Paperback to big screen

With the upcoming premiere of “The Hunger Games,” and the recent release of sci-fi action flick “John Carter,” both of which are based on books, the phenomenon of page-turning reads being turned into big-screen blockbusters leads to the question: Is Hollywood still original?

Entertainment Weekly compiled a list of “26 Disappointing Movie Adaptations.” The list includes “Planet of the Apes,” “The Great Gatsby” and “The Scarlet Letter.” And how could we forget two of perhaps the biggest book-to-movie adaptations, the Harry Potter series and the Twilight Saga?

It’s hard to gauge the real success of this kind of movie because there are such mixed reactions from fans.

“I like the fact that books are being made into movies,” nursing sophomore Ruben Cervantes said. “It makes what you imagine while reading into reality or actually physical in some sort of way.”

It is important that the pages translate to the screen.

“Movies make you appreciate the story of the books even more, but the movies have to follow the books correctly. Otherwise the movie kind of kills the books, at least for me,” Cervantes said.

And others feel that movies ultimately cannot compare to the printed word.

“I think that while they are good and make a whole franchise more popular, movies rarely match up to the book,” psychology sophomore JV San Martin said. “I think companies just saw the success Harry Potter had and the precedent it set.”

Whatever the case may be, it still feels like a cop-out when the most popular films at the box office are ones that used to be books. “John Carter” opened at No. 1 at the box office, while huge anticipation and fanfare is already being felt for “The Hunger Games.”

Where did all of the original screenplays go? Books-turned-films are indeed very popular, however, according to critics a lot of the original plotline and integrity is usually compromised in some way along the process.

“I will (use) ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ as an example here.  This book had quite a lot of action in it already and yet when the movie was released, huge chunks of the story were removed and replaced with even more action,” blogger Cassandra Jade said in a post, “10 Reasons Why Books Are Better Than Movies”.

Author Steven Pressfield wrote in a post for WordandFilm.com, “Film communicates interior life in two ways — by dialogue and by action. That’s all the adapter has. The actress can reveal great depth by expression, action, and subtext, but she can never (well, almost never) literally say it.”

Despite box office successes, I think it’s time for Hollywood to put down those books and get back to writing and producing original plotlines and screenplays. Leave at least a few things to the imagination. Keep the books on the shelf, and films in the theaters.

 

Reach the columnist at jermac@asu.edu

 

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