Why does Hollywood love adapting books? Hollywood is in the business of building franchises and using popular intellectual property to bring people into the theater. Like it or not, they aren’t as comfortable taking the financial risk on original ideas. Learning how to turn a book into a movie is an essential skill all screenwriters must have. As screenwriters, we tirelessly work to perfect our craft, churning out spec script after spec script. But we often forget selling our script doesn’t always depend on excellent writing. It’s called the “film business” for a reason. Studios need to sell tickets. Spec scripts aren’t always as marketable as adapting a book into a movie.
Every screenwriting needs to increase their odds of success by turning a book into a movie.
The Business of Movie Making
The potential for international sales is a large factor in a studio’s decision on what scripts will be turned into a film. Audience growth is entirely overseas. Since clever dialogue doesn’t always translate into other languages, it’s easier to sell explosions, special effects, and films based on already popular books.
In the 1940s, 80% of families went to the movies every weekend. Now, only 5% do. Since television and the Internet are ever-growing and more convenient choices for viewers, movie studios have to spend millions of dollars (sometimes up to 100 million dollars) in marketing. With the trend having changed to families only going to the movies a few times a year, it doesn’t make sense for the studios to market all of their films the same way. They save the big-budget marketing for the tent-pole movies – sequels, adaptation, etc.
How to Turn a Book Into a Movie
Finding the right book is the challenge. A popular book doesn’t necessarily translate as well to the screen (Eat, Pray, Love). Other books are so complicated they never could be condensed to a two-hour film. Imagine Gone with the Wind being produced today? How many times have you walked out of a theater, hearing the audience complain about the screenwriter’s choices in adapting the book?
After you discover just the right book, you’ll need to see if the book rights are available. Optioning or buying the rights to a book aren’t as hard as you might think. In our free download, Tips on Acquiring Book Rights and Writing an Adaptation, we take your through the steps to find book rights for sale and explore how to option or buy rights to books.
Often, the biggest challenge in adapting a book is being able to meet the fans’ expectations. It’s critical to know the story from all angles and to be able to make the right choices in what to cut and what to keep. How to turn a book into a movie script is broken down into 7 simple steps in our free download.
Get our FREE Tips on Acquiring Book Rights and Writing an Adaptation today!
Not only are adaptations appealing to studios, having one in your portfolio as a writing sample shows an agent or manager your diversity and increases your odds of getting a paid writing gig.
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