I love movies and I love books, so why not combine both? Well, movies like City of Ember begs to differ. The Hunger Games and Harry Potter have transitioned to the big screen fairly well turning into successful movie franchises, yet they are the outliers. Movies such as the aforementioned City of Ember and The Giver have outnumbered the more successful outings from books to movies. So why do they fail? Well, it’s simple. They have two different audiences. This could also be said for movies based on video games.
Movie goers and readers are different audiences. When you go watch a movie, you want to be entertained. You want the $13 dollars you spent to be worth it, understandably. When you read a book, you want to be immersed in the world, you want to relate to the characters, you want to be transported to different dimension. The authors of a book have a lot more time to set everything up, they can go the extra mile. Movie directors can’t, they have to cram 500 pages into under 2 hours and as such many things are cut out or changed to fit the time frame. When that reader goes to watch the movie, they will be disappointed to find that many of the things they like about the book are removed. They expect to see that amount of detail that the book had unless it’s books like Fifty Shades of Grey or the Twilight series. In those cases, the books were already bad.
On top of that Hollywood is concerned with one thing: money. As such books or book series ,to be more specific, seem like a potential cash cow. But that greed is where the problems begin.When a studio decides to turn a successful book series like Harry Potter into a movie or a movie franchise, they tend to focus on how much money they could possibly make. That thinking often causes the movie to be drastically different from the source material. They are not looking to appeal to the hardcore fan of the book, they are looking to appeal to everyone. And that’s ok if done correctly. The Harry Potter series does a great job of this. But too many times it goes wrong. Take for example, the aforementioned The Giver. I unfortunately saw the movie after deciding to rent it as I had nothing else to do. I read the book as a young child and thought “why not?” That was not that the best idea. While the movie was ok, it lost many of the things that made the novel great. And it worked, making $67 million compared to its $25 million budget. The movie sold itself as this sci-fi adventure flick that took away many of the novels magic. Why was there a spaceship? Why was there a rebellion? Why was there Hunger Games-like peace keepers? Simple, teenagers want to see action, they want to be entertained. So Hollywood added it in to seem more action-oriented and keep them happy. Hollywood does not mind cutting a good chunk of the book and changing it as long as they make money. Although, it seems as if audiences are starting to get sick of this trend. Not necessarily that they are upset with the lack of detail, but it is becoming more apparent how bad the movies have become without that detail. For example, the Divergent film series is not getting a finale after deciding to split the last book into 2 movies. The first part of the finale failed to make enough money to justify the 2nd part.
Making a movie based on a book that can satisfy both the fans of the book and casual audiences alike is not an easy task. Relatively few have been able to replicate the success of Harry Potter. It comes as a result of having two different audiences. Hollywood will often appeal to the more casual audience than the die hard fan as it will make them more money. But who knows what will happen in the future? Movies based on books have given us some solid movies and I hope that trend will continue. Now if I could only say that for video game movies.