Okay, disclaimer, Hollywood has not come knocking with an offer for my books, nor do I think they are likely to any time soon. I merely say this because I am sat here, watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, having watched each of the Harry Potter films over the past week, and with 1 film still to go, and in watching them I am reminded of the damage that can be done to a story when Hollywood gets their hands on it.
The first two Harry Potter books were made into decent movies, I’m quite happy to watch them; after that, however, the films, in my opinion, become worse and worse. The acting, even from those with great acting credentials is no more than acceptable, while horrific liberties are taken with the plots, scenes ignored or cut to the bare minimum, scenes added for no good reason, characters missing, elements of speech shifted from one character to another.
Some of these things can be excused by the necessity of making the films manageable lengths, but not everything.
I can’t help thinking that if they can’t do justice to the books, they shouldn’t have touched them at all.
Being reminded of how indifferent filmmakers are to ensuring they adapt a book correctly is why, should they ever make an offer for any of my books, my first instinct is going to be to tell them to get lost (I realise there’s every chance my answer will depend on the size of the offer and my need for money at the time, but I’d like to think my integrity will allow me to go with my first instinct and refuse to have my books butchered).
4 thoughts on “I’ve decided not to sell my books to Hollywood.”
Interesting stance. I actually have a completely different outlook.
If Hollywood came knocking on my door (yes, a very, very, VERY slim possibility), I’d have no problem selling my rights. They’re not going to “butcher” my book(s); my book(s) will be sitting on Amazon or wherever, unchanged. If the movie bombed, yeah, that would suck, but most people aren’t going to blame an author for a crappy adaptation, unless the author was directly involved in the production.
I used to be all about “artistic integrity,” but there’s a simple fact of life: we all gotta eat. I’m not saying everyone should sell their souls, but if an opportunity comes someone’s way that’s both lucrative and reasonable, snatch it up. (I’ve never encountered one of these opportunities myself, but I’m ready and waiting!)
Anyway, good post. It’s something all authors need to think about.
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I think it’s worse for fantasy/sci-fi author, their books seem to get the worst treatment, but I’ve seen others that Hollywood have mangled, and usually for no good reason. I remember Clive Cussler famously refused to let Hollywood have any of his books for 25 years because of what they did with Raise The Titanic; he relented and let them have Sahara, a decision he immediately regretted, and which prompted him to say that Hollywood would never have another of his books.
I can understand seeing the books and the films as separate entities, and there’s nothing wrong with taking the money, who doesn’t need money, it just annoys me that Hollywood will like a book and think it would make a good film, but the moment they get the rights, they change as much of it as they can so it’s something completely different.
I would (respectfully) argue that a sale to Hollywood wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Everyone knows that books are better than movies, we’ve come to expect it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that “Movie XYZ” is a book adaptation and so will read the book solely because I’d like to know how the author wanted the tale told. Book-to-movie adaptations end up being a huge book marketing tool and broaden an author’s exposure in ways little else can match.
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I know, I was (mostly) just having a moan because I’m a huge fan of the Harry Potter books and really appalled by what I see as the mess they made of the films. The majority of book-film translations are tolerable, with only minor annoyances but they changed too much in the Harry Potters and it wound me up.
I think I would have to be rich enough to fund the production of the movies myself before I would turn down a deal from Hollywood out of hand. It would, of course, depend on the deal being offered but I’d be stupid to turn down a reasonable one – I’d just have to make sure that it was based on my books, and didn’t actually involve me.
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