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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

From page to screen

This month sees two highly successful books take their chances on the screen.

It's one thing to take a relatively unknown book and put it up on the screen. When there are relatively few readers to complain about changes, screenwriters can take a pretty free hand and make sure that they're telling a good story in their medium.

But I'd be pretty daunted if I were the screenwriter undertaking Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code (coming out May 19). Given that the book has sold millions--in fact, the paperback release sold millions in its first month out--there will be an awful lot of fans ready to take the movie to task for any variations.

Nor will the viewers of Hoot be very forgiving if the movie doesn't live up to Carl Hiaasen's young adult novel. It was released on May 5 and the critics have been pretty lukewarm toward it so far. It's been called predictable and sweet. Hiaasen's charm as a writer is one of those things that is difficult to translate to the screen. Yes, his plots are good, but its the way he says things that makes him such a good writer. Movies are typically light on narration--with good reason. So it's easy to see how this book might lose some of its charm when translated to the big screen.

The other page-to-screen offering this month has the advantage of being merely inspired from the pages of a graphic novel; its story is its own. It's also building on two prior successful movies: X-Men 3.

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