Do you ever read movie novelizations?

Discussion in 'Mayberry Lounge' started by Guestx, Aug 8, 2015.

  1. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    First off, let's deal with the term "novelization" because I know not everyone is familiar with the concept. It's exactly as it sounds: Just as screenplays are often written that are based on existing novels, a novelization is a novel that is written based on the screenplay.

    The only novelization I have ever read is the one for "Hook," which I read as a kid. As an adult, I have only been vaguely aware of their existence and haven't gone out of my way to read anything from the genre. But lately, as I have been studying screenwriting, the subject has come back into my field of view and I find it kind of interesting.

    Do you ever read movie novelizations? And if so, why? And are their any you would suggest?

    In any case, let's all take a trip down Literary Lane and learn more about this perhaps underappreciated art form.

    Novelizations extend as far back as the silent film era and have stayed with us ever since. One popular early novelization was King Kong.



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    The initial reason for their existence was that, before home video, it was common for a moviegoer to see a movie only once--in the theater--and then never see it again (or at the least see it only very rarely on television). So novelizations gave people the opportunity to experience the story and characters again, any time that they wanted.

    Novelizations, justifiably or not, have never been taken seriously as literature and have often been considered "hack work." And while this may be the case in some regards, in reality some accomplished writers have done novelizations as well.

    And while most novelizations stay in print for only a short while, some do endure. The original Star Wars novelization, for instance, has never gone out of print and continues to sell well to this day. Other classic novelizations that continue to have positive reputations include Total Recall, Gremlins, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and the Indiana Jones trilogy.

    Perhaps the king of novelizations is Alan Dean Foster, who began doing work in the field in the 70s and has continued to do so into the present day. Some of his better known works include novelizations for Krull, the original Clash of the Titans, the Star Trek reboot films, the Transformer movies, and what is probably his most revered works:



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    There are also, occasionally, anomalies in the world of novelizations. One case in point is My Girl. My girl was based on an original novel, but after the movie was released a novelization that follows the movie much more closely was also released.

    Another interesting case is that of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke worked on the screenplay for the movie together, and then Clarke did the novelization based on the screenplay. Many fans of the movie appreciate the novelization because it clarifies some of the more mysterious plot elements from the movie.



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    These days, most novelizations spring from the sci-fi or fantasy genres. In the past, all sorts of movies were novelized: Pretty in Pink, First Knight, Finding Forrester, Home Alone. . . But nearly all novelizations today go something like this: Pacific Rim, The Dark Knight, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Godzilla, etc. (Godzilla actually made it onto the NYT Bestseller's list.)

    And lastly, I'd just like to point out that there's a Top Gun novelization in existence and I fucking want that shit!



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  2. Bobby Boulders

    Bobby Boulders My Lovin' Is Digi Platinum Member

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    I have in the past, haven't in some time. I like that they sometimes elaborate on the backstory, or make things a bit clearer and understandable than what you see on the screen. Sometimes, though, they completely disregard what happens in the finished film, or base their book on an earlier version of the script, which can cause some confusion.
     
  3. Guestx

    Guestx Guest


    I actually ran across a review yesterday for the Batman Returns novelization. It started with the line, "So, here's another pile of shit." For whatever reason, I have suspicions that the original Batman novelization isn't that great either.
     
  4. Guestx

    Guestx Guest


    I'm not sure that that wouldn't be a positive for me. I get that it's a novelization of the movie, but I'd still want it to give me something new.
     
  5. Reyesnuthugr

    Reyesnuthugr Dominick Reyes Belt

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    They were created to milk a narrow niche of the young teen market but mostly to promote the movie. Marketers quickly figured out that it didn't do its supposed job very well (of either goal). The juice proved to be ≠ to the total effort of the production and distribution squeeze

    It's an intentionally watered-down, lowest-common-denominator.. I was going to say gimmick but it's not even good enough to qualify for that word. They fail at the pros of both movie and book format. Have fun!

    As mentioned before, it wasn't successful market/profit-wise, which is why you mostly only see examples from the 80's and early 90's with few exceptions. The only redeeming quality they have is that they are corny and nostalgic in the way that they failed and are semi-rare. They can be useful to display but not to actually read as they were thoughtlessly uninspired in their production.

    [source: I read several in gradeschool out of boredom, and evaluating that my boredom was not alleviated after several/any of them, haven't changed my mind. I've flipped through a few others which are hard sells at the local bookstore within the last couple years, same results]
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2015
  6. Reyesnuthugr

    Reyesnuthugr Dominick Reyes Belt

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    Yeah for very big blockbusters, you'll see them sometimes. They don't have very good distribution/sales. They are worthless and never on par with the already crappy movies they're usually novelized from.

    I own a few in boxes somewhere. Back to the Future II is one of them, one of the Karate Kid movies, and I think I might actually have the Top Gun one that TS wants but I haven't seen it for a decade so it's probably lost or as good as.
     
  7. TheGZA

    TheGZA Excellent! But not good.

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    Looking on my shelves, I have the novelizations for Mission Impossible and The Sixth Day, the latter of which I don't remember reading or buying. Mission Impossible was pretty good, though.
     
  8. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    Just from the research that I've done over the past few days, I know that Alan Dean Foster's work is generally well-respected as quality literature and his Alien novelization just recently came back into print.

    You may find these articles interesting:

    http://www.houstonpress.com/arts/top-10-novelizations-that-are-actually-worth-reading-6373838

    and

    http://www.ign.com/articles/2015/02/12/10-essential-movie-novelisations

    Regarding the Top Gun novelization, I actually went looking for it and apparently there are a few re-sellers with new copies for $42. That's a bit steep. But it's not as bad as Underworld (another one that I considered reading back in the day), which goes for $100.
     
  9. Francis Rossi

    Francis Rossi Here's a song for ya

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    Aliens was the latter. It took the Director's Cut to restore scenes that were in the book but not in the theatrical release.
     
  10. Francis Rossi

    Francis Rossi Here's a song for ya

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    Alan Dean Foster's a good writer. I've long been a fan of his original works, especially his Spellsinger and Humanx Commonwealth series.
     
  11. sideboob

    sideboob ====( )( )====

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    Love Alan Dean Foster. Splinter of the Mind's Eye was my fav as a kid (I know, a bit off topic but still lol)

    And only ever read one (well listened to (audiobook)): Star Wars Ep 1
     
  12. Bobby Boulders

    Bobby Boulders My Lovin' Is Digi Platinum Member

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    I remember reading about the novelization of Jason Lives having an epilogue featuring Jason's father, that was supposed to have been in the film but was left out, for whatever reason
     
  13. Organic Damage

    Organic Damage Dancing on the ashes of the World

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    I vaguely recall reading novelizations of Karate Kid Pt. 3, Homeward Bound and Little Monsters (heh) way more times than was probably healthy, when I was a kid. I'm sure they were terrible, but I doubt they were worse than the movies they were based on.

    Does this actually still exist as a product? It seems like Blu-ray extras and internet tie-ins should have made novelizations a thing of the past.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2015
  14. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    As I mentioned in the OP, novelizations are still a thing, but mostly for movies that could in some way be connected with the sci-fi and fantasy genres. Apparently that crowd is the only one that can still be counted on to buy them regularly. One stat I read said that between 1 and 2 percent of a movie's viewers can be expected to buy the novelization.

    Godzilla is one recent novelization and it actually made it onto the New York Times bestseller list.

    Here's a big list of novelizations, both past and present:

    https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/movie-novelizations
     
  15. Francis Rossi

    Francis Rossi Here's a song for ya

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    They're very much still a thing. The Dark Knight Rises and Man of Steel both hit the bestseller lists. Alan Dean Foster says if it's a big film, the book will sell. If it's a bad film, even the best-written book will die a death.

    Looking on the Wiki page, Max Allan Collins had to write the In the Line of Fire tie-in in nine days. I have that book somewhere. Read it long before I saw the film.
     
  16. Jermei

    Jermei Steel Belt Platinum Member

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    I read that too. fml.
     
  17. Guestx

    Guestx Guest

    I read that too, the 9 day thing. That's insane. I kind of want to read it now just to see what he was able to put together in 9 fucking days.

    I read somewhere else that ADF himself essentially had to write Terminator: Salvation in 48 hours because they changed the script substantially at the last minute. I wonder how true that is, though.
     
  18. A Bird

    A Bird Green Belt

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    What's funny is that probably the only two movie novelizations I own are Alien and 2001.

    I did have a lot of kids book adaptations growing up though.

    Highlights include Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and Star Trek: Generations.

    Come to think of it I actually had a bunch of novelizations. I ordered them out of the school book order. "16 pages of colour photos from the movie!" were always wedged in there halfway through the book
     
  19. Guestx

    Guestx Guest


    I'm considering picking up both of those. How do you like them? How do you feel the 2001 novelization complements the film?
     
  20. Ruprecht

    Ruprecht Hands Of The Judges Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    I read a quite a few when I was younger, but they really did seem like low-grade, pulp cash ins.
    Works better the other way I think.
    Movies like Bladerunner might not be all that faithful to the source material (Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep), with more compromises needed to convert a novel to a visual medium, but they have the potential to be awesome in their own right.
    In reverse... not so much.
    2001: A Space Odyssey would definitely be the only one I'd rate, and I'm not sure the process of novelisation there was the norm.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2015

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