Nowadays, it seems like the majority of the trailers we see in the movie theater are based on our favorite novels. Though some of these adaptations are spectacular displays that reinvigorate our love for the stories on our book shelves, other films aren’t so lucky. So what determines the fate of a book-to-movie adaptation? 

What We Hate

Though we always hope that adaptations will live up to our grand expectations, sometimes we don’t leave the theater quite as pleased as we’d hoped.

“They cut that?!” is never a sentence you want to say during a movie adaptation of your favorite book. Tragically, a four-hundred-page novel never translates perfectly into a two-hour film time. And so more often than not, book fans are clicking their tongues in their seats when their favorite scene is left out. Unfortunately, there are few typical movie-goers willing to sit still for five hours for the sake of perfect accuracy.

Budgets are rough. When writing a book, an author is not constrained by a budget. It didn’t cost anything for Michael Crichton to write dinosaurs into Jurassic Park, but Universal Studios spent over sixty million dollars on its efforts to carry the dinos to the big screen. Though Crichton’s book became arguably one of the most beloved adaptations of all time, it might not have been so impressive if the project hadn’t been backed by a massive studio. Imagine instead of life-like animatronics, we saw a Barney costume. It’s difficult for book-to-movie adaptations to succeed when studios don’t have the funding to accomplish the level of hype we’ve built inside our heads.

Greed isn’t cute. Speaking of money, one of the most frustrating things for an adaptation is when studios are clearly making changes to a story in the hopes of making more money. Unwarranted changes are annoying on their own, but it’s especially aggravating when character detail is significantly altered. Also if the story themes are compromised in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience or a single novel gets unnecessarily stretched into three movies because Hollywood executives know people will shell out the money to see them. When we sense pandering, we walk out of theaters feeling swindled instead of satisfied.

 

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