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Content Any Way U Want It!

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Content Any Way U Want It!

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September 29, 2023

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Audience expectations from books relate to film success

Today, when students think of the fictional character Katniss Everdeen from the “Hunger Games” series, they may think of Jennifer Lawrence, the actor who plays her in the film adaptation.

But it wasn’t always that way.

“People were upset about Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss [when they first heard],” said Jeffrey Brown, associate professor of Popular Culture.

The second film, “Catching Fire,” comes out this month.

Casting isn’t the only thing fans can get upset about when their favorite books are made into films.

“If fans of the book feel it’s miscast, or it’s making fun of the book, there can be a more negative reaction than positive,” Brown said.

Despite the potential for criticism, production companies decide to adapt books into films everyday as they often come with a “brand that exists that already has a built-in audience,” said Lucas Ostrowski, assistant professor in the Department of Theatre and Film.

For a film based on a book to be successful, it needs to relate to what the audience expects and be “unique enough that the audience wants to see it,” Ostrowski said.

This can be more difficult for some books than for others.

“I think some books are really hard to translate because there’s too much internal dialogue and not enough acting,” Brown said. “The plot has to be made clear without the narrator or the main character explaining everything along the way.”

Senior Brittany Knisely read “The Help” and was disappointed by the movie.

“I think the movie may not have done the book justice,” Knisely said.

After people read a book, they may picture it a certain way and then be let down by the movie and the way the producer or creator saw the author’s words.

“I think everybody has in their mind an idea of what the main character looks like and their personality,” Brown said. “Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Casting can also be a deal breaker for fans.

Knisely is doing research on the popular erotica novel “Fifty Shades of Grey.” She said the casting for the possible film adaptation seems to be very important to fans.

Fans are making their own trailers and voicing their opinions about possible casting choices online, she said.

Knisely said the books that are usually picked to be films are ones that are “so well-illustrated that it’s easy to just take a book and put it into a script.”

One reason the “Harry Potter” films were so successful may have been due to J.K. Rowling’s detail in the books and because it was a “new world people didn’t understand,” Knisely said.

If the versions do differ, Knisely said it may be because “the film producer and the author of the novel are both artists in their own respect.”

As far as authors being involved in the movie, Brown said it can be hard for them to give up parts of the story.

“It’s a different medium, a different skill set,” Brown said.

Ostrowski said for viewers who have read the books, the movies are based on the need to remember a few things when going to see it.

“[Remember], this is just a perspective, this is not the novel,” Ostrowski said. “They’re all versions of the work and it’s up to the viewer to decide. The book is its own world in it’s own context. The movie is its own world in its own context.”

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