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Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification
aka: The Sliding Scale Of Adaptation Decay
When creating a movie from a story already well-known in another medium, those making it are often faced with a crippling dilemma. How true can we stay to the source material without risking a failure at the box office? It can be a very hard call for a director. On the one hand, Fan Dumb will cry "Ruined FOREVER" should he change one iota of the source material, and he may find himself a victim of the fandom's ire from then on. On the other hand, not changing a thing can result in either a very poorly-made movie or one that relies so heavily on the source material that people unfamiliar with the work will be completely lost.

The scale runs something like this:
  • 5. Identical Adaptation: A movie in which next to nothing is changed. These rarely fare well outside the established Fandom.
  • 4. Near-Identical Adaptation: A movie that changes the material just enough to gain a PG rating or be of reasonable length. Usually rereleased with a Director's Cut.
  • 3. Pragmatic Adaptation: Probably the ideal rating. A movie that manages to capture the spirit of the original work, while at the same time, embracing the new medium. These are generally big hits.
  • 2. Recognizable Adaptation: Still bears enough resemblance to its source material that it can be realized as an adaptation. May involve a Setting Update.
  • 1. In Name Only: Shares only the name and possibly the main characters.

The scale, however, is not set in stone, and often times, there is overlap. Also, Tropes Are Not Bad as any movie in any of these categories can become a great success. However, the further a movie falls from the center, the less likely that is.

This trope is usually applied to movie adaptations — The Film of the Book especially — although it can be applied to adaptations from movies as well, since other formats (books, comics, television series) have room for more material. See also The Problem with Licensed Games for the video game equivalent.

Examples:

Type 5:

Type 4:

Type 3: Pragmatic Adaptation

Type 2:

Type 1:

Special Cases:

  • Simon Birch, the film adaptation of A Prayer for Owen Meany, goes from Type 1 to Type 5 as the story progresses, passing through almost every type along the way.

Screen-to-Stage AdaptationMedia Adaptation TropesSofter And Slower Cover
Season FluiditySorting Algorithm of TropesSliding Scale of Alternate History Plausibility

alternative title(s): The Sliding Scale Of Adaptation Decay; Sliding Scale Of Adaptation Faithfulness; Sliding Scale Of Adaptation Decay
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