Have an Account? E-Mail Address Passcode
| Register Now
From a Fan to the Director That's Making My Favorite Book Into a Movie

Posted on Thursday, October 5, 2017 12:33 PM

I love books. Plain and simple, I love them. I love the words, and the descriptions, and the characters and the stories. I also love movies, with the music and actors and lines, and nothing is cooler than seeing a book I love get made into a movie. It’s a literal visualization of the pictures I saw in my head. However, on the flipside, nothing is worse than seeing a truly horrible book-to-movie adaptation.

We’ve all been there before. From absent favorite characters, such as Peeves from Harry Potter, and Madge from The Hunger Games, to name a couple, to misplaced or missing lines, to completely new plot directions, a botched job on an adaptation can crush you. At best, it becomes a running joke (to cover up the pain) among the community surrounding the book--Percy Jackson fans, I’m looking to you. At worst, the adaptation’s series, if it has one, slowly drifts off into a forgotten abyss of embarrassment (Divergent and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, need I say more?).

While I’d love to sit those various directors down for a chat, and in some cases, hit them in the face with the book and yell “READ IT!”, I unfortunately do not have enough clout for that nor enough money for a lawyer to address the assault charges. Thus, I will vent to Internet for your (hopefully) enjoyment.

I don’t need to see an exact chapter-by-chapter visualization of the book

While a TV series dedicated to bringing my favorite characters to life exactly how they were meant to be, with exact plot, setting, and lines intact, would be amazing, it is a little bit unrealistic, and in some senses, a little boring, especially in a movie. I don’t need that. I know what the book is, I’ve read it (probably several times), and an exact replica would make the movie a little flat. One of the best things about a movie is that the directors and others involved can play with soundtrack, time suspension, and the feel of a moment.

Photo © Copyright 2011 - Lions Gate EntertainmentJennifer Lawrence stars as 'Katniss Everdeen' in THE HUNGER GAMES. Photo credit: Murray Close
© Copyright 2011 - Lions Gate Entertainment

Seeing a movie should be like discussing the book with someone: each of you have your own perspective on the book, such as which moments are key and which relationships are the most important, and a movie is an expensive visualization of the creative team’s interpretation of that story. It’s interesting, in a sense, to see what someone else views as important. Which moments they decide to stretch out, placing emphasis on them, and usually, garnering attention, emotions, and acclaim for the decision. The heart-wrenching Reaping scene in The Hunger Games, when Katniss is pulled away from a screaming Prim, is a prime example.

Please, PLEASE don’t overstay your welcome

Ever since Harry Potter split Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows into two parts (a necessary move, in my opinion), the movie industry has suffered from a copycat epidemic. Twilight, The Hunger Games, Divergent, and more all made the decision to increase revenue by splitting their final installment. Unfortunately, in many cases, this doesn’t work very well. Mockingjay could have easily been one movie, and Divergent was such a mess that it didn’t survive to make the second part.

Cover Artwork for The HobbitThe Hobbit saga, which debuted with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 2012, split one amazing book into three lukewarm movies that steadily got worse. That set of movies is perhaps the worst offender when it comes to splitting, and definitely “overstayed their welcome.” In an attempt to garner more sales in the box office, the studio followed up the decent An Unexpected Journey with an okay The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The third installment, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, took a five-page, relatively small conflict and made it into a two hour and forty-four minute all-out war. The second and third movies of the Hobbit trilogy could have easily been combined, and the series would have been all the better for it.

A combination of franchise exhaustion (a rampant concept that currently plagues the American population, thanks to the likes of the Marvel movies and Transformers) and plot exaggeration made the two final movies of lesser quality than they could have been as one.

So, I beg you, please don’t stretch a book so thin for the sake of a couple extra million. The fans will thank you.

The Big One

Character appearances. Consistency. Oh, I could go on and on with these. Nothing matters more than a character appearing how they appear in the books, particularly in age. One of the things that made Harry Potter so successful was that the audiences watched the Golden Trio (Harry, Ron, and Hermione, portrayed by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson, respectively) grow up, and in many instances, grew up with them. There are many points in a book that can be compromised for the sake of the movie, but the genuine appearances of the characters is not one of them.

PhotoLogan Lerman and Alexandra Daddario in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. Photo provided by 20th Century Fox.

One of the most important aspects of accurate casting is age. While it is a widely-known fact in the movie industry that teenage characters are not played by teenage actors, for examples, see The Hunger Games, when it comes to very obvious age differences, particularly in a series, varying significantly from the set mark is disastrous. One only needs to look as far as the Percy Jackson movies to see that. Actors that were in their twenties played characters that were supposed to be twelve! This proved a problem when they reached the point about a prophecy regarding the main character’s sixteenth birthday and the impending doom of the world. The actors were very obviously NOT sixteen, or even close, so the producers simply altered the entire plot of the movie to make the prophecy about his twentieth birthday (which was still pushing it). Not surprisingly, the series was left unfinished.

Secondly, consistency is key. Staying consistent with the path you have set on and the excellent guide you’ve been given (the book and the author that generally comes with it), you are sure to create a semi-decent piece of art that pays homage to the amazing stories that so many love and look up to. Generally, even if the movie isn’t a whole lot like the book(s), but keeps to a strong plot and doesn’t go back on itself to try and repair the damage it has done to the fanbase and thus the sales in the box office, I’ll, and I’m sure others as well, be willing to watch it and genuinely enjoy the movie.

Patience is Key

This leads to the second message of today’s chat. To my fellow fans: It’s hard. I know. Be patient. Be open-minded. Maybe it’s not exactly how you pictured it, or they cut out a favorite line, or a favorite moment, or an entire OTP* (the ultimate travesty). But if we accept that movies are a different art, and appreciate a movie separate from the books, we can, at the very least, get some enjoyment out of them.

* One True Pair

Ed Note: Books Mentioned

You owe it to yourself to read the books to truly enjoy the stories upon which the movies are adapted. Following is a list of books to get you started. The links will go to our Gift Shop merchant Amazon.com (if you buy through those links, we get a small commission), but your local library will have them as well. Start on the first book of these series, and we promise, you'll be back for more!

Add Your Comments

Reader VoiceReader Comments

Please Note: These comments are submitted by the readers of The BigScreen Cinema Guide and represent their own personal opinions, and do not represent the views of The BigScreen Cinema Guide, or any of its associated entities.

Oct 6, 2017 - Scott Jentsch VIP Member

Slavish interpretations can work, as evidenced by the first Harry Potter movie. I think it was a good way to begin the series. Then, as each installment went along, it found its own footing, while still keeping pretty true to the tone and spirit of the books.

The Hobbit movies, on the other hand, are a perfect example of how different a movie can be from its source material. They are decent movies, but nowhere near as good as the book upon which they are based. The entire spirit and tone of the book was changed. Both the book and the movie series can be appreciated on their own level, but they are not the same, to be sure. 

Oct 8, 2017 - Lauren J VIP Member

I agree with what you said about overstaying your welcome. It seems like a lot of movies and a couple of book series have had that happen. As for having an actor the right age, I agree. The Harry Potter movies did that pretty well. They had actors that were the same age as the characters and that felt really important. I can't wait for the next article! 

Add Your Comments

Please login
Commenting on Journal Articles is available only to our readers who have customized this site, which makes it easier for you to complete the form and for us to contact you with any questions or concerns about your comments.

Please login or register a new account before continuing.

Already Registered?

Log in to retrieve your saved settings.

E-Mail Address:
BigScreen Passcode:

Forget Your Passcode?

Send My Passcode To Me

Not Registered? Create a New Account!

E-Mail Address
In case we need to contact you. A valid E-Mail address is required, profiles with invalid addresses will be removed.
Please Confirm Your E-Mail Address
ZIP Code
This helps us display theaters that are near you.

Our registered members enjoy more features, including:

Basic accounts are free -- sign up today!

Concerned About Privacy?

So are we! We won't sell, trade, or share your personal information with anyone unless required by law. For more information, please read our Privacy Policy.

Home - About Us - Ad Info - Feedback
News Headlines - Theaters - Movies - Reader Reviews - Movie Links
Your Account - VIP Service

The BigScreen Cinema Guide is a service of SVJ Designs LLC. All graphics, layout, and structure of this service (unless otherwise specified) are Copyright © 1995-2021, SVJ Designs. The BigScreen Cinema Guide is a trademark of SVJ Designs. All rights reserved.

'ACADEMY AWARDS®' and 'OSCAR®' are the registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Find Us on Facebook