15 Authors’ Strong Opinions On Their Book-to-Screen Adaptations
Percy Jackson & The Olympians
A lot of people were really disappointed in the Percy Jackson And The Olympians movie adaptations, both fans and the author Rick Riordan. There was one change in particular that Rick Riordan was really unhappy with: the decision to age up his characters from 12-year-olds to teenagers. He gave several reasons for why they should not do this and begged the producers to reconsider, even appealing to their basic desire to make money. He used Harry Potter as an example of a franchise that did really well because the target demographic (families and kids) got to sort of grow up with the characters. By changing the ages from 12 to 17 in Percy Jackson, they eliminated any possibility of that journey.
The Hunger Games
There were, of course, a ton of different changes that were made when the Hunger Games book series was turned into a movie franchise. One change in particular that it seems a lot of fans really appreciated, was a change that the author, Suzanne Collins, actually insisted on herself. After witnessing Elizabeth Banks’ excellent Effie Trinket portrayal, Collins firmly believed that Effie could absolutely not be left out of the final films. Her character doesn’t have nearly as much of a substantial role in the books, but she becomes almost like a mother-figure to Katniss in the films.
A Clockwork Orange
Author Anthony Burgess wasn’t even a big fan of his own novel, A Clockwork Orange, so it’s really not all that surprising that he had a lot of issues with the adaptation, too. Specifically, he really did not like the way that the film ended. The book includes a “flash forward” chapter in which the main character shows that he has grown and come to understand that his energy would be better used on creation rather than destruction. It’s a nuanced and optimistic ending, one that shows how people can truly change. In the film, it’s a matter of “being cured,” which is not at all optimistic or “real.”
Seeing clips from the movie Fight Club made Chuck Palahniuk “sort of embarrassed,” but not for the reasons you may think. He said it made him a little bit embarrassed of his book, explaining that the movie streamlined the plot and made connections that he had not thought to make with it.
Personally, my favorite book-to-screen adaptation on this list, the Holes screenplay was written by the author, Louis Sachar. It makes sense that his frustrations with the final product would only be about things that were not possible for them to fix or change. He said that he would have preferred that the actor who played main character Stanley Yelnats would have been overweight and gradually gotten into shape as the movie went on, but he understood that this would’ve been really difficult to pull off. He also acknowledge that it would be really big ethical problem to ask a 15-year-old kid to gain and lose that much weight in such a short amount of time, so at the end of the day, he wasn’t really all that fussed about it.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
When the author, Ken Kesey, found out that the narrator and “point-of-view character,” Chief Bromden, would no longer be included in the film adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, he decided that he would never even watch it. It must have felt like a really important part of the storytelling to him! He said he once accidentally saw a clip of it, but changed the channel as soon as he realized what it was. Wild, right?
Author Jerry Spinelli had absolutely no qualms about the changes made to modernize his novel “Stargirl” when it was turned into a film a full twenty years after it came out. Many of the changes were centered around modernizing the surrounding circumstances of the story, which is something that Spinelli understood. He said it didn’t really matter what time the story was set in. I personally think these changes were clutch if the producers wanted the target demographic of the book to be included in the target demographic of the movie.
Neil Gaiman had a love/hate thing going on with the film adaptation of his childrens’ novel, Coraline. He liked the way that Coraline was characterized and didn’t mind changes like her having blue hair and being American. One thing that he was really unhappy with, though, was the way the ultimate conflict was resolved. He felt uncomfortable with the idea that Wybie is the one who ultimately “saves the day.” To Gaiman, the whole point is that Coraline has to save herself.
The Handmaid’s Tale
I had to read the line twice when I learned that, apparently, Margaret Attwood didn’t think that the Hulu adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale was “brutal enough.” Can you imagine? She did make some pretty valid points about the willing suspension of disbelief re: whether these characters would continue to get away with everything they were doing without being shot or silenced in some way.
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky wrote both the book and the screenplay for The Perks of Being a Wallflower. He’s another author, like Louis Sacher, who had to make a choice that was not in line with the book in order to do what was best for the movie. He changed out the song in the “tunnel scene” (you know the scene where Charlie says that super famous line “I feel infinite”?) from Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” to David Bowie’s “Heroes.” Although Landslide is a really powerful song and fit better with the mood and themes of the story, Heroes packed a better punch for such an epic over-the-top scene.
Absolutely not to be confused with “The Room” (that’s a whole ‘nother post in itself!), Room is a story about a young mother and her 5-year-old boy who are being held captive. Emma Donaghue wrote both the screenplay and the novel. She said she was really happy that the movie allowed her to answer some questions and satisfy curiosity about “Ma” without having to write a whole sequel. Because the book is written from the perspective of the 5-year-old boy, it doesn’t really tell you anything about her that the little boy doesn’t already know, you don’t end up feeling like you know her at all, but the movie gave Donaghue the right space and freedom to reveal a little bit more about that character.
Stephen King said he enjoyed the 2007 adaptation of his 1980s novella “The Mist,” even though they completely changed the ending. I kind of wonder if he actually liked it BECAUSE they changed the ending– the endings of his stories are often criticized for being lackluster and anti-climactic and this story is no different. King says that the original ending “sort of just peters off into nothing” but praises the film’s ending for being “anti-hollywood, anti-everything really!” Instead of a fade-out where we don’t know what will happen to the characters, the film gives us a tragic ending where the main character kills his loved ones to “save them” from a gruesome death, only to be rescued shortly thereafter.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Authors don’t always get so much say in the adaptations to their movies. Stephanie Meyer apparently fought really hard, and failed, to have a scene from Eclipse removed. She felt that the scene where Bella hops onto Jacob’s bike shows her as being really rude, which is out of character for her. She doesn’t seem just upset or off, but outright rude. I’m not sure why they chose to keep it in the movie anyway, but Meyer was not happy about it.
The Devil Wears Prada
Lauren Weisberger, author of “The Devil Wears Prada,” really liked the changes that were made to the character of Miranda Priestly. In particular, she appreciated that Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly felt much more like an actual person, rather than just pure evil. She appreciated the “humanizing” effect this had on the character. I suspect that even if this is somewhat down to the writing, it is also partly because Streep is just fabulous. That’s just my humble opinion.
The Princess Diaries
Meg Cabot had a surprising, hilarious, and surprisingly hilarious response to learning that Mia’s dad, who is present in the book, would be killed off in the film. When she asked why it was necessary, the filmmakers told her that they wanted to leave space for the grandmother to be more involved in the story because they had a “great actress” that wanted the role. She asked who it was, they told her “Julie Andrews,” and she enthusiastically replied “Oh my god. Kill him. Kill the dad.” Not something you’d expect to hear, but hey, I get it. It’s JULIE ANDREWS, after all!
Do you have a favorite book-to-screen adaptation? What’s the worst adaptation you’ve ever seen? Did you know about any of these responses already? Did any of them surprise you? I know some of them definitely surprised me!