Monday, March 8, 2010

Book to Movie Stinkage

Why? That’s the question I asked myself a gazillion times while sitting rather uncomfortably (headrest in front of me digging in my heels, ow) in the theater chair, staring with jaw open at Percy Jackson. Not at his cute looks (cause I mean, he is a cute kid) but at the fact the movie does not follow the books plot ONE STINKIN’ BIT.

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Why is it sometimes movies don’t even TRY to follow the book? I get that movies can’t be as long and some things need to be cut. But to change the entire plot, antagonist, mess with the subplots (and um, take away important mystery), plus cut out important characters? That’s just ridiculous poo poo. Now, it wasn’t a bad movie (aside from some cheesy parts/acting every now and again.) But for fans of Percy Jackson, it’s disappointing. How hard is it, screen writers/directors/whoever-the-heck-makes-these-decisions? How hard is it to keep true to the story in some way? WHY must you try and change it (probably in an effort to make it “better”) and ruin it?

And why do writers, creators of these stories, not have more of a say? Do they really just sign all those rights away and watch in horror as their story gets transformed into something completely different (for the most part)? Yet I’ve seen other adaptations that followed the story fairly well.

So the question is: does it all boil down to the contract between the agent/writer and the production company that wants to buy the rights for film? Or are film rights generally the same thing and authors just luck out when they have someone willing to let them have a little creative control (or is that completely absurd, do authors ever have creative control? Aside from being like, Stephen King.)

At least the cover and the poster resemble each other somewhat (not that the SCENE does.) Meh. If you haven't seen the movie yet, hopefully I've just lowered your expectations so it won't suck as bad for you. But be prepared.

End rant.


  1. Many times it's simply easier to write an entirely new story than sift through a book looking for which bits and pieces can be salvaged in the time cutting process. If you know half of the story is going to have to be left behind to fit into two hours, rather than come up with an amalgamation that leaves out a favorite part of everyone who read the book, you can take the opportunity to create a new story that starts with a clean slate.

    That's not to say it's an ideal situation, but it's just the way it is. It's like how a musician can cover a song by another artist and completely reinvent it with different instrumentation and a different feel. The studios do it with books because they can.

  2. I'm pretty sure that when you sell the movie rights, you sell ALL rights to the movie version of your book. They can just sit on it and never even make the stinkin' movie if they so choose, from what I understand.

    Maybe some contracts are different. Dunno.

  3. Well, I'm not sure the song analogy works for me. Because honestly, it'd be like someone not just reinventing "the sound", but changing half of the lyrics, too. I'm sorry, but Hollywood did a shoddy job with PJ. Sure, I get some changes and cuts might need to be in order to par it down, but you can't go and change the entire plot of the story i.e. cut out the main antagonist from the book and place someone else there instead. To me, they're being careless and lazy and are doing the readers and fanbase of Riordan a horrible disservice. If Harry Potter can keep most of its movies true to the books (at least when we're talking plot), why on earth can't Percy Jackson?

    And Wendy, I'm very curious to know.

  4. I have nothing to add because I have no idea how they screw it up so much! Great post and you are so right!

  5. I hear it comes down to the fact that they are different mediums and that what works in a book, doesn't work in a movie.

    I'm strange though in that I like when a movie doesn't follow the book because I get to see someone else's ideas about what the book means.

    Also, I've not read the book, the movie will probably be really good to me.

  6. Well, since we were giving eachother and the smudged screen dirty looks together the other night, you know my thoughts and feelings. Just wanted to give you some blog-love! :)

  7. Let it all out...breathe... okay, better now???

    I haven't read the books, but I really want to. : )

  8. Thanks Jenn!

    Leigh, I don't mind seeing a movie done a bit differently, but completely changing main plots just irks me. Enjoy the movie though! Again, it isn't bad, just messed up. :P

    Thanks Tiff!

    Kim, I do. :P And the movie wasn't that bad, just unnerving to me after reading the book. Enjoy them! They're fun!


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