Here They Come

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The title of this post could literally mean any one of a hundred different things. I bet if I gave you the chance to guess before I get into what this post is actually about you’d be wrong. Go ahead. Guess.

Now you have something in your head that I am quite certain is incorrect. So let me tell you what is right. Every year Hollywood adapts a million books into movies. We know this. It’s not a new trend. This fall has quite a few new movie releases that are adapted from books. I mean, we know the big ones. Mockingjay. The Hobbit. Gone Girl. And there are more. This comes during a year in which we’ve already seen a number of adaptations released. Divergent. The Fault in Our Stars. The Giver. It appears that Hollywood is fast searching for the next phenomenon, but studios have recently been hit or miss when it comes to literary adaptations. Mostly miss. And the two wildly successful series (THG & The Hobbit) will be over this year and next, so the search will continue.

This article from USA Today lists their ten highlighted adaptations of the fall. Which movie adapted from a book are you most looking forward to? You know the answer for me. Mockingjay Part 1 cannot get here fast enough.

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Literary Adaptations: TV or the Big Screen

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago titled Has Hollywood Run out of Ideas in which I discussed the nature of the relationship between Hollywood and bestselling authors. You may want to take a look at that post once you finish or before you start this one because the relationship is somewhat fascinating.

Let me ask, if you happen upon an article discussing a new adaptation of your favorite book or series, would you prefer a full-length theatrical release or a TV series? I won’t wait until the end of the post to give my answer because it doesn’t matter to me. Both mediums have proven in recent years that it’s all about the product. A bad movie is no different from a bad TV show when it comes down to adaptations.

TV

Books that are adapted are often hundreds of pages long, no matter the genre, right? One of major advantages of a TV adaptation is that it allows for more of the story to be told. I don’t watch Game of Thrones but I do know that it has been wildly successful on HBO. I also know that the books have been VERY successful. TV gives the reader/watcher more of what he/she wants, the story. What is it that we always hear after going to our neighborhood movie theater to watch the most recent literary adaptation? “I can’t believe they left that part out.” As readers it’s hard to justify leaving ANY part of a great book out of its movie adaptation because that’s part of the reason why we liked it in the first place. But we also don’t know a thing about writing a script or making a movie. Things are left out not because those working on the movie wish to upset fans, but because there are very real constraints to making a movie.

A TV series also gives viewers something new each week. It isn’t a one time thing that goes and comes in a matter of an hour or two.

Movie

I would guess that authors prefer their books be adapted into full-length movies over TV shows. I don’t particularly agree with this sentiment because movies are limited in how long they can be, they cost A LOT of money and guarantee no return, and not everyone is willing to dish out ten bucks for a movie ticket. I’ve done so myself only three times in the last two calendar years, two of those were for The Hunger Games movies. But I think there is a great amount of pride for an author to have one of his/her books adapted into a theatrically released full-length movie. J.K. Rowling had eight. Stephenie Meyer has had five. Suzanne Collins will have four by the end of next year. These are some of the bestselling authors today who keep making their books into movies. AND the money made by these authors from their movie adaptations is something we can only dream of. I mean, J.K. Rowling became the first billionaire author recently, until she fell below that threshold after taxes and charitable donations the following year. Movie adaptations of books enable authors to get their product in front of millions more people than ever before, because let’s face it, not everyone is a reader.

I’d love to know what you think.

Word Count Goal Failure

ImageI mentioned in a post last Friday that I’d set a goal of writing at least 10,000 words by midnight tomorrow night. Well, suffice it to say that I am not going to reach that goal, which is good and bad. It’s good because I’ve never written that way and have always stressed that writers should use proven strategies that work for them. I know plenty of people can work under the pressure of a word count goal, but I don’t really embrace such mechanisms for my writing. It’s bad because I obviously don’t have 10,000 more words at the end of my manuscript. It’ll be fine. I will be writing tonight, though! So there’s some hope left for me.

Also, I posted a couple of posts back that Michael Connelly’s acclaimed LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch had finally made it to screen. Well the pilot, which will be available for free viewing via Amazon Instant Video is now online! All you have to do is watch, rate, and share it to help it develop into a full series. It will be available for 30 days. I’ve watched it and I HIGHLY recommend you do the same if you’re a fan of Connelly, and even if you’re not. It’s a great pilot episode. Just click here to go ahead and watch it!

Lastly, in my last post I wrote a little about the relationship between bestselling authors and Hollywood studios. I’d REALLY like for you guys to take a look at it. I think it’s one of my best. The previous post was titled Has Hollywood run out of Ideas? Take a look!

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.