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View Full Version : Lit Takes a Hit in Hollywood



katiemac
06-16-2010, 10:38 PM
An interesting article originally published in Variety last week discusses how studios' interests in screen adaptations of literary novels have dropped, but there is an increase in pick-ups for YA novels.



As the adult-skewing drama becomes an endangered species at the studios, is there any hope for that venerable subcategory, the literary-book-to-screen adaptation?

Such books -- with their focus on characterization and ideas rather than plot -- have proven awards fodder for decades, in both book and film form. The pics also helped give studios and audiences a balanced diet by offering quiet and thoughtful fare that was uplifting, enlightening -- and entertaining. Pics such as "Greed" and "All Quiet on the Western Front" drew from literary sources in the early days of film. In the last few years, there has been a wide range of such prestige projects, including Dennis Lehane's "Mystic River," Laura Hillenbrand's "Seabiscuit," Michael Cunningham's "The Hours," Ian McEwan's "Atonement," Cormac McCarthy's "No Country for Old Men" and just about any manuscript Scott Rudin gets his hands on.

But what was once a steady stream of bigscreen book adaptations has become a trickle. As one exec wryly notes, "Clint Eastwood is single-handedly holding up the adult drama at the studio level."


More here (http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118020207.html?categoryid=13&cs=1).

ChaosTitan
06-16-2010, 11:28 PM
Thanks for posting the link, Katie.

I subscribe to PM, and I had noticed that the film rights deals over the last few months have seriously skewed toward YA and graphic novels.

Jamesaritchie
06-17-2010, 02:22 AM
About time.

Miss Plum
06-17-2010, 04:31 AM
Hmm. In a related development?

With Sequels and Reboots Failing, Hollywood (Finally) Puts Out a Desperate Call for Original Material (http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/06/studios_sequels_remakes_fail.html)

anonymous_guest
06-17-2010, 12:10 PM
Hmm. In a related development?

With Sequels and Reboots Failing, Hollywood (Finally) Puts Out a Desperate Call for Original Material (http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/06/studios_sequels_remakes_fail.html)

Hooray!! Let's hope this means we'll finally start seeing some good movies again. Not that there's been NO good movies as of late- it's just that I feel like they've been swamped by the endless onslaught of gems such as Shrek 4, Sex and the City 2 and Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 (ugh!!!!)

Having said that, can anyone explain to me the reasoning behind this new trend of adapting board games into movies? If the logic is "Oh well it's already a well-known franchise therefore we're bound to get $$$" they might as well make a movie about Kleenex tissue paper or Ajax Spray and Wipe. It just seems ridiculous, especially when there's thousands of amazing novels/scripts/plays sitting around ready to be adapted straight to screen. How is using someone's exciting original material (which has already been written) so much harder than struggling to come up with a semi-coherent 2.5 hour screenplay about the Monopoly Man?

I just don't get it.

shaldna
06-17-2010, 01:58 PM
Interesting. Thanks for posting.

kaitie
06-17-2010, 02:28 PM
I second the YAY! for Miss Plum's link. ;)

I wonder how much of that is correlated to the increase in comic book material.

shaldna
06-17-2010, 03:53 PM
Strangely my friend and I were talking about movies lately. We went to our local cineman and three of the five movies showing were adaptations or remakes.

In YA an childrens there is such potential when it comes to the audience.

Adults will read a book and if they like it then they may watch the movie, might rent it on DVD or watch it a couple of years down teh line when it's on Box Office.

Teens and kids will read the book, and all of the sequels, then torture their parents to watch the movie. Some will go more than once (I have to admit that when Jurassic Park came out I went every night for a week) then they will buy the DVD, and maybe the movie tie in novel. The dolls, the t shirts....

adults just aren't as excited about those things as young people.

CaroGirl
06-17-2010, 04:17 PM
I watched The Road the other night and it blew my socks off. One of the best novel adaptations I've seen a long while. I hope the trend doesn't move permanently away from adapting quality lit novels into films.

MGraybosch
06-17-2010, 04:17 PM
An interesting article originally published in Variety last week discusses how studios' interests in screen adaptations of literary novels have dropped, but there is an increase in pick-ups for YA novels.

I've been reading about the Long Tail (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Tail) recently, and I think the concept explains why Hollywood consistently goes after the lowest common denominator when trying to make profitable movies. Adult drama is a niche, and tends to fall in the tail of the demand curve. Because the economics of the movie business, niche movies are less likely to get the exposure needed to become hits.

Shadow_Ferret
06-17-2010, 05:06 PM
From the article Miss Plum linked to: "attendance is down 13.3 percent from last season." So they think it's because we're tiring of sequels and reboots? It doesn't occur to the higher ups that it might correlate to the fact that "Since the summer of 2009, ticket prices have actually gone up 8 percent?"

Wow. So the economy has gone south, people are out of work, worrying about losing their homes, Hollywood raises movie prices, then doesn't seem to think that has anything to do with attendance.

Mmmmkay.

MGraybosch
06-17-2010, 05:08 PM
Wow. So the economy has gone south, people are out of work, worrying about losing their homes, Hollywood raises movie prices, then doesn't seem to think that has anything to do with attendance.

Just be sure to thank the demon of your choice that they're not blaming piracy.

shaldna
06-17-2010, 06:00 PM
Just be sure to thank the demon of your choice that they're not blaming piracy.


Har! Thar be torrents on that there horizon!


I think this is a good point too. More people are downloading illegally than ever before, and for those of us outside America, there is a temptation to do it when you realise that you can get movies that haven't even been released in teh cinemas here yet.

MGraybosch
06-17-2010, 06:03 PM
I think this is a good point too. More people are downloading illegally than ever before, and for those of us outside America, there is a temptation to do it when you realise that you can get movies that haven't even been released in teh cinemas here yet.

I'll admit that I've been bootlegging episodes of the current season of Doctor Who. I do it because I'm not willing to pay to watch an version of the show that has been cut so that BBC America can shoehorn more commercials into it. And when the DVDs come out, I'll buy them as well.

Miss Plum
06-17-2010, 06:31 PM
If the logic is "Oh well it's already a well-known franchise therefore we're bound to get $$$" they might as well make a movie about Kleenex tissue paper or Ajax Spray and Wipe.
Ssssshhhhhh!! There may be some Hollywood creative execs lurking here!

Synovia
06-17-2010, 06:42 PM
Wow. So the economy has gone south, people are out of work, worrying about losing their homes, Hollywood raises movie prices, then doesn't seem to think that has anything to do with attendance.

Its typical american big business. Raising prices never lowers sales.

Grrarrgh
06-17-2010, 06:42 PM
I think that another reason people are going to theaters less is that movies are hitting DVDs way quicker than they ever used to. There's hardly anything out there that looks so amazing I can't wait 3 months to see. Back in the days of video, it seemed like movies wouldn't be available for renting for a year or more after they came out in theaters. Now, they're available on Demand, on PPV, on Netflix or Blockbuster or Redbox, in a matter of a few months. They're available to be pirated, too, but even if you don't want to pirate, you don't have to wait very long to see something.

There are a few movies that I'll go see in theaters, Toy Story 3, Harry Potter, specifically, but that's it.

CaroGirl
06-17-2010, 06:48 PM
I think that another reason people are going to theaters less is that movies are hitting DVDs way quicker than they ever used to. There's hardly anything out there that looks so amazing I can't wait 3 months to see. Back in the days of video, it seemed like movies wouldn't be available for renting for a year or more after they came out in theaters. Now, they're available on Demand, on PPV, on Netflix or Blockbuster or Redbox, in a matter of a few months. They're available to be pirated, too, but even if you don't want to pirate, you don't have to wait very long to see something.

There are a few movies that I'll go see in theaters, Toy Story 3, Harry Potter, specifically, but that's it.
Plus, with HD, surround sound and enormous, big-ass tvs, who needs to go to the theatre to get the theatre experience?

MGraybosch
06-17-2010, 06:48 PM
I think that another reason people are going to theaters less is that movies are hitting DVDs way quicker than they ever used to. There's hardly anything out there that looks so amazing I can't wait 3 months to see.

In my case, "hardly anything" can be replaced with "nothing". I've got a 52" display and Satanophonic 666.1 surround sound. Why should I go to the movies and pay for shitty-tasting, overpriced popcorn, watch lame ads, and put up with idiots who forget to turn off their cell phones or bring young children to R-rated films that will scare the shit out of them? If I watch the movie at home, I can hit pause if my wife or I need to take a leak. And if the movie has a hot sex scene, we don't have to wait until we get home and risk losing the mood. :evil

kaitie
06-17-2010, 06:59 PM
I'll admit that I've been bootlegging episodes of the current season of Doctor Who. I do it because I'm not willing to pay to watch an version of the show that has been cut so that BBC America can shoehorn more commercials into it. And when the DVDs come out, I'll buy them as well.

I just checked and the British version and American versions on iTunes are the same length.

Hallen
06-17-2010, 07:19 PM
. . . And if the movie has a hot sex scene, we don't have to wait until we get home and risk losing the mood. :evil

TMI dude!:flag:

MGraybosch
06-17-2010, 07:47 PM
TMI dude!:flag:

Oh, come on. I wasn't nearly as explicit as I could have been.

MGraybosch
06-17-2010, 07:48 PM
I just checked and the British version and American versions on iTunes are the same length.

Really? I had read that BBC America had been trimming the episodes they showed to cram in more commercials. It didn't occur to me to see if iTunes had the current season yet.

katiemac
06-17-2010, 07:50 PM
I second the YAY! for Miss Plum's link. ;)

I wonder how much of that is correlated to the increase in comic book material.

In addition to an increase in YA novels, there has also been an increase in pick-ups of graphic novels for screen adaptations.

RedRajah
06-17-2010, 08:09 PM
In addition to an increase in YA novels, there has also been an increase in pick-ups of graphic novels for screen adaptations.

Heck, "A History of Violence" and "Road to Perdition" were both based on graphic novels.

Jamesaritchie
06-17-2010, 08:43 PM
I go to the theater fairly often because I like to get out of the house, and a movie is still part of getting the heck out of the house. And while a fifty-two inch screen is nice, it's still a pygmy compared to a theater screen. Many movies simply are better, a lot better, when viewed on a very large screen.

But I am selective, and I wait for the DVD with three movies out of four.

I don't download illegally becaue I don't want anyone stealing my work, so I don't steal theirs. And with Redbox and Nefflix being dirt dirt cheap, there is no excuse to steal a movie.

Kathleen42
06-17-2010, 08:58 PM
Really? I had read that BBC America had been trimming the episodes they showed to cram in more commercials. It didn't occur to me to see if iTunes had the current season yet.

I've been getting them from iTunes the morning after they air in Canada. It's cheaper for me to buy them on iTunes than get a cable package to watch them and, after series three, I loathe the idea of watching them cut.

Now if I could just get Blackpool and the Christopher Eccleston version of Othello through iTunes, I'd be one happy camper (hopes the BBC is listening).

ChaosTitan
06-18-2010, 12:43 AM
I watched The Road the other night and it blew my socks off. One of the best novel adaptations I've seen a long while. I hope the trend doesn't move permanently away from adapting quality lit novels into films.

Never happen. There will always be great literary novels that will adapt well and make great films. But Hollywood has to change to meet the demands of the consumers spending the most money, and right now it's the teen/twentysomething crowds.

CaroGirl
06-18-2010, 12:47 AM
Never happen. There will always be great literary novels that will adapt well and make great films. But Hollywood has to change to meet the demands of the consumers spending the most money, and right now it's the teen/twentysomething crowds.
I guess this sort of backlash is cyclical. Gives me hope!

Kathleen42
06-18-2010, 05:17 AM
Never happen. There will always be great literary novels that will adapt well and make great films. But Hollywood has to change to meet the demands of the consumers spending the most money, and right now it's the teen/twentysomething crowds.

And I suspect the uptake in YA rights sales probably has to do with the fact that studios are finally starting to clue in to the fact that teenage girls can be a major force at the box office (Thanks Twilight - cred where cred is due).

katiemac
06-18-2010, 05:35 AM
And I suspect the uptake in YA rights sales probably has to do with the fact that studios are finally starting to clue in to the fact that teenage girls can be a major force at the box office (Thanks Twilight - cred where cred is due).

Yes, the article gives a lot of credit to Twilight.

Kathleen42
06-18-2010, 05:38 AM
Yes, the article gives a lot of credit to Twilight.

lol haven't actually had time to read the article.

shaldna
06-21-2010, 03:59 PM
i think it started earlier than that. i remember going to a midnight screening of Prisoner or Azkaban and it was packed, people were dressed up and everything. It was the same when the books came out. I admit it, i'm a fangirl. But the fact that so many people invested so much energy into something they loved was wonderful.

katiemac
06-21-2010, 05:43 PM
i think it started earlier than that. i remember going to a midnight screening of Prisoner or Azkaban and it was packed, people were dressed up and everything. It was the same when the books came out. I admit it, i'm a fangirl. But the fact that so many people invested so much energy into something they loved was wonderful.

Definitely. Harry Potter (and Lord of the Rings) was definitely a contributor, but Harry Potter is largely a 2000-2010 film franchise. Twilight and its trends are a bit more current for 2010 and on, so studios are looking to harness that demographic now studios have starting making something they want to see.

jennontheisland
06-21-2010, 06:05 PM
Huh. Maybe I'll actually like some kind of "award winning drama" if this trend continues.

(closest thing I get to grown up drama in my movie watching is Scorcese's gangster flicks)

kuwisdelu
06-22-2010, 10:24 PM
Hmm.

I was hoping the trend would move back toward screenwriters actually having some good original ideas again.

But if it just moves to more Twilight-type stuff, I'm going to have to go hide under a rock for a while.

MGraybosch
06-22-2010, 10:33 PM
I was hoping the trend would move back toward screenwriters actually having some good original ideas again.

You should know better. Hollywood doesn't take risks. Original ideas are risky, therefore Hollywood wants as little to do with them as possible.