Usually when studio executives run out of ideas for blockbuster films they immediately turn to the most successful and recently published books. As a result now we not only have incredibly popular books series but also movie franchises costing impressive amounts of money. However, what is sometimes disappointing is that film series are not always what their fans expected and are turned into money-making machines through their constant changing and manipulation.
Examples of successful novels, which turned into even more successful movie franchises include Harry Potter, The Twilight Saga, The Hunger Games and probably due to Peter Jackson’s award-winning trilogy based on Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (yet another franchise) the three upcoming The Hobbit films. This is what usually happens: filmmakers start adapting the books to the big screen, aiming for the most accurate interpretation of the written text. Unfortunately, after the first film has become a world-wide success suddenly studios are less interested in being faithful to the characters, story and author of the literary source but instead concentrate on finding ways of making it increasingly commercial. Images of actors or shots of the films start to appear on T-shirts, mugs, posters in teenagers’ rooms and, of course, on leaflets, advertising just about everything.
However, this popularity does not guarantee the quality of the films simply as a work of art. It is not uncommon for the last installments of film series to be split in two halves, aiming not to enhance the audience’s experience of them but to maximise the potential profits from the films and various franchise-related products. This happened to the last two films of the Harry Potter series and The Twilight Saga. Recently it was announced that there will be a third part to Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Hobbit. Although author J.R.R.Tolkien made sure there is enough material on the Middle Earth for future generations to film, the slight suspicion of the motives behind this decision remains. The same fate came to The Hunger Games, when in July 2012 it was confirmed that the last book – ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay’ – will be released in two consecutive films, one scheduled for release in November 2014, the other – in November 2015. Rumour has it that the remaining two books of ‘The Millenium Trilogy’ may also be filmed but are delayed until 2014 with Steven Zaillian as scriptwriter.
Very often studios turn to adaptations of works of classical literature. These films usually bring not only the promise of financial success but also the pledge for possible awards and recognitions. Most recently we have seen Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Anna Karenina. Just imagine how many adaptations of novels by Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters you have seen and you will understand why they are so important in the award season and as actors vehicles.
However, if you do not fancy any of these, do not despair! The Perks of Being a Wallflower based on the book by Stephen Chbosky (who is also the director), starring Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller comes out on October 3rd. Lawless based on the book ‘The Wettest County in the World’ by Matt Bondurant, starring Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain and Shia Lebeouf is currently showing. Furthermore, during this holiday season there are several book adaptations coming out including On the Road (directed by Walter Saller and starring Kristen Stewart, Viggo Mortensen, Steve Buscemi, Garret Hedlund and Amy Adams), The Great Gatsby (directed by Baz Luhrmann with Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead and Carey Mulligan as Daisy). There is the book which turned into a musical which turned into a film – Victor Hugo’s ‘Les Miserables’, directed by Tom Hooper and starring Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Russel Crowe, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen and Amanda Seyfried.
And finally if you miss any of these, there are many other novel adaptations to look forward to! These include ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern, Stephanie Meyer’s ‘The Host’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ by Seth Grahame-Smith. Oh, and someone mentioned something about ‘50 Shades of Grey’…