So, you made a thing, and that thing is successful. Suddenly folks are hounding you to make a film or a TV series or something, anything out of it that they can make money from. And while you like the idea, you're more than a bit worried about Adaptation Decay
, and not entirely sure you can trust the execs with your masterpiece.
So what do you do? Well, it's your work, so you've got some leverage. And you're a versatile guy, how hard could it be? You know what bits are important and what can be cut, and how to make sure your favorite bits stay in. So you write it yourself.
These are the results.
- Douglas Adams' level of involvement with each adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy varies, but the novels and computer game are the ones he had the biggest (or, in the case of the novel, only) hand in, and he delighted in completely reworking the story each time he tackled it. The TV version also had his input, and his last draft of the film before he died was used as the final one with minimal editing.
- William Goldman had experience writing for film, and so rewrote The Princess Bride himself, removing many of the (admittedly unfilmable) metatextual elements of his own accord and shifting the focus towards the fairy-tale parody angle, retaining the editor's notes about the story being read to him as a child as a different Framing Device.
- Louis Sachar's draft of Holes almost wasn't used, but ultimately retained, and skewed far closer to the book than the other optioned draft with minimal edits.
- Ayn Rand wrote the screenplay for the adaptation of The Fountainhead, and had significant say in the creative process. Among other things, she absolutely insisted that Howard Roark's climactic monologue at the end of the film be reproduced from the novel in its entirety; it ended up being one of the longest monologues in cinematic history.
- During the filming of To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee used to come everyday to the set, but stopped after three weeks because by then she knew the movie would be fine without her.
- Mario Puzzo and Francis Ford Coppola worked very closely to adapt The Godfather and built together the new storylines of the sequels.
- Nicholas Pileggi served as Martin Scorsese's co-writer in two adaptations of his books, Good Fellas (based off Wiseguy) and Casino.
- Stephen King, unhappy with Kubrick's version, created his own TV miniseries based on The Shining. This version adheres much more closely to the novel and avoids the Kubrick adaptation's Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane approach, presenting the events as explicitly and unambiguously supernatural in nature.
- Peter S. Beagle wrote the script for the movie adaptaion of his novel The Last Unicorn. Due to a notorious case of "Hollywood accounting," his share of the profits was much smaller than would seem fair.
- As of 2012, comedian Jerry Lewis has brought his original version of The Nutty Professor to Broadway; as well, as managing a CGI-animated sequel/remake to the original, produced exclusively for DVD.
- The scripts for the Peanuts specials, more often than not, would simply be ripped directly from the comic strips with minimal changes, so Charles Schulz was the lead writer by default. But Schulz had a lot of creative control, often writing any additional material as well, and many of the specials' trademarks--the jazz score, the casting of children, and the simplistic animation style--were his decisions.