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We Live In The Boom Of Book Adaptation And Here Is Why

Dune, Bridgerton, Maid, The Lost Daughter, Shadow And Bone, The Wheel Of Time and The Power Of The Dog. If you have seen some of these productions lately, you may know what all of them have in common: they are all book adaptations.

While turning pages into movies and TV shows is not a new concept – it has been happening since the 19th century – it does seem that we are living in a time in which books are being more and more adapted to the screens. According to Publishers Marketplace, more than 4.000 deals for film and television have been set since the year 2000.

The report also showed that, for the first time, TV adaptations surpassed the number of movie ones. That data seems odd when we think about it, because TV Shows tend to last many seasons while most novels are a ‘quick’ start to finish experience. What changed that though?

The boom of TV Adaptation

One can argue that the increasing dominance of streaming has a hand in that. Limited series and even shows with only one or two seasons have been more accepted and becoming success cases. Attached to that, is the fact that when you develop an adaptation in, let’s say, eight episodes instead of a two hour movie, you have way more time and space to develop characters and deliver all the important scenes and details that fans of the book want to see on the screen. 

Take Normal People, from Hulu, as an example. This show is an adaptation of a Sally Rooney book that has less than 300 pages. It may seem that ten episodes are too much to adapt it, but it is the exact opposite: the show is so detailed and so faithful to what the author did in the book that it was a huge success. It has a 91% score on Rotten Tomatoes and was nominated for four Emmy Awards. 

Normal People Trailer (Official) • A Hulu Original

Of course, we have a different scenario when we talk about book series. But let’s think about it: since the beginning of the century, some very successful book series have been turned into movie franchises. Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Lord Of The Rings and more.

Lately, though, we have seen more series being turned into TV Shows. Game of Thrones might be one of the most successful examples we can give, but there is also Outlander, Shadow and Bone and, of course, Bridgerton, which is currently one of Netflix’s most popular shows. And be aware, more exciting things are in the making: Percy Jackson is becoming a series for Disney+ and Lord Of The Rings is being adapted again, this time as a TV Show for Amazon Prime Video.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – Teaser Trailer | Prime Video

Movie adaptations

If you are more of a movie person, do not worry. This does not mean at all that film adaptations are dying. Let’s have a look at the last award season: five of the main nominees at the Oscars were based on books. Dune, adapted from a classic sci-fi book from 1965, was one of the highest grossing films in 2021.

However, there is no denying that, once again, streaming is leading the way in this category as well. Netflix and other platforms are smart to understand what could conquer the younger public and so movies such as To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and All The Bright Places were born.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before | Official Trailer | Netflix

There is also much more to come: Where The Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens, is becoming a movie expected to hit theaters in July. My Policeman, by Bethan Roberts, is also coming to the screen: starring the one and only Harry Styles and Emma Corrin, it will be released on Amazon Prime Video sometime in 2022. 

Why does this matter so much to the literary market?

It is important to notice that book adaptations do not only benefit the cinematography industry. We are talking about an era in which books are more marginalized and less consumed than ever, so getting attention to this media, even if it is through other ones, is very important.  

When a book becomes a movie or a TV show, the effect is almost immediate: the sales grow, the author becomes more popular and more people become interested in reading the original work. 

According to an article by The Atlantic, a novel that was adapted to the screen will receive four times more reviews on Goodreads than one that was not. They gather this data by analyzing a list of 400 books made in the 21st century that fell into specific categories, such as being a best-seller or a critic’s pick. 

It feels like a perfect marriage: the production companies attract viewers and promotion among book fandoms and novels find prestige and new readers when a film or show is made. Of course, it all can go downhill when the adaptation is not carefully done. Remember the Percy Jackson movies or The Mortal Instruments, both film and show? Creating a work that pleases both fans and industry is adaptations’ Achilles heel. But when it works, there is no doubt about the potential for success. 

What to keep an eye on

To finish this article in a great way, we gathered a list of books that are becoming movies or TV shows that you should keep an eye on. Do not forget that some were already mentioned previously. Enjoy!

Heartstopper: based on the comics by Alice Oseman, it will be released on April 22nd on Netflix.

Under the Banner of Heaven: Daisy Edgar-Jones and Andrew Garfield will star in this limited series for Hulu. It will premiere on April 28th. 

Conversations With Friends: another novel by Sally Rooney that is turned into a limited series, it will be released on May 15th.

Bullet Train: starring Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Joey King and Logan Lerman, this movie based on a japanese novel will hit theaters on July 29th.

Daisy Jones & The Six: this show is expected to be released sometime in 2022 on Amazon Prime Video. The cast includes Riley Keough and Sam Claflin.Deep Water: this psychological thriller is becoming a movie with Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas expected to be released in 2022.


The article above was edited by Isabela Novelli.

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Julia Queiroz

Casper Libero '23

Soon to be journalist. Passionate about writing, telling stories and getting to know the world.
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