Monday, 4 October 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #606: Books Made Into Movies In One Easy Step...Maybe...

Welcome to the show folks...

Mega publisher MacMillan has announced that they are getting into the movie & TV business.

Basically the plan is to produce movie adaptations of some of the books their company publishes. While they are keeping their eyes open for books brought to them by writers, most of these projects will be generated in house, with the actual writing being done by hired guns who won't actually have any ownership of the material outside of whatever fees and residuals agreement they make with the authors in question.

Now let's look at the pros and cons of this idea:


1. It could ensure that more novel get made into movies. The big studios tend to be feast or famine, either buying everything they can get their hands on, or buying nothing but a few of the biggest bestsellers and comic books from companies they already own.

2. It could streamline the development process. Even during times when the studios are buying books in bulk it still doesn't mean that they're going to made into movies. Studio development is extremely expensive, slow, and easily derailed by the petty whims of big egos. If there's a partner with some bulk, so to speak, they can keep a tight leash on their studio partners.

3. Hopefully the people running this operation will understand that some books just don't translate well into feature films because they're just too darn big. However they can translate into the sort of "novel for television" format that are used by British broadcasters, and during the heyday of the TV mini-series in the 1980s.

4. Movies and TV shows can promote books sales, books promote the movies & TV shows, and it also opens up other revenue streams with licensed merchandise.


1. The concept of generating most ideas in house has some limitations. There is only so much a company can create from within their own ranks before their internal creative resources are completely spent. This happens way faster if the people who do the grunt-work of creating feel they aren't getting their just rewards from the company that profits from their creations. In order to avoid this a generous, and transparently operated reward system for quality work must be implemented.

2. If you deal with Hollywood, which Macmillan will have to do, you will be swimming with sharks. They will need the best lawyers, accountants, and maybe even hired goons they can get to ensure that they don't get screwed over by Hollywood's self-fulfilling idiocy. Remember, in the eyes of Hollywood, outsiders with money are not viewed as partners, but as pigeons.

3. Movies are exponentially more expensive to produce, market and distribute than books. If a publisher doesn't know that business inside and out, they can lose their shirts in more ways than one.

Hopefully, Macmillan has their best people on this project, and that they know what they're getting themselves into. They are going to need it.

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