Saturday, August 1, 2009

"Y'know, they're making a movie out of that book..."

Hearing someone utter those fateful words can mean one of two things. Either excitement builds and you wait with anxious anticipation for the release date, upon which you flock to the theater at midnight with your friends and observe your favorite literary work played out on the silver screen… or you shudder at the thought and go about your business until release day, upon which you open up the paper and laugh uncontrollably at the negative reviews. But in the end, it is good publicity for the book regardless of whether or not the film bombs.

Take The Time Traveler’s Wife, for example. Since the opening of the store up until June, we sold ten copies of the book. Cue July, and the film previews start hitting the web and showing on television. Eleven copies in one month. We can't keep it on the shelves! However, whether or not the film does well remains to be seen. No Country for Old Men did incredibly well, both as a work of literature and at the box office, although admittedly I was not a fan of the film. Perhaps The Road’s film adaptation will win me over. If it ever comes out, that is – it’s already been pushed back by a year.

The Harry Potter film series has been immensely popular with a wide audience, performing remarkably well at the box office. While I would prefer to see less of the books trimmed for the theater, I must admit that the films are entertaining. One of these days, I'm going to find someone who hasn't seen the sixth film yet and go see it. I've heard good things.

Not all books translate well to film, though. Watchmen, although widely heralded as being a fantastic graphic novel, received mixed reviews as a film. The Spiderwick Chronicles was mediocre at best as a film, and Eragon wasn’t exactly a stellar success either. If you really want to travel back in time, try to recall the movie adaptation of Michael Crichton’s Congo. If you haven’t seen it, consider yourself lucky. If you have, you will recall that it was laughably bad.

So what am I excited about? The new Alice in Wonderland looks to be pretty good, as per the usual from Tim Burton. Where The Wild Things Are, one of my favorite stories as a kid, is also undergoing a film makeover. We’ll see how that goes. And then there’s Sherlock Holmes, a film adaptation that appears to be straying far from the original text, but entertaining enough for me not to mind. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a film version of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies – the potential of a Shaun of the Dead-esque Jane Austen bonanza is astronomical.

1 comment:

  1. Greg, I recommend simply reading HP & The Half-Blood Prince again, then wait to rent the DVD. If, like me, you don't like seeing them stray a lot from the book, you're not going to like that movie (See my comments under Jason's post about "The Magicians").

    I was so appalled at the HBP movie that I'm frightened to see what they'll do to the last two movies. I would hope that splitting up the 7th book into two movies will mean that they'll mostly leave the story intact, but who can say? I don't think I've been as disappointed in a film adaptation of a beloved book since The Golden Compass movie two years ago. I thought that movie had its moments, but it also missed the mark.

    Actually, the Watchmen movie was pretty lousy too. I had high hopes for that one, but it simply didn't need to be made. In spite of its faithfulness to the material, it didn't translate well to film. It just seemed to revel in the violence, whereas the book allowed for imagination.

    "Where The Wild Things Are" just amuses me... An absolute classic, but how do you get 90 minutes out of an 18 page book? I hope it's better than the "Polar Express" movie. Or the Seuss adaptations. Ick.