The book to movie process

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When I am not busy writing or researching I like to stretch out on the couch and revel in abject mindless entertainment. The problem is that even a Hollywood blockbuster can make me think, even it is just thinking of derisive comments.
Recently I finished reading a thriller that had been adapted into a movie. The book was ok, as was the movie, but aside from some character names there was very little resemblance between the two. Having experienced both within a short time period, and despite Hollywood’s efforts to stop me thinking too much, I was left with a nagging question.
Why did they bother?
How many times have we seen a film that is supposedly based upon a book (or a play, or a short story, or a comic book) , yet if you were to compare the two you would be hard pressed to draw any similarities? In some instances the lack of resemblance is a blessing and gives people on the Internet something to complain about. In other instances it stops the movie adaptation from being a 10 hour long exercise in boredom.
The average book reader usually has an advantage over the average movie goer, in that they are intelligent and educated enough to be able to read. So obviously any movie has to be simplified, say by removing plot, characters and adding in more explosions, although in fairness on this last point I do think that the odd explosion could add an interesting twist to something like Wuthering Heights. But when does the adaptation go too far and waste the links to the source material?
I’m sure that there is a good reason to pay lots of money to an author for the rights to a book and subsequently ignore completely when making the film of it. I know that 80% of our movies have come from another medium, the popular source at the moment being comic books. Sorry, that should be ‘graphic novels’ because adults don’t read comics because [insert lame justification here]. Do screenwriters really lack imagination and need to have the title of the book and main characters names before than can begin writing? Given how different the films end up being they certainly don’t lack for imagination.
I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that because movie studios go out on a limb and option every single book (etc) that sells more than 2 copies, they need to make a movie of some sort using the titles they have paid for. There would be nothing worse than admitting that they had spent lots of money obtaining the rights to a book that could never be made into a film. So they take this approach to most things they have optioned, as it saves them reading time, time that could be better employed making something up.
Here’s to the pile of money for movie rights for authors! May Hollywood never realise that they should read the source material.

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