Robert Pattinson is best known for his starring role in the international hit movie Water for Elephants. For those not familiar, the movie is based on the novel of the same name by Johanna Lindsey. In the film, Pattinson plays Mitch Elliott, a cynical and tough Chicago businessman who sets out on a cross-country trip to New York to sell off his company’s ailing water division. The film also stars Jennifer Jason Leigh as Elliott’s ex-wife, Laura, and David Thewlis as his best friend, Ed. While the movie was a critical and box office success, it did not bring in the money that Paramount Pictures had anticipated. As a result, the studio is looking for ways to recoup their losses which led them to option the novel (thus the movie’s title) for a six-figure sum. Paramount Pictures acquired the North American distribution rights to the film in September 2013 and have since started to market and sell it through various marketing partners including Google Play and iTunes.
New York Nights
While the majority of Water for Elephants takes place in Chicago and New York City, the movie’s setting was not just used for convenience. When the option to purchase the Waterford Water estate in Ireland was put up for auction, it was decided that New York would be the best platform for the public to see and bid on this prestigious piece of real estate. The actual town of Waterford, Ireland, was also used for location shooting as it was originally built around a castle (the setting of the aforementioned novel) and has a very European feel to it. What’s interesting is that in the novel, Ireland is described as being a beautiful place filled with lush green forests and rocky mountains that look like they’ve been painted on canvas. The landscape certainly supports this image and if you’ve ever been there, you know what I mean.
While we’re on the subject of movies based on books, let’s talk about FKA Twigs. If you’ve never heard of this album or its female creator, FKA, then there’s probably something wrong with you. The British musician and songwriter has gone viral with the release of her debut album, LP1, which was first offered as a free download back in June 2013. The album’s first single, “Pendulum,” went on to become a top 40 hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and is now certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. The song was inspired by the Water for Elephants character, Mitch Elliott, who is obsessed with a Pendulum watch (hence the album’s title). It’s fair to say that Twigs’ music is unique; she’s heavily involved in the creative process from start to finish and ensures that no detail is overlooked. The album art and its iconography are also a clear indication of Twigs’ meticulous attention to detail and a statement of her artistic vision.
Kylie Jenner’s ‘Banana Boat Song’
If you’re looking for a guilty pleasure, you don’t have to look any further than Khloe Kardashian’s younger sister, Kylie Jenner. The teenager debuted her music career in 2015 after a years-long hiatus from social media and now runs her own successful record label, 10 Management. One of her first major acts was to release a deluxe version of her album, Kylie, exclusively through Walmart. In celebration of World Environment Day, she put together a special remix of the song, “Banana Boat Song,” which she wrote and produced. The track features guest appearances from Travis Scott, Shania Twain, and several other prominent artists and has received over 140 million views on YouTube. The success of this song and the label it represents has made Kylie Jenner a target of criticism from many (mostly female) corners. While her music may not be for everyone, it’s an exciting development for the future of pop music.
The Bigger Picture
It’s important to view these examples of literary adaptations in the proper context. While there are numerous small films and TV shows based on books, very few of them make enough money to justify the extensive process of adapting and producing a movie or TV show. As a business, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a Hollywood blockbuster based on a non-bestselling novel anytime soon. What this means is that despite the fact that Hollywood hasn’t quite figured out how to make money off of literature, it still has plenty of opportunity to do so. From humble beginnings, the film industry now earns profits of over $11 billion per year which is largely thanks to the success of franchise films. Franchise films operate on the same basic premise: a handful of popular novels are adapted into big-budget blockbuster movies. While these films don’t necessarily have to be based on famous literature, they usually are because that’s what the studios know and what the audience expects. This is also why many literary adaptations end up on the big screen: because that’s where the money is.