Worse than the marketing for Cloud Atlas? I’ve never seen a big movie, a good movie, buried as badly as that. Came and went in my town in two weeks, and I had to stalk the second-run theaters to get a shot at it at all.

  • Bonnie

    Oh wow, yeah I was talking about CoB. I never read or saw The Golden Compass, but that explains a lot. They will never learn. If you have a property that has bejillions of fans and you substantially change it you’re alienating a whole lot of people. Not smart.

  • Bonnie

    I actually liked the casting, but the script was HORRIBLE. Good lord. I don’t even know how they’ll make City of Ashes cause they changed the entire end of the story. That said, I want them to make it, cause I did like the cast. I especially loved Aidan Turner, and I want to see a lot more of him in CoA.

  • AnnaB

    Actually, two of the more prominent characters are gay, and yes, they have a relationship. Their relationship gets even more complex in later books, particularly because one of them is immortal (not a vampire). While details about their sex life is kept off the pages for obvious reasons, Cassandra Clare explicitly shows that Alex sleeps over at Magnus’s condo, and that they do engage in sex. Plus, there are a good mix of people of color. The one who would eventually be the head vampire of the city is Latino, the werewolf dude (not in love with Clary) who is white, is in love with a werewolf lady, who is black. And Magnus is Asian, who is in love with a white dude. I’m not saying this totally makes up for the books’ flaws, but I do appreciate that the author was conscious about diversity and representation.

  • Anonymous

    The plagiarism really put me off reading any of her stuff, for sure. But “boycotting” implies that you would have seen it to begin with—and quite frankly, this movie looks really bad. There’s the tired “part angel” thing, the “runes in your coffee” thing…

    (also, the title makes it sound related to City of Ember)

  • Anonymous

    See Cloud Atlas I can kinda see why they put the kibosh on marketing, especially after the big racial controversy and protests from Asian American groups. Trying to downplay that and acting like the movie didn’t exist was probably the studio trying to save face.

    Mortal Instruments just seems like they knew they had a huge turd on their hands and decided to quietly bury the film.

  • Anonymous


    I’m familiar with Cassandra Claire (now Clare) from days in the Harry Potter fandom, and she’s a shameless plagiarist. Not in the “wrote fanfiction” sense; not even just in the “all of her characters’ best lines are cribbed from other works (mainly Buffy the Vampire Slayer; her Draco is basically a variation on Spike)” sense. She took entire paragraphs of text from other books (the most notable is one from a book by Paula Dean) and passed them off as her own, and when she got called on it her replies were largely in the line of “I get inspiration from lots of places, and I don’t always remember where’ “. Copying something verbatim is not “inspiration”, it’s plagiarism. It’s a travesty that she’s now a famous, published author, and it’s satisfying at least to see her movie series fail.

  • Heather Lynn

    Without reading the other comments, I have this to say: A few months ago, I saw teaser trailers that had the brilliant ad campaign of “Want to learn more? Read the book!” but when it came time to actually promote that the movie was out, there was NO EFFORT on the part of the movie studio. I learned it was out because of Twitter, and never once heard a thing about it ANYWHERE.

    Then, to make matters worse, they massively screwed around with the story, and made it so that in order to truly understand it you HAD to have read the books (my boyfriend hadn’t and I had to explain a LOT to him after the movie was over), and it was overall a total mess. My fear is they’re going to use this as another excuse for why female fronted action movies don’t work, when in reality it was a just a crappily written movie with a fantastic cast.

    Also, to all the haters of the book… I don’t get it. I mean, it’s not the greatest thing I’ve ever read, but it was thoroughly enjoyable with enough genre standards and enough generally unique story to be an incredibly fun read and I look forward to reading the rest of the novels when I’m done with the Inheritance series. I honestly don’t get the hate. Also, one of the major supporting characters is gay, the geeky best friend actually starts to get into something with the “hot” female supporting character… there’s a lot to like in terms of breaking stereotypes. The Star Wars type twist definitely had me face palm, but overall I really loved City of Bones.

  • Heather Lynn

    Funnily enough, it also applies to Percy Jackson, and yet the fans don’t seem to be in as much of an uproar. I read both books, and I’m incredibly disappointed in both movies, but at least City of Bones was a tad bit more faithful to the novel than Percy Jackson. I haven’t seen Sea of Monsters, but that first one. Wow the screwups from book to movie plot. I still almost injure myself from cringing when I think about that movie.

  • Alphabet Soup

    They did a poor job marketing it. I’ve heard of the books but haven’t gotten around to trying the first one. Then I saw the trailer. It looks like they pulled the most generic parts of the story in the hopes of hooking fans of existing franchises. Reading some of the comments here actually has me curious about the series, so I will give it a read. Too bad the marketing team on this film chose to go the route they did.

  • kat

    The trailers were definitely what deterred me from seeing the film. I’m aware of the whole plagiarism controversy but I like the books anyways and it annoyed me to no end that instead of teasing audiences with the reveal of Clary’s “otherness” they went with a complete Harry Potter rip-off angle and told audiences she was a Shawhunter right from the get go. Obviously that’s no secret to anyone who has read the books but I think it would have appealed to a broader audience (possibly) if they’d kept that plot point out of the trailers and more of a mystery, until the actual reveal in the film.

  • kat

    And trailers that basically summed the plot up as “It’s Harry Potter. Except with angels and demons and shit. And set in America! (Even though half the cast is randomly British)”

  • Anonymous

    She does, but as a secondary character in Piemer’s book. (Does Piemer eventually hook up with someone?)

  • jennrose

    Yeah, her name is Jancis, she’s an engineer. I think he meets her in Renegades of Pern and they eventually marry.

  • Anonymous

    Awesome! Thanks for help ( I kinda remember something about it, but Renegades of Pern was like my 20+ McCaffery book and some of the details didn’t stick quite as well…)

  • Ben English

    Just because a move doesn’t hit on your own pet peeves doesn’t mean it isn’t bad. Most of the criticism I’ve heard of City of Bones has nothing to do with the romance aspects but more to do with the exposition dumps, terrible pacing, and Harry-Potter-Meets-Underworld production design. The trailers I saw didn’t do the film any favors either, as it looked like a generic boring echo of worn cliches.

  • Ben English

    Adaptions that can transcend mediocre source material are pretty rare, and usually involve a director with a specific vision, like Verhoven’s adaptation of Starship Troopers into a critique on militaristic fascism. Assembly-line cashins on popular fiction really don’t have much of a chance to shine.

  • Magic Xylophone

    Newsflash: Tumblr Users Relatively Small Percentage of US Population.

  • thecynicalromantic

    I didn’t say it wasn’t bad. I said it wasn’t worse than most of the last several action movies I’ve seen, particularly the superhero ones. It’s a rare action movie these days that doesn’t have absolutely shittacular pacing, due to the new standard of having all movies be at least 2 1/2 hours long completely regardless of how much story there is to tell. The Hobbit had some of the worst pacing and mood whiplash issues I’d seen in years.

    I admit I haven’t seen any of this summer’s action movies so I can’t compare it directly to them, except to say that the reason I haven’t seen any of this summer’s other action movies is that the trailers made them all look like generic boring echoes of worn cliches as well. But apparently there really is a solid base of people who will turn out opening weekend to watch the same movie over and over and over and over again as long as the hero’s a white dude, and having the hero be anyone else is the ONE trope that can only be used once and then it is done with and is FOREVER DERIVATIVE.

  • siarra

    I just hate the fact no one has called her out on her use of plagiarism in these books. Her design of the shadowhunter world is nearly identical to that of the world of darkness mmo game’s. “Hunters were explicitly ordinary people who faced a moment of crisis; in this moment, they briefly viewed the world as it really was – that monsters like Vampires, Werewolves and wizards existed and preyed on humanity. At that point, given the choice to flee or stand and fight, a Hunter chose to act, and was Imbued.” “Hunters had several supernatural gifts from the Messengers, their mysterious sponsors: supernatural abilities in the form of Edges, the ability to understand the mysterious shared language of Hunter Code and the ability to recognize and withstand mind control and illusions from monsters.” -source book Hunter: The Reckoning