By Carlton N. Brock III
When a person claims they don’t enjoy books, chances are they just they
don’t like reading. It’s not that they don’t like the stories. This is especially true
when they claim that they love movies. Hollywood introduced a string of
blockbusters based on books in 2012 and this year looks to continue this trend.
There is no longer such a thing as an original idea in mass media, but just
new ways to interpret ideas. This thought has never been more obvious than when
going to the movies. There has been a string of book based movies including major
releases such as Hunger Games, The Hobbit, and Les Miserables as well as lower
grossing releases like Warm Bodies, Cloud Atlas, and Alex Cross. The silver screen
this past year was dominated by book-based movies.
These movies have had varying degrees of success and in some cases the
results were very well received. A perfect example of this comes in The Perks of
Being a Wallflower. Released in fall of 2012, this can be seen as a prime example of a
well-done book-based movie. Stephen Chbosky, the author of the book, directed the
film and he therefore closely followed the source material, adding and subtracting
in places that benefitted the change in medium as a whole. Though it should be
noted that Perks is an extremely popular book and has been for quite some time, it
also benefitted from being the first major, non-Harry Potter role of Emma Watson’s
Being a critical darling is not the only measure of a well-done book based
movie. The Hunger Games, based on the novel by Suzanne Collins, proved this by
being a massive financial success along with its critical successes. Hunger Games
was the first movie since Avatar to maintain in first place for four consecutive
weeks. A massive following like the one The Hunger Games has is not something to
underestimate, while not as rabid a fan base as Harry Potter or Twilight the movie
performed extremely well. Unlike Perks, the leading star did not make this movie
a major standout before it hit the screen; instead, it made Jennifer Lawrence into a
Ironically it was the influence of Jennifer Lawrence that made Silver Linings
Playbook into a critically lauded film. Silver Linings Playbook was nominated for
multiple awards, including eight Academy Awards. Jennifer Lawrence won for Best
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. Along with Life of Pi and Les Mis, book-
based movies swept the award season this year.
The stars did not strongly carry other movies that were based on books.
Movies like Cloud Atlas, which starred Halle Berry and Tom Hanks and Alex Cross
(earlier you said this was based on a book. Revise) starring Tyler Perry made a
comparatively smaller impact than the films previously discussed in this article.
More in the former than the latter, these were innovative takes on unoriginal ideas.
With the rash of book-based movies, the lack of originality is at the forefront
of a lot of Hollywood discussion. Les Miserables, for example, was previously
released as a film multiple times, from 1912 to 2012. Each version of these movies
has been different from the last.
The Hobbit was also made into a film in the past, albeit it was animated
rather than the live-action spectacle that we have seen this past year. Though it
should be noted that these films were looked at as renditions of the books and not
remakes of earlier films.
This was not necessarily the case that the movie Total Recall, released in
2012 was given. This instead was a film that that was a remake of a film, which was
based on a book. The movie though, unlike the original, was a flop. This was also
true of Dredd, based on a comic book, which was the second movie to be made of the
In addition to books, recent movies have looked to comics, television shows,
songs, children’s books and even board games. The main reason behind this
phenomenon is simple; movies are financial investments. It is much more financially
secure to create a movie based around proven property than it is to base a movie on
something completely untested.