Although the book is usually better than the movie, the true success of a best seller is its ascension into the world of cinema. Popular chronicles of fiction are frequently adapted to the movie screen in order to reap the rewards of a larger audience; in today’s era, your average consumer will almost always prefer to pay for a movie ticket than a bunch of pages. It can be argued that a good book has the capacity to provide more value over a longer period of time; however, the idea is that the reader has the time and necessary attention span to dissect the written story. Watching a movie takes an afternoon or an evening – some books can take days, weeks, or even months. For that reason, it is almost always optimal to turn a best seller into a blockbuster, even if that means removing some of the meat that makes that story special.
The Harry Potter Series
Take the Harry Potter series, for example. The books were fantastic, and began a cultural phenomenon that still holds the hearts of many die-hard readers and critics alike. JK Rowling made it effortless to picture Harry’s adventures in your mind, making the reader feel as if they were in another world. The extent of detail, even beyond just aspects of the plot, was incredible. Most of the utility detail (the basic detail provided by the author to describe something the reader can’t actively sense) was matched by the beautiful imagery of magical parallel to our own world. Especially in the later books, there was a lot of content to get through. The movies, in order to capture those with smaller, less retentive attention spans, were more condensed, and even threw out some key plot points and characters. The issue of the vanishing glass in the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was complained about profusely after the release of the corresponding movie. In the book, Harry makes the glass of a zoo’s snake exhibit disappear, accidentally causing his cousin, Dudley, to fall into the exhibit. In the book, the glass disappears for good, and Dudley is able to escape effortlessly (albeit really embarrassed). In the movie, Harry makes the glass reappear, trapping his helpless cousin inside. Although it may not seem like a big deal to a movie goer, this type of omission or invention of plot points can cause a best-seller’s fan base to complain.
It is always in the franchise’s best financial interest to appease moviegoers because they are the ultimate source of post publication revenue. If we are to assume that a best selling novel is normally considered for the cinema because of its status as a best seller, it is safe to also assume that it has already sold very well. After the story has been passed from consumer to consumer, the chance that book sales will increase past a point is relatively low. For that reason, many authors and franchise owners will put the book material aside in favor of producing a movie.