In just a few days, YA drama After We Fell hits theaters. If you’re not a teenage girl or woman in your 20s, you might be forgiven for never having heard of it. In actuality, however, it’s the third movie of a series based on the After books by author Anna Todd. It may very well be the biggest book series you’ve never heard of.
Similar to Fifty Shades of Grey, which started out as Twilight fanfic, the After series started out as, well, Harry Styles and One Direction fanfic. Todd initially wrote the fanfic story on the Wattpad app on her phone, releasing a chapter a day for over a year, eventually releasing the first three books in the After series – After, After We Collided, After We Fell – on Wattpad, basing the male protagonist, Hardin Scott, on Harry Styles of One Direction. Soon, the series had racked up over two billion reads on Wattpad, the most of any series on the platform.
Eventually, the first book in the After series was officially published in print format in 2014 and immediately rocketed to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Since then, it has been translated into three dozen different languages and sold 12 million copies all around the world, becoming the #1 bestseller in a handful of countries. The same year as its print release, Paramount snapped up the rights to the series with the first movie being released in April 2019, the second movie, After We Collided, being released in October of last year, and the third movie about to hit theaters. Two more books have been released in the series, After Ever Happy, and one prequel novel, Before, which borrowed Twilight author Stephenie Meyer’s gimmick and told the story from Hardin’s perspective.
The books have been called “Fifty Shades of Grey without the kink,” and that’s certainly an apt comparison. The story follows naive, incoming college freshman Tessa Young, who is set to go to Washington State – and get away from her deeply conservative mother. She gets paired with the alternative, punk upperclassman Steph Jones and soon meets Steph’s rebellious, rude friend, campus bad boy Hardin Scott, who is initially incredibly rude and dismissive to Tessa. As you may have already guessed, inevitably, they get together and fall in love, but, in a He’s All That-esque twist, Tessa discovers that Hardin initially only started hanging out with her because he made a bet with his friends that he could take her virginity.
Setting aside the problematic story – it’s been criticized, much like Twilight and Fifty Shades before it, of glorifying a toxic, manipulative relationship – it’s undeniable that the After series has been an enormous hit and global phenomenon. Not only have the books been wildly successful, but so have the movie adaptations, which star Josephine Langford as Tessa and Hero Fiennes Tiffin as Hardin. The first After movie grossed $69.5 million on a $14 million budget and the second movie, After We Collided, earned $48 million on the same budget – considering it opened in the middle of a global pandemic, that’s incredibly impressive. Both movies also went on to become the #1 movies on Netflix the weekend they released on the streamer, as well as racking up impressive numbers on Amazon Prime Video and other platforms. Clearly, the books struck a chord with people.
As for After We Fell, the movie will be in theaters in just over a week. Whether you’re already a big fan of the book series, saw the first two movies and liked them, or are just really curious to check it out, it will officially be hitting the big screen for a special, two-day event on Thursday, September 30th and Monday, October 4th.