4th article in our 7- week series on Film Studios Marketing Tactics
What’s the Future for Film Adaptations in Hollywood? We’ve heard it before, “the film isn’t as good as the book.” What do novelists think about film adaptations? What are some of the opposing views? Some novelists prefer a hand off approach while others like to be more involved in the process. In this article we will look at which one is most effective in producing a successful film. Plus what does the future hold for film adaptations in this economy?
This year a number of books were adapted into screenplays. They include Cosmopolis, Cloud Atlas, Les Miserable’s, The Hobbit, Life of Pi and The Great Gatsby. How do screenwriters and directors prepare when adapting a novel? Some screenwriters read a book once and never refer to it again, while others take the source material very seriously. According to an article entitled Adapt This, it states:
“… For every instance in which a rough, indifferent attitude (or the pretense of one) toward the source material resulted in a successful film, there are plenty of others in which the screenwriter and/or director took the original very seriously, such as Nelson Pereira dos Santos, who used the pages of Graciliano Ramos’s novel as the shooting script for his beautiful Barren Lives (1963).”
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have written 11 novels together. The book The Relic was adapted in 1997 and a New York Times Bestseller. They find the idea of adapting their own novels is boring. However, the film The Relic had four different screenwriters when it was over. It grossed 34 million domestic at the box office and was in theaters for 6 weeks. Here’s an excerpt from an interview asking Preston and Child what they think of screenwriting.
“We rarely, if ever, discuss ahead of time the cinematic aspects of a novel we’re writing. Fiction and film are different: Novels written for the movies are often lousy works of fiction, just as movies that slavishly adhere to the written word are often lousy movies. But when I write, I pre-visualize every scene down to the last detail, which may give my writing a cinematic quality.”
Preston goes on to mention,
“Neither Linc nor I had any experience writing screenplays, nor did we have the desire. Writing a screenplay of a novel we’d already written would be boring—like writing the novel over again.”
What’s the future of film adaptations? Today film studios find it safer to adapt then invest in original screenplays even though it’s more expensive to buy a novel due to there underlying rights to a book according to article Adapt or Die? By Carl Wilkinson. Producer Tim Bevan states.
“Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Bevan says that investors will always look at the whole package – script, actors and director. But a novel gives them a bit of confidence. “They feel, ‘Oh yeah, that’s safe because it’s worked before,’ which is not the most imaginative way to go and may well be a fault of cinema today,” he says.”
The truth is investors like adaptations because they make money and audiences like them because a novel offer a greater depth of characterization. But on the flip side, if one genre and story is a hit then filmmakers will make multiple films like it. According to Adapt or Die? It states,
“The success of Harry Potter led to a scramble for “the next Harry Potter” – that turned out to be Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series. With that multi-million dollar franchise now at a close “the next Twilight” (or “the next-next Harry Potter”) is Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.”
Is honoring the source material the key to a successful film adaptation? True, there is a ton of pressure from fans and studios to mirror the source material as much as possible. However, the fact is it takes an amazing screenwriter to visualize and enhance certain plot points without thinning out the story. Can a filmmaker please both the reader and film audience of a popular book? Should a reader complain if the filmmaker did not give them something new if they want a film to mirror the book exactly?
Please join us for a discussion Thursday 9/13/2012 @7pmE/12UTC