Let me begin by saying that I am a book-worm, someone who always has a couple of books on the go at any given time and I read at least one book each week (with the rare exception). I love to read, and am a big fan of series’, from famous ones like J K Rowling’s’ Harry Potter series to the lesser known ones like Chuck Wendigs’ Miriam Black series. I love how you can spend so much time with characters you enjoy and look forward to their next adventures.
Anyway, I’m getting off topic, plus… if I keep talking about my favourite series’, there’s a good chance I’ll stop writing this and go and read for an hour.
Book to screen adaptations aren’t a recent thing, there have been many great ones released for as far back as motion picture began, but there certainly has been a resurgence of sorts in the last few years. Studios are finding ways to appeal to the existing fan-bases of certain books, taking well rounded and existing stories and putting them to film. The popularity of these stories before they even hit theatres is almost a guarantee that business, for the studios, will be sweet.
There have been dozens in the last couple of years alone and there are dozens more announced for future release. Teen fiction is a big one, a lot of the book to film adaptations are from the young-adult genre, especially things dealing with concepts like witchcraft, supernatural beings and teenage angst. Films like Twilight, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games have done exceptional business at the box office, and sold millions of books across the globe, becoming household names and pop culture standouts. There are others in the genre that have had mixed results, like Beautiful Creatures, Percy Jackson, Eragon, Inkheart, Mortal Instruments and The Host. Some of these were thoroughly entertaining films, but the performance at the bank wasn’t always very good. It’s a difficult thing to deal with, as a book reader, seeing a favourite novel become a movie. I think, especially these days, with so many books being turned to films, we as readers need to allow for differences in story and changes being made by directors and screenwriters. It can be tough to see, but I think once people find a way to separate the book and the film, it can be a much more enjoyable experience.
Y-A isn’t the only genre that has had a lot of focus, with various other fictional works being recreated for cinema as well. There have been some truly outstanding films released in the last couple of years that have been adapted from literature. Silver Linings Playbook, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, not only pleased fans of the books, but also appealed to those who didn’t know the book even existed, it even got a nod at the Academy Awards. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a fantastic book by Stephen Chbosky, which tells the story of a teenage boy finding himself and making life-long friendships, also found its way onto the screen in a beautiful adaptation which saw the original writer of the book taking a seat behind the camera and penning the screenplay. The Life of Pi, a fantastic novel that most thought would never be able to be adapted to film, made its way to theatres after Ang Lee took on the project and hit it out of the park. A beautiful and mesmerising film, this also got an Oscar nod in 2013.
Classic literature have been looked at too, with Les Miserables, The Great Gatsby, Anna Karenina, Romero & Juliet and The Raven all being taken from their literary
homes inside the dusty covers of their books and transferred onto the big screen, with varied results. The Lord of the Rings famously was taken from page to screen by Peter Jackson almost a decade ago, and we are currently in the midst of seeing Jackson’s version of The Hobbit, with the second film set to hit cinemas at the end of this year.
We can’t mention book to film adaptations without making mention of comic books and the vast amount of films that they have spawned. Spawn included. In the last two years alone we’ve seen Thor 2, Iron Man 3, The Avengers, Dredd, The Amazing Spiderman, The Dark Knight Rises, Man of Steel, The Wolverine, Kick-Ass 2 and R.I.P.D, among others. There are plenty in the works too, with Ant Man, The Avengers 2, Man of Steel 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Amazing Spiderman 2 & 3, Batman Reboot, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Captain America 2 and more. It’s exciting for fans of these types of films, and fans of comic books and graphic novels, especially when you consider the possibilities now at hand with the improvements in CGI.
There are more books being made-over for future releases too. Carrie, a film based on the novel by Stephen King, which has seen itself in film-form before, will be released this year with Chloe-Grace Moretz taking on the infamous lead role. Horns, a fabulously dark novel by Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill, will be released soon, with Daniel Radcliffe in the main spot, a story of a man who finds himself waking up with devil horns on his forehead. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, a book that won many awards, will find its way to the silver screen in the upcoming months as well. There are so many great stories being reworked, re-imagined and remoulded into cinematic tales, it’s very exciting, especially for fans of both forms of entertainment.
I could make a very, very long list of book to film releases, but it would take all day and not be very interesting. If it wasn’t for this resurgence, we would possibly only be seeing remakes nowadays, so this trend is a welcome one in my eyes, allowing us to see some remarkable stories in a different way.