I 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.