While 2015 may have been a great year for movies, it was not a great year for original content. And, at this rate, 2016 will be no different — if you’re a book lover, odds are good that some of your favorite page-turners will be adapted onscreen in the coming year.
Just look at this year’s Oscar race. Of the eight Best Picture nominees, six were adapted, at least partially, from books. “Spotlight” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” are the only two that didn’t come in part from literature, and neither of those can really be called original.
Not a reader? Fear not.
2015 was the year of the legacy sequel. Reboots of popular franchises, like “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Creed,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Jurassic World,” “Vacation” and “Terminator: Genisys,” to name a few, completely dominated the worldwide box office.
While “The Hunger Games”-prompted “let’s adapt this semi-popular teenage book series into a movie” trend seems to be dying down, reboots and remakes are taking over.
Last year, we saw premature remakes of “Point Break,” “Fantastic Four,” “Poltergeist” and “Annie.” Even more are in production. Soon we’ll be getting a new “Ghostbusters,” “Memento,” “Dirty Dancing,” “Labyrinth” and a slew of live action Disney remakes, including “Mulan” and two versions of “The Jungle Book.”
In my opinion, television is worse. 2015-16 reboots include “Twin Peaks,” “Heroes,” “Prison Break,” “Xena: Warrior Princess,” “24,” “Coach,” “The X-Files” and “Fuller House.”
It’s not all bad though: news of the “Gilmore Girls” reboot was pretty much the highlight of my year. These reboots are easy ways for networks to guarantee ratings, rather than gamble on a brand new show. They just bring back their most popular shows of all time, and voila — money and ratings.
Then there’s the “Game of Thrones” phenomenon. HBO’s epic saga is their most popular show in history, and recently became the most pirated show in the world. Based on George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, “Game of Thrones” has become akin to a worldwide craze, rather than just a TV show with a few dragons and lots of blood.
Thanks to its crazy success, other TV networks and platforms are now trying to find their own “Game of Thrones,” and they’re starting with popular book series.
MTV’s “Shannara Chronicles,” Freeform’s “Shadowhunters,” Starz’s “Outlander” and “American Gods,” BBC’s upcoming adaptation of Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials,” Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle,” SyFy’s “The Magicians” and Netflix’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” are just a few examples.
All popular books, all attempts at cashing in on stories that people already know and love. And a number of the shows listed above have already been made into failed movies.
As much as I love many of these book series, and while I admittedly can’t wait to watch these shows and movies, too many studios are using the book-to-screen shortcut lately.
Sure, it guarantees much-loved content and an audience, but sooner or later, adaptation fatigue will set in, especially once people realize how hard it is to properly adapt popular books into a TV show. “Game of Thrones” is the exception, not the rule.
From the list above, the only shows (that have premiered) that are both faithful to the book series and just plain good television are “Game of Thrones,” “Outlander” and “The Man in the High Castle.” Retelling these stories onscreen is not an easy feat, and I have a feeling studios are going to learn that the hard way.
This seems like a silly thing to complain about, especially being a big reader myself. Why should it bother me that failed adaptations like “The Golden Compass” and “A Series of Unfortunate Events” are getting a second chance? If a studio wants to reboot a popular show from the ‘90s, who am I to deny their right to do so?
Here’s my problem with it: a Han-Solo-based Star Wars prequel is already being cast, and rumors of an Indiana Jones remake are giving me nightmares.
As millennials, we barely even have the right to be outraged. Those are our parents’ movies. Who among us is ready to see beloved content from our generation, like “Lord of the Rings” or “The Hunger Games,” remade in the next few decades? At the rate content is being recycled these days, that’s where we’re headed.
And honestly, they can remake “Harry Potter” over my dead body.