Although adapting popular literary sagas on paper may seem like a safe bet, it is not always a guarantee of success. To tell the truth, finding a ‘Harry Potter’ or a ‘The Lord of the Rings’ does not happen often and there are more adaptations that crashed at the box office, with no hope of continuing. We are going to review some of those cases (leaving aside those that have had more than one installment or continued as a series).
‘The dark tower’
Despite adapting a material from Stephen King (probably the most adapted auteur in Hollywood), nor the cast led by Idris Elbe Y Matthew McConauhey they were enough to save the disaster that was ‘The dark tower’ on many levels. The ambitious heptalogy offered a wide range of possibilities that ended up drowned in the multiple problems that surrounded the film from the beginning.
Already in the first test screenings it was found that the film failed to understandably integrate the mythology created by King. An additional 6 million was invested in post-production to fix the mess (and the possibility of replacing Nikolaj Arcel as director was even discussed) and the author himself criticized the PG-13 rating for a “so violent” story.
The result? 113.2 million raised, which was far from the profit needed to turn it into a truly profitable franchise. There was talk of a possible film sequel and even in serial format, but the reality is that a lot has already happened since then and They have not shown much desire to recover it either.
One of those cursed projects it’s ‘John Carter’. The adaptation of the saga ‘Barsoom’ of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the author of ‘Tarzan’) and made up of 11 books, had been on the table since 1930. There were six attempts to bring it to the big screen until Andrew Stanton (‘Finding Nemo’) and Disney definitively resurrected it.
The adaptation was released in 2012 (100 years after its publication!) and the original idea was to turn it into a trilogy. The tape made history becoming the ninth most expensive in history (which was even higher on the list because there were no ‘Avengers’ or ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ yet) and one of the biggest box office flops in history.
Among the possible reasons for such a resounding failure, the ambiguous marketing campaignwhose promotional material did not make it clear what was going on and neither did the title change, and the director considered that “no boy would go to see” a movie called ‘A Princess of Mars’. With everything and that, it was clear that the Martian adventures were not going to have continuity.
After successes like ‘Twilight’ or ‘The Hunger Games’, Hollywood tried its luck with
many some successful youth sagas with supernatural and science fiction themes: ‘Shadowhunters’, ‘Vampire Academy’, ‘The Guest’, ‘Divergent’, ‘The Maze Runner’… and only the last two came out well and not too much either.
‘Beautiful Creatures’ adapted the tetralogy by Kami García and Margaret Stohl and played with similar elements that had worked in other cases: a forbidden romance, magical powers, supernatural beings, a promising youth cast backed by established actors such as Viola Davis, Jeremy Irons either emma thompson… The bad thing is that, when the market is saturated with similar products, something else is needed to differentiate itself and this film did not have it.
Directed by Richard LaGravenese (who only directed one more film afterwards and that was in 2014), it did not convince neither fans nor new followerswith a script full of inconsistencies and a meager 60.1 million at the box office that barely equaled what was invested in it.
the fever of swedish crime novel also reached the US The successful trilogy of Stieg Larson It was already successfully adapted in its entirety in its native country, but Hollywood couldn’t let such a juicy opportunity escape. Despite the success of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ by David Fincher and the firm will to adapt the remaining two novels, they never came to an end.
In 2018, a way was found to continue squeezing the character of Lisbeth Salander: with the reboot of ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, which I wanted to start a new trilogy and adapt the three additional books written by David Lagercrantz, after the author’s death. Claire Foy became the new Salander and Fede Álvarez (‘Don’t Breathe’) took over from Fincher in directing.
The box office results were disastrousgrossing under budget and scuttling any chance of restarting the franchise.
in his day, brendan fraser was an assured guarantee in family entertainment products, such as ‘The Mummy’, ‘George of the Jungle’ or ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’, however, it is clear that it was not enough to raise this fantasy franchise, in whose cast also we find names like Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren Y Andy Serkis.
‘Ink Heart’ transferred the first book of the German trilogy ‘World of Ink’ by Cornelia Funkewho specified on several occasions that she did not want a German adaptation of her work to be made and, finally, acted as producer of the film.
It premiered in 2008 and barely exceeded its budget. The reviews weren’t much better, thus guaranteeing that we would never hear from it again (although a video game was made in 2009 for the Nintendo DS).
It had already been tried long before to take ‘Ender’s Game’ to the cinema, always finding the refusal of its author, Orson Scott Card, for “creative differences”. One of the closest times he came to becoming a reality was in 2003, when Card submitted a script to Warners, which he wanted to feature. David Benioff and DB Weiss (‘Game of Thrones’) as screenwriters and with Wolfgang Petersen (‘The Neverending Story’) to direct.
The project ended on deaf ears, again, until Summit took over the rights in 2011, Gavin Hood (‘X-men Origins: Wolverine’) was in charge of the script and direction and Card remained as producer. Harrison Ford, Ben Kinglsey Y Viola Davis completed another one of those stellar casts led by ESA Mariposa (‘Hugo’s invention’).
Once again, your collection was very poor (in addition to the boycott and controversy associated with the author, who openly supports associations to overthrow homosexual marriage in North Carolina), so it is not surprising that they did not even consider the possibility of adapting the rest of the books, and less considering that They come to a total of 20.
‘The six signs of light’
Another of those ambitious sagas that promised a lot and came to nothing was ‘The six signs of light’. Based on the pentalogy ‘The Dark is Rising’ by Susan Cooper was together with ‘The Golden Compass’ another attempt to emulate ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ frog came out
with a very young Alexander Ludwig Accompanied by Ian McShane, Frances Conroy Y Christopher Ecclestonpresented us with a fantasy story with the eternal battle between good and evil that was more of a hodgepodge of characters and loose elements from the second book that did not even convince the author herself.
Like ‘The Golden Compass’, it fell short of its budget, failing miserably at the box office (not at the level of that one, for the simple reason that it was a much more modest project). Did you remember her? Neither do I.
‘The Chronicles of Prydain’
Not all “Disney classics” have performed well at the box office and ‘Taron and the Magic Cauldron’ is a good example of this. Ted Berman and Richard Rich’s film adapted the Lloyd Alexander saga known as ‘The Prydain Chronicles’, a epic fantasy pentalogy for children based on Welsh mythology.
This film became the black sheep of the factory, considered at the time “too scary for kids” for its dark aesthetics and several scenes that are much darker than what Disney had accustomed to the public (the gossips speak of spectators rushing out of the theaters terrified).
To its bad fame we must add the real failure that was at the box office (only 21.3 million against the 44 million budget), which canceled any possible sequel and made Disney want to sweep it under the carpet to the point of take more than 10 years to release it in domestic format. A clearly risky film for its time and that has since been claimed as a cult film.
‘The misunderstood club’
Despite the fact that we are not very given to adapting literary sagas in Spain, the success of ‘Three meters above the sky’ must have encouraged the producers to look for a national equivalent and they stayed with the trilogy ‘El club de los misunderstood’ by the popular writer blue jean.
Carlos Sedes (‘The Summer We Live’) was chosen to transfer this teenage love and friendship story to audiovisual language, produced by Bambú and Atresmedia and starring well-known young faces such as Ivana Vaquero, Charlotte Vega and Àlex Maruny.
The attempt passed with more pain than glory for theaters, falling short of its investment and Nothing was heard from the sequels again.