Making the jump from book to movie: how does it happen?

February 15, 2017 | By | 1 Reply More

One of the questions I get asked a lot from my readers is, ‘So, when is the movie coming out?’.

With my first novel in the Jackelian fantasy series, The Court of the Air, the book did come very close to getting picked up as a film.

Mission to Mightadore

It was voted Best Book to become a Movie by the directors of the Berlinale Film Festival, which is a huge deal (the Berlinale is the world’s largest film festival, with  500,000 tickets sold each year). After winning that accolade, a lot of big studios started circling the film rights like hungry sharks.

So what happened? Well, when the Berlinale voted for me, fantasy was a super-hot genre. The first Lord of the Rings trilogy had just finished, and Hollywood was snapping up any popular book or script that looked like it had an orc or a dragon in it. But soon after came Eragon. Then The Golden Compass film arrived, based on the first Dark Materials novel by Phillip Pullman.

Both movies tanked commercially in the worse way, and suddenly Hollywood wouldn’t touch a fantasy book if you gave it to them for free (which my publisher HarperCollins certainly wouldn’t do). Sadly, my book’s movie deal was left floating dead in the shark tank along with everyone else’s novel. Hey, I never wanted a castle or private jet like JK Rowling, anyway!

Of course, now Hollywood is itself more or less dead and all the action is with Netflix and Amazon Prime and everyone wants a decent TV series rather than a film. Funny old world.

Anyway, if you want a more successful story of book-to-movie stardom, then my colleague science fiction author Ted Chiang has just been interviewed on this very subject over at – his SF story was adapted into the very intelligent and non-blow-uppie-stuff movie Arrival.

Category: Writer's Dojo

About the Author ()

I have been working as a full-time author publishing fantasy and science fiction novels for HarperCollins for the last seven years.

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  1. Blerton Gerguri says:

    Do you believe there are any movie adaptations that are in fact better than the book itself?

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