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Novelization First

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This is when a Novelization of a work (usually a film) arrives on store shelves before the work's own debut, resulting in Spoilers to those who read it. It can happen in any media, and is increasingly common in big-budget titles.

This, obviously, does not apply to cases where the original work is a book series itself (e.g. Harry Potter) and receives a re-release right before its film adaptation hits the box office. (Unless the novelization is specifically based on the adaptation, instead of the original source.)

Subtrope of Adaptation First. See also: Sequel First.



  • Famously, Star Wars.
    • Including the first six episodes plus Shadows of the Empire and The Clone Wars, as well as comics and novels of The Force Unleashed and its sequel. Notably, the very first Star Wars had a novelization known as Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker credited to George Lucas (ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster during production) and released six months before the film's initial theatrical cut, in December 1976, though this can be excused as part of the promotion of a product whose success was not at all assured.
    • The prequel trilogy each had Illustrated Screenplays simultaneously released along with multiple novelizations a month or so before the movie's release. Add in the official soundtrack, comic book and video game adaptations, and by the time of the premiere you could not only know the plot, but every single line as well. Revenge of the Sith is even a case of Graphic Novelization First, as the release of Dark Horse Comics' trade paperback predates all the other versions, including the film itself by just over two months.
    • The sequel trilogy appears to have broken that trend, with digital copies of The Force Awakens novelization out on the same day as the movie's theatrical release (four days after the Los Angeles premiere) and print copies two weeks afterwards to avoid spoiling the movie. Rogue One is given similar treatment. Notably, doing this sacrificed the potential of print copies of The Force Awakens being sold as Christmas gifts, but it was decided that this was a necessary sacrifice.
      • The Last Jedi goes even farther, not releasing in any form until close to the DVD release of the film. Perhaps owing to the divisive reaction to the film, it's being advertised as being an "expanded edition". The same was true for The Rise of Skywalker.
  • Isaac Asimov's novelization of Fantastic Voyage came out six months before the movie, leading many people to believe that Asimov originated the story, which he had to constantly deny. Some confused fans even complained about the movie getting things wrong because the novelization had corrected a few glaring plot holes that were still present in the film.
    • Eventually he had to write an entire science article both to sort this out and explain in how many ways the scientific problems of shrinking were ignored by the screenwriters. Ultimately, he acquired the rights and created Fantastic Voyage 2 - a remake in book form.
  • The novel for Spider-Man 3 was in bookstores, and even Wal-Mart, months before the actual movie was released.
  • Iron Man 2: Same as above.
  • The novel The Ice People was written as an adaptation of a big-budget movie that never got off the ground.
  • People studying literature and old German cinema to this day debate whether Metropolis was a movie adaptation of a book or the movie script got made into a novel. The novel came out first, though.
  • The novelization of The Funhouse, by Owen West (a pseudonym of Dean Koontz), came out the year before the film.
  • The novelization of Red Riding Hood was released three months before its theatrical debut
    • Partially averted. The ending is not included in the novelization; it is online, but will not be available until the movie comes out.
  • The novelizations for the first three Transformers films were released before the movies. Since the plot of Dark of the Moon revolves around a major plot twist, Michael Bay forbid the fourth and fifth movies from having book or comic adaptations.
  • Many Pixar movies - as well as the sequels to Despicable Me and The Smurfs - had their novelisations come out before the films did, as well as tie-in books.
  • Subverted by the novelization of the film version of Dick Tracy, which follows the plot beat-for-beat but carefully omits the film's twist that The Blank is Breathless Mahoney in disguise.
  • One of the earliest examples is the novelization of the original King Kong (1933) by Delos W. Lovelace which was released in December 1932, some three months before the film's premiere. As often happens with these, since it used an earlier version if the script, some details are different, such as the name of the ship.
  • The Omen (1976), as part of a marketing blitz, and done by the film's screenwriter.
  • When the book Love Story came out, novelizations were so rare that many readers didn’t know it was actually the novelization of an in-preparation film.
  • The novel version of Mulan (2020) was released in Australia on May 29, 2020. The film had been delayed from its early April release date because of the COVID pandemic, and was moved to July 23 in the nation.
  • The novelization of Penelope (2006) was published months before the film was released due to a change of American distributor.
  • The novelization of The Little Mermaid was released on April 11, 2023, a month before the film's release.

Live-Action TV

  • Novelizations of the Alien Nation Made-for-TV Movies Dark Horizon (1994) and Body and Soul (1995) were both published in 1993, based on unfilmed scripts for future episodes of the series. At the time, it was believed that attempts to revive the series would never succeed, so it was deemed okay to go ahead and do the scripts as novels instead. Then a revival did happen, but both scripts were rewritten before being filmed (in the first case to accommodate the passage of time by writing out the cliffhanger element, in the second case to add a new action subplot for the movie version), so the novels present significantly different versions of the stories.
  • This supposedly happened in the UK with the Doctor Who 20th anniversary special The Five Doctors.

Video Games

  • Project Itoh's novelization of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots was published on June 12, 2008, the same day the game was released... in Japanese only. The English translated edition wouldn't be released until four years later on June 2012.
  • The Starcraft: Ghost book came out around 2006. The computer game is indefinitely postponed.
    • That novel (Nova) was a prequel to the game. The novelization of the game (Spectres) wasn't released until 2011. Game's still missing in action, though.

Western Animation

  • The novelization of Sozin's Comet, the Grand Finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender, came out months before the actual episodes were shown on Nickelodeon (but only in the US, they had aired elsewhere in the world months before).
  • The novelization of Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension was available on June 28, 2011, earlier than the movie itself aired on Disney Channel.
  • Pretty much any given Disney film from the 90s and onward has novelizations and other merch coming out before the films.
    • Partially averted, in that many of the novelizations will prematurely end, and visual guides will be missing siginificant events and props from the end.
    • The book version of Lady and the Tramp is an extreme case of this, as it came out almost two years ahead. In fact, it was specifically written to "familiarize" audiences with the story, since Disney was then - even more than now - linked with adaptations of already-ubiquitous fairy tales.
  • The Peanuts Movie Movie Novelization was released on September 22, 2015, before the actual movie's October San Francisco premiere and November New York City premiere.
  • My Little Pony:
    • Unlike the previous three Equestria Girls movies, the novelization of My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Legend of Everfree was released on September 6, 2016 — almost a month before the (English) premiere on October 1, 2016. And the novelization itself apparently got released early in some stores, as details (and eventually the book itself) were leaked by some fans.
    • The novelization for My Little Pony: The Movie (2017) came out on August 29, 2017, but the movie would only be released more than a month later on October 6, 2017.
    • My Little Pony: A New Generation: A picture book based on the movie titled My Little Pony: A New Adventure was released on August 17, 2021, over a month before the movie's Netflix release.
  • The picture book adaptation of the Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood episode "Daniel's Fish Dies," titled Remembering Blue Fish, was published on August 29, 2017. This was nearly six months before the February 26, 2018 premiere of the episode.