BYU grad and 'The Maze Runner' author talks about new movie

(20th Century Fox)

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THE GLADE — The highly anticipated movie adaptation of the New York Times best-selling book “The Maze Runner” is now in theaters, and it’s been receiving great reviews from both fans and critics.

The film is boasting a 61 percent on Rottentomatoes with an audience percentage of 81.

The film is exciting, visual and captivating and that is thanks to the source material written by BYU graduate and Utah resident James Dashner.

Dashner has always had a passion for writing, but he graduated from Brigham Young and went into accounting. While he worked professionally as an accountant, he never stopped writing, and “The Maze Runner” gave him the opportunity to leave that behind forever.

“My heart bleeds for accountants,” Dashner told us on the Flix Junkies podcast. “I don’t miss it even in the slightest, tiniest, little bit.”

“The Maze Runner” spent several weeks on the New York Times best-seller list, and Dashner said when 20th Century Fox told him they wanted to make his book into a movie, it was a dream come true.

“It’s clearly the highlight of my career.”

Dashner said he is a huge movie buff and that movies like “Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones,” “Alien,” “Terminator” and “Back to the Future” were huge influencers on his writing.

The tone and spirit and vision of what I wrote is totally in the movie. It's unbelievable.

–James Dashner, author

“So many classic movies in the ’80s that inspired my writing.”

Dashner told us that more recent films that have inspired him include “The Matrix,” “Edge of Tomorrow” and anything by Christopher Nolan. Dashner mentioned that original films like “Inception” or “The Matrix” are his bread and butter and the types of films that he wants to go see in the theater.

When asked what films inspired “The Maze Runner,” we were a bit surprised by his answer.

“ ‘The Shining’ was probably the first inspiration.”

Dashner said the classic horror film’s iconic maze scene started a borderline obsession with mazes, which eventually blossomed into a best-selling novel.

Other inspirations on “The Maze Runner” included the book “The Lord of the Flies” and the TV series “Lost.” When you read the book or see the film, all three of these inspirations are clearly visible.

For those who are big fans of the book, Dashner says you’ll be happy with the film.

“Luckily for me and hopefully for my readers, I was very involved,” Dashner said. “I think my contribution at least helped them to keep their focus on, you know, pleasing the fans of books. I think they found a really good balance between that and, you know, the difficulty of translating a book to a different medium.

“The tone and spirit and vision of what I wrote is totally in the movie. It’s unbelievable.”

Dashner said this experience has given him the moviemaking bug and that’s something he wants to explore further.

“I’ve learned so much from this experience that I definitely want to try it (screenwriting). So, it’s a goal of mine, some time in the next five years to write an original screenplay.”

There’s something we all have to look forward to now, an original screenplay from James Dashner.

“The Maze Runner” is now in theaters and is rated PG-13 for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images.

Hit the link to listen to the Flix Junkies full interview with James Dashner.

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