Film & TV Adaptations: The New Norm for Books?

I feel like I should probably begin this post with just a brief explanation of where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to in the last couple of months as they pretty much reversed the good record of posting I had. I actually started university at the end of September which, as you can imagine, has been taking up a large amount of my time and energy. Given the sheer amount of adjusting that I’ve been doing recently, blogging unfortunately somehow got left behind amongst the list of other things I had going on, hence why it has been so long since I last posted. But no more! At least for December, now I am back home, I’ve decided to commit to a schedule of Wednesday and Sunday posting, and I am so, so excited to get back into this.

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I wanted to kick off this end-of-accidental-hiatus with a discussion post about a topic that I’ve been thinking about a fair bit recently: book to film/TV adaptations, and why there now seems to be a common understanding that a good book will automatically be adapted at some point. It seems to me that, with the sheer number of successful novels (especially YA) being adapted into visual forms, books are not necessarily always considered on their own merit any more, but rather alongside thoughts of how they would perform in a different medium.

I wouldn’t say that this is necessarily a bad thing. I’m a huge fan of both film and TV, and as much as the next book lover I know the feeling of incredible excitement that comes with hearing that your beloved series is going to become something you can physically see before your eyes. Some of my favourite books of all time have been made into film adaptations that I love almost to the extent of the novels, with these including Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and The Perks of Being a Wallflower to name a few. The immense success of these films led to an undoubtable surge in popularity for the source material itself, and I for one am immensely grateful that we were given such incredible adaptations.

However, some of my favourite books have also been made into films that I believe were either simply poor and not well considered, such as the Percy Jackson films, or even almost an insult to the source material (forever looking at Eragon for this one). I’m fairly sure the success of Percy Jackson has not been negatively influenced by the poor film adaptations due to the fact that on their own, they aren’t bad films to watch if you don’t know the books. I genuinely believe, though, that people are often put off reading Eragon purely because of how poor the film is, both as an adaptation and as a film in general. To me, this is the worst thing that can come of a book to film adaptation.

The point of this post is, however, to emphasise the fact that I now think there is possibly too much of an expectation on books that if they are popular, they will be adapted. This has led me to question a number of things: is a popular book still successful if it is not adapted? Are we even still capable of reading good books without expecting anything more? And does this expectation of books becoming more lead to the suggestion that books are just becoming more and more of a franchise? Just writing this, I’m realising that stuff just got very unintentionally deep. But also, I need answers to these questions!

This isn’t an essay, so I suppose I don’t have to come down on either side here. I wanted to write this post more as a way of posing my own questions to other people. I, like I’d assume most people are, am guilty of reading books and simultaneously imagining what they’d look like on the big or small screen, who I’d cast in different roles, and wondering how the action would take place. I also think that very good books don’t always necessarily need a visual counterpart – maybe we should just take books as they are and let any extra adaptation be a bonus (if it’s good!)

That’s enough from me for this post I think – what I really want to know is where other people stand on this. Do you think we’re still capable of reading a book that we know to be popular without just assuming that it’s going to be furthered by an adaptation somewhere down the line? Let me know!

– Bex

 

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