We all remember it – even those of us who sought to ignore it. The Harry Potter phenomenon. The books that imploded over popular culture and sucked large chunks of humanity into their wake. The books that hooked a generation of kids of all ages and left them eager for more. The books that became blockbuster movies that have made over $7,706,147,978 since the first one came out in 2001.
Since the Harry Potter films it is easy to see a pattern emerging, one in which films based on books seem to be released more and more often, but is this actually the case?
Adapt or Die!
There are some simple reasons as to why books become films. It’s easier than writing an original screenplay – you already have a tried and tested story to adapt, meaning you can focus on the essential task of structuring said story into a form that is best suited for the screen. This is not in any way a new phenomenon. Although it is difficult to say exactly when the first film based on a book was release, due to a lot of very early cinema not surviving, there exists a film version of Charles Dickens ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ from 1911 – That’s over 100 years ago! Screenwriters, directors and producers have been turning to novels and short stories for source material neigh on constantly since then, and even before. For movie studios they represent bankable product, with an already existing audience. The film considered to be responsible for starting the blockbuster era of cinema, Jaws, was based on a novel by Peter Benchley. So, if this has always been going on, if films based on books have always existed, why does it seem like it is happening more often?
Let’s get viral
One explanation could lie in the new media landscape. With pervasive social networking exploding the concept of word-of-mouth into massive proportions and online booksellers and digital delivery meaning that books can be had without leaving your armchair the time-frame of a book being released and becoming a massive hit has been greatly reduced. Couple this with Hollywood’s constant quest for movies to churn out and you are faced with an environment where books can become movies at a rate much faster than before.
Photo: © by Dariusz T. Oczkowicz, ars digital media services – Fotolia