If I may… Um, I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you’re using here, it didn’t require any discipline to attain it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now…you’re selling it, you wanna sell it.
-Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jurassic Park/Jeff Goldblum)
With the recent adaptation of E.L James’s of Fifty Shades of Grey to the silver screen, the eventual home release, and the universal panning by both films and critics, it raises the question; Should more books be adapted into movies?
It is not a new concept that books and novels are being adapted into movies and television shows and it is not going to be changed. Some of the earliest forms of cinema that had been released were based on novels such as Bram Stroker’s Dracula into the film Nosferatu and Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. Often enough, when a book becomes popular among readers it will often be picked up by production companies to be turned into a movie. Some authors are willing to sell the rights to the book(s) to the production company for a monetary sum. Others however would turn down the idea of their work becoming a movie. One example would be P.L Travers, the writer of the Mary Poppins series, who actually refused Walt Disney the opportunity to make the novel into a movie for twenty years. This would become the plot for the movie Saving Mr. Banks with actors Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson.
While some movies have found monetary or critical success, book to movie adaptations can also fail in the box office. One of the leading examples of a book adaptation that has never found success in the box office would be The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Film companies have tried to adapt his novel into a movie not once, not twice, but five times over the course of 87 years and each time, the movie has flopped at the box office. There have been other books that have been tried before in the world of cinema and have met a poor fate. One such example would be the release of the Dr. Seuss books into movies. Not only did the movies do poorly in the box office, critics would claim that they did not capture the essence of the original books.
The reason why some books that do not translate well to the silver screen would partly be because the original writers of the source material did not write the script for the movie. As the writers of the movie have to try to emulate the author’s style, it can be difficult to copy that into a different medium. Another aspect that has to also be taken into consideration would be that as the average movie runs between two hours to two and a half hours of screen time, edits have to be made and sections of the book are removed from the script to ensure that the movie runs for an appropriate amount of time. This can lead to a loss of character development and moments that defined the story in the book that would be missing from the movie.
While it seems like I am leaning towards the side of books should not be adapted into movies, I have to say that it is not a bad thing for adaptations to be made. Book to movie adaptations allows people to enjoy stories that they might have never heard of or read before in a familiar medium. It can also be used as a means of book revival as people who had seen the novel as a movie would be more inclined to read the book it was based on. Adaptation also provide an outlet for artists to express their favorite works and re-imagine them for their respective audiences.
So, while I think that some consideration needs to incorporated when books are selected for becoming movies or television shows, I welcome it. Below is my list of books that I feel need an adaption to the silver screen. Feel free to comment on which books you think need to be adapted to television or movies.
Books that I would like to see turned into Movies/TV Shows.
- The Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer – A science fiction/fantasy story of a teenage criminal mastermind and his affairs with fairies in order to restore his family fortune. As of 2013, Disney had announced that they would produce the movie, but mention of its progress is left to be determined.
- The Lives of Tao Series by Wesley Chu – A science fiction comedy about an office worker who becomes infused with a centuries old alien and finds himself involved in a war of espionage.