It is a repeated phrase you’ve heard over and over for years when a book has been adapted into a film, “The book is better than the film”. However, when looking at the list of films and TV series coming out over the coming months it appears we are in the midst of a high-profile book adaptation boom. With this boom the use of that phrase has gradually faded, replaced with enthusiastic shouts on social media.
Starting with the Harry Potter series, filmmakers have begun paying more attention to detail in bringing the pages to life. Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings series proved that you can bring a complicated novel full of characters, emotions and a number locations to life, leading to shows like HBO’s Game Of Thrones, SYFY’s The Expanse, Amazon’s Man in the High Castle, and Starz Outlander, all of which are earning critical acclaim and legions of fans.
Adapting a hit book isn’t always a guarantee of success but Hollywood is continually perusing our bookshelves for inspiration for the next big show or Oscar friendly movie. However, when you talk to people the conversation is about books that have become movies and which series will transcend the course of time.
So what has changed over the last decade?When did books suddenly become the foundation for popular film and television? And what does this mean for the future of Hollywood and book publishers alike?.
Three main reasons come to mind, less risk, advantages of on demand technology and book to film adaptations are a bonus for book publishers and film and TV producers alike.
By taking established popular books to the screen there is already an avid fan base. Studios are all competing to have the next The Walking Dead or Game Of Thrones. By establishing an already developed story there is a plot and a narrative rather than turning to look in house to generate story lines for new series.
The way viewers watch and the way studios distribute has changed. No longer are films developed purely for cinemas but for streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon. With the advances in technology viewers can easily follow more complicated stories and binge-watch series. Viewing can be done at the viewer’s discretion rather than only on broadcast transmission. With speed, risk management, and fan appeal, subscription services like Netflix, Amazon, HBO and Starz rely on rich story-led content to lock in subscribers.
But it’s not just studios that are benefiting from the book to film adaptation boom, the book industry benefits as well. Book publishers rarely turn a profit but with book film and TV tie-ins it opens the genre up to a whole new audience and helps increase profits.
While there is still a grumbling that “The book is better than the film,” there is more and more enthusiasm for adaptations and that allows the novel to get out to a larger audience.
Photo credit: Netflix