The Sunday Salon: Film Adaptations

Whenever the economy takes a turn for the worse, the movie industry starts shaking in its boots. Producers turn away from new, original, and unproven scripts, and turn towards known and fairly safe properties that more often than not have built-in fanbases–this is why The Smurfs is happening, against all human decency. (This doesn’t mean this method is foolproof. Paramount has managed to royally piss off a majority of Avatar: The Last Airbender fans with its whitewashed production of The Last Airbender. I’m obligated to remind you to give it a miss in favor of Toy Story 3 or Eclipse.) Books, especially best-sellers, provide the sort of security that soothes a producer in a recession.

But when the rights to a book have been purchased by a studio or, rarely, an actor, speculation starts among readers and fans of the book. While we usually start quibbling over casting (guilty as charged), our main concern is how the book is ultimately adapted for film. I find the question of “will it be true to the book?” to be frustratingly vague. You can stray from the book and still remain true to its overarching themes. What that question is truly asking is this–will be a purist adaptation or a pragmatic adaptation?

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