Which Came First?

This question may leave you with your jaw completely dropped. But I’m asking anyway. There are also Star Wars books along with all the movies, right? See, I don’t know anything about the series. I can probably name a handful of characters. Maybe. But I couldn’t tell you anything about the plots of the movies or the books. I’ve just never been interested. I’m still not.

So I haven’t seen any of the movies, and I have no desire to. But I just saw the Monday box office numbers and I started wondering where the movies originated? Were they a book series before they hit the big screen a million years ago? Or were the movies so successful that they spawned a book series? I suppose I could just Google and find the answer, but I’d rather make good use of you all. Hehe.

So tell me which came first. Heck, you can even tell me what you thought of the new movie. But I won’t have any idea who or what you’re talking about.

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American Sniper: Check Your Criticism

chris-kyle

American Sniper is on the verge of leading the domestic box office for the third weekend in a row. It’s garnered Bradley Cooper his third Oscar nomination in as many years, and has many people calling it one of the best films of 2014. If you somehow haven’t heard anything about this movie, it tells the story of the most lethal sniper in American history.

But there’s more going on and being said. Many have directly criticized Chris Kyle for a number of things. He’s who the movie is about. And very recently Bill Maher had some hasty words to describe him. Again for those who don’t know, Chris Kyle was killed by a U.S. Marine Corps veteran about a year ago.

My reasoning for writing this post is because people are watching a movie adapted from a book and immediately criticizing Chris Kyle. Which is unacceptable. What right do I have to criticize any military veteran when I myself could never join the ranks to defend this country and its interests? None. I have no right. Because I have no idea what it’s like, and I never will. No matter how many war movies Hollywood makes, I’ll never have a clue what it’s really like. And neither do any of these people criticizing Chris Kyle or any other veteran.

If you want to criticize the actions that led to Chris Kyle’s deployment, then okay. If you want to criticize Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of the man, then okay. If you want to criticize the entirety of the movie, then okay. If you want to criticize the politicization of war in America, then okay. But do not criticize someone like Chris Kyle who went and served in another country in the midst of war. Because you have no idea what he experienced. And you weren’t right there alongside him.

Books Hitting the Big Screen in 2015

Is it me or did that title rhyme a bit? Hm.

Anyway, 2015 is another year full of books being adapted into movies. I wrote a million years ago about Hollywood’s fascination with turning toward the literary world for movie ideas. We all hear about the movie deals for this title and for that one just about every week. A movie is a hit, another book by the same author is adapted. Two prime examples of this just from 2014 are Gillian Flynn and John Green. And let’s not forget that the top grossing movie at the domestic box office has been adapted from a book in three of the last four calendar years. 2011 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. 2013 – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. 2014 – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.  Technically Guardians of the Galaxy still shows as the top grossing movie of last year, but I’m happy to say that Mockingjay is just a short time from claiming the top spot.

So when you take those little tidbits into consideration, it’s easy to see why Hollywood is always searching for that next big hit by way of the publishing industry. American Sniper just expanded its release and what happens? With Bradley Cooper as the lead and awards buzz from every which way, it’s going to shatter the January opening record at the box office. Another movie adapted from a book.

I’m sure you know exactly when your favorite adaptation will be released this year, but here are 20 notable releases. And no, I didn’t come up with the list myself. And no, I don’t have release dates because I’m too lazy to find them on Box Office Mojo. Here’s the list:

Silence

The Revenant

The Light Between Oceans

Paper Towns

In the Heart of the Sea

The Martian

The Zookeeper’s Wife

The Secret Scripture

Into the Forest

A Book of Common Prayer

Walk in the Woods

Lion

Dark Places

Child 44

Carol (The Price of Salt)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

The Jungle Book

Macbeth

The Duff

Far from the Madding Crowd

And that’s it. Of course, none of these matter. It’s all about how soon November can get here so we can see Katniss again. Sorry for the lack of actual information about each movie, but I stole the list from here and they tell you a little about the story and the actors involved with most of the adaptations.

Are you looking forward to ANY of these? I’m not. But eh.

PS: You should know by now that the Fifty Shades of Grey movie is just weeks away from its release date. Well I read from a very good box office guy that it might open to more than $75 million domestically. A little perspective, Twilight opened to $69 million and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone opened to $90 million.

Has Hollywood run out of Ideas?

peg1-stars-hollywood-signI can’t say whether it’s a growing trend or if I am just now realizing it, but every year it seems that Hollywood adapts more and more books into major movies. That isn’t to say that the best movies are adapted from books, but sometimes that can be the case. Let’s look at recent theatrical releases.

We all know about the Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Twilight movies, so those won’t be discussed. There have been a number of recent releases that many may not even know come from books. The Wolf of Wall Street, which is a major Oscar contender was adapted from the book written by Jordan Belfort. Lone Survivor, a movie nominated for two Oscars is also adapted from the bestselling book of the same name. These are two examples that I myself didn’t initially realize had been adapted from books. These also both happen to be true stories, but that isn’t always the case. The second movie in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy was just released last December and World War Z was released last summer.

You see, the number of literary adaptations released each year may beg the question, “Has Hollywood run out of ideas?” We already get countless sequels to successful movies anyway, just think any movie starring a comic book character, but studios are relying heavily on authors to bring their books to the big screen in order to cash in. I don’t hate that this is happening because I am of the opinion that authors are the most creative people around, but I’m just wondering at what’s currently happening.

As we look at the number of successful adaptations, we must also look at the number of box office bombs from 2013. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones ended its theatrical run with just over $31 million. Ender’s Game has made just $61 million on a budget of $110 million.  The Book Thief made just $21 million. The Host ended its run with just $26 million. And Beautiful Creatures came out with a horrendous $19 million. Suffice it to say that for every major literary adaptation success, there are several that don’t quite make it.

But let’s not forget that the highest grossing movie of 2013 was The Hunger Games: Catching Fire with $421 million to date.

Just off the top of my head I can think of a couple of literary adaptations that are expected to make studios a lot of money in 2014. Mockingjay Part 1 and The Hobbit: There and Back Again. But there are also a number of films that will be adapted that we have no idea how successful they will be. Both The Monuments Men and Vampire Academy will be adapted and released this week, Divergent will be released in March, Fault in Our Stars will be released in June, Gone Girl will be released in October, and then at the end of the year we’ll have the third installments of The Hunger Games and The Hobbit series. We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars that have already been spent on these projects that may or may not pan out at the box office.

Quite frankly, the answer to the title of this post is that Hollywood hasn’t run out of ideas because the box office in America continues to thrive. But it is worth asking if their dependence upon bestselling authors is growing. I don’t have the answer to that  and maybe no one does.