We Harry Potter book series, written by J. K.

We can consider
that the audio-visual adaptations of written texts have always been well-liked,
but nowadays their number and popularity seem to be rapidly rising. Directors
and producers invest work and money into them because the risk of failure is
lower than if they came out with movies, series or music based on ideas and
concepts never seen before. As these works are following the footsteps of
already popular books, comics, series, movies etc. there is a great chance that
they will become as popular and productive as the works they were inspired by.
There are several possible reasons behind the success of many adaptations.

Firstly, adaptations
are often favored by fandom, as they leave room for involvement and independent
discovery. In case of adaptations there are several sources that belong to the
same story or that are somehow related. Fans can freely choose from these
sources, and they can also ignore some of them. Some people might like a movie,
but they choose to ignore the book version or the other way around. In many
cases a whole franchise is built upon the success and popularity of a work. For
instance, the Harry Potter book series, written by J. K. Rowling, has a movie
series version as well as its prequel: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
(2016, dir. David Yates). Adaptations reveal one of the most amazing
characteristics of being a fan, that is the unlimited sources people have
access to. There is always something more to read, more to watch, more to learn
and more to experience. It is especially valid if we take comic book-based
adaptations into consideration. Since comics are an essential part of popular
culture, it served as an inspiration for several movies, series etc. There are
numerous superheroes, supervillains and other characters, many storylines left
to be found out. In case a dedicated fan runs out of “official” sources, there
are always fan-made works to discover.

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Second of all, good
adaptations expect, but not require background knowledge. In many cases it
makes understanding easier, deeper and more meaningful if the viewer is
familiar with the original work before encountering with an adaptation. One of
the best experiences as a fan is to understand a well-hidden reference in a
movie or a series. Of course, many adaptations are perfectly understandable
without any background knowledge, especially if the purpose of the work is to
make the original work more popular or if the adaptation strictly follows the
original source, for example in the case of adaptations of classical works,
like Troy (2004, dir. Wolfgang Petersen).

Besides the
emotional involvement, many adaptations create the opportunity to be
cognitively involved, as well. Fans do not necessarily have to be experts of
literary analysis to understand and appreciate the intertextual relationships
between the works that are connected to each other. In the most cases
adaptations assume that the audience more or less knows the original works and
they are familiar with the pretexts, prequels and expect them to understand the
interrelatedness and the references. The complexity of these works of art makes
them admirable even for those who are not involved emotionally. To refer back
to an already mentioned example, many comic book characters and stories are
related to ancient mythological characters, creatures and events (e. g. Thor
and Loki in Marvel Studios movies). Other works require the audience to be
familiar with the logic and possible problems of time travelling or the
visiting different dimensions of space (e. g. Doctor Strange, 2016, dir. Scott Derrickson).

There is no
simple recipe for success or popularity. An adaptation can either follow the
original source closely or it can be a free interpretation in which the textual
basis is only an inspiration. A work can be successful or it can be a failure
either way, but it cannot remain neutral or ineffective. Encountering with an
adaptation immediately calls for evaluation and comparison. Whether we like the
particular work or not, we cannot say that there were not any thoughts or
feelings awakened.

Of course, there
are risks too. Some of these movies are frowned upon, because they cannot live
up to the expectations of the audience. The background knowledge of the
audience is not always an advantage; it also puts a burden on the filmmakers
who decide to work on adaptations. For instance, the movie version of the
best-selling book of Ransom Riggs, Miss
Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016, dir. Tim Burton) left some
fans puzzled, as there were several differences that seemed to be uncalled for
(the character of Dr. Golan; the supernatural powers of Emma Bloom; etc.).
Others think that it is an example for a clever reinterpretation. In other
cases, the significant differences between the original text and the adaptation
make the movie even more powerful and more popular. For example, Alice in Wonderland (2010, dir. Tim
Burton) becomes a feminist adventure story, with an actively participating,
brave and victorious protagonist. The movie became very well-liked and fans
were on the edge waiting for its sequel, Alice
Though the Looking-Glass (2016, dir. James Bobin).

One of the most
shocking postmodern experiences is that originality is a long lost ideal and
nobody can create anything new anymore. Even nowadays, when many researchers
argue that we still live in postmodernism, the experience is the same. As we
read (or hear) in Fight Club (novel
by Chuck Palahniuk, 1999, dir. David Fincher), “everything’s a copy of a copy of a copy”.  It is almost impossible to find a work of art
that is completely independent and does not refer to other works. We can either
feel sorry for the seemingly lost value or we can adore the complexity, the
interrelatedness and the new points of view. 
The real novelty though, is in the careful selection of our inspirations
and our personal ways of interpretation…but it is highly probable that many
people has already come to this conclusion.