Leading the Charge
Artists rely on their imagination to make fictional worlds come alive. Even stories based on factual events have to be re-created in a world of their own. It’s simply the way it works when telling stories.
Over the last few decades, the surge of book to film adaptations has soared! While it was always of interest, the uptick of potential creations has continued to increase with the rise of stories and technology.
Some of the best book to film adaptations include J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy from director, Peter Jackson. The first of the trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring) was originally published in 1957, while the sequels were released within 15 months afterward. It quickly became a classic among the literary world and inspired the 1978 cartoon movie. Over two-decades later, Jackson released the first live-action version, then followed up in the following two years with the sequels. The movie-trilogy won a record-earning 475 awards out of 800 nominations! It would be fair to say that Jackson changed the way films and book come together over the last 20 years.
Don’t forget the cult classic, Jurassic Park (by Michael Crichton). This book series has spun out seven movies! The first of the movies were released in 1993, but the average viewer would never know it came out before the major revolutions of tech people are currently seeing in the film world. The first movie alone won over 20 awards; the other movies have now earned dozens of awards collectively.
There are also television shows created based off books. One the best releases of 2021 was Shadow & Bone, and the second season has already been approved by Netflix. The series currently has seven books revolving that world, but they aren’t all about the same main character. Apparently, several of the lead characters who met in the show don’t meet each other in the books, but the writers of the show found a way to connect them and still earned the approval of the author, Leigh Bardugo.
Another bold release in 2021 was Bridgerton (with the second season already underway), by Julia Quinn. The books have a very Jane Austen vibe to them with the balls, gowns, “traditional values” of England in the 1800s, while encompassing the diversity of characters, with true depth, the world is craving! The eight books in this series do follow the Bridgerton family, but not always the same character so the second season will be following a different sibling of the family.
There are pros and cons to adapting written books to media. But the overwhelming response has encouraged more and more filmmakers to jump on the train.
So, what’s the encouragement to adapt? Well, filmmakers now have an easier time adapting these fantastical worlds with the technology and knowledge of their forebearers. It’s also easier to manage the risk that comes with producing a book-movie because there’s already an audience that would want to watch it (as opposed to an entirely unknown script).
Another issue that may be faced is determining the correct book in the right medium (show or movie). Even within that there’s a multi-verse of questions that need to be answered:
· Hour-long episodes?
· Thirty-minute-long episodes?
· Number of seasons?
· How many movies?
· What kind of story can be told in a movie versus television show?
What else is so attractive? It’s a new way to tell stories through media. The ideas in books are so diverse, adaptive and unique that it’s easy to tell a very different kind of story than what’s been produced by Hollywood for decades — who have been rehashing the same ten stories for the last several years. Novel authors, however, can unleash their imaginations without constraints traditional screenplay writers face.
It also benefits the authors because people who haven’t heard of the books will now want to read the books. This creates a whole new revenue stream for authors and publishers alike. Interestingly enough, some statistics report book to film adaptations make 53 per cent more revenue than original screenplays (on average).
Another massive reason to look forward to adaptations is seeing a totally new perspective of the stories. The director will have a different vision of certain aspects from what the author might have, or the audience.
This increases the potential for more openings and diversity to pop up in media and potential audiences as those who haven’t read the books will be excited for a good movie. While some readers may be hesitant out of fear that the book will be “ruined” there are many more who are excited to see if their imagination matches.
The over-arching themes presented in books also seem to be a very specific characteristic audiences thrive on when it comes to selecting books versus movies. This has to do, again, with the vision of the novel because each person will have their own unique perspective on the book.
Movie-makers can select which themes from the books to utilize and how; presenting yet another way the book-fans could interpret the book. Overall, the fans of books have a huge say in what’s likely going to do well in the screen and more likely than not, it will do well.
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