Cinematic Books, Worth Making?

My book will probably never be a movie. Right now I’m holding my breath for it to become a book. But once I get an editor and publisher, I doubt many agents will option by movie. Even so, I doubt they’d do anything with the rights other than hold onto them. A lot of authors don’t realize that this is what happens to a lot of books. Some books, people would love to become movies, but some agent bought those rights and is holding out.

Once a book is picked up to get published, and if said book is generating any sort of buzz, you can be sure film agents are looking into making the book as a movie. Sometimes, just because the movie is super popular, an agent or director will option the movie or buy the rights. But not all books are right for the silver screen. There was a recent article on this in TIMES magazine that definitely worth checking out.

Why would some authors not want their books transformed into cinema? Let’s explore that shall we?

When books become movies, the author makes money. Sometimes, lot’s of money. No, not as much money as the producers or actors, but still– lots and lots and lots of money. Take Twilight for example, which significantly bolstered the sales of the novel. While books like Twilight and Harry Potter were popular pre-film-versions, the film sagas dramatically increased their revenue. The newest IT book to be made into a film is The Hunger Games. It will likely make a lot of money because it kicks ass and has a huge fan base.

Another book becoming a movie is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Johnathen Foer, which I happen to have liked. What intrigues me, however, is that the story based on some survivors of 9/11 does not seem like it could be easily transferred to film. There will be probably be significant changes to the plot line, which is fine, but… here’s where we have a problem. Authors are EXTREMELY protective of their darlings. Many understand that in movies, things need to be changed. But some can’t stand the idea of some director they don’t know meddling with the world and character the author created.

Some things are changed merely because they cannot be put onto the big screen. Take American Psycho for example. The book is one of the most disturbing pieces of literature I’ve ever seen and the movie a fun-gory piece of camp, though not exactly a masterpiece. Why? Likely because despite it being gory, they could not include all of the thematic significance expressed in the book. That, and they left out the scene that would be certainly inappropriate to speak of here involving a rat and a woman’s you-kn0w-where. Curious? Read here.

But my book, though I think there are no rats involve, contains similar gut-retching scenes. Scenes that on paper make your skin crawl, but in a film would just be… out of place. I’m not saying it’s anywhere near as bad as The Human Centipede or anything, but it’s still pretty bad. So, for the sake of this argument, let’s compare my book to something that would make a better movie: The Hunger Games. 

The Hunger Games, if you’re disdainfully ignorant, is about Katniss Everdeen who is forced by her oppressive government to fight-to-the-death 23 other teenagers. Basically, there are kids doing crazy awesome stuff to kill each other. The book isn’t just good because of the fighting, but also because it explores political intrigue and the repercussions of suppressing a people. In this series, there is a real element of horror underlying everything. Scenes that could very easily become film. Also, it’s written in first voice, present tense. Perfect for a film.

Now… my book. It’s not that I wouldn’t like it, but firstly, I’d be super protective of my baby. Secondly, there are just too many static scenes for the screen. On page, there might be a level of tension as Sebastian sits on a psychiatrist’s couch, lying to him. But on screen, it might come across as just talking. Also, maybe there is such thing as too much murder. And maybe my book has it.

Either way, it’d be cool anyways.

What books-turned-movies did you enjoy? Any you didn’t?

I highly suggest you read The Hunger Games and watch the new trailer.

Also, while you’re at it, check out the synopsis for The Savagery of Sebastian Martinelli, my book.


4 thoughts on “Cinematic Books, Worth Making?

  1. I find that when books get turned into movies, I’m disappointed in the movie. A great book is changed to fit somebody’s idea of what would sell better to a viewing audience, but the book version is just too good to mess with. So I try not to see movies when I’ve already read the book. I do sometimes read a book a movie is based on and chuckle at how different the book is, though…

    1. It depends for me. I feel that if the director loves the book and isn’t simply cashing in, amazing things can occur. You want to see bad? Try reading a novelization of a movie. They’re always SO bad.

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