Book to Film Adaptation

It seems like these days the phrase, “The book was better than the move,” is bing uttered more and more. I believe that this is a good thing for two reasons, 1.) People are reading more books and 2.) People are enjoying more movies that are based on books, which when are well done often increase the sales of the book it was based on. One thing that is often underestimated is the number of books that are actually based off of books.

It is thought to be that nearly a third of all moves adapted from novels. When that scope is widened to include short stories, dramas and novellas that number rises to nearly 65 percent. Just about all of the classics that are taught in high school were adapted into films, some of them, more than once. Examples of these include The Great Gatsby, Great Expectation, The Outsiders, Dracula, and The Giver. The list goes on and on, and are too numerous to list completely. More recent popular movies adapted from books include The Hunger Games Trilogy, The Divergent Trilogy (Movies in Progress), American Sniper, Gone Girl, and of course the insanely popular Harry Potter Series. 

As it can be imagined, the popularity of a movie based off of a book, directly effect the sales the title after the movie’s release. This increase in sales is known as the “book-to-movie bounce.” Going back to Harry Potter, arguably one of the biggest successes in terms of book-to-move adaptations, in the four weeks after the debut of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in November of 2001, the number of units sold more than tripled the sales of the previous four weeks 956,700 units and 223,200 units sold in the week of the movie’s release. Of course, these numbers aren’t the gospel truth for every book-to-move bounce but it gives a good idea as to the potential effect that movies can have on book sales.

harry-potter-1

If the trend of book-to-move adaptation continues the way it has been, and people continue to read the books and watch the movies, the phrase “the book is better than the movie” may just one day become an adage.

Sources:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/learningresources/fic_adaptation.html

http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2010/08/12/movies-based-on-books-increase-book-sales/

http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2010/deathly-hallows-film-breathes-life-into-harry-potter-book-sales.html

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2 thoughts on “Book to Film Adaptation

  1. rdomitz February 18, 2015 / 7:36 pm

    Great insight. Definitely something that seems commonly overlooked. Directors make the decision of how much artistic leniency is permitted, but sometimes the movie adaptations are hardly even such. The artistic angle the director takes sometimes involves reconfiguring major plot points and details from the books. Whole characters are missing or their names changed. Sometimes the conflict in text was too elaborate to convey on screen and so we’ll watch a harry potter film and go, “Hey thats not right at all!” Sometimes theres just too much to fit into roughly two hours. Recently I’ve taken the approach of not viewing these movies as an adaptation of a book, but simply an alternate form of expression of the same story. A movie is a movie, and a book is a book. Just like you can’t compare apples and oranges, I’d say they need to be independently judged from within the individual mediums that contain them.

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  2. alivalerio February 19, 2015 / 3:26 am

    I love conversations on book to film adaptations (and even film to book adaptation, which does happen) because it seems like they can go on forever. And they probably will. I bet there are people out there who think that every book should be made into a move, and other people think that movies should never be based on books. I’m somewhere in the middle. I also try to think of the film as an alternate form of expression of the same story, though I love to really ruminate on why screenwriters/filmmakers made the decisions they did for the film adaptation. Something that I don’t think we like to think about, however, is that a lot of times this process is done with money in mind. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it can be thrilling when our favorite characters from the page come to life on the screen. And that’s exactly the point, that’s why film adaptations are so popular: they rake in the money. They appeal to an already existing fan-base, people who aren’t going to miss out on an extension or new representation of a story they already know. And like you said, Clarence, due to popularity and publicity of the movies, new consumers will go out and read the books just because they saw the movie. It’s a clever cycle.

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