2013: the year of the literary movie?
If you’re the type who insists on reading the book before seeing the movie version, we hope you fired up your Kindle, like, two months ago. Because as 2012 draws to a close and we survey the 2013 cinematic landscape, it’s evident producers have been spending a lot of time loafing around their local Barnes & Noble.
To wit, approximately 20 of the year’s movies are based on novels or well-worn fairy tales familiar to young and old. Of course, Hollywood has been borrowing from books for the better part of a century – audiences were jetting “Around the World in Eighty Days” and riding with “Black Beauty” before “talkies” ever became a thing. But it seems that 2013, in particular, will be a watershed year for adaptations.
The proliferation of literary movies is no surprise to Boxoffice.com editor Phil Contrino, who tells MTV News that these sorts of projects are no-brainers for an often risk-averse film industry.
“Hollywood doesn’t like to gamble if it doesn’t have to,” he said. “When you have an established property, whether it’s a comic book or literary works, to them it represents much less of a gamble because you bring in a built-in audience already. The recognition factor is huge for a lot of these properties.”
And with nearly two dozen adaptations slated for release throughout 2013, it seems there’s a film for every taste and fandom.
The young-adult demographic has been of particular interest to producers of late. Thanks to the wild successes of “Harry Potter” and “The Twilight Saga,” studios are scrambling to fill the void with fledgling franchises like “Beautiful Creatures” and “The Mortal Instruments.”
“In terms of ‘Beautiful Creatures’ and ‘Mortal Instruments,’ it couldn’t be more obvious they’re going for the ‘Twilight’ crowd,” Contrino said. ” ‘Hunger Games,’ to me, is closer to ‘Harry Potter’ to how big it is. If you compare the first ‘Hunger Games’ to the first ‘Harry Potter,’ it’s bigger. I think ‘Mortal Instruments’ and ‘Beautiful Creatures’ would fit the ‘Twilight’ mold.”
Fairy tale re-imaginings comprise another family-friendly category that has seen a lot of action recently. You’ll recall the dueling Snow Whites of 2012 (“Mirror Mirror” and “Snow White and the Huntsman”), and thankfully, 2013 promises a bit more diversity in its re-tellings, with “Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters,” “Jack and the Giant Slayer” and “Oz: The Great and Powerful” set to lead the imports from a land far, far away.
For fans of classic literature, Baz Luhrmann will sprinkle his signature razzle and dazzle all over F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” enlisting stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire for a trip to 1920s-era Long Island. And let’s not forget Joss Whedon’s take on William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” which contrary to its name, is reportedly worth all of the ado.
Of course, no discussion of literary adaptations would be complete without mentioning he of the cancer-stricken tearjerkers, Nicholas Sparks, who’s been making readers (and moviegoers) weep since “Message in a Bottle” swept into theaters in 1999. He’ll be back this year with “Safe Haven,” starring Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel. (So don’t forget the tissues!)
And the list goes on and on, with “The Host,” “Carrie,” “World War Z,” “Ender’s Game” and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” making the leap from page to premiere. Whether all of these literary movies will add up to a Hollywood happy ending is yet to be seen. But we’ll prime our reading list, nonetheless.