From Pen and Paper to Cameras and Actors

The Frequent Film-Making Tactic of Adapting Beloved Books for the Silver Screen

Perry Jamail, Reporter

“Percy Jackson & the Olympians,” “The Hunger Games,” “Twilight,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” the Harry Potter series, and even “The Cat in the Hat.” Many popular movies have taken their plots from books and adapted them to the big screen, but could there be downsides to expanding a story beyond the book and into movies?

The technique of adapting books into movies is one that has been around since the beginning of movies in the silent films era. Many filmmakers throughout the history of movies and especially in modern-day movie-making have expanded written stories onto the big-screen, but many people have criticized movies that were based off books for many different reasons.


  • Movies that are based off books usually take away the small details


 Small details, such as an expression on a character’s face or an emotion a character is feeling shown in a book through visually descriptive text, are sometimes difficult for a movie to get just right, resulting in the movie sometimes seeming off to someone who has read the book.


  • Movies based off of books can sometimes be completely different than the original stories.


Take “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” as an example. In the original book by Rick Riordan, the main characters go all across the United States to find and return Zeus’s lightning bolt, encountering weird creatures and dangerous situations along the way. In the film, the problem is the same, but director Chris Columbus introduced a completely separate goal for the main characters to complete to return Zeus’s lightning bolt, changing the entire series of events that happen in the story. This example of movies completely changing the plots of the books they’re based off of is not only true for this one movie, but many others that have been based off of books.


  • Book sales could suffer from the release of a movie with the same name as the book it’s based off of.

One could make the argument that the opposite is actually true, that book sales would increase due to the rise in popularity of that book because of the release of a movie based off of it. It is not so, because realistically most people who haven’t already read the book before seeing the movie that is based off of the book aren’t going to buy and read the same story they just watched in a movie, leading to the decrease in book sales.


Overall books turning into movies is not a completely terrible idea, a lot of the time movies based off of books stick to the original plot and are very good, but there can be some downsides to this movie-making technique that filmmakers should keep in mind while adapting a book into a movie version.