What is a Movie Novelization?

As many of you know, I have the amazing opportunity to write the novelization of the first movie in the Mythica franchise. See the official announcement for it here. I am very excited to work on this and become a part of this worthy and fun world. True to the origins of this film series, there will be a Kickstarter campaign to fund this book’s production, though that won’t take place until a little later this year. I’ll post about it as I go along. There’s a progress bar on the side of this blog which I’ll make sure to update at least weekly.

Mythica 1

One of the main questions I’ve received since the announcement came out is “what is a movie novelization?” I’ll address that here.

Books and movies have an interesting relationship. Oftentimes, the very best books get made into films. This is either widely successful (Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings/Chronicles of Narnia) or vastly underwhelming (think the Divergent Series of movies, the last of which skipped theaters entirely). Regardless of the success of the film franchise generated from the books, this is a well-established relationship between the two media formats. The reverse, however, is also true. Sometimes the movies come first and novels based on them come after. This is a movie novelization.

The first question people generally ask when they hear about novelizations is “do people actually even read those? What’s the point of them?” The short answer is “yes, people read them.” The long answer is that they are extremely popular for a number of reasons. First off, though, to give some context to this, here are some notable movies you may recognize that have novelizations. “The Force Awakens,” “Star Trek” (there are too many to list, actually), Episode 1-6 of the Star Wars Movies, “Warcraft,” “Hook,” and the Avengers movies. You probably didn’t know about most of those. How popular are these? The Force Awakens novelization in HARDBACK (the most expensive) is #8000 overall in ALL books sold on Amazon. That’s a lot of books sold, so pretty popular.

But what point do they have? Can’t you just go watch the movie?

Yes, yes you can. Actually, please watch the movie. The movie is what started it all and is the heart of the franchise. The novelization isn’t there to replace the movie. Not at all. The novelization serves two main functions. It serves as an additional entry point to the franchise as a whole and enhances the experience. What does this mean?

An entry point is exactly what it seems to be. It is a means by which someone can both find and become a part of something else. Let’s imagine you love a particular movie and you tell one of your friends about it. He’s not typically a movie person, so he passes on watching it with you. However, you know this friend loves to read. You tell him about the novelization, he reads it, and he’s hooked. Suddenly you can talk about the same people, same characters, and have some of the same emotional investment in the franchise as friends. You’ve both entered a “fandom.” This holds true in a lot of different areas. Think about toy collectibles made from kids’ movies, or trading cards made after cartoons, or even collectibles from any other franchise. These all serve as entry points. Since books and movies are marketed and sold differently (granted with some overlap) this means there are several different ways for someone to stumble across it and get involved in a fan base of people with like-minded interests.

Enhancing upon a movie is where novelizations get tricky. Truly great novelizations don’t just add the character’s thoughts and emotions to scenes and call it good with that. No, successful novelizations actually add new scenes, or extend current scenes which, when read as an addition to the pre-established plot of the film itself. Think about it in reverse. When watching a movie adaptation of a book, one of the main issues people have is that the movies leave things out which are addressed in the book. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially considering that the two are very different means of entertainment and expression. When writing a novelization, the author has a little more freedom to include things not in the movie simply because there’s more room in that media format to add more details and scene which will enhance the experience. This also serves as a draw to the existing fans within the franchise of the film. Think of it as them getting an “extended edition” or “director’s cut” of the film.

In short, yes, novelizations are a real thing and a great means of experiencing a fandom and a franchise. They work as entry points to bring people of like interests together into a community of friends and enhance the experience of those already inside that tight-knit group. I’m excited for this opportunity to be such an integral of the Mythica experience. Stay tuned for more information coming soon.

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