Why Are Books Made into Movies? For Money?!


Book adaptations are becoming increasingly popular.

Over the past few years, we have seen movies based on books such as Roald Dahls' "The Witches," Jane Austen's' "Emma," and Jenny Han's "To All The Boys I've Loved Before."

In truth, one cannot turn on Netflix without coming across 1 or 2 book adaptations in one form or another.

Despite more focus on the original source material, the phrase "the book was better" is still common in readers when an adaptation effectively destroys their favorite book.

So why are books made into movies?

Simply put- yes.

Books are excellent source materials for the movie industry because they already have a pre-established fan base. For example "Harry Potter," or "Lord of the Rings," were already known stories. These stories can cut above the noise for moviemakers, and, 9 times out of 10, readers are pre-invested in the movie before even seeing the trailer.

Why are books made into movies?

There are other reasons to turn to books when creating a movie. While it doesn't guarantee success, it provides inspiration.

It is a lower-risk investment

Choosing a book as the basis for a movie lowers the risk considerably when it comes to costs. Naturally, as viewers, we expect more from movies when it comes to CGI, actor quality, and the overall dramatics of the plot. The costs are higher, the time taken to film is longer, and the explosions are bigger.

Choosing a book as a basis for a movie massively reduces the investment risks as you have a known story with fans at the ready.

It is a ready-made plot

While scriptwriting will absolutely still be a part of making the movie, the job becomes easier for the writers. They already have a story, plot, and world at their disposal. Creatively speaking, the challenge then turns to how to bring this well-loved world to life.

Books are an inspiration, a muse, and a source material for scriptwriters, artists, and directors alike.

What percentage of books are made into movies?

With the ability to independently publish books at an author's disposal, there are millions of published books in the world.

Movie adaptations are actually fantastic for authors. It introduces readers to genres they may not have realized they liked and, from here, more authors within that genre.

On average, it seems around 30 books are turned into movies each year.

In 2020, approximately 25 adaptations were released, not including TV adaptations. While this seems like a high number, it is actually a pretty low percentage of books when compared to the sheer scope of material available.

In general, adaptions are based on popular, best-selling novels that will suit the big screen. Not all best-selling books transfer easily to the big screen and may work better as a TV adaption or even a game adaption.

Do authors get paid for movie rights?

In short, yes, authors get paid for movie rights.

The truth is that it is actually more complex when it comes to rights. The author effectively sells the rights to the book to the studio, which means royalties are not ordinarily a factor.

Additionally, this process tends to start with the studio purchasing an "option" to create the movie before deciding to make it. This gives them the flexibility to see if the book will translate well to film before spending too much money on the process.

This equates to the author getting a chunk sum of money instead of something akin to royalties. The amount is also usually a percentage dependent on the scale of the movie being made, so it varies between authors.

More famous authors, such as J.K Rowling, may have different deals regarding the amount received from the movies, but this is very rare and often decided between agents.

Which is usually better: the book or the movie?

This question really depends on personal taste, as well as the quality of the adaptation.

Historically, movie adaptations have varied massively with how closely they stick to the original book, with character cuts and even significant cuts in the storyline.

For example, Enders Game cut out entire storylines relating to the main characters' siblings back on Earth. However, as a movie, it stands alone and is still fantastic to watch. Whether this choice affects you really depends on personal preference.

There are also examples of movies where the adaption has gained more fans to the franchise through the ability of film to show off the world and story in a more straightforward way.

A great example of this is Lord of the Rings. I personally struggled with the book and imagery and the storylines when I first read it as a child. The movie adaptation opened this world up for me.

On a personal level, I will always be a massive advocate of the book over the movie for any book I've personally read and loved.

Reading a book is so incredibly personal. Every person reading that book is seeing the world, characters, and story differently. Movies are just one representation of the thousands of ways a book can be interpreted and viewed. It is a unique experience in itself.

Why the script in the movie is different than in the book?

This can happen for various reasons.

Firstly, time. Scripts will be adapted, simplified, and tweaked to fit the core content of the plot into the timeframe of the film.

Not every conversation from the Harry Potter books, side characters, and events made it into the movies as an example. Had they been included, the movies would be too long to release on the big screen.

It is also worth noting that when writing a book, there may be snippets of information included within conversations, descriptions, and scenes simply for the reader. Sometimes, these snippets can be shown more easily on a screen.

Additionally, sometimes screenwriters make creative decisions to expand on certain characters. For example, in the Lord of the Rings, Arwen was not actually the original character who saved Frodo, but a character called Glorfingel.

These choices are generally made to suit modern audiences, more views, condense the plot, or bring in other storylines that are easier to showcase.

What are the most famous book adaptations?

The Harry Potter series, Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit trilogy are certainly up there as some of the most popular book to movie adaptations. Additionally, there are a lot of movies based on Stephen King's novels that are incredibly famous.

Beyond this, you have well-known movies such as Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey to adaptations of older novels such as Dracula, Pride and Prejudice, and Sherlock Holmes.


Book adaptations are becoming increasingly popular and benefit authors and moviemakers alike in many ways beyond just money. By introducing audiences to the sheer amount of stories available and bringing in different genres, those same audiences will seek out more works from authors of the same elk.

It is hard to say which is better, the movie or the book. Still, in general, those that have experienced both will naturally prefer the book to the movie. This is not to say the movie is not good, just that the heart of a reader will naturally stick close to a book.

Movie adaptations have, however, introduced a whole new audience to so many worlds and stories.

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