Book to Movie: A Journey For More Money

In the past sitting down and reading a book was a favorite pastime of many Americans, but with the invention of easy to shoot and watch movies their popularity began to slip. This form of media would slowly overtake books in popularity and now reading a good book is only an act of true boredom for the average teen. So eventually a solution would arise: why not make movies out of popular books? However, there are many problems which can arise when a company tries to touch the literary work of a best-selling author. Expensive scenes skipped, wrong casting, added filler, and toning down a book’s violent content all contribute to making a bad film adaptation. Why would an author agree to let a production company mangle their pride and joy? In short the answer is money.

A truly fitting example is the recently released Hunger Games movie, based off the first book in Suzanne Collin’s dystopian trilogy. With a 4.8/5 rating on Barnes and Noble customer and critic reviews it was obvious the novel would be a hit, spending 94 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and making millions every month. It was obvious a movie was imminent and early estimates for box office profit exceeded 150 million dollars in the U.S. alone. However, this money accounted for the crucial 12-18 age demographic (the main fans of the series) being able to purchase tickets and with the amount of child killing in the novels it seemed the movie would easily get an R rating. This is where money can corrupt the process, in order to ensure a PG13 rating Lionsgate producers made sure to never actually show someone get killed and would only show the attacker stabbing the “camera” or add heavy motion blur. This angered fans and critics alike (66/100 Metacritic average score), as well as the removal of many important scenes that producers thought would be too boring in contrast to the action, simply so they could make a “PG13” rating and in turn make more money.

Following with the tween movie craze is a book series turned movie that has gained a whole lot of infamy and crazed fans over the past few years, “Twilight”. It’s a sad world for vampires when the glittering emotionless teens in Twilight replace the old image of horrible monsters living in giant, foreboding castles, but Stephanie Meyer decided to change things up and make them an object of attraction for soccer moms and tween girls alike. Like the “Hunger Games” Meyer’s baby book quickly skyrocketed in popularity and as of today the book series has sold over 85 million copies and made well over 500 million dollars. When the idea of a movie approached Paramount Pictures they excitedly signed on Meyer and prepared to make a smash hit. The film made over 392 million dollars worldwide and became the bestselling DVD of 2009 with an average score of 5/10 from movie critics. The movies went downhill from there averaging 4.5/10 from critics and released yearly to make hundreds of millions yet again, even at the expense of quality. It was obvious the movies would be bad and have at this point developed a cultural hate of “Twilight” from more people than there are actual fans. As with other book to movie projects Meyer felt excluded and knew the quality would suffer without her input but still went on with the project.

“They could have filmed [the script developed when the project was at Paramount] and not called it Twilight because it had nothing to do with the book,” Meyer said.

Though many cash cows pollute the reputation of book to movie adaptations I believe a savior can come in the form of Stephen King, a bestselling author who has written more than fifty novels and sold over 350 million copies of them worldwide, even with some of his most popular work being done in the 1970s. King has maintained a stellar track record with movies made from his books with such hits as the Shining (8.5/10), Carrie (7.5/10), and a seven time Oscar winning film, The Shawshank Redemption (9/10). The only issue was that these films only grossed over 200 million combined, not even as much as the first Twilight movie. However, King has made clear his desire to make the movies as faithful as possible and worked hands on with almost all his projects. A bad one will slip out under the name King every now and then, such as Carrie 2 (4/10) a sequel which King flat out refused to work on and didn’t take the payment for his name to be on the project, yet the film made 200 million dollars worldwide and inspired many spinoffs King also refused.

In short the trend of bestselling books being made into movies is on a horrible downward slope. Even with such masterpiece adaptations like “The Shawshank Redemption” or “Forrest Gump” there will always be the “Twilights” and “Percy Jacksons” of the world to stink up this form of movie’s reputation. There have been a few decent adaptations in recent years like “The Social Network” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” but looking to for proof that book to movie films are great is like the lottery, for every winner there will be a ton of losers . So the next time a breakout novel hits and fans clamor on message boards and chat in the halls, the author should look past the money and think: Is it worth it to abandon my book?