It was 1997, a year that will forever go down in pop culture history. It was the year that the first book of the seven-part fantasy series written by JK Rowling came to light; Harry potter and the sorcerer’s stone shocked the world and changed our lives forever. Due to its hard-hitting global influence, it didn’t take long for Hollywood to cash in its chips and turn this masterpiece into a movie. All eight film adaptations were a huge box office success, earning a total of $ 7.7 billion.
Adapted films have become deeply embedded in the culture of the entertainment industry, as witnessed by the boom in films produced based on graphic novels, comics, short stories and classic texts. From blockbuster films such as the Lord of the Rings to television series such as Game of thrones, let’s break down the various factors that explain why adaptations have become a vital part of the industry and the process of adapting beloved intellectual properties.
From intellectual property to the screen
Film adaptation involves turning a pre-existing body of work such as fiction and non-fiction books, plays, comics, short stories, and autobiographies into a feature film or television series. “Adapted films are more popular and successful than original screenplays because the book or author already has an audience that equates to a guaranteed audience that ensures it doesn’t ‘flop’ at the box office. And due to the pre-existing audience and modern social media, fans have the opportunity to spread awareness about the adaptations, which allows it to be a part of popular culture, ”according to Medium.
As simple and straightforward as it may sound, there is a process to follow and a number of things to consider when adapting intellectual properties into movies or series. First of all, the writer chooses a material that he wishes to adapt to a scenario. Next, a writer should always contact the author or their agent to let them know your intentions as well as to secure the rights to the material.
By choosing a material, it gives them the temporary right to own it for around 12 to 18 months
In the entertainment industry, this is more commonly referred to as “Option”, part of the pre-production process in which a producer, writer, studio or production company will enter into a contractual agreement with the author of the source material requesting exclusive rights and financial obligations for a specified period of time while ‘They fundraise and put the cast and crew together. By opting for a material, it gives them the temporary right to own it for about 12 to 18 months, and they only have that time to decide if they have the resources to make a movie out of it.
Often the author will not be involved in the project, but there are cases like the case in The Godfather (1972), Missing girl (2014), and Fantastic beasts saga, among others, where the author of the original material was also the writer responsible for adapting it to the screen.
Before going any further, we must first understand the difference between a novel and a scenario. While both involve creating a narrative and developing unique characters, they are written and used differently. “When you write a screenplay, you are writing for a feature film, which is a visual medium meant to be experienced by an audience in a movie theater. While many novels are turned into storylines, they are initially intended to allow readers to imagine the story in their own head. In a nutshell, a screenplay doesn’t have the same freedom or enough time as novels to include the very detailed world, characters, and story that we usually fall head over heels for when reading books.
Understanding this aspect is essential to understanding that a suitable film will not always reflect the spitting image of a novel.
Understanding this aspect is essential to understanding that a suitable film will not always reflect the spitting image of a novel as the reality is that there will be a number of scenes, characters and minute details that will be left out. or sometimes replaced by those of the writer. own creative interpretation. It is simply unfair and impossible to compare a 500 page book to a 110 page script. However, what you can always expect is to focus on the heart of the story. This is when you take into account important characters such as setting the course, the protagonist’s wants and needs, themes, plot, and conflicts that are intentional and crucial to telling a compelling story. .
From a dialogue point of view, some novels use poetic or aloud words that often ring too much on the nose or are unnatural. This is where an experienced screenwriter comes in to make sure the dialogue would sound as human and conversational as possible. This also applies to writing very visual action or scene descriptions but which should be succinct and limited to three to four lines. Finally, the internal character dialogues that we would find in books are often exhibited through voiceovers, journals, or conversations, but never in scene descriptions.
Best of all, the writing at the end is usually what annoys audiences, readers and fandoms and prepares for war. Sometimes even the ending of a story needs to be changed, especially if there is a better alternative that would be more cinematic and cathartic for the screen. This doesn’t imply that screenwriters or the entertainment industry don’t respect writers and their audiences, but as mentioned before, there’s a fine line between these two distinct forms of storytelling. The end goal is to tell an imaginative and compelling story in the best possible way.
The money making machine
As you can see, it is a laborious process that involves a lot of moving parts. In fact, Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman ingeniously dissected the process of adapting a novel right before our eyes in his award-winning film. Adaptation (2002). When done right, adapted movies and series could turn into multi-billion dollar franchises and spinoffs that could span decades.
When the fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings (1954) written by JRR Tolkien was adapted into a film in 2001 by director Peter Jackson, it became an instant blockbuster that redefined the epic fantasy genre. It won around $ 3 billion at the box office and won 250 accolades at prestigious awards. Jackson said in an interview in 1998 that people “shouldn’t think of these movies as” The Lord of the Rings. ” “The Lord of the Rings” is, and always will be… one of the greatest (stories) ever written. All films will never be more than an interpretation of the book. In this case, my interpretation.
Since the trilogy was approximately over a thousand pages in total, it was impossible to incorporate every sequence of it into the film in a way that would meet and meet the expectations of its readers. However, Jackson did mention that they religiously looked at the book from development to production, making sure they were able to capture the true essence of the story as much as possible. His deep respect for Tolkien’s masterpiece inspired him to take an interactive approach by working closely with his fans to help him do his job better by bringing it to life. Decades later The Lord of the Rings remains an exemplary masterpiece used in film schools to understand fantasy as a narrative genre as well as as a model for a successful film adaptation that will leave a legacy.
Award winning series Game of thrones is one of the most popular and successful shows which was adapted from a novel written by George RR Martin. It has collected more than 269 prestigious accolades and holds the official title of the first most requested television in television history given by the Guinness Book of World Records. Other notable titles include Most Emmy Awards for a Drama Series, Largest Simultaneous TV Series, and Most Requested TV Show based on a book adaptation, to name a few. .
“Game of thrones amassed a per capita global audience demand of 25.46 on April 14, 2019, the day of the Season 8 premiere. Compared to its per capita global demand of 24.74 on the day of the Season 7 premiere, the last and final season saw a 2.9% increase globally. Demand for the first day was particularly strong in the US, UK and France, ”said Samuel Stadler, vice president of marketing, Parrot Analytics.
There is no other show that has managed to keep audiences on the edge of their seats or religiously listen to every episode airing than this global sensation. In fact, the series finale titled “Game of Thrones” alone racked up 19.3 million viewers, surpassing its previous records. While the numbers speak for themselves, the reason this show captured audiences around the world is the extraordinary world, the multi-dimensional characters, and the powerful conflicts that Martin created, which has been further enhanced and brought to life. by the creative vision and talent of David Benioff and DB Weiss, the creators and showrunners of HBO Game of thrones.
Intellectual properties will always remain a source of inspiration for films and TV series for years to come, as they have a number of advantages and a proven track record of making waves at the box office. Instead of setting unrealistic expectations for film and TV adaptations, understand the process and the distinctive characteristics of each medium to refrain from comparing and being disappointed with the outcome. Each film is a unique viewing experience and should be appreciated above all for its powerful, inspiring and entertaining story.