By Chris Habash
Although it has been said we are reading less and less nowadays, I can’t help but notice that a slight resurgence, if not an interest, in reading is perhaps due to Hollywood’s inventive wheels. It is no secret that the film industry loves to grab well-known and popular novels and series and turn them into lucrative adaptations. JK Rowling’s wildly popular Harry Potter novels, which have been adapted into an incredibly long, multi billion dollar eight-part film series, have dazzled fans since 1997 and moviegoers alike a few years later. While book to movie adaptations are nothing new (think about 1962’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”), there is a noticeable rise today in the reading of a novel after its movie counterpart has emerged, and not the other way around, like with Harry Potter (which was massively wide-read before movies hit the big screen).
I always see or hear my friends or other people talking about how they are reading the latest book which has been adapted into a movie, such as “Water for Elephants” or more recently, the Swedish bestseller Millennium series (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) and the Hunger Games series. Are there people who have read the novels before their film counterparts came out? Sure. But arguably the films nowadays are prompting an even bigger response from readers, who can’t wait to delve into the source material of the original work. Are readers intrigued by the actual material or are they rushing to read the book because the movie appeals to them? Does it matter?
Even funny is how books are commercialized today: with the theatrical release poster gracing the cover page of the book: “Now a Major Motion Picture starring John Doe.” I’m sure that’s how the author envisioned his book being sold. Whereas books used to be a vehicle for getting people to see a movie, we see more and more films nowadays driving the sales of a book. Is this bad?
Besides the obvious depleted Hollywood canon of ideas, what we are getting is a spike in average quality readings which, let’s face it, are no Shakespeare. After all, there is undoubtedly a smaller audience for those interested in seeing the adaptation of the toils of two migrant field workers during the Great Depression as opposed to witnessing the awesome battle between werewolves and glittery vampires. Sadly, amazing reads don’t easily translate into a successful film (with several exceptions including the Lord of the Rings trilogy), and while mediocre books do not necessarily either, they do translate into cha-ching. However, there is some hope in films which are attempting to resurrect the classics (Looking at you, Leo-turned-Gatsby).
While this is heartbreaking, perhaps we should be thankful people have a growing incentive to bother to pick up a book in today’s day and age.
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