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Film adaptation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A film adaptation is the transfer of a work or story, in whole or in part, to a feature film. Although often considered a type of derivative work, recent academic developments by scholars such as Robert Stam conceptualize film adaptation as a dialogic process.

A common form of film adaptation is the use of a novel as the basis of a feature film. Other works adapted into films include non-fiction (including journalism), autobiography, comic books, scriptures, plays, historical sources, and other films. From the earliest days of cinema, in nineteenth-century Europe, adaptation from such diverse resources has been a ubiquitous practice of filmmaking.

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  • ✪ Adaptation. (2002) - Movies with Mikey
  • ✪ TRAILER - Adaptation. (2002)
  • ✪ ADAPTATION Trailer
  • ✪ THE ORCHID THIEF Author Susan Orlean Discusses ADAPTATION
  • ✪ Adaptation (3/8) Movie CLIP - Donald's Script Pitch (2002) HD


I am generally reticent to discuss the book that a film is adapted from in a piece because I shouldn’t necessarily care for how a film measures up against the book it was based on. By that I mean, a book and a film must stand on their own within their respective art forms. A film not rigidly adhering to a novel’s structure does not inherently make a film worse, in some cases it makes the film a lot better, even if it adjusts the story for the medium. I’ve, after all, said similar things in my Azkaban and Scott Pilgrim pieces. I spew all of that grandiloquent diatribe to say plainly: Well, what the f--- am I supposed to do now? CREDITS Adaptation is a 2002 film directed by Spike Jonze with a screenplay by Charlie and Donald Kaufman, the latter of whom does not exist anywhere in our corporeal reality other than this film and yet – he was nominated for an ACADEMY AWARD that year (though, they lost lost to The Pianist,) and that screenplay was adapted from the book The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean. Like, were they gonna give Charlie two Oscars if he won? ‘Cause, like -- Pretty sure the front of my screenplays are gonna look like this from now on. Just sayin’. It stars Nicholas Cage in dual roles as both Charlie and Donald Kaufman, Meryl Streep as real-life author Susan Orlean, Chris Cooper as enamel-y challenged John Laroche, Brian Cox as legendary creative writing instructor Robert McKee (who McKee himself recommended for the role,) and Tilda Swinton as Valerie Thomas, who hires Kaufman to write the screenplay and … I honestly don’t know if she’s real or not. To say this film defies existing tradition or form within the medium is like saying LeBron James is a credit to the 2nd-grade boys basketball team at Roger Sterling Elementary School in Buzzard Roost, Ohio (real city!) The book is a beautiful meditation on longing, obsession, and passion – and the subtleties that exist between those words. The most fascinating thing about the film is seeing directly inside the panic attack that Charlie Kaufman is having as he’s trying to adapt the novel into a film. The book offers no answers to complex situations and problems. We are simply given a glimpse into the microcosmic life of a quirky-ass dude who steals flowers from a Fakahatchee State Preserve in Florida. So, while the film starts out with a firm adherence to the source material and Charlie’s life as he is adapting it, as further plot beats emerge, needing to exist for the film to have a structure, Charlie invents an entirely new story that goes further and further off the rails, ultimately culminating in a climax straight out of a Tony Scott film exemplified in the following themes: longing, obsession, and passion. He created a movie that makes you feel the things the book makes you feel by crafting a story about crafting the story from a book with no story. And I don’t mean ‘no story’ in the way you may have taken that, I mean, this is no story for a film. A New Yorker writer’s novel about what might appear on the outside to be an obsession, but the more the author is exposed to it, it suddenly transforms into a passion, because what is the difference between obsession and passion? And the answer is perspective. AND DRUGS! You see what I mean? How do you even pick a starting point? ‘We open at the beginning of time.” No, not that. “It’s like technology versus horse.” Yes, more that. Actually, I know where to start because trying to find the perspective to tackle this episode from, I too went through a similar writer’s block trying to wrangle a movie this expansive into a piece for my show. “It’s just an internet video celebrating a film that a lot of people want you to offer them new perspectives on. They love you for that. But do they, though? Like, who the f--- am I to try and disentangle the intricate structure and thematic tension of a film from one of the greatest screenwriters that has ever lived. If Charlie Kaufman watched your show he would think you’re a pedantic lunatic that manipulates his audience with manufactured sentimentality. But it isn’t manufactured. It’s amazing that so many people relate to your perspective on film. That has meaning. Doesn’t it? “I want a Pop Tart.” The most surface level aspect of this film to get into is the performances because they are, across the board, absurdly good. Here’s a sentence you won’t be hearing again in your lifetime: Nicholas Cage puts on a performance so nuanced and clever that you kind of don’t notice how absurdly good that it is. All of the scenes with Charlie and Donald show us how two different individuals react with an entirely different palate of emotions. They don’t stand the same, they don’t talk the same, and they are two distinctly real and different people. Just watch their reactions as they talk to each other, each word wounding Charlie as they happen. These scenes are never cheated and they generally exist in long medium shots so we can focus on his performances. He was nominated that year at the Academy Awards but ultimately lost to Adrian Brody for The Pianist Chris Cooper, who did win an Academy Award for best supporting actor for this film, gives the character of John LaRoche a magnetic pathos that helps us relate to Susan, who in this film ends up in a murderous relationship with him, and we relate to her falling down the rabbit hole in a tangled web of intrigue. And of course, Meryl Streep, playing Susan as a woman who is struggling to find meaning in her life only to stumble upon a man who offers her it. She is understated in her performance, showing us the slow mental collapse of a woman chasing something even if she doesn’t really know what it is she’s chasing. “You’re stalling. I don’t know what to say. Talk about what’s in the movie. That always leads you to the discovery of things to talk about. Okay. I mean, I wanna write that I’m baffled Charlie Kaufman would write a film where Charlie Kaufman, in every single scene where he meets a woman, immediately cuts to a scene of him masturbating while thinking about that woman. It happens like three times in a row. I wonder if women were scared to introduce themselves to him after the movie came out.” Which brings us to Spike Jonze, who I am delighted to finally be talking about on the show. His other films Being John Malkovich (also written by Kaufman in a similarly deconstructive way,) Where the Wild Things Are (which I would be delighted to talk about on this show eventually,) and Her, all visually-engaging films that attempt to tell new stories in new ways. The conflict between Charlie and Donald exemplifies a litany of screenwriting tropes, dreams, voice over, montages, sex scenes, forced action sequences, and car crash scares -- aka all of the things that Donald uses in his screenplay that Charlie is constantly shitting all over him for using. But Charlie is using all of them. Hell, he’s using voice over from moment one in his screenplay. And this film takes a harsh turn at the exact moment – which is important to understand happens directly at the turn into the third act – that Charlie is so frustrated with how poorly his screenplay is going, that he asks his brother to help him. Which is the device the film uses to create the third act. Up until this point, all of the plot is derived around Charlie being able to actually turn this into a screenplay. At the moment Donald gets involved, a conspiracy erupts within minutes, and we are off toward our entirely fictional and action-packed finale. As McKee said, ‘wow them in the end,’ so Donald helps Charlie find the drama that needs to exist for his film to have an ending and satisfying conclusion for the characters. “Have you even said anything meaningful about this movie yet? You only put Adaptation up for vote as revenge for the people not voting for Where the Wild Things Are, a film you actually had things to say about. You were so sure they were gonna pick The Hurt Locker on that Interstellar video you made, and now you have to deliver the impossible. Idiot. Just delete everything you’ve written and start over.” What’s fascinating in the book is that Susan never sees the Ghost Orchid, as she did not have a clandestine romantic affair with LaRoche in real life, which ultimately leaves her unfulfilled by not ever seeing the flower in person. But in the film’s resolution she does finally get to see it, though, she leaves that encounter unfulfilled as well because it cannot possibly live up to her monumental expectations of the event, laid out in the book. Which is interesting because Kaufman sticks to the character that the book put forth: the longing desire of Susan Orlean to find passion and meaning in her life. In the film version, she does find that passion in LaRoche and DRUGS, only for that passion and protection of this newfound purpose in her life to culminate in her attempting to murder Charlie Kaufman to preserve it. Longing, desire, passion. And I think Susan Orlean deserves an extra-special high-five because when she read this screenplay for the first time, she was understandably confused saying: “They had to get my permission and I just said: "No! Are you kidding? This is going to ruin my career!" Very wisely, they didn't really pressure me. They told me that everybody else had agreed and I somehow got emboldened. It was certainly scary to see the movie for the first time. It took a while for me to get over the idea that I had been insane to agree to it, but I love the movie now.” If not for this brave woman, we never would have gotten this stunningly odd extrapolation of the process of writing a screenplay, because it’s not about what the actual process is, but more the emotions of going through that process, which is Kaufman’s gift to us, the viewer. It’s hard starting out. The mundaneness of trying to break a story when you’re just sitting down to work on it. You Are overwhelmed, scatter-brained, writing and deleting themes and snippets of characters – glimpses of who the character will ultimately wind up to be. And everyone has an opinion. Everyone around seemingly has all the answers expect for the person actually doing the work. Your relationships might suffer, and ultimately you may lose them. You fall into a depression as you fail, time and time again to find the story you’ve been searching for. You widen the net, trying to find the answers in places you swore were beneath you, but once you open your ears and heart, you find that other people have some useful insight that you never would have entertained if you weren’t hitting rock bottom. And sometimes, when you have no other options, you collaborate with someone you have perceived to be beneath you only to find out that they see a through-line that you never did. Once your mind is open to the possibility, the story begins to take a shape that you never intended. The answer has been staring you in the face the whole time, but your hubris shackled you from finding it until you simply let go and allowed the story to emerge from within. And once you cross that hump, you get excited. Things begin to move faster as the chess pieces fall into place for the final showdown. The dramatic tension has led to an inevitable conclusion. “Kill your darlings,” a phrase often parroted by writers to inform us of the simplicity inherent to good storytelling. For your main character to have a meaningful transformation, you have to lose something. Because at the end of the day, it’s about the audience you are attempting to serve, not you. It’s never about you. Except when it is. Oofa doofa, that one took it out of me. I spent a good week just considering my options for an angle to tackle this from, and I ultimately decided that tearing the wall down between the creator and the audience, much Charlie did with his screenplay, was the angle I wanted to approach from. Don’t take those sequence with me deconstructing my thought process too seriously. Or do, I ain’t your mom. And if I am your mom, would it kill you to call once in a while? As always, follow me on twitter for updates on the show, or just to ask me questions about it. Like this video and subscribe to the channel because we have all kinds of goodies coming up, including a new episode Hot Takes this week sometime. Onto the voting! Let’s get crazy. How about a Connor (Warrior,) a Malick (Tree of Life,) and a Stahelski (John Wick.) Stay civil in the comments and I will see you all, next time.


Elision and interpolation

In 1924, Erich von Stroheim attempted a literal adaptation of Frank Norris's novel McTeague with his moving picture Greed, and the resulting film was 9½ hours long. It was cut, at studio insistence, to four hours, then without Stroheim's input, cut again to around two hours. The end result was a film that was largely incoherent. Since that time, few directors have attempted to put everything in a novel into a film. Therefore, elision is all but essential.

In some cases, film adaptations also interpolate scenes or invent characters. This is especially true when a novel is part of a literary saga. Incidents or quotations from later or earlier novels will be inserted into a single film. Additionally, and far more controversially, filmmakers will invent new characters or create stories that were not present in the source material at all. Given the anticipated audience for a film, the screenwriter, director, or movie studio may wish to increase character time or to invent new characters. For example, William J. Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Ironweed included a short appearance by a prostitute named Helen. Because the film studio anticipated a female audience for the film and had Meryl Streep for the role, Helen became a significant part of the film. However, characters are also sometimes invented to provide the narrative voice.

Interpretation as adaptation

There have been several notable cases of massive inventive adaptation, including the Roland Joffe adaptation of The Scarlet Letter with explicit sex between Hester Prynn and the minister and Native American obscene puns into a major character and the film's villain. The Charlie Kaufman and "Donald Kaufman" penned Adaptation, credited as an adaptation of the novel The Orchid Thief, was an intentional satire and commentary on the process of film adaptation itself. All of those are cases of Nathaniel Hawthorne's point. The creators of the Gulliver's Travels miniseries interpolated a sanity trial to reflect the ongoing scholarly debate over whether or not Gulliver himself is sane at the conclusion of Book IV. In those cases, adaptation is a form of criticism and recreation as well as translation.

Change is essential and practically unavoidable, mandated both by the constraints of time and medium, but how much is always a balance. Some film theorists have argued that a director should be entirely unconcerned with the source, as a novel is a novel and a film is a film, and the two works of art must be seen as separate entities. Since a transcription of a novel into film is impossible, even holding up a goal of "accuracy" is absurd. Others argue that what a film adaptation does is change to fit (literally, adapt), and the film must be accurate to the effect (aesthetics), the theme, or the message of a novel and that the filmmaker must introduce changes, if necessary, to fit the demands of time and to maximize faithfulness along one of those axes.

In most cases adaptation, the films are required to create identities (for example, a characters' costume or set decor) since they are not specified in the original material. Then, the influence of film-makers may go unrecognised because there is no comparison in the original material even though the new visual identities will affect narrative interpretation. Peter Jackson's adaptations of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit by author JRR Tolkien represent an unusual case since many visual and stylistic details were specified by Tolkien. For the Harry Potter film series, author JK Rowling was closely consulted by the filmmakers, and she provided production designer Stuart Craig with a map of Hogwarts' grounds and also prevented director Alfonso Cuarón from adding a graveyard scene because the graveyard would appear elsewhere in a later novel.

An often overlooked aspect of film adaptation is the inclusion of sound and music. In a literary text, a specific sound effect can often be implied or specified by an event, but in the process of adaptation, filmmakers must determine specific the sound characteristics that subliminally affects narrative interpretation. In some cases of adaptation, music may have been specified in the original material (usually diegetic music). In Stephenie Meyer's 2005 Twilight novel, the characters Edward Cullen and Bella Swan both listen to Debussy's Clair de lune and Edward composes the piece Bella's Lullaby for Bella. While Clair de lune was a pre-existing piece of music, Bella's Lullaby was not and required original music to be composed for the 2008 movie adaptation.

In the 2016 sci-fi film 2BR02B: To Be or Naught to Be adapted from the story by Kurt Vonnegut, the film-makers decided to abandon Vonnegut's choice of music. They stated that they felt that it worked in his prose only because it was not actually heard. Filmmakers' test screenings found that Vonnegut's style of music confused audiences and detracted from narrative comprehension. The film's composer, Leon Coward, stated, "You can try to be as true to Vonnegut's material as possible, but at the end of the day also you’re working with the material that you as a team have generated, not just Vonnegut's, and that’s what you've got to make work."[1][2]

Theatrical adaptation

Stage plays are frequent sources for film adaptations.

Many of William Shakespeare's plays, including Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Othello, have been adapted into films. The first sound adaptation of any Shakespeare play was the  1929 production of The Taming of the Shrew, starring Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks.[3] It was later adapted as both a musical play called Kiss Me, Kate, which opened on Broadway in 1948, and as the 1953 Hollywood  musical of the same name. The Taming of the Shrew was again retold in 1999 as a teen comedy set in a high school in 10 Things I Hate about You, and also in 2003 as an urban romantic comedy, Deliver Us from Eva. The 1961 musical film West Side Story was adapted from Romeo and Juliet, with its first incarnation as a Broadway musical play that opened in 1957. The animated film The Lion King (1994) was inspired by Hamlet as well as various traditional African myths, and 2001's O was based on Othello.

Film adaptations of Shakespeare's works in languages other than English are numerous, including Akira Kurosawa's films Throne of Blood (1957, an epic film version of Macbeth), The Bad Sleep Well (1960, inspired by Hamlet) and Ran (1985, based on King Lear); and Vishal Bhardwaj's "Shakespearean trilogy" consisting of Haider (2014, a retelling of Hamlet), Omkara (2006, based on Othello) and Maqbool (2003, based on Macbeth).

Another way in which Shakespearean texts have been incorporated in films is to feature characters who are either actors performing those texts or characters who are somehow influenced or effected by seeing one of Shakespeare's plays, within a larger non-Shakespearean story. Generally, Shakespeare's basic themes or certain elements of the plot will parallel the main plot of the film or become part of a character's development in some way. Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet are the two plays which have most often been used in this way.[4] Éric Rohmer's 1992 film Conte d'hiver (A Tale of Winter) is one example. Rohmer uses one scene from Shakepeare's A Winter's Tale as a major plot device within a story that is not based on the play at all.

In Britain, where stage plays tend to be more popular as a form of entertainment than currently in the United States, many films began as a stage productions. Some British films and British/American collaborations that were based on successful British plays include Gaslight (1940), Blithe Spirit (1945), Rope (1948), Look Back in Anger (1959), Oh, What a Lovely War! (1969), Sleuth (1972), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), Shirley Valentine (1989), The Madness of King George (1994), The History Boys (2006), Quartet (2012), and The Lady in the Van (2015).

Similarly, hit Broadway plays are often adapted into films, whether from musicals or dramas. Some examples of American film adaptations based on successful Broadway plays are Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), Born Yesterday (1950), Harvey (1950), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), The Odd Couple (1968), The Boys in the Band (1970), Agnes of God (1985), Children of a Lesser God (1986), Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), Real Women Have Curves (2002), Rabbit Hole (2010), and Fences (2016).

On one hand, theatrical adaptation does not involve as many interpolations or elisions as novel adaptation, but on the other, the demands of scenery and possibilities of motion frequently entail changes from one medium to the other. Film critics will often mention if an adapted play has a static camera or emulates a proscenium arch. Laurence Olivier consciously imitated the arch with his Henry V (1944), having the camera begin to move and to use color stock after the prologue, indicating the passage from physical to imaginative space. Sometimes, the adaptive process can continue after one translation. Mel Brooks' The Producers began as a film in 1967, was adapted into a Broadway musical in 2001, and then adapted again in 2005 as a musical film.

Television adaptation

Feature films are occasionally created from television series or television segments. In some cases, the film will offer a longer storyline than the usual television program's format and/or expanded production values. In the adaptation of The X-Files to film, for example, greater effects and a longer plotline were involved. Additionally, adaptations of television shows will offer the viewer the opportunity to see the television show's characters without broadcast restrictions. These additions (nudity, profanity, explicit drug use, and explicit violence) are only rarely a featured adaptive addition (film versions of "procedurals" such as Miami Vice are most inclined to such additions as featured adaptations) – South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is a notable example of a film being more explicit than its parent TV series.

At the same time, some theatrically released films are adaptations of television miniseries events. When national film boards and state-controlled television networks co-exist, filmmakers can sometimes create very long films for television that they may adapt solely for time for theatrical release. Both Ingmar Bergman (notably with Fanny and Alexander but with other films as well) and Lars von Trier have created long television films that they then recut for international distribution.

Even segments of television series have been adapted into feature films. The American television variety show Saturday Night Live has been the origin of a number of films, beginning with The Blues Brothers, which began as a one-off performance by Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. Mr. Bean was adapted into Bean and the sequel, Mr. Bean's Holiday.

Radio adaptation

Radio narratives have also provided the basis of film adaptation. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, for example, began as a radio series for the BBC and then became a novel that was adapted to film. In the heyday of radio, radio segments, like television segments today, translated to film on several occasions, usually as shorts. Dialog-heavy stories and fantastic stories from radio also adapted to film (e.g. Fibber McGee and Molly and The Life of Riley).

Comic book adaptation

Comic book characters, particularly superheroes, have long been adapted into film, beginning in the 1940s with Saturday movie serials aimed at children. Superman (1978) and Batman (1989) are two later successful movie adaptations of famous comic book characters. In the early 2000s, blockbusters such as X-Men (2000) and Spider-Man (2002) have led to dozens of superhero films. The success of these films has also led to other comic books not necessarily about superheroes being adapted for the big screen, such as Ghost World (2001), From Hell (2001), American Splendor (2003), Sin City (2005), 300 (2007), Wanted (2008), and Whiteout (2009).

The adaptation process for comics is different from that of novels. Many successful comic book series last for several decades and have featured several variations of the characters in that time. Films based on such series usually try to capture the back story and “spirit” of the character instead of adapting a particular storyline. Occasionally, aspects of the characters and their origins are simplified or modernized.

Self-contained graphic novels, and miniseries many of which do not feature superheroes, can be adapted more directly, such as in the case of Road to Perdition (2002) or V for Vendetta (2006). In particular, Robert Rodriguez did not use a screenplay for Sin City but utilized actual panels from writer/artist Frank Miller's series as storyboards to create what Rodriguez regards as a "translation" rather than an adaptation.

Furthermore, some films based on long-running franchises use particular story lines from the franchise as a basis for a plot. The second X-Men film was loosely based on the graphic novel X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills and the third film on the storyline "The Dark Phoenix Saga". Spider-Man 2 was based on the storyline "Spider-Man No More!" Likewise, Batman Begins owes many of its elements to Miller's "Batman: Year One" and the film's sequel, The Dark Knight, uses subplots from Batman: The Long Halloween.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe starting in 2008 is a shared universe with films combining characters from different works by Marvel Comics. The DC Extended Universe starting in 2013 uses the same model for DC Comics.

Video game adaptation

Video games have also been adapted into films, beginning in the early 1980s. Films closely related to the computer and video game industries were also done in this time, such as Tron and Cloak & Dagger, but only after the release of several films based on well-known brands has this genre become recognized in its own right.

Similar to comic book-based films in the past (especially from 1980s), films based on video games tend to carry a reputation of lackluster quality and receive negative reaction from both film critics and fans of the source material. A number of films have been successful at the box office, such as Mortal Kombat, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Silent Hill, Resident Evil, and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, but critical reception of the films is either mixed to poor.

Some, such as Super Mario Bros., were particularly negatively received and are considered among the worst films ever made. Super Mario Bros. was criticized for being too dark, violent and unfaithful (in plot) to the popular video game series. Many anime Original Video Animations (OVAs) based on popular games have been released such as Dead Space: Downfall, Halo Legends, Dante's Inferno: An Animated Epic, and numerous films based on the video game series Pokémon.

Among the most well-known video game filmmakers is Uwe Boll, a German writer, director, and producer whose works include House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, BloodRayne, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, Postal, and Far Cry, all of which were almost universally panned by critics.

Another likely reason for the failure of video game adaptations is that structural conversion from video game to film format can be challenging for filmmakers. Nintendo video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto said in a 2007 interview:

I think that part of the problem with translating games to movies is that the structure of what makes a good game is very different from the structure of what makes a good movie. Movies are a much more passive medium, where the movie itself is telling a story and you, as the viewer, are relaxing and taking that in passively. Whereas video games are a much more active medium where you are playing along with the story. ... I think that video games, as a whole, have a very simple flow in terms of what’s going on in the game. We make that flow entertaining by implementing many different elements to the video game to keep the player entertained. Movies have much more complex stories, or flow, to them, but the elements that affect that flow are limited in number. So I think that because these surrounding elements in these two different mediums vary so greatly, when you fail to take that into account then you run into problems.[5]

In an interview with Fortune in August 2015, Miyamoto said, "Because games and movies seem like similar mediums, people’s natural expectation is we want to take our games and turn them into movies. … I’ve always felt video games, being an interactive medium, and movies, being a passive medium, mean the two are quite different."[6]

Adaptations from other sources

While documentary films have often been made from journalism and reportage, so too have some dramatic films, including: All the President's Men (1976, adapted from the 1974 book); Miracle, (2004, from an account published shortly after the 1980 "miracle on ice"); and Pushing Tin (1999, from a 1996 New York Times article by Darcy Frey). An Inconvenient Truth is Al Gore's film adaptation of his own Keynote multimedia presentation. The 2011 independent comedy film, Benjamin Sniddlegrass and the Cauldron of Penguins was based on Kermode and Mayo's Film Review of Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.

Films adapted from songs include Coward of the County, Ode to Billy Joe, Convoy, and Pretty Baby (each from a song of the same name).

Films based on toys include the Transformers franchise and the G.I. Joe films; there is a longer history of animated television series being created simultaneous to toy lines as a marketing tool. Hasbro's plans to for films based on their board games began with 2012's Battleship. While amusement park rides have often been based on action movies, conversely the 1967 Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland was adapted into Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in 2003.

Remakes and film sequels are technically adaptations of the original film. Less direct derivations include The Magnificent Seven from The Seven Samurai, Star Wars from The Hidden Fortress, and Twelve Monkeys from La Jetée.

Many films have been made from mythology and religious texts. Both Greek mythology and the Bible have been adapted frequently. Homer's works have been adapted multiple times in several nations. In these cases, the audience already knows the story well, and so the adaptation will de-emphasize elements of suspense and concentrate instead on detail and phrasing.[original research?]


Many major film award programs present an award for adapted screenplays, separate from the award for original screenplays.

In the case of a film which was adapted from an unpublished work, however, different awards have different rules around which category the screenplay qualifies for. In 1983, the Canadian Genie Awards rescinded the Best Adapted Screenplay award they had presented to the film Melanie when they learned that the original work had been unpublished;[7] and in 2017, the film Moonlight, which was adapted from an unpublished theatrical play, was classified and nominated as an adapted screenplay by some awards but as an original screenplay by others.[8]

Adaptation of films

When a film's screenplay is original, it can also be the source of derivative works such as novels and plays. For example, movie studios will commission novelizations of their popular titles or sell the rights to their titles to publishing houses. These novelized films will frequently be written on assignment and sometimes written by authors who have only an early script as their source. Consequently, novelizations are quite often changed from the films as they appear in theatres.

Novelization can build up characters and incidents for commercial reasons (e.g. to market a card or computer game, to promote the publisher's "saga" of novels, or to create continuity between films in a series)

There have been instances of novelists who have worked from their own screenplays to create novels at nearly the same time as a film. Both Arthur C. Clarke, with 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Graham Greene, with The Third Man, have worked from their own film ideas to a novel form (although the novel version of The Third Man was written more to aid in the development of the screenplay than for the purposes of being released as a novel). Both John Sayles and Ingmar Bergman write their film ideas as novels before they begin producing them as films, although neither director has allowed these prose treatments to be published.

Finally, films have inspired and been adapted into plays. John Waters's films have been successfully mounted as plays; both Hairspray and Cry-Baby have been adapted, and other films have spurred subsequent theatrical adaptations. Spamalot is a Broadway play based on Monty Python films. In a rare case of a film being adapted from a stage musical adaptation of a film, in 2005, the film adaptation of the stage musical based on Mel Brooks' classic comedy film The Producers was released.

See also


  1. ^ Black, Anna (2016). ""...for a father hear a child!" Schubert's Ave Maria and the film 2BR02B". The Schubertian. The Schubert Institute (UK). July (91): 16–19.
  2. ^ Masson, Sophie (October 19, 2016). "2BR02B: the journey of a dystopian film–an interview with Leon Coward". Feathers of the Firebird (Interview).
  3. ^ Barnet, Sylvan (1998) [1966]. "The Shrew on Stage and Screen". In Heilman, Robert B. The Taming of the Shrew. Signet Classic Shakespeare (Second Revised ed.). New York: New American Library. p. 188. ISBN 9780451526793.
  4. ^ McKernan, Luke and Terris, Olwen (eds.) Walking Shadows: Shakespeare in the National Film and Television Archive (British Film Institute Publishing, 1994). The authors list 45 uses of Hamlet which do not include films of the play itself, on pp.45-66. They list 39 such instances for Romeo and Juliet on pp.141-156, and 23 uses of Othello, on pp.119-131.
  5. ^ "Miyamoto: The Interview". Edge Magazine. November 27, 2007. Archived from the original on May 3, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
  6. ^ Morris, Chris (August 21, 2015). "Shigeru Miyamoto Talks Nintendo's Return to the Movie World". Fortune. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Melanie adaptation Genie returned". Cinema Canada, No. 96 (May 1983). p. 12.
  8. ^ "Oscars: Moonlight ineligible for Best Original Screenplay". Entertainment Weekly, December 15, 2016.

Further reading

  • Eisenstein, Sergei. "Dickens, Griffith, and the Film Today." Film Form Dennis Dobson, trans. 1951.
  • Literature/Film Quarterly, journal published by Salisbury University
  • Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance, published by Intellect
  • Adaptation, journal published by Oxford University Press
  • Movie Adaptation Database, UC Berkeley Media Resources Center
  • The history of Erich von Stroheim's Greed, from
  • The Art of Adaptation from
  • Hutcheon, Linda, with Siobhan O’Flynn. A Theory of Adaptation. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2013.
  • Leitch, Thomas (ed.) Oxford Handbook of Adaptation Studies. Oxford: OUP, 2017.
  • Murray, Simone. The Adaptation Industry: The Cultural Economy of Contemporary Adaptation. New York: Routledge, 2012.
  • Sanders, Julie. Adaptation and Appropriation. London: Routledge, 2006.
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