Every time I hear that one of my favourite books is being made into a movie I get excited. Then I remember the track record of movies that were once books. Then I worry that all of my happy reading memories will be tainted by the (in all likelihood) train wreck of a movie, rendering me unable to read the book ever again without cringing. Occasionally however, they actually get it right.
The list of badly adapted movies goes on and on. Most of us would rather not remember A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Golden Compass, or the Chronicles of Narnia. In Twilight‘s case they managed to take a bad book and make a worse movie. In truth, these movies are set up to fail from the start. When every fan has a favourite character, a favourite scene, a favourite quote that they think should be included in the movie, things get tricky. Hundreds of pages are crammed into a few hours and somebody is bound to be disappointed.
The few books that have succeeded in making the perilous transition to a movie have a few notable features. First, the movie stays as true as possible to the book. The book did well for a reason; the storyline was already a winner and all deviations will be met with resistance by fans. A second necessity is to get actors who can actually act. Think the opposite of the Kristen Stewart debacle. The Hunger Games succeeded in getting Jennifer Lawrence, an academy award nominee, to be the leading lady, ensuring some degree of respectability. Lastly, the movie just has to be good. For a book-movie to be counted a true success, a variety of people need to go to the movie, not just the uber-fans who were going to see it five times anyways.
We have no control over what people do with our favourite stories. We have to sit and wait and pray that the movie-makers get it right. And every now and then they do. Ultimately though, it doesn’t really matter whether they do or not. You know that you’re going to go see the movie just because you read the book, even if the reviews are horrible. These movies may not be the best, but in the end they cannot lose.