Many books become films with great ratings, such as the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. But some made of books flop.
Some films fail because directors take the plot in a different direction. Other films come out with high ratings because the movie follows the plot or goes beyond and takes on a life of its own.
The Hunger Games was a huge hit on the big screen when it first came out in 2012, making $400 million at the box office. The film has risen in fame and profits since. The film franchise was popular because the plot was similar to the novels. On the other hand, a film that changes things around may spawn negative reactions from the novel’s fan base.
According to Susie Rodarme’s post on bookriot.com, some adaptations fail because many directors go into the film in a wrong mindset and try to, in their terms, improve the book by adding their own creative power. This can turn into a mess.
Another note Rodarme touches upon is the fact that some books do not adapt into film easily. Film is mostly made for visuals, dialogue, and action whereas books describe what is going on throughout the character’s world and head.
Novels can also be over 500 pages of descriptive language. A film technically has a time limit of two and a half to three hours’ of visuals. Most of the time, a novel is too long to fit into the time span of a film and so many things are cut from the novel. This has a huge impact on the characters and the story line.
An example of a film franchise that did not continue despite a solid fan base is the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. The film premiered in 2010 with the first movie Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, this film adaptation did not stick to the original story. The sequel film, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters was released in 2013 with a higher rating than the first. Because it followed the plot a little bit more than the first, however a third movie never followed up.
When having a book-to-film adaptation, directors should either think about staying true to the story or listen to the fans. Book readers want a movie they are going to fall in love with. Movie adaptations can take on a life of their own and become better from the book. But not always.