PDA

View Full Version : Book to movie question


Pasquali56
04-23-2013, 03:41 PM
A friend of mine wrote a novel that was published by a major publishing house. The book basically flopped. I think it sold maybe 1500 copies (he was so embarrassed that he never told me the real figure). The reviews were pretty mixed. He now has a big agent who is going to shop it as a film (the screenplay is not written yet).

I don't have any stake in this, but it made me wonder if studios and even networks evaluate a book (as a prospect for production) only by its popularity -- or will they look at a book with poor sales, but say that the story lends itself better to a movie than the book? Obviously, a best selling book is going to generate more interest, although many don't translate to film. But I'm just wondering about a book with poor sales. Would most execs just dismiss it because of the lack of interest in the material by consumers?

SoCalScribe
04-23-2013, 03:59 PM
A friend of mine wrote a novel that was published by a major publishing house. The book basically flopped. I think it sold maybe 1500 copies (he was so embarrassed that he never told me the real figure). The reviews were pretty mixed. He now has a big agent who is going to shop it as a film (the screenplay is not written yet).

I don't have any stake in this, but it made me wonder if studios and even networks evaluate a book (as a prospect for production) only by its popularity -- or will they look at a book with poor sales, but say that the story lends itself better to a movie than the book? Obviously, a best selling book is going to generate more interest, although many don't translate to film. But I'm just wondering about a book with poor sales. Would most execs just dismiss it because of the lack of interest in the material by consumers?

The appeal of most books (and other IP) is the potential built-in audience. If a book doesn't have great sales or that large fanbase, it's considerably less attractive to a motion picture exec. Obviously, they can still fall in love with the material on its own merits, but in that respect it's not any more or less attractive than an original property. In some cases, execs might even think it's a strike against the property (i.e. that it had a genuine shot to get out in the marketplace and already failed once).

Ultimately, the performance or success of an IP affects two key areas: desirability and value. If it's not successful, it will be less desirable and worth less money to a prodco. So that's not to say a failed book will never make it as a movie project... but you might have to query and sell someone on it as hard as you would a spec, and your rights option could be around scale as opposed to a hit book where the author is the one being pursued and offered six or seven figures.

Pasquali56
04-23-2013, 04:19 PM
Good stuff, SoCal. Just out of curiosity, do you know of any failed books that ended up being successful movies?

emily blake
04-23-2013, 05:17 PM
Sideways. But that's an extremely weird case.

mgwriter
04-23-2013, 05:37 PM
if a powerful star likes the book and sees it as a vehicle for themselves, who knows?

I don't remember the book, "Nothing Lasts Forever" by Roderick Thorp being a mega blockbuster. The movie based on that book seemed to do okay at the box office, some little flick called Die Hard?

JoeBanks
04-23-2013, 07:12 PM
I don't remember the book, "Nothing Lasts Forever" by Roderick Thorp being a mega blockbuster. The movie based on that book seemed to do okay at the box office, some little flick called Die Hard?

It was still a Detective Joe Leland book. They originally made The Detective with Frank Sinatra as Leland, so it wasn't a completely unknown property in Hollywood.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nothing_Lasts_Forever_(1979_novel)

Derek Haas
04-23-2013, 10:13 PM
Trying to shop an unknown book without a major attachment would be equivalent to trying to sell an unknown screenwriter's screenplay without a major attachment.

Not impossible, but rare.