From Page To Screen: A shift to streaming services 

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In light of the cast member release for Netflix’s “Shadow and Bone” series adapted from Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse novels, I found it only appropriate to address the growing trend of book adaptations moving from the silver screen to streaming platforms. Books have always provided a popular source for material in the film industry, but in recent years more books are being adapted to serial format, from HBO’s “Game of Thrones” to Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” 

The mid-2000s to early 2010s brought a surplus of book to movie recreations trying to replicate the success of the “Harry Potter” series. Studios wanted to hop on the bandwagon in hopes of capitalizing on books that already had fanbases to attract more of the mainstream community. However, over time, the excess of adaptations caused moviegoers to grow tired of the lower quality movies that couldn’t properly capture the allure of the source material.  More often than not, audiences and critics were leaving the theater disappointed, whether comparing the movie to the book or by basing the movie on its own merits. Some fans grew wary of their favorite books becoming movies in fear of disappointing casting, changes to the story and overall disconnect between the film and book. 

There have definitely been some successful mainstream book adaptations in recent years, in my opinion, like “Harry Potter,” “The Hunger Games,” “Lord of the Rings” and “Crazy Rich Asians.” Along with their merit as movies themselves, the differences between the book to the film were not glaring enough to detract from their watchability. Unfortunately, there have been some movies that were less than stellar, from poor casting or acting, weak storylines or botched CGI. Not to name names, but I’m looking at you, “Percy Jackson” and “Divergent.” 

The struggle arises from the conflicting interest of staying true to the source material, fans and the author versus making the material more mainstream and blockbuster-friendly. With large studios and big budgets supporting these movies, oftentimes, the latter wins out. Furthermore, studios sometimes try to rush the process to catch the recent buzz from the book’s release. 

A serial-episode format alleviates the problems usually coupled with rushing stories and plot holes. There’s time for character development and world building, and shows like “Game of Thrones” (at least for the first seven seasons), “Sherlock” and “Big Little Lies” have used this to their advantage, taking their incomplete or limited source material and expanding upon it.  

Then comes streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu, not necessarily having to worry about box office pull and, instead, focusing on working closely with authors and staying true to the source material. Networks are becoming more aware of the competition that streaming platforms pose with their increasing quality of content and ease for watchers. That’s not to say some streaming service adaptations haven’t been botched, but there’s a reason more and more books are successfully being optioned for Netflix, Hulu and Amazon series. From “A Series of Unfortunate Events” to “The Handmaid’s Tale” to “Good Omens,” books adapted to TV series are receiving a lot of praise and attention. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” although a movie, is still a Netflix original, and has done well enough to be renewed for its sequel and finale thanks to a close working relationship with the author and a caring director. (I approve very highly of this adaptation, if you must know.) 

And now onto the next wave of TV series for books. In terms of Young Adult novels, “The Raven Cycle,” written by author Maggie Stiefvater, is coming out with a pilot soon on SyFy. As mentioned, the Grishaverse series, with the “Shadow and Bone” and “Six of Crows” series, have just released their cast list and the series are being made with author Leigh Bardugo in close contact. The “Percy Jackson” series has often been rumored to be adapted to a series, and with its numerous novels and expansive universe, it’s not hard to see why. Here’s to the next wave of book adaptations — I’ll still look forward to blockbuster films like “China Rich Girlfriend,” but I’m certainly ready to have hours of visual content of my favorite books. 


Hollie Lao is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at hollianne.lao@uconn.edu.

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