Comparing books and movie adaptations is always an interesting activity. I tend to think of movies as a kind of fan art, where you get to see your fictional friends and their worlds in beautiful big-screen detail. This helps me adjust my expectations about nuances of character and plot that are often absent in adaptations. While many fans say they would be happy to watch a six hour miniseries of their favorite book, this would not be practical for a movie studio to attempt. A good adaptation captures the spirit of the original. And what is the spirit of the original if not a vast gray area ripe for debate?
I set out to write a post about teen reactions to the recent City of Bones movie based on Cassandra Clare’s 2008 Teens’ Top Ten winning novel of the same name. For a movie review, check out Katie Shanahan’s post here.
The few fans I talked to described their experiences with the movie as involving a lot of yelling afterwards. Why so angry? Didn’t Lily Collins make a great Clary? Didn’t those demons look scary and cool? Wasn’t the Institute huge and full of Shadowhunter details? Yeah, yeah, yeah– but they messed up the plot.
As for the rest of the teens I talked to, they didn’t see the movie.
It seems people not seeing the movie has created a bit of a problem for The Mortal Instruments franchise. According to my favorite source of fan news, The Mary Sue, City of Bones cost $60 million to make and has so far only earned $37 million at the box office worldwide. Constantin Flilm has announced that the sequel will be put on hold while they “analyze the results to date and reposition the franchise in order to maximize results for future installments.” This could mean a better movie later, or possibly no movie at all.
Author of The Mortal Instruments series, Cassandra Clare, is optimistic. She says on tumblr:
â€œSpeaking for myself â€”and honestly, for readers and fans, too â€” I think a delay could be good. The draft of the screenplay I saw for the first time last week was very far from the book City of Ashes, and if they’d really started shooting in September there wouldn’t have been time to change it. From the limited amount I know, it seems to me better to take the time to get it right than to rush ahead.â€
I, and I suspect my yelling teen patrons, would certainly rather have a better movie later than a sequel that wanders as far afield from the plot as the first movie.
In the meantime, Shadowhunter fans, there’s always The Bane Chronicles to tide us over while we await movie news and the final book in the series (City of Heavenly Fire is due out in Spring 2014). Cassandra Clare has teamed up with writer friends Sarah Rees Brennan and Maureen Johnson to bring us a series of stories in e-book form detailing some of the exploits of beloved supporting character Magnus Bane. He’s immortal, he’s romantic, he has great fashion sense and a lot of compassion for humanity. So far, in the first five installments of The Bane Chronicles, Magnus has traveled to and been kicked out of Peru, piloted a hot air balloon during the French Revolution, flirted with vampires and Shadowhunters, met the offspring of characters from The Infernal Devices, and operated a speakeasy during Prohibition in 1920s, New York. The next story, “Saving Raphael Santiago,” is due out this week, and there will be four more stories, one each month through January.
-Erin Daly, currently reading lots of comics, including Peanut by Ayun Halliday