Hands Off, Hollywood, Leave My Books Alone!


By Bella Levaggi

These days many Tam students experience a story twice: once as a novel and again when it is inevitably adapted as a major motion picture. This trend, though sometimes enjoyable, is accelerating the decline of the film industry’s willingness to think outside the box. Hollywood has devolved into a group of money-grubbing, cliché-reliant squabblers who have forgotten their roots in fine art.


To be fair, there can be redeeming qualities of book-to-movie adaptations. Finally being able to watch adept actors portray characters like Katniss Everdeen and Bilbo Baggins were cinematic highlights of last year. Aside from the initial “wow” factor, though, many of these movies have little to offer to those who have never read the novel.


What these movies do offer are huge profits. According to Box Office Mojo, of the top 20 highest grossing pictures of all time, 11 were based on a novel or comic. Therefore, from a financial mindset, the choice to make “easy” movies is entirely understandable. But recycling stories is not a reputable way to uphold the legacy of the silver screen.

Graphic by: Mae Puckett and Aaron Newman
Graphic by: Mae Puckett and Aaron Newman


Even film masters are not above butchering books. Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson made the decision this past July to expand his film adaptation of “The Hobbit” into three parts. The choice left many of us wondering how a three hundred page book could be translated into three movies without the whole story becoming ungainly. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Jackson’s adaptation of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy grossed $2.92 billion.

Yet, greedy studio executives think that sacrificing quality for profit is a good idea: they feel secure in green-lighting movies for every mopey young adult novel because in their minds that story has already been test-driven. The trend may be rooted in the rise of the franchise film. Hits like “Jaws” and “Star Wars” were unique masterpieces, but their subsequent spin-offs exploited fan loyalty just to make money.

In a school where many students enjoy adaptation movies, we should be wary of them. Because as much as I enjoyed films like “Life of Pi,” I am still unable to forget that a film of “Fifty Shades of Grey” is on its way.