The producers of Vampire Academy are looking for a Hail Mary pass in order to make a sequel, and they might just get it — from you.
The producers behind the February 2014 flop (it only grossed about $15 million and had a $30 million budget) is determined to bring the second book in Richelle Mead’s hugely popular book series, Frostbite, to the big screen. They’ve managed to secure funding for a second film — budgeted between $8 to $12 million — but with one big caveat: They need the fans to prove they want to see it. And so, they launched an Indiegogo campaign on Wednesday asking Academy readers to put their money where their fandom is to the tune of at least $1.5 million. Should that goal be met, we’ll see the sequel; if it’s not, those who contributed to the campaign will be refunded.
"The books have sold so many copies that one begs to ask the question: If 8 million fans want to watch one of their favorite books be made into a movie, should it be made? And my opinion is yes, it should," producer Deepak Nayar tells Yahoo Movies. "33,000 people wrote to us in support of wanting to make this movie, and that requires an effort. Anybody in today’s world who’s simply making the effort to say, ‘Look, I want to see it’ — you have to listen to [them]."
Thankfully, the key cast members, including Zoey Deutch and Lucy Fry, the BFFs at the heart of the story, have all signed three-picture deals, so if the timing works out with their availability, they'll all be back for round two. However, once the money is raised and the movie is a go, the producers are still at ground zero and will have to reach out to distributors – including Weinstein Company, which released the first film – to see if they want to get on board.
Aside from all the dollars and cents, there’s another reason to give the Vampire Academy franchise another go: Quite simply, Frostbite — which sees the vampire and guardian students of St. Vladimir Academy under attack and sequestered in a ski chalet — is considered by many fans to be a superior book, packed with much more action and romance than its dialogue-heavy predecessor.
"I thought [the first movie] was a bit uneven … There was too much exposition," says Piers Ashworth, the screenwriter who’s been tapped to tackle Frostbite. “I read the second one, and it was immediately obvious to me that this was a completely different animal. There was a movie in here instantaneously. It didn’t require any exposition … it had genuine obstacles and a fantastic journey for the central characters.”
While producers admit they don’t really know for sure why the first film failed – though they suspect that the success of The Lego Movie, Academy’s shifting release date, and a lack of focus on the storylines people wanted had a lot to do with it – they plan on putting as much in the fans’ hands as possible this time around. And that even includes casting for some of the new characters. Nayar teases that the part of Adrian Ivashkov – a royal vampire with unusual powers and an air of mystery – might be crowdsourced as well: “We might even throw it out to some of the fans to give us some suggestions,” he says.
They’re also promising to keep the script totally loyal to the book. “I wanted it to be as close to the tone of the book as absolutely possible,” Ashworth explains, also offering one way to solve the first film’s “exposition” problem. “I want to do it with no voiceover. … When you find out about characters and a new world, you want to discover it. You don’t want to be told it.”
"If the fans support this one, then we’re on the home stretch, [with] four more books to come,” Nayar says. "This is a very critical juncture. Validation is what we are looking for [with the Indiegogo campaign]. … The famous line, ‘If you build it, they will come’ – well, we’re building it, and you just need to show up now."
Photo credit: The Weinstein Co.