Community is vital to an author, this statement is exceptionally true when you think about the box office/platform adaptations. As we have mentioned in the past, adaptations can often be disappointing to fans, but they can also be endearing to fans.
It seems that if the big box office want’s to do well, they can’t just thrive on Marvel, they have to adapt novels that are ‘popular’ but how does that happen? If you drill into it, you find that most of the adaptations have been created by fans of the novels themselves.
Screenwriters are influenced like authors by what ‘exists’ and some of those screenwriters likely get influenced by writers they like. There is also some basis on marketability however this is somewhat vague. A good example of this is how many movies are based on novels that are kind of weirdly and oddly ones that didn’t do that well. Example: A Wrinkle In Time. That movie adaptation was way overhyped, but the novel is very old, like old enough that most kids born in 2000 would not have a clue who wrote it or what it is about, so why the adaptation, ask the most novel of Dracula, because out of print, or copyright expiry is a big factor in movie adaptations. IF a movie house can make money without sharing it with the author, they will, and this has some sway over a movie being made.
Whatever drives an opus to trigger someone into a movie being made, is simply purely driven by almost mysterious forces that can’t be tapped into, what you can do, is submit novels to movie houses, and hope that someone there falls in love with it enough to say, “OH MY GODS THIS SHOULD BE A MOVIE”, I will say, however, that Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Amazon seem to be able to use adaptation better than a big box office can.
Look at Game of Thrones, HBO had a huge and dedicated following during that series to the point that they had to avoid fans when the last episode aired because the fans were less than happy. TV moves faster than a box office, so submitting a partially finished manuscript is problematic. But, not a complete hindrance. You now have on HBO, His Dark Materials, based on The Golden Compass which gives us another thread of adaptation, the ‘based on’ that phrase rolls around like saying this potato with sour cream is ‘based on’ the one at the Outback steakhouse, basically it means maybe we have pieces of the novel in here, or at least the novel might have been carried through the set once and therefore it counts right? NO, it does not, especially when you completely overhaul and edit a novel to be unrecognizable from its original.
IF you’re ‘based on’ movie is so loose that no one who read the novel even recognizes a piece or part of the novel, it’s not an adaptation. Some authors are ok with this, for example in Hulu’s adaptation of The Handmaids Tale, Atwood gave the show writers the blessing on ‘pushing’ boundaries and altering the story slightly. They do it with her, and she seems to be happy with the changes, in that case as long as the author has a say, I think it is fair to stretch a story beyond it’s original.
You have to face a fact that some novels are not really long enough to make a tv ‘series’ since you might not have enough source texts to make more than a dozen episodes or maybe more than three [The Stand]. What happens here is that you end up needing writers to expand the original and this is when you get into this arena of either involving the original author if possible or attempting some weird mind-meld to get into a place where you can somewhat theorize what the ending would have been. It can give closure to fans who always wanted to know. There are also problems in this, but they are so varied, I can’t possibly cover all the issues that could arise by providing closure, I will say this, sometimes it was better to leave it unknown.
The platforms out there are not trying to get millions, I am sure they hope to, but they realize they have you hooked in any way, so for them to make independent films just keeps you on the platform. I am surprised often by how much I fall in love with originals on these platforms, they are good and better than some of the big movies I have sat through. The series they produce also has a very binge-worthy quality to them.
The second part of this article will explore this and also dive into, why it is some series are based on obscure comics/graphic novels.