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The Book-To-Film Adaptation Controversy

Popular+books+that+have+been+adapted+into+film.
Popular books that have been adapted into film.

Book-to-movie adaptations have existed since the beginning of film. Popular Young Adult novels, such as The Hunger Games, Little Women, Holes, Twilight, and The Giver are widely loved throughout fandoms. Everyone knows the experience of watching a movie with someone who has read the book and won’t stop pointing out the differences and changes, as well as the phrase “This was different in the book”.

Whether it is a largely popular book series, such as Harry Potter, or a movie that most people didn’t know even started as a book, like The Godfather, book adaptations always end up having a highly devoted, sometimes cult-like fanbase. Because of these rabid fanbases, there is a lot of pressure put on the screenwriters and directors to incorporate every scene from the book into the movie in the exact way that the readers imagined. This can be hard, considering the fact that everyone imagines the scenes they are reading in a different way.

Fans of the book rarely end up liking the movie better than the book, which is understandable. Reading requires complete imagination, whereas movies show the viewers exactly how each scene plays out. This can cause viewers to not connect with the movie in the way that they connect with the book. Emotional and coming-of-age films that are adapted from books are an example of this, especially if they are not narrated. The emotions and intentions of the characters are easier to convey over words rather than on the big screen.

“Romance is tough sometimes,” CP English 11 and the Art of Film teacher, Dr. Romick says. “True romance and the depth of it is kind of hard to capture.”

Although book-to-movie adaptations are usually popular throughout fanbases, book-to-TV adaptations have started to rise in popularity. Because book chapters are set up similarly to television episodes, length-wise, they can be easier to incorporate into a film without leaving out vital plot details. People do not like when scenes from the book are left out, which has led to longer movies and entire television series depicting the book.

Percy Jackson And The Olympians is a book series that was adapted into two movies in 2010, but later adapted into a television series streaming on Disney+ in 2024. The original movie faced criticism from fans because of the changes made by the creators, such as the ages, plot, and overall tone of the story. With the release of the series, ratings increased significantly. 

Senior, Laura Carden, said, My favorite book-to-movie adaptation would be Harry Potter. I’ve always loved it and it has always been really near and dear to me.”

The presence of a narrator is often an aspect that readers miss when witnessing the on-screen version of the story they love. Although films can show viewers hidden objects, facial expressions, and bodily movements in a vivid way, they struggle with telling you a character’s inner thoughts and mindsets naturally. Since books are mainly descriptions, it is easy to describe exactly what each character is feeling at the moment and how they react to everything.

“[Readers] just miss the deep dive that books give you. [Books] can have a narrator give you insight and let you look into people’s thoughts and dreams,” said Dr. Romick.

Although adaptations sometimes are not appreciated by the fans, people still end up cherishing them, whether for nostalgia reasons or because of the instinct to defend a story they connect with. Even if the story isn’t adapted into film the way that the reader envisioned it, it is usually still the same beloved story that grabbed the reader’s attention in the first place. Whether it’s for the right reasons or wrong reasons, book-to-movie adaptions are extremely prevalent in the film industry and do not seem to be declining in popularity at all.

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About the Contributor
Shannon Wack
Shannon Wack, Staff Writer
  • Journalism I
  • Senior
  • I am a member of the Varsity Volleyball team, a Key Club officer, a REAP counselor, a Freshman mentor, and an employee at Oglebay
  • I love baking and making cookies, finding crawdads, playing with all animals and insects, and doing paint-by-numbers.
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