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 specific 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. It likely could have stood on its own as an original work otherwise.
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.
- The Princess Bride
- The Lord of the Rings (Ralph Bakshi's adaptation)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and the Chamber of Secrets
- Brokeback Mountain
- Fiddler on the Roof cuts a few musical numbers, but is otherwise identical
- Fight Club
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- The Godfather
- The animated version of The Hobbit
- Scott Pilgrim
- Peter Pan: Although very little of the original dialogue is the same, the storyline is quite faithful to Barrie's stageplay.
- The Little Prince (1974 film musical)
- The Blue Bird (1976 film)
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- National Lampoon's Vacation changes some names and gives the story a mostly-happy ending
- Life of Pi
- The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and both parts of Mockingjay
- Ender's Game
- The Silence of the Lambs
- Vampire Academy is mostly loyal to the first novel of the Vampire Academy series. The differences are generally minor. Three characters receive name changes, one character is younger and more attractive than her book counterpart, three characters are of different age than their book counterparts, two characters who survive the original novel are killed in the film, Natalie Dashkov kills a different person than the one she killed in the novel (Ray instead of Mr. Nagy), Lissa does not practice Self-Harm, and some minor book characters do not appear at all in the films. The most obvious change comes from the style of clothes the characters wear. In the books, the students of the Academy wear regular street clothes. It is a sore spot for Rose that she can't afford decent clothing, at one point wearing clothes she received from the Salvation Army. In the films, both Moroi and dhampir students wear school uniforms. Rose wears a relatively stylish uniform.
- The Maze Runner
- The Martian
- Studio Ghibli's Arrietty, to the original novel by Mary Norton, making it the most faithful film or TV adaptation of the original books to date.
- Marvel's many movie franchises.
- Death Note
- The Godfather Part II
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, and Half-Blood Prince. Both parts of Deathly Hallows are about a 3.5, as they cover the novel more thoroughly and faithfully than the previous four films, but not as much as the first two.
- The Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson's adaptations)
- Subverted with 2001, as both the book and its film version were written in tandem by their respective authors.
- The Last Unicorn, adapted by the original author.
- The Novelization of Revenge of the Sith
- The Walking Dead
- The World God Only Knows anime
- The first Neverending Story film
- The first Jurassic Park movie
- Macross: Do You Remember Love?, for the original Super Dimension Fortress Macross.
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
- 101 Dalmatians.
- Being There
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the 1971 film and 2013 stage musical.
- Fantastic Mr. Fox: Most of the incidents from the original novel remain (though not all in the same order), but the heavy amount of Adaptation Expansion alters the nature of the film to a fair degree.
- Annie (both the 1982 and 1999 versions)
- Space Battleship Yamato, due to character changes
- Sonic X (Though the Sonic Adventure Series based arcs could go up to a 4)
- The Colour of Magic
- Going Postal is debatable somewhere between 3 and 2.
- The Chronicles of Narnia is somewhere between 3 and 4. The first film is probably a 4 while the other two films are closer to 3.
- Coraline, with Neil Gaiman's support.
- Hangman's Curse: the story is the same but the background is dramatically different.
- Ouran High School Host Club
- Black Butler season 1 (arguably a 2.5 for the anime-original ending, but it's still very close in tone and theme to the manga, and the previous 3/4 of the anime are very faithful to the manga)
- Season 1-4 of Game of Thrones
- The first two episodes of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches
- Goldfinger, one of the very few adaptations considered better than the original book
- Seventh Son, the movie adaptation of The Wardstone Chronicles
- 80 Days is about a 1.5: same characters, includes much of the plot and various supporting characters in certain routes, but in a substantially changed world, and most of the other routes are completely original.
- How to Train Your Dragon
- Dragonball Evolution
- Dresden Files TV Series
- Elementary TV Series
- Howl's Moving Castle
- Battlestar Galactica remake
- Cirque Du Freak based on the Saga Of Darren Shan books
- Legend of the Seeker, based of the Sword of Truth series.
- Pinocchio deleted many of the characters and challenges of the original book.
- Fullmetal Alchemist (2003 adaptation)
- Abridged version of Pinocchio by Phoenix Games
- The Last Airbender
- Legend Of The Guardians The Owls Of Ga Hoole directed by Zack Snyder
- The Neverending Story 2: The Next Chapter
- Thunderbirds, dramatic change in premise and mood.
- Trigun (anime), though it occasionally goes up to three.
- First reports from translators claim that the 2011 Live-Action Adaptation of Ranma ˝ starts here and may dip lower.
- The Man Who Fell to Earth
- Tenchi Universe
- The Power of One movie
- BIONICLE the game and Bionicle Heroes.
- Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie
- The King and I
- The Wizard of Oz (1939). Almost a 3, but not quite.
- The Secret Of NIMH
- Disney's The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, andAladdin.
- The animated version of The Return of the King
- The Lightning Thief
- All but the first two episodes of the live-action drama of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches
- The Cat in the Hat
- The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World
- Captain Horatio Hornblower, R. N.
- Horatio Hornblower
- Masters of Sex, based on Real Life
- Les Misérables the musical
- Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
- Sands of Destruction was made into a game, anime, and manga with very different plots.
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- The 100
- Season 5 forward of Game of Thrones.
- The Divergent Series: Allegiant.
- The Name of the Rose
- Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D., the Alternate Continuity remakes of the first two Dalek serials from Doctor Who.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has a massively changed Willy Wonka.
- 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.
- Power Rangers has varied in faithfulness to Super Sentai from season to season. They range from being as similar as a 4 (Wild Force, Samurai) to as different as a 1 (In Space, RPM).
- A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017): The first three episodes (The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room and The Wide Window) are all Type 4, while the fouth episode The Miserable Mill (which is the only episode so far not to be written by the original author, Daniel Handler) scores somewhere around a 2 or a 3.
- The Disney Silly Symphonies shorts adapted Hans Christian Andersen's The Ugly Duckling twice—the 1931 short is a Type 1 (In-Name-Only) adaptation of the original story, while the 1939 short is a Type 4 that sticks much closer to the source material.
- The 1934 Betty Boop cartoon Snow White starts off as Type 4, but drifts into Type 1 around the middle.
- Film adaptations of Les Misérables run the gamut from Type 4 (1934, 1958, 1978) to Type 3 (1982) to Type 2 (1998, 2012) to borderline Type 1 (1935, 1948, 1952).
- The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad: The Wind in the Willows segment scores a 2, and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow segment scores about a 3.5 or 4.
- Stanley Kubrick's film of The Shining is interesting in that it starts out as a Type 4, but it gradually deviates further and further from the book until it becomes a Type 2.
- The Nutty Professor remake has a similar process. The first half ranges roughly between a 3.5-4, and the second half becomes a Type 1, but turns into a 4 again at the Climax.
- Adaptations of the Pokémon games fall all over the scale, though so far none have quite reached the extremes of 1 or 5. Of the more widely-known adaptations:
- The original anime is a type 3 with heavy type 2 leanings, with exactly how heavy depending on the circumstances; most of the basics of the world of the games are there and the show adapts parts of the plots of the games to at least some extent suiting its format (collecting badges to face the League, fighting the evil teams of each generation), but there's a lot of Adaptation Expansion and the fine details of it all can get a fair bit different from the games.
- Pokémon Special is very much a type 3, but has shades of Type 4 and Type 2 in its interpretation of certain aspects of the 'verse, certain characters, and certain plotlines (Type 2 for the latter two being more common early on.
- Pokémon Origins is a blatant Type 4 (and deliberately designed as one) of the original pair of games. There are still several things preventing it from being a Type 5, however, the most notable being the franchise debut of Mega Charizard X.
- Most notably the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While most people would agree it's usually a 3, there are some movies that hit 4 (using a lot of elements from the comics as they were, i.e. The Super Soldier serum), with others that hit the 2 area (removing or heavily altering comic book elements, i.e. how Pym Particles work).
- The older and more established the original work is, and the more existing film adaptations that have been done with it, the less "need" new adaptations will feel to stick closely to the original, and the more likely chance that they will take their own approaches. This is especially true if the work is in the Public Domain, and that's why works by people like William Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens get so many Setting Updates and reinterpretations.
- Musicals and more recent plays that get film adaptations tend to be relatively faithfully-adapted, other than for length. It helps that they're already adapted to a more similar medium (they have a script, they take into account the visual element in a way novels don't, etc.)
- Anime fall into some predictable patterns:
- Manga and novel adaptations that are of finished works tend to be in the 3-5 range, unless they are very old and established works with previous adaptations, in which case they might fall lower on the scale.
- Manga and novel adaptations of ongoing works vary based on what the original creator and the studio want them to do with it. If they just stop the story at a certain point (planning to animate more when there's more if the show does well enough), they're usually type 4-5. If they stall for time using "filler arcs" (see: Naruto and One Piece), the presence of those fits them into type 3. Series that get anime-original endings vary based on how early the ending is established, varying from type 2-3 depending on that.
- Video game and Visual Novel adaptations necessarily have to make some changes to turn a branching story into a linear one, so they usually fall in the 2-3 range. In the case of some mobile or card game adaptations, they might have to make up a story from scratch where the original didn't have one, falling into type 1.