Novels and their Evil Twins


Book to Film adaptations failing to make it big, is no secret. Some reach success such as Harry Potter by J.K Rowling, Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. While a long trail of failures such as Eragon by Christopher Paolini, I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, and The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman have become that cousin you wish never visited, especially on holidays.

Although the unsuccessful film adaptations generated profit, they were never praised or given sequels. Instead they were criticized and shamed. It begs the question why certain film adaptations were able to become successful and others not. All film adaptations stray from their book counterparts and leave out details. Despite those similarities there are certain aspects that destroyed the beloved story lines, enraging fans everywhere.

A major difference between novels and their films are the creators behind the scenes. Authors typically have little to no control over how the film adaptation plays out. They’re given a check for the movie rights and their told to go on their way and whatever happens, happens. The problem is that fans are used to the style, creativity, and voice of the original writer, comparing it to the writer of the film adaption they are unfamiliar with. There are more artists involved in the creation of the film adaptation such as producers, directors, and editors. What you end up with is each artist adding their own little creative sprinkle, which could eventually result in an ice-cold bowl of disaster.

Studios worship the dollar. Their priority isn’t matching the novel word for word. What they’re thinking is “Is this marketable and how much money can we make?” After all, they’re investing time and money into this project and they’d like to see a profitable return on that investment. So fans happiness isn’t really high on the list, but they have no problem with luring you in to purchase that movie ticket with flashy posters and trailer teasers.

Eragon was expected to be a hit for fans and fantasy lovers everywhere. A movie about dragons, magic, and heroes defeating evil, should have been an easy sell. Unfortunately it was a flop. The movie didn’t make the expected profit margin the studio sought after. The fans disliked the unidentifiable plot, characters, and world development so much they’ve accused the filmmakers of never having read the books to begin with.

The Golden Compass, also known as Northern Lights, was stripped of its unique qualities, essentially child proofing the adaptation due to fear of offending the parents and several religious groups. What originally was a deep, symbolic and magical story, ended up as a Narnia wannabe film with Coca-Cola bear-gang violence.  

Sometimes the simple answer is the right one, the novel was just never destined for film. Sometimes novels just need to stay novels. They can’t be adapted and they can’t be changed. It’s difficult to take an entire book and fit that world into a two hour movie unless you have the correct team to do so. Otherwise you end up on the list of movies that should have never been made.   

PRR- Wala Abushaar


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