When authors publish a novel, that novel has taken months or even years to complete and they have spent every ounce of their energy in creating something that is worthy of having their name stamped on the front and something in which audiences will enjoy. Some books do better than others. They might have been advertised better or have a more eye-catching cover or has been written by a already influential writer with an already established fan base. The book sells a considerable number of copies producing a neat sum of money. This gets directors and script writers and producers thinking: what about a movie?
So, production companies spend millions taking a book and portraying it onto the big screens and they tend to have one of two things on their mind: how can I make this faithful to the book? Or, how can I make a good movie? There are plenty of examples of movies that are strictly based around the book. Take 2014 fantasy adventure film Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters, directed by Mark Waters and scripted by Daniel Waters. This film was the adaptation of the first novel in a series by author Richelle Mead. There was a huge amount of hype and anticipation for this film, especially since the Waters are behind the hugely successful film Mean Girls.
Now, as much as the Vampire Academy film pleased all the fans who were still in shock that the book was actually becoming a movie, for all the movie audiences who hadn’t read the book, whilst it was a enjoyable film, the cracks were clearly visible. Without the cover of the book to hide behind then the movie fell a little short and left fans feeling a little dejected. It seemed that all the features that had worked well in the movie, the characters, the plot and the relationships, has all been created by Richelle Mead and the movie hadn’t really added to that list. It was ultimately down to the editing of the film that let it down although the world and story that Richelle Mead had created was enjoyable and exciting.
However, you do have the other end of the spectrum. A film that worked great as a film, but not so much as a book to movie adaptation. Take How I Live Now, a 2013 adventure, drama film which was directed by Kevin Macdonald and whose script was written by Tony Grisoni, Jeremy Brock and Penelope Skinner. The book is originally written by Meg Rosoff, which is a engaging and touching story that I fully enjoyed reading. Whilst this was a pretty good film, with a amazing performance courtesy of Saorise Ronan, it took a completley different direction than the book and the similarities to the original story were very little. This left fans feeling a little puzzled – they had enjoyed the film, but it wasn’t the story they had come to see.
So which should production companies focus on? Staying true to the book or making a good film? I think that the answer is both. They should be adapting the book for viewing but also concentrating on making the film a good film without the book to hide behind. Of course there are occasions were production companies get this right and the most recent of these is The Hunger Games franchise. The original trilogy was written by Suzanne Collins, with the first film being directed by Gary Ross and the second film being directed by Francis Lawrence. This is a film in which the production company had their priorities firmly sorted out. They wanted to make a faithful adaptation to the best-selling book series but they also wanted to make a series of films that would look amazing on screen. Thanks to this approach, they succeeded in creating a stunning film series that the fans could be proud of.
Mockingjay: Part 1 is to be released in November and then the conclusion Mockingjay: Part 2 in 2015. I know that the producers will be able to find that perfect balance of staying true to the books and having that amazing film quality and I hope that in the future other films will consider both sides before creating a film that will please book fans and film fans.