Recent statistics suggest that the UK book market increased in volume in 2018, the fourth consecutive year in which the industry has demonstrated growth. Approximately 190 million book sales in the 12-month period translated into an annual market value of £1.63bn, up £34m on the previous year. The Guardian said that a physical book is “leading the entertainment pack”. Former First Lady, Michelle Obama, released her memoir, titled Becoming, while Adam Kay’s saw his book, This is Going to Hurt, a non-fiction recollection of his time as a junior doctor, go to print — both books finishing the year in the top five sellers.
The book printing industry, despite speculation that it would fall, much like the CD or DVD, is boasting major positives. Many of the astounding pieces of literature we have been lucky enough to lay our hands on have been adapted for the big screen. In this article, we set out to examine the biggest book to screen successes, analysing grossing profit, and the reception which the film received.
Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone
We’ve all been bored during a long commute at some point or another, but J.K. Rowling put her time to good use when she came up with the idea for the Harry Potter series on the train! During her commute between Manchester and London, the Gloucestershire-bred novelist created Harry Potter, a fictional, young, orphaned wizard. In a beautifully heart-felt fashion, the book drew upon some of Rowling’s own personal life experiences, including losing her mother following a lengthy battle with multiple sclerosis, which adds a significant emotional dimension to the book.
Initially, the book was rejected by publishers as they felt that young children would not be able to grasp the complex storylines. After a turbulent infancy, the book was finally picked up and became an international success almost immediately. Movie moguls Warner Bros. soon recognised the success emulated by the print copy and jumped at the chance to turn the text into a mind-blowing visual. Christopher Columbus directed the film which featured Daniel Radcliffe as Harry and saw worldwide box office returns of an astonishing £765 million. Six more books featured in the series, with a further seven films — owing to one of the greatest creations, in both platforms, of all time.
Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight novel made it on to our screens in 2008. The film version starts Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart as brooding vampire Edward Cullen and naïve teenager Bella Swan, respectively. The saga, which borrows elements from both romance and horror genres, focuses on the efforts of Edward and his family to protect Bella from an evil vampire coven.
Initially, the plot of the film was significantly different to the books, but the director opted to scrap this version. Melissa Rosenberg wrote a new adaptation of the novel shortly before the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike and sought to be faithful to the novel’s storyline. Twilight was released in theatres on the 21st November 2008, grossing an impressive $393 globally. It also became the most popular DVD of the year after its release in 2009. Following the film’s success, New Moon and Eclipse, the next two novels in the series, were produced as films the following year.
Silver Linings Playbook
Books usually make the transition to film after they have sold well and experienced commercial success. However, Matthew Quick’s novel was significantly different. The author, a former high school teacher from New Jersey, left his job and pursued his career as a writer. The book, once finally launched, had virtually bankrupt the novelist, therefore when directors came knocking, asking about taking on the story, Quick was ecstatic — tragically the first two directors, who were majorly interested in adapting the book to film, died within six months of one another. Fortunately, David O. Russell came along, drafting in major Hollywood stars such Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro. The story which follows the connection made between Pat, who suffers from bipolar, and Tiffany, who battles with an unlabeled mental illness, is a gripping yet often tragic portrayal of life spent struggling with this type of condition. Although many aspects of the film were saddening, the reception it received was quite joyous. At the box office, it generated £185m worldwide and even won Jennifer Lawrence her first Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role at the Academy Awards.
Irvine Welsh’s novel centering around addiction in ‘90s Edinburgh was voted Scotland’s favourite novel back in 2013, fighting off stiff competition from the likes of Ian Rankin’s Black and Blue. The plot of the book, which homes in on the lives of twenty-something Leith frequenters, Begbie, Renton, Sick Boy, and Spud, was picked up by English film director Danny Boyle, whose famous productions have also included Slumdog Millionaire and the upcoming Bond 25.
The adaptation, which featured legends of the British screen, such as Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, and Robert Carlyle, cleared almost £45m in the international box office. Considered as a British cult classic and a somewhat harrowing right of passage for any film lover over the age of 18. 22 years after its initial release, the film has still yet to date, and in a sense, acts as a rather unnerving representational life lesson, with the characters, particularly Sick Boy, offering a humorous theory of existence on more than one occasion. Back in 2017, a sequel to Trainspotting was released, named T2, and it featured a cameo appearance from the initial author Irvine Welsh, who director Danny Boyle described as, “someone who wrote a genuine masterpiece.”