Beloved books before they hit the big screen
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is opening in the USA today.
It’s the fourth and last movie (at least in this “booting”) of the series based on
It’s going to do very big business…and that’s not something that always happens with movies based on books.
However, it is in an interesting category.
The books were bestsellers before there was a movie.
It’s reasonable to say that they didn’t need the movies, although they certainly have helped the books sales. More than six years after the first book’s release, it is still #114 paid in the USA Kindle store. The third book (the inspiration for this movie…and the last movie) is #104. That likely demonstrates that the movie is lifting its sales…it has significantly fewer customer reviews than the first book, but has a higher sales rank right now.
All three books, by the way, are available to read at no additional cost for members of Amazon’s subser (subscription service)
Yes, it’s true that more of the biggest box office blockbusters of the current era are based on comic books, rather than traditional literature, but some of the biggest and most culturally impactive movies have been based on bestselling books.
If we look at the
the #1 movie was based on a one of the bestselling books ever…estimated to be more than 30 million copies (and released at a time when the USA population was much lower than it is now).
The excitement about the adaptation was stoked by a highly publicized search for the lead.
People still make references to it…quoting (and misquoting) one of its lines, in particular.
Do you know what it is?
If you think that going back to 1936 was a long time, we can go back to 1900 for another book release. 🙂
This one may have really created what we call “fandom” for books. There were clubs dedicated to it across the country. People waited in line at bookstores as each new book in the series was released.
The author tried to end the series, but public demand was too high. Despite having tried pioneering crossovers with other series, nothing else approached the long-lasting success of the…Wizard of Oz series. Now, it’s worth noting that the 1939 Judy Garland version was not the first movie version, and one of the most famous elements of that movie came from a stage show.
In fact, when we look at the
every one of the 100 million copy or more sellers has had at least one movie version.
The top selling book is A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens…definitely a bestseller, but I’m not sure that I would say it had a fandom like Oz. However, it did have mass popularity, like Gone with the Wind. The difference, in think, is that the movie versions haven’t been huge box office.
Number two, though? Lord of the Rings (“published as a series”…I assume they are totaling the sales of the individual titles.
That one certainly had fandom, with people who spoke in Elvish. 🙂
Returning to the adjusted-for-inflation box office champs, some of the others based on bestsellers are:
- #7 Jaws
- #9 The Exorcist
- #11 101 Dalmations
- #16 Jurassic Park
- #24 The Godfather
- #26 Mary Poppins
- #29 Thunderball
- #32 The Jungle Book
- #36 Love Story
- #40 Pinocchio
Disney is well-represented…although their tendency to re-release movies repeatedly does impact that.
Oh, and they list book series separately…that seems odd. Well, those include Harry Potter, of course. 😉
So, sometimes adaptation of books can make great movies…although it isn’t always true, and I’d say the reverse (great books based on movies) is…somewhat less likely. 😉
What do think? Have you ever loved a book…and then loved its movie adaptation? Have you ever been part of book fandom, getting together with other fans of a certain book? I’m guessing, conversely, you’ve been inspired to read a great book based on seeing its movie? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think (and what you’ve done) by commenting on this post.
Update: thanks to a reader who helped make this post better through a private comment.
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