Maze Runner Author James Dashner Talks Scorch Trials & Death Cure Film Adaptations

Author James Dashner chats with us about his reaction to The Scorch Trials film & the decision to keep The Death Cure one movie

Reading author James Dashner’s The Maze Runner trilogy of books is an incredibly visual experience. The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure are young adult stories begging to be told on the big screen — which makes sense, given that the idea for the novel was built upon Dashner’s love for on-screen stories like The MatrixInception, and Lost.

With the second film in the franchise set to come out on DVD on December 15th, and the final film in the trilogy beginning production in February, we had a chance to chat with Dashner to get his reaction to The Scorch Trialsfilm as a finished product, to ask about what he’s most looking forward to about The Death Cure, and to talk about what the future might look like for the best-selling author…

On what he wished had made it into The Scorch Trials.

Overall, Dashner is ecstatic about how The Maze Runnerfilm adaptations have been translated onto the big screen, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things he wish could have made it into the films that haven’t. When asked for an example, from The Scorch Trials, Dashner said…

“It’s a ridiculous, but creepy line where [one of the Cranks] says: ‘Rose took my nose, I suppose.’ He’s missing a nose on his face. It’s been ripped off. But the film team decided to go with more of a monstrous, really non-human-type Crank, so that line wouldn’t have made any sense.”

On the magic of consuming young adult stories as an adult.

Though studies have proven that a majority of people reading young adult books are, in fact, adults, there exists some level of stigma against young adult stories in our culture. When asked what he would say to readers or movie-goers who aren’t interested in The Maze Runnertrilogy because it is primarily geared towards younger fans, Dashner said…

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“The reason I write to that age is because, when I was a teenager, it was by far the most magical time in terms of reading and discovering stories … and writing in that same genre helps me return to that. And I don’t think we ever lose our teenage selves.

And I also never, ever write down to teenagers. So, basically, I think that I’m an adult that writes stories that I think are cool, and almost anyone I know who just gives it a shot — who gives any young adult book that’s well done a shot — they end up falling in love. So, I think if you just completely dismiss it, you’re missing out on a lot of good stories.”

On not splitting The Death Cure into two films.

Many studios in the process of adapting young adult book series into films are choosing to split the final book in the series into two separate film adaptations — i.e. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows or Mockingjay. Interestingly, 20th Century Fox is eschewing that trend and keeping The Death Cureas one film. How did Dashner feel about that decision? Here’s what he had to say…

“I am 100 percent extremely ecstatic and happy about that decision. I think from the very first time I met with Wes, he talked about not wanting to split it into two. To me, it doesn’t make sense for our story. It’s a very self-contained storyline within the bigger trilogy. And, you know, I think it was a really wise decision.

I think we’ve gotten a lot of street cred with people kind of relieved that we didn’t just go for the cash grab. But I think it will make a very solid movie, and I think the decision will pay off with a quality film that the fans will be happy about.”

On what books fans and not-book fans should look forward to in the last film.

Whether you’re a huge fan of the books or have never read them, Dashner had some fun teases for the final film installment of the franchise, set to start filming in a few months. For those who have never read the books, Dashner teased…

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“I think the third film will match one of my for the books, which was to make each book feel extremely different from the others. So, in the third one, you’re gonna see more of WCKD’s environment in terms of urban life. You’re gonna get to see what the cities are like in this ruined world that are still functioning, and I think that’s gonna be a lot of fun …

Everything’s gonna be on the table. The survival of the human race is on the line. The third film will be about revolution, and about loyalty being tested between friends. And just some spectacular action.”

As for fans who know every last plot twist and memorable line of dialogue from The Death Cure, Dashner had this to say about the final film in the franchise…

“We all agreed that the second one and third, for many reasons, strayed a bit from the books, but I think the third one brings it back in line. So I think my readers will be very happy with that. Pretty shortly into the film, they’re back in line with the books in terms of on a bird, heading towards Denver …

I think those scenes in Denver are just going to be spectacular. Wes’ vision of taking the spirit of the book and expanding it into full visuals of a big cinema screen are gonna be spectacular.”

On what pop culture Dashner is excited about right now.

Dashner has spoken before about his screen story influences on his writing, which is why we wanted to ask him about what media he is consuming now and if it might have an effect on upcoming projects. Dashner said… 

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“I really want to try something different. More of a contemporary setting. More character-driven. Set in the real world. I love things like Fargo right now. Great TV show. And True Detective. And Homeland. But I also love Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.

I feel like it’s the golden age of television, and people don’t realize how much television teaches you about writing. [With] the episodes and the character development and the dialogue. The story arcs. They have to be told in segments. It’s kind of like chapters and seasons, which are like books. And so I watch a lot of TV and it’s very fun, but also it’s part of my job. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.”

As for if Dashner would ever consider dabbling into TV writing himself, the author said “absolutely,” elaborating: “In fact, I’m starting to dabble with some ideas for a television show that, fingers crossed, will go somewhere. So, it’s definitely a future interest on my plate.”