Since the early days of movie production, Hollywood has looked to books as source material for films, adapting their armchair-reading, ‘theatre-of-the-mind’ experience into the full-wall, surround-sound, seat-vibrating, even 3-D, theatre experience of the Big Screen … hoping for box office blockbusters.
Sometimes … a home run!
Other times …
… a strike out.
So, what makes adaptations like “The Godfather” and “Twilight” soar, while others, like “Mortal Engines” and “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” nosedive?
This last one was a follow-up to author Stieg Larsson’s successful adaptation of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – leading Hollywood to think “Spider’s Web” should be just as successful. But, while it cost $43 million to make, its box-office sales stalled at $31 million.
Last time, in Part 1, we examined five of the ten ‘Biggest Blockbuster’ book-to-film adaptations in cinema history: The “Harry Potter” franchise, “Lord of the Rings,” “Jaws,” “Jurassic Park,” and “The DaVinci Code.”
Today, we look at the rest of this Top-Ten:
The Hunger Games
In his 2012 adaption of the Suzanne Collins 2008 novel, director Gary Ross focused on the social contrasts between the world of the wealthy and that of his impoverished protagonist. With differences between the book and film like the games’ location and the contrast between cruelty and kindness, Ross’s choice of Jennifer Lawrence to play the protagonist (a choice backed by Collins) helped communicate the novel’s primary grit and stoicism themes. The film made $695 million globally. The four-part (2012-13-14-15) series: $2.97 billion … so far.
This original film was the first in what became a series of five romance fantasies (2008-9-10-11-12) based on American author, Stephenie Meyer’s four-novel series (2005-6-7-8). Summit Entertainment’s series, The Twilight Saga, was a phenomenal success – revitalizing the young adult, gothic-romance-vampire genre of books, films, film-series, and television shows. With Catherine Hardwicke directing and Kristen Steward as Bella, it epitomized teenage angst and ambivalence throughout the series. The original film grossed $390 worldwide and the entire series has made more than $3.3 billion … so far.
Bridget Jones’s Diary
Based on Helen Fielding’s 1996 novel, though widely thought to be a loose reinterpretation of Jane Austen's 1813 novel, “Pride and Prejudice,” both the book and 2001 film primarily connected with female readers and movie audiences. Sharon Maguire directed the film. Renee Zellweger’s portrayal of Bridget received Academy Award, Golden Globes, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild, and many other nominations. “Bridget Jones’s Diary” grossed $282 million worldwide.
A Hollywood classic, Mario Puzo's 1969 epic story about an Italian-American Mafia family exploded across the screen in 1972 with a superb cast under Francis Ford Coppola's direction. Winning ten Academy Awards, it featured world-class performances by Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and James Caan, inspired several sequels and set the genre for television series such as “The Sopranos.” The film made $245 million worldwide, the entire franchise (Films: 1974-74-90, re-compiled for TV: 1977-81-92, 2008-17) having grossed nearly $575 million.
Successful with “Jaws” and “E.T.” in the adventure-thriller and science-fiction genres, Director Steven Spielberg took an entirely different direction with “Schindler’s List.” Based on the Thomas Keneally historical-fiction novel, Schindler's Ark, the 1993 film follows Oskar Schindler, who actually did save the lives of more than one thousand, mostly Polish-Jewish refugees from the Holocaust during World War II. Shot in black and white and interspersed with newsreel footage, “Schindler’s List” grossed $221 million worldwide and won seven Academy Awards.
The 1986 Winston Groom novel enjoyed only modest sales before being made into what became a blockbuster film in 1994. The adaptation, directed by Robert Zemeckis, taking some liberties from the book by playing up the romantic subplot, told the story of Forrest’s adventures in a charming and humorous way. “Forrest Gump” won six Academy Awards and earned $680 million worldwide including $330 million in the U.S.
What makes one book adapt successfully into movie and another flop? There are many intangibles – no one has yet found the guaranteed-success formula. What is true, though is that Hollywood continues looking for good stories to turn into the next silver screen blockbuster. Could that be your book or idea for a book? At GetPublished™ we specialize in turning your book or idea into a published work which we will market not just to the reading public – but to those with the power to bring your story to the silver screen. Contact us today to get started!
If you have a story to tell, let GetPublished help you tell it!
GetPublished is an emerging powerhouse in book publishing. We’ve joined the two worlds of traditional and self-publishing into one company that can help do it all. Our capabilities and relationships allow us to create targeted and integrated book campaigns that mobilize high-profile contacts in your niche, capitalize on word-of-mouth marketing through social marketers, and extend your reach into the most prominent media publications. Our authors have the unparalleled service of an Executive Editor, one who will work with you in putting your story ideas into book form. Once that’s completed, our professional designers will work with you to design the cover and interior to make your book ready to sell.
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About Michael Stickler
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