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.
- The Princess Bride
- The Lord of the Rings (Ralph Bakshi's adaptation)
- Some of the Harry Potter films
- Brokeback Mountain
- Fight Club
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- The Godfather
- The animated version of The Hobbit
- Scott Pilgrim
- The Little Prince (1974 film musical)
- The Blue Bird (1976 film)
- To Kill a Mockingbird
- National Lampoons Vacation — Many of the characters' names were changed (only the father's name — Clark W. Griswold, Jr. — was retained), the number of kids was dropped from four (Missy, Patty, Mark, and an unnamed narrator) to two (Rusty and Audrey), and the film ends on a happier note (in the original short story, Clark travels to Hollywood, shoots Walt Disney in the leg, and was forced to go to jail while the rest of the family went home, while in the movie, he causes a ruckus at Walley World and gives a speech to Roy Walley, who lets him and his family have their day at the park).
- Life of Pi
- 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
- Batman, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin (They don't ignore the Fantastical touches and the latter two make stabs at Batman training kid sidekicks that fail more due to greater than Power Rangers level Dawson Casting and lamer than the source material dialogue.)
- Some of the Harry Potter films
- 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
- 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
- Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love?
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
- Being There
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has had three major adaptations that qualify: a 1971 film, a 2005 film, and a 2013 stage musical. All of them put their own spin on the material, which is probably most obvious in how each finds a different way for the Pinball Protagonist to "earn" their Happily Ever After beyond simply being the last kid standing in the tour group, as it is in the book. The 2005 and '13 versions also update the characters of Violet Beauregarde and Mike Teavee to keep in step with modern kiddie culture and technology.
- Annie (both the 1982 and 1999 versions)
- 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 2 films are closer to 3.
- Coraline and wanted by the author of the book. If people wanted his story, they can read his book. The movie should have its own flavor.
- the Hangman's Curse movie. Its basic storyline is almost exactly the same, but the back story and characterization can differ wildly from the source material.
- The Hunger Games.
- Game of Thrones TV series
- Much of the Disney Animated Canon (The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Jungle Book especially)
- 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.
- The Shining, as directed by Stanley Kubrick
- Fullmetal Alchemist, the 2003 anime adaptation of the manga by the same name.
- Abridged version of Pinocchio by Phoenix Games
- The Last Airbender
- Batman Returns
- The Dark Knight Saga (It was previously listed under "Pragmatic Adaptation", but between the total dissolution of any genuinely fantastical elements (Joker has smudging make-up and Bane's mask is an anaesthetic dispenser) AND the absolute refusal to ever broach the concept of this being a person who raises and trains kid sidekicks, the changes veer slightly past the pragmatic into being just as much of an artistic rebuild as Batman Returns.)
- Legend Of The Guardians directed by Zack Snyder
- The Neverending Story 2: The Next Chapter
- Thunderbirds (2004 movie directed by Johnathan Frakes. It visually looks like a live-action adaption of the television series, shares the same character names and usually their personalities. The movie however, changes the main disaster/rescue premise of the show to a Lighter and Fluffier, Spy Kids-esque romp. In order to support this genre change, a number of main characters from the series are also given significantly less screentime.)
- Trigun (anime), though it occasionally goes up to three.
- First reports from translators claim that the 2011 Live-Action Adaptation of Ranma ½ starts here and may dip lower.
- The Man Who Fell to Earth
- Tenchi Universe, as an adaptation of the first OVA arc, although it still has the spirit of the show. Tenchi in Tokyo isn't an adaptation, but if it was, it would be somewhere between Type 1 and Type 2.
- The Power of One movie
- BIONICLE the game and Bionicle Heroes.
- Sonic The Hedgehog The Movie (Although it is usually considered to be a fairly good adaptation of the spirit of the games)
- The King and I (1999 animated adaptation — Disneyfication completely warps the storyline, but the familiar songs are still there)
- The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- The Secret of NIMH
- The animated version of The Return of the King
- The Calvinverse
- The Lightning Thief
- 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.