Having your book converted into a movie would be a dream come true, right? Just think of all the publicity, the wonder of seeing your characters brought to life on the screen, the people who would come rushing to buy your book to see how it compares with the movie… aaaaaaand that’s where the dream comes to a screeching halt and becomes a nightmare.
After the initial euphoria fades away, you start to think about all the worst-case scenarios: actors you dislike might get chosen to play your characters (I don’t know what I’d do with myself if Kristen Stewart came anywhere near the set), the script writers may decide that your most favourite scene in the book is not worth their time, or worse; they might strip your book from its original ending and give it a brand new one. Yikes.
Let’s look at this from the perspective of the book itself. I will use my book as an example. Puppet Parade receives a movie deal from one famous director (for argument’s sake, let’s go with Tim Burton) and is over the moon – they want to turn it into a movie star! Puppet Parade signs all the necessary paperwork and in its giddiness misses the fine print. Mr. Burton invites it to all the casting auditions. It nods appreciatively at the performances of Emma Watson and James McAvoy. What does Mr. Burton think? Does Mr. Burton want it to look at the script too? Mr. Burton smiles politely and tells Puppet not to get its papers in a twist and just enjoy the fat paycheck it had received.
Puppet puts its complete faith in Mr. Burton; after all, he has made many good movies. It goes home and busies itself trying out new typesets and meeting with designers for a cover to wear to the premiere! How exciting. The days come and go and soon a trailer is released. Puppet waits for YouTube to load and rubs its sleeves in anticipation. Then… hold on , where did Kristen Stewart come from? Where did Emma go? Why are they sexing up the shy Sophie (the MC)? I count… three, four… five puppets! Where are the remaining five? Did… did they take out Beauty? This is wrong! This is all wrong! I will give Mr. Burton a piece of my mind!
Mr. Burton thanks Puppet for its feedback and points it to the fine print – “Puppet Parade will not be entitled to make any decisions or claims regarding the Puppet Parade movie, and that is final.” Puppet despairs and contacts a lawyer, but the lawyer tells it to just smile and look pretty. The premiere rolls around and Puppet forces itself to smile at the cameras and wave at Mr. Burton like they where chums and amigos when it only wanted to give him a thousand paper cuts.
The movie starts and Puppet placates itself. It doesn’t look too bad. At least the effects are amazing. At least they got James McAvoy to play Oliver. At least the costumes and make-up and sets are pretty darn spiffy. At least Andrew the Annoying Ass is funny. At least Entertainment looks absolutely fabulous. Then Puppet sees the ending and has an epileptic shock. The ending is different. People who saw the movie compliment Puppet on the fabulous story, but Puppet only wants to say, “This is not who I really am!”
… of course this has all been exaggerated to get my point across. I’m sure Mr. Burton is a nice man who would not trick poor unsuspecting authors like this, haha. But… perhaps I should stop worrying about this because it is unlikely that my book would get turned to a movie in the first place!
In all seriousness, if by a stroke of luck you signed up for a movie deal, would you not be miffed if the script writers and directors altered your story so much to the point where the book and the movie only shared a name? Would you worry that people will like the movie more? Are they any book-to-movie adaptations that you thought were completely dreadful?
And don’t forget, you can still enter to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card or a copy of Puppet Parade here!