Ingram Blog

Books Boost Movie and Television Adaptation Success

By Ann Cox, MLS, Collection Development Librarian and Wendy Rancier, MLS, Collection Development Librarian 
Any pop culture fan can tell you that books and comics are currently the hottest source material for Hollywood. In 2017, eight of the top ten highest grossing movies in the domestic market were based on stories or characters originally found in print, with Black Panther poised to claim the top spot in 2018.

On the small screen, multi-season adaptations like Outlander, Game of Thrones, and The Handmaid’s Tale garner critical acclaim along with Twitter chatter. We know as librarians that the movie or TV adaptation of a book means a huge boost in circulation numbers and requests for additional copies, and according to a recent study by the UK-based Publishers Association, the relationship between books and their on-screen adaptations is symbiotic. The study found that book adaptations gross an average of 53 percent more than films based on original screenplays, and that TV adaptations of books average 58 percent higher viewership than original scripts.

Books have always provided source material for the screen, but cultural critics point to the massive success of the Lord of the Rings franchise as the real kickoff of the book-to-movie craze, while the shift from network TV to DVD and streaming services allowed screenwriters to adapt books into intricate programs that weren’t built around a 22-episode season. The Publishers Association report also points to the “richer, more fully developed story” that books offer, along with the built-in audience for popular books that can be leveraged into higher viewership.

As books and their adaptations continue to boost each other’s viewership, circulation, and sales, readers have a lot to look forward to in upcoming months to catch their favorite stories on screen. Biography fans have eagerly anticipated Mary, Queen of Scots, based on John Guy’s Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart, which releases on December 7. The epic adaptation of DC’s Aquaman, starring Jason Momoa, has been heavily promoted and releases on December 21. March will bring the adaptation of the quirky Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple and starring Cate Blanchett as the titular character. On television, the BBC adaptation of John Le Carré’s The Little Drummer Girl  will hit US screens on AMC on November 19, and the hotly awaited My Brilliant Friend, based on Elena Ferrante’s runaway hit, will premier on HBO on November 18. A new animated version of the classic Watership Down, starring John Boyega, James McAvoy, and Olivia Coleman is expected to arrive on Netflix on December 25.

Films for kids and teens are a great opportunity to increase circulation and provide programming opportunities.  Crafts, displays, and contests are always fun to tie to a family film. Upcoming films for kids and teens include a new CG (computer-generated) version of The Grinch, based on the holiday classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss. The Grinch will be voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch and releases on November 9. Fans of Harry Potter are eagerly awaiting Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald, which releases on November 16. Eddie Redmayne is back as Newt Scamander, and Jude Law joins the cast as a young Albus Dumbledore. Make sure to have copies of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J. K. Rowling. Young Adult novel Dumplin  by Julie Murphy is being released as a musical comedy on Netflix on December 7. Jennifer Aniston will be starring along with Dove Cameron and Danielle Macdonald in this story about a plus-sized confident girl and her beauty queen mother in a small Texas town. Mortal Engines, based on the Philip Reeve book Mortal Engines, will be released in theaters on December 14. This YA steampunk tale was created by the Peter Jackson writing team that created The Lord of the Rings films. Set for a 2019 release is Mowgli, based on The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. This film will feature Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, and Benedict Cumberbatch and promises to be a bit darker than the previous Disney release.

The Collection Development team keeps up with movie and TV adaptations and has created a continually updated ipage list to help you anticipate these titles. Dozens of other book adaptations have been announced for 2019, so keep checking our list to stay on top of the certain demand in your library. With so many on the horizon, readers can look forward to hours of fantastic viewing for the times they want to pull their eyes away from the page.

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