According to recent data, the book market in the UK increased for the fourth consecutive year in 2018, showing considerable growth in the sector. Last years book sales accounted for a total market value of £1.63bn – a £34m increase on the figures for 2017 – and with book sales expected to exceed this number again in 2019, it’s fair to say that books are paving the way when it comes to entertainment.
Despite predictions that it would fail, the book printing industry seems to be performing well and many of our favourite pieces of literature have been adapted for film or television. Here, we take a look at some of the biggest book to big screen success stories.
Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone
J.K Rowling came up with the idea for her masterpiece Harry Potter series while sitting on a train! During her commute between Manchester and London, the Gloucestershire-bred novelist created Harry Potter, a fictional, young, orphaned wizard. In a beautifully heart-felt fashion, the book drew upon some of Rowling’s own personal life experiences, including losing her mother following a lengthy battle with multiple sclerosis, which adds a significant emotional dimension to the book.
Publishers rejected the book at first, citing that the story was too complicated for young children to understand. After a turbulent infancy, the book was finally picked up and became an international success almost immediately. Movie moguls Warner Bros. soon recognised the success emulated by the print copy and jumped at the chance to turn the text into a mind-blowing visual. Christopher Columbus directed the film which featured Daniel Radcliffe as Harry and saw worldwide box office returns of an astonishing £765 million. Six more books featured in the series, with a further seven films — owing to one of the greatest creations, in both platforms, of all time.
Silver Linings Playbook
Most of the time, books are adapted for the big screen after they have had considerable success and sales. However, Matthew Quick’s novel was significantly different. The author, a former high school teacher from New Jersey, left his job and pursued his career as a writer. The book, once finally launched, had virtually bankrupt the novelist, therefore when directors came knocking, asking about taking on the story, Quick was ecstatic — tragically the first two directors, who were majorly interested in adapting the book to film, died within six months of one another. Fortunately, David O. Russell came along, drafting in major Hollywood stars such Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro. The story which follows the connection made between Pat, who suffers from bipolar, and Tiffany, who battles with an unlabeled mental illness, is a gripping yet often tragic portrayal of life spent struggling with this type of condition. Although many aspects of the film were saddening, the reception it received was quite joyous. At the box office, it generated £185m worldwide and even won Jennifer Lawrence her first Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role at the Academy Awards.
Voted Scotland’s favourite book in 2013, Irvine Welsh’s gritty novel centered around addiction in 90’s Scotland. The plot of the book, which homes in on the lives of twenty-something Leith frequenters, Begbie, Renton, Sick Boy, and Spud, was picked up by English film director Danny Boyle, whose famous productions have also included Slumdog Millionaire and the upcoming Bond 25.
The film version featured British screen legends, including Robert Carlyle, Ewan McGregor, and Jonny Lee Miller. The film was a huge success at the international box office, making almost £45m. Considered as a British cult classic and a somewhat harrowing right of passage for any film lover over the age of 18. 22 years after its initial release, the film has still yet to date, and in a sense, acts as a rather unnerving representational life lesson, with the characters, particularly Sick Boy, offering a humorous theory of existence on more than one occasion. Back in 2017, a sequel to Trainspotting was released, named T2, and it featured a cameo appearance from the initial author Irvine Welsh, who director Danny Boyle described as, “someone who wrote a genuine masterpiece.”
As you can see, there are a few book-to-screen adaptations which have generated considerable box office success. Which book would you like to see adapted?
In 2008, Stephenie Meyer’s 2005 novel Twilight made it on to the big screen. The film version starts Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart as brooding vampire Edward Cullen and naïve teenager Bella Swan, respectively. The saga, which borrows elements from both romance and horror genres, focuses on the efforts of Edward and his family to protect Bella from an evil vampire coven.
The initial adaptation differed significantly from the novel, but this version was eventually scrapped. Melissa Rosenberg wrote a new adaptation of the novel shortly before the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike and sought to be faithful to the novel’s storyline. Twilight was released in theatres on the 21st November 2008, grossing an impressive $393 globally. It also became the most popular DVD of the year after its release in 2009. Following the film’s success, New Moon and Eclipse, the next two novels in the series, were produced as films the following year.
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