on the question of movies/TV adaptations
December 14, 2015
I’ve been trying to find a quick way to explain why it’s so hard getting books made into movies/TV shows, and why it’s so, so rare when your favorite books (at least the ones that aren’t mega bestsellers) get made into movies/TV shows. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
It takes twenty people to say yes to a movie/TV project, and only one person to say no to scuttle the whole thing.
When I ran this idea past someone actually working on a TV show right now, he said twenty sounded low. More like twenty departments/companies full of people saying yes. And the author of the source material is the lowest person on that totem pole, in most cases.
The only reason I bring this up and that it’s an issue is that I occasionally encounter a small number of people who think I ought to be able to just turn my books into movies or TV shows. Just like that. “You should totally make Kitty into a TV show, that would be great!” And yes, it might, but I have no control over that. Recently, I was tired and not paying attention and facetiously answered with, “Oh yeah, I forgot, I totally need to get Spielberg on the phone about that.” And the person responded, completely straight, with the suggestion that I totally should because surely I know people who can get me in touch with Spielberg and it totally works that way, right?
If it worked that way, we’d have tens of thousands more movies and TV shows than we currently do. If it worked that way, the reason there aren’t tens of thousands of movies and TV shows is all those authors of those thousands of books published every year just didn’t think of it? Trust me, we’re thinking of it. We can’t not, when we get asked so often: Is there going to be a movie/TV show of your book?
Seriously, I don’t know.
And I’ve been thinking about this because I’m so grateful for the miracle of the twenty — or maybe hundred — people who all said yes to making Leviathan Wakes into a TV show. If it does well, I think it will open the door to getting more current, thoughtful SF made into movies and such. It increases the odds that more of those people will say yes in the future.