You may not have heard of the ‘After’ series of films, but plenty of young film fans have.
The first film – released in 2019 – made £52 million at the global box office, and last year’s sequel became the highest-grossing drama of 2020 (a mighty feat considering the impact coronavirus had on cinema attendances in 2020).
Not long after After We Collided caused a stir on streaming services, a first-look trailer has just been released for the third film in the four-part franchise.
And of course, in keeping with the After films’ romantically charged themes, all was revealed on Valentine’s Day.
Here is everything you need to know about it.
What is the After franchise?
The After series is a collection of young adult romance books, written by American author Anna Todd.
The first book in the franchise – simply titled ‘After’ – was released in 2014, and was originally posted to Wattpad, a website for writers to publish their stories.
It was pure fan fiction, inspired by the music of One Direction, and Todd’s fandom of the boy band.
In particular, the author drew inspiration from the outfits member Harry Styles had previously worn while out with his girlfriends, basing the book's main character on Styles, and his love interest on herself.
It told the story of Tessa, a “dedicated student” and “loyal girlfriend to her high-school sweetheart” as she entered her first semester of college.
The otherwise conservative Tessa soon had her guarded world opened up when she met the mysterious Hardin, a “magnetic, brooding rebel” who made her question “all she thought she knew about herself and what she wants from life.”
The book was criticised upon release for its glamorisation of abusive relationships, with critics also directing their ire at Todd's lack of style and prose. But despite being universally panned by critics, After secured a big-screen film adaptation.
It was brought to cinemas in 2019, with a sequel fast tracked by big box office returns arriving just a year later. The sequel was the highest-grossing drama of 2020, and the third film in the series will soon be upon us.
Another sequel is already in development.
What happens in After We Fell?
The second film continued the story as Tessa came to terms with everything she had sacrificed to be with Hardin, including study, friendships and a blossoming relationship with nice guy, Noah.
Then along came trouble in the form of Trevor, Tessa’s co-worker at the publishing company she was interning at; like many of the fans watching the film, Tessa was quickly enamoured with him.
In the third instalment, “just as Tessa makes the biggest decision of her life, everything changes.
"Revelations about her family, and then Hardin's, throw everything they knew before in doubt and makes their hard-won future together more difficult to claim.”
Who’s in the cast?
Rather confusingly, characters that have already appeared in previous instalments will be cropping up again in the new film, albeit played by different actors.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina star Chance Perdomo joins the cast as Landon, a role that was originally portrayed by Shane Paul McGhie, while True Blood star Stephen Moyer will be playing Christian Vance, replacing After We Collided’s Charlie Weber.
Mira Sorvino from Romy and Michele's High School Reunion has also been added to the cast, taking over the role of Carol, first played by Selma Blair.
Arielle Kebbel will be playing Kimberly, originally played by The Vampire Diaries star Candice King, and Frances Turner is also joining as Karen, the second recasting in this role.
We’ve no doubt the dedicated After fanbase will be able to follow the changes for themselves, but in terms of new characters, Kiana Maderia is playing Nora, whom we haven't seen in the series yet.
When can I watch it?
Filming on the latest film on the series has finished, but no official release date has yet been announced.
However, director Castille Landon has confirmed that the film will be released in 2021.
The fourth film in the series – After Ever Happy – was shot back to back with the third instalment, so fans shouldn’t have too long to wait for that movie either.