Adaptation Nation: Adapted Works Rule Oscars and Box Office

by John Robert Marlow
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For more than a decade, Hollywood adaptations have claimed a steadily growing share of box office receipts and Academy Award nominations. This year marks a new high point in this long-trending dominance.

As of March 29, 80% of the top 10 (and 76% of the top 50) highest-grossing films of all time are adaptations. Of this year’s 42 major-category Oscar nominations, 39—or 93%—are for adaptations or work on adaptations. Seven of the eight Best Picture nominees are based on books, true stories, or both—and no. 8 is a remake (or adaptation, if you will) of an earlier movie.

The five nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay are of course adaptations—but so are 3 of the 5 Best Original Screenplay nominees (which are based on true-life stories). Add 5 of 5 Best Director nods and very nearly every acting nomination, and 2016 is already a near-total sweep at box office and Oscars. It’s quite possible that, come Oscar night, adaptations will score 100%.

2016 OSCAR UPDATE: 100% of this year’s major category wins (Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress) were for adaptations, or work on adaptations.

With that in mind, here’s a quick look at how this year’s Best Picture nominees—all of them adaptations—made it to the big screen. Read more…

Adaptations Sweep 2016 Oscar Nominations

by John Robert Marlow
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The long-trending dominance of adaptations is now complete. In a
near-total sweep of the top Academy Award nominations (39 of 43 noms), 7 of the 8 Best Picture noms are based on a book or true-life story (or both)—and number 8 is a reboot of an earlier movie (making it an adaptation as well).

Details on the works that spawned all but 4 of this year’s major Oscar nominations (Best Picture, Screenplay, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, and Director) follow. Read more…

Make Your Story A Movie: Adapting Your Book or Story for Hollywood

by John Robert Marlow
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Make Your Book A Movie: Adapting Your Book or Story for Hollywood (complete version)

by John Robert Marlow and Jacqueline Radley

Authors’ Note: This article, published in several versions (print and online) and repeatedly revised and expanded, has now been— appropriately—adapted into a book, which contains far more information than could possibly be squeezed into a single article or blog post. New material will continue to be added to the blog through additional posts, so book and blog will grow together. Book info, source list, reviews and sample chapters can be found on this site’s book page.

Most authors would like to see their work adapted for the big (or small) screen, but the path from here to there is, at best, unfamiliar-and can seem incomprehensible. Some bestsellers are made into movies, others ignored. Obscure books, short stories, and magazine articles are blessed by Hollywood’s magic, while thousands of screenplays are turned away. Harry Potter sells to Hollywood a mere year after publication, while The Lord of the Rings takes nearly five decades to hit the screen. What sense does that make? Is there no rhyme or reason here?

Well, yes, actually. But it’s hard to make out when-like most writers-you’re on the outside looking in. This article will take you through the looking glass and make some sense of the enigma that is the Hollywood adaptation process. More importantly, it will explain why some books are made into movies while others are not, and what you can do to make your book (or story) more attractive to filmmakers. To do that, we’ve pooled our own knowledge and consulted with several friends in the industry. Read more…