Why We Didn't See More Maze Runner Movies

As far as YA book-to-movie adaptations go, Maze Runner is a success story. The movies starring Dylan O’Brien received adaptations for its core trilogy and managed to make some solid money along the way without greatly alienating its fans along the way. Crazy, right? It has a different narrative in Hollywood than other YA adaptations we’ve examined, such as the Divergent series, which came just short of its conclusion in 2016. Or the Percy Jackson movies, which was cancelled just two movies into production and is now set to be remade into a Disney+ TV show. But the Maze Runner movies did end with more books on the shelves from James Dashner. Why?

The best-selling dystopian science fiction novels that began in 2009 follow a group of teenagers left in a mysterious place called the “Glade” surrounded by massive walls and a deadly maze as the only possible exit. Let’s talk about what went down with Maze Runner and why we have yet to hear about more films from James Dashner’s world:

Dylan O'Brien, Giancarlo Esposito and Rosa Salazar in Maze Runner: Scorch Trials

How Many Maze Runner Movies Have We Seen

The Maze Runner movies starring Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter, Ki Hong Li and Thomas Brodie-Sangster began in 2014 with its initial film and formed into a trilogy for each book, including 2015’s The Scorch Trials and 2018’s The Death Cure. All three films were directed by Wes Ball and written by T.S. Nowlin. The Fox films managed to pretty much stay on schedule and deliver to fans on a consistent basis with the exception of the third film, which came out three years following the second. This was caused by a 2016 accident O’Brien suffered on set when the actor was hit by a stunt car while shooting an action set piece for The Death Cure.

The accident “broke most of the right side” of Dylan O’Brien’s face according to the actor and understandably led to a delay for the movie. After he recovered from his injuries, O’Brien was determined to finish the core series and they did! Overall, the franchise made nearly $1 billion at the worldwide box office all together, with the first film making the most at $348 million against a production budget of $34 million. The Scorch Trials made a tad less in spite of its higher $61 million budget with $312 million in box earnings and The Death Cure lost some momentum with its $288 million gross following a similar budget to the second film.

Maze Runner cast including Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Dylan O'Brien and Will Poulter

(Image credit: (Fox))

Were There Plans More Maze Runner Movies?

Although The Maze Runner trilogy did begin and end on screen, there are two more books in the Maze Runner book series that have yet to be adapted: 2012’s The Kill Order and 2016’s The Fever Code. These books are prequels to the main series that start 13 years before the events of the original books. The prequel story expands the dystopian world of The Maze Runner because it offers more firsthand insight as to the ‘why’ and ‘how’ the young people become stuck in the Glade, including an origin story for Dylan O’Brien’s Thomas. However, the creatives behind the Maze Runner movies wanted to end things there with the 2018 finale. In screenwriter T.S. Nowlin’s words:

We’ve actually talked about how much we don’t want to do a fourth movie. It’s rare to do something clean, that just has a beginning, a middle, and an end. I really like the way this movie wraps things up and ends. It’s nice to let the movies kind of exhale.

It’s a valiant and admirable thing to say about a franchise as loved as the Maze Runner movies, but hey, Star Wars turned from three to nine. It’s possible that these prequels could re-enter conversation once said exhale does happen, but it would require a lot of new cast to tell the story of before Maze Runner like The Hobbit movies did for Lord of the Rings almost a decade after its trilogy.

The Glade wall in Maze Runner with Dylan O'Brien's Thomas

(Image credit: (Fox))

Why We Haven't Seen More Maze Runner Movies

Despite the Maze Runner filmmakers taking a hard line on ending the series following The Death Cure, there are also a number of factors that likely went into the door for the Maze Runner series being closed after the 2018 conclusion. First off, even though Maze Runner kept the same filmmakers and cast, it did not maintain its quality and many significant changes were made from the source material as the franchise raged on. With each sequel, the franchise did seem to lose some of its audience instead of expanding into something bigger, and that could be a problem from a business standpoint.

Also, the Maze Runner franchise is produced by Fox, which went through some significant changes following the release of The Death Cure in 2018. The company was acquired by Disney in a major deal, which may have absorbed or tabled plans to expand the franchise further if that was on the docket for Fox, it may not be a priority for Disney. However, it does mean that Disney could potentially turn around and do a Maze Runner Disney+ series or reboot the movie franchise down the line like Percy Jackson is currently getting.

Maze Runner cast hanging upside down

(Image credit: (Fox))

Are There Any Plans For Future Maze Runner Movies?

For the time being, that’s it for the Maze Runner movies. But there are two books waiting to be adapted if Hollywood decided to give the franchise another look. Back in 2015, the franchise’s author James Dashner told Screen Rant about his thoughts on his newer books being adapted for the big or small screen. In his words:

That's an easy one to answer because I certainly hope so. It's probably out of my hands, but I would give anything for that to happen because it would be a lot of fun and it would be fun to see some of these actors return to the world. But we'll see what Fox has in store for this series and this world. So, we'll have to wait and see.

The Kill Order and Fever Code are much darker additions to the Maze Runner franchise, considering it is about the solar flares that hit Earth and ravage mankind with disease. The population becomes insane from the apocalyptic narrative. In Fever Code, the Glade begins to form and a younger Thomas is explored before his memory is wiped for the events of The Maze Runner.

Considering the actual world is currently facing a global pandemic, this may not be the best idea to adapt right out the gate. However, if the prequels were adapted, it could even set up a remake of the franchise (perhaps as a television show?) down the line if Hollywood decided to make more Maze Runner movies. What do you think? Do you want to see more from James Dashner’s series or are you content with the trilogy by itself? Vote in the poll below!

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Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.