If you read my blogs, you already know how much I drool and fangirl over John Grisham! His novel “Pelican Brief” is one of my all-time favorites. But as it happens, I had watched the movie adaptation of this book before I could read it.
Generally, bookworms hate the book-to-movie adaptations (I belong to that club). It was no exception this time either (I knew the book would be better). However, I noticed something else. I was keen to read the book after watching the film.
Does it happen to you, too? Do you rush to the movies (if available) after reading a novel? Or do you buy the book only if you find the film interesting?
All these thoughts took me to one simple question, “Are movies boosting book reads, or the other way around?” To get the answer, I have delved into the realm of movie vs book (I got more confused, honestly).
Get a popcorn and bear with me to the end. I might bore you with some opinions (that you won’t like) and statistics (that you barely care about). Let’s start.
Do Movies Really Inspire the Audience to Read Books?
When you read a book, it enchants your imagination. Take my example. I have created separate worlds for each novel I’ve finished. When I read “The Book Thief,” I knew exactly how Liesel looked and where she lived.
But when I watched the movie, the streets, the basement, and even the characters looked unfamiliar. In short, the film didn’t match my imagination. While my friends were emotional and weeping after the movie, I sulked out of disappointment.
This happened several times.
But yes, the opposite is also true. Just as I said, I wanted to read the Pelican Brief as soon as possible after watching the film.
The movie intrigued me, without any doubt. It happened with Shawshank Redemption, A Song of Ice and Fire, The Witcher, Shadows and Bones, and God knows how many other novels.
As for the statistics, it is not just me. The publishers also expect a rise in their sales after the release of a novel-based movie. Goodreads once suggested that some book engagement increases by 1000%. Can you imagine?
After the release of the first Harry Potter movie, the book sales tripped. The publishers ended up selling 956,700 units of books in only 4 weeks.
Wooh! It looks like movies are literally fueling the book business. Do not come to a conclusion yet. Let’s see the other side of the coin.
Readers Want to Watch The Movie Anyway
Well, I know some people (Ahem! Me) who are up for any random movie or book. Do they like a book adaptation? They might read the novel later—no thoughts given.
Take me as an example again. I devoured The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. I am so into the story that I want a movie on this novel as early as possible (Anyone? Please make it happen).
In 2014, after the release of Gone Girl, a team surveyed Twitter posts to get a hold of their psychology on movies before or after reading books. Around 4000 – 5000 people had already read or were in the middle of reading the book.
Even though they already knew the story, more than 1500 users were up for the movie anyway.
The numbers are not bad after all. It shows that readers are keen to see their imagination taking shapes. No wonder audiences love The Lord of The Rings or the Harry Potter series this much.
Are Books Better Than Films?
Just so people do not get triggered, let me rephrase the question. Are original books better than movie adaptations?
“Books or movies?” This debate has been universal and ongoing for decades. The answer is yet to be found. It seems that no group is ready to compromise.
For bookworms, reading the original novel is always better than some movie adaptation. I am a Team bookworm, and I second this statement. It doesn’t matter if Brad Pitt is playing the character. There will be something missing (Always).
Yes, I understand. It is nearly impossible to capture the details and complexity of a storyline on the screen. Also, screen time for films is limited, 3 to 4 hours max. It is not always enough to bring the story to life.
But do not underestimate films. The movie adaptations of most novels are no less impressive than the original books. It’s just that the bookworms have a higher expectation.
The movies can create the atmosphere and bring the battles and thrills to life. It means you can live each moment without giving much thought.
Take the Lord of The Rings as an example. I don’t think any reader could have imagined Middle-earth in such detail as shown in the cinema.
While you cannot force your friends to read a 700-page novel, they are always down for a 2-hour movie. Isn’t it a win-win? You can still rant about your favorite character without boring your pals. No wonder they say summary movies are better than books.
An article reports that Gen-Z is more into movie adaptations than actual books. So, I am guessing this has become a generational thing now.
In my opinion, original novels are always better than the movie adaptations. But I am not against these films. In fact, I think movies based on books are an excellent way to put extraordinary stories out for the masses.
Movies Based on Books: Is It A Good Idea?
Apparently, Cinderella and King John were the first books that went into movies. It was the year 1899, and the idea was definitely a success. Jumping forward to 2023, movies based on novels make up 70% of the 20 top-grossing films internationally. Another statistic shows that the book-adapted films generate 53% more revenue.
Interesting. Isn’t it? Clearly, novel-based movies are in demand. Audiences, both bookworms, and non-readers, are welcoming these films warmheartedly. As these movies get blockbuster hits, the producers are keener to invest their money here.
I mean, you cannot blame them really. Any best-selling book already has an established audience who will come to the theater for sure. And others will definitely take a peek into the hall just for entertainment. So, you cannot really lose money if you follow this strategy.
Does it mean making movies based on novels is actually a good idea? Business-wise? Definitely. But for an audience, who has already read the book? You have to go a long way to match their expectation, pal.
My Last Thought
If I had to choose between reading vs. watching, I would have gone with the former. But are movie adaptations useless? A big no.
I can never deny that films based on novels have increased reading and the popularity of that specific book. People now want to get that book in their library regardless of whether they will ever read it or not. I genuinely feel that this is great.
Again, people do wish to watch a movie based on their favorite novels. I know the numbers are low. But the bookworms are just stubborn. You cannot help them.
However, it is also true that the majority of audiences of a book-adopted film come from the book’s fan base (stubborn but loyal, see?).
Lastly, I just want to say do whatever you feel like. Read a book and never watch the movie, or watch the film and dump the book. Whatever makes you happy. However, if you want to do both, just read the book first (You will never regret your money. Trust me!).