By Anthony J. Machcinski
As AMC’s “The Walking Dead” continues through the second half of its second season, one huge issue has risen. “The Walking Dead,” based on the graphic novel series of the same name, follows a group of zombie apocalypse survivors in their endless quest to fight the odds and survive.
At the end of the first half of the season, the TV show took a turn away from the graphic novel. I won’t give the spoiler away, but if you’ve read the books, it certainly comes as a shock.
This turn got me thinking, with the amount of movies and TV shows taking popular ideas from novels, how many of them actually stick to the plan? I am not including ones based off of real life events like the films “Black Hawk Down” and “Friday Night Lights.”
Arguably, the most popular novelto- film adaptation has been the “Harry Potter” series. The first book, released June 1997, simply took the world by storm, as author J.K. Rowling would follow Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with six more lengthy books.
Four years after the debut of the novel, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” would hit theaters and kick of a chain reaction that would lead to box office revenues of $7.7 billion dollars.
Why did the “Harry Potter” franchise have such good success? It stuck to the book. While there are some minor differences between the books and the films, the main plot and sequence remains the same. People who read the books were able to see what they read visualized.
The “Harry Potter” model, as I’ll call it here for simplification, is not the same approach other studios have taken.
The “Bourne” films, based around super spy Jason Bourne, are taken from the Robert Ludlum series of the same names. There are several differences in the novels that the movies left out. In the film, and again, I’ll try to leave out much of the detail, Carlos the Jackal, an assassin, is killed in the first film, “The Bourne Identity.” However, in the novels, Carlos the Jackal isn’t killed until the second book.
Despite this twist between the film and the novels, The “Bourne” trilogy was a huge box office success, to the tune of $945 million. It has been so successful that a possible fourth film, “The Bourne Legacy,” is in the works.
However, going away from the “Harry Potter” model isn’t always successful. “The Sum of All Fears,” a film built off the Tom Clancy novel bearing the same name, was released in May 2002, and got a 59% rating on rottentomatoes.com. The film, which stars Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman, changed several parts of the movie including bits and pieces of the ending.
Why would studios change scenes from novels? Sometimes, as explained with the “Harry Potter” differences, the films omit certain details for time constraints. Leaving out a secondary relationship that doesn’t affect the outcome of the movie could help in cutting an extra amount of time and money out of the film’s budget.
However, when a production sees such a drastic change, there may not be a reason for that change. In a “Hollywood Reporter” interview with “Walking Dead” producer Robert Kirkman, Kirkman explains the death of one of the characters by simply saying, “When a good idea comes up, you have to go with it.” Whether the show continues to be as successful as the graphic novels is something only time will tell; however one thing we can easily say is this: you will have to read the novels and watch the shows to see how different things will be.