UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | September 26, 2022

Book-to-film adaptations are hit or miss

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Filmmakers have been adapting books into films for decades; It’s no wonder people are turning toward the big screen when it comes to literature.

While many will admit to loving a good read now and then, popular books are being turned into film adaptations, leaving the need for the written word almost obsolete. Many people would much rather spend an hour or two watching a movie than spend hours reading the book.

“I love the ‘Harry Potter’ movies,” said Austin Miller, a freshman general education major from Seattle. “I’ve never picked up a book, though. It’s just easier.”

So, maybe the Hollywood executives have realized they’ve hit gold with film adaptations of popular literature. They’re keeping up with the generation of “give me now,” where society wants everything instantly.

“That’s not necessarily the case,” said Michael Eaton, an adjunct theater instructor at Dixie State University. “Hollywood turns popular books into movies because the movies will sell.”

Popularity equals money. It’s a studio’s way of playing it safe. You see this with movies such as the “Harry Potter” series, “The Hobbit,” “Twilight”, and “The Hunger Games.” Each is extremely popular. Likewise, so are their movie adaptations.

“My sister is obsessed with movie adaptations,” said Gene Bailey, a sophomore communication major from Salt Lake City. “I almost never watch the movie adaptations, though, because they never get it right.”

Bailey ranked “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief,” “Eragon,” and “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” among the worst of recent movies made out of well-written books.

“They deviate from the plot by adding things that aren’t there,” Bailey said. “They change the characters and remove important points.”

Producers end up doing things like this because of money. The Hollywood executives are out to make a profit, and sometimes deviating from the books will make them that profit, Bailey said. 

“If they don’t have to pay for something, they won’t,” said Luke Draper, a CMI staff member at DSU. “If an audience won’t like the original ending, well, the ending will get changed. If producers can eliminate special effects, the movie won’t have them. If they can hire another actor for less money, they will.”

Some students disagreed with both Bailey and Draper and said that isn’t always true.

“The more popular a book, then the better the movie, I think,” Said Jennifer Davis, a freshman nursing major from St. George. “Look at ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘The Hunger Games,’ and ‘The Lord of The Rings.’ Producers went all out for those movies, and they did the books justice.”

Producers may be about making money, but if their book-to-film adaptations are subpar, then no one will want to see them, Davis said.

Hollywood producers  have certainly created some flops when it comes to books-to-film adaptations, but there is no denying they’ve also made some hits. “Fight Club” ranked among students’ favorite book-to-film adaptation, even though many of them didn’t read the book until after watching the movie.

“I loved both the book and the movie,” Miller said. “The movie actually made me want to read the book, which isn’t something I can normally say.”

There will always be people who hated the movie but loved the books, or vice versa, Eaton said.

“You can’t judge a book by its cover,” Draper said. “Nor can you judge a movie by its book.”