In preparation for my Phoenix Comicon Session this year on adapting books to screenplays and screenplays to books, I’ve been researching statistics concerning film adaptations from written material other than original or ‘spec’ screenplays.
In his book, Reading the Movies, William Costanzo notes that it has been estimated that a third of all films ever made were adapted from novels. If you count other literary forms, such as drama or short stories, that estimate might be 65 percent or more. And my own personal opinion is, if you figure in video games, graphic novels and comics, it may well be 70 or 75 percent.
Some of the most famous and commercially successful book or short fiction-to-screen adaptations: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, The Hunger Games, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me, Minority Report, The Most Dangerous Game (adapted 19 times that we know of), Shrek, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, War of The Worlds, The Silver Linings Playbook, Forrest Gump, The Graduate, The Princess Bride, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and on. This is a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the list, but it just goes to show that Hollywood as well as indie producers are harvesting a whole lot of content from authors.