Nicole Sperling
November 08, 2013 AT 05:00 AM EST

It was supposed to be the next hit from the studio that delivered the game-changing YA series Twilight. With a young cast led by Asa Butterfield (Hugo) and Oscar-nominated Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), and a story centered on a dystopian future where children must save the world, the $110 million Ender’s Game had all the elements for success. The movie opened at $27 million, which is certainly a respectable number — and enough to top the box office — but probably not enough to merit a sequel. Ender’s, it seems, failed to draw young audiences. Instead traditional sci-fi fans (males over 25) and devotees of Orson Scott Card‘s 1985 book wound up buying the tickets. A source close to the production insists that Ender’s was never meant to be perceived as a YA film, especially since it lacks key ingredients that made Twilight and The Hunger Games huge hits: a romance and a strong female protagonist. “We were always going after a traditional sci-fi audience,” says the source, adding that most of the ad budget was spent on sporting events. The film’s performance may give pause to another sci-fi novel getting big-screen treatment: Lois Lowry‘s 1993 book The Giver, whose adaptation Jeff Bridges is both producing and starring in. Currently filming in South Africa with stars Taylor Swift and Katie Holmes, The Giver also focuses on a young boy in a dystopian society and will likely be looking for younger crowds when it opens next summer. But as it’s priced at only a reported $25 million, it may not need them as much.

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