The Source Material

 

Science Fiction and Fantasy does not always make the transition from one media to another successfully. We are lucky when it does, but there are some notable failures.

First some notable successes. When I first read the Lord of the Rings trilogy as a kid, I thought it would make a cool movie. It could never happen, of course. Little did I know what computer advances would do for film making. Who could have predicted that companies would make the commitment to do three long films to get the story right?

The Harry Potter stories also successfully made the jump from books to movies. Of course, the books brought a huge fan base to the movies. It’s a good thing they got it right. Sure, purists will quibble, but not everything makes the jump from one media to another. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Thank goodness the songs were left out of Lord of the Rings movies.

Then there are those movies that were less successful making the jump. The most recent example is Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. It’s source material is a French comic book that almost nobody in the United States is familiar with. I viewed the movie in a vacation town on a rainy day. Movies were selling out, but hardly anyone was in the Valerian theater. I happened to enjoy the movie, but my one ticket sale won’t save it from a US marketing disaster.

Another movie that died commercially was John Carter. The source mater, magazine serials and pulp novels, was 100 years old. Turns out not as many people were in love with the old stories as the movie people hoped. Personally, I happened to think they did a pretty good job pulling elements from a number of stories and turning it into a less pulpy looking big budget movie. They probably sold three DVDs and I bought one of them.

There is a lesson here for for writers who’s book is going to be turned into a movie. Get paid up front.

-Raymond M. Coulombe

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