I know we have some book readers in here, but I think we all can relate to this. Have you ever picked up and read an awesome book, only to wait for the hyped up motion picture, and find yourself completely disappointed?
Today I will discuss how the filmmaking industry exploits and undermines the author’s intent when adapting novels into major motion pictures. Specifically, I will research the monstrosity of the manipulation of J.K Rowling’s novel Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In this research paper I will also take a look at what factors into the filmmakers’ decisions to cut certain scenes, characters, and other important aspects. These factors include budget restrictions, time management, and targeted demographics.
Author J.K. Rowling is known world-wide for her imaginative creation of the Harry Potter series. In addition to being entertaining, Rowling’s work also had a major impact on the publishing community. According to an online critic, “the Potter series got grown-ups who hadn't picked up a book, or prose fiction of any length, in years, to read” (Anders, 2011). This new world rapidly captivated the attention of audiences around the globe due to its remarkable similarities to the contemporary sociocultural world (Helfenbein, 2008). Due to this overwhelming popularity of Rowling’s novels, it was only a matter of time before the film industry intervened. After the 2001 production of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, 2011), Warner Bros Pictures continued adapting Rowling’s novels into movies, including the fifth novel in July 2007. (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 2007). Michael Goldenberg’s screenplay for the fifth installment of the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, contained dramatic changes in the overall plot line due to the film industry’s desire to appeal to specific demographics, exploit the author’s original work, and abide by time and budget restrictions, all of which ultimately lead to the monstrous fulfillment of the film industry’s desires through major manipulation of the novel.
In order for a major motion picture to be a success, it is imperative that the correct marketing strategy for the intended audience is fully utilized. Many people believe that since Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is about a magical community, that it is a children’s novel. However, research conducted by the New York based NDP Group proves otherwise; according to the data collected, 50% of Harry Potter readers are over the age of 35, 25% are over the age of 55, and the final 25% are the young adults and children that society believes dominate the target demographic for the series (Lautenslager, 2003). In the beginning, filmmakers originally intended the series to be directed towards younger viewers, but as the series progressed from the first novel to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, it becomes clear that the maturity level of the novel increases drastically. Due to the change in viewer ages groups; the adaptation process from novel to motion picture began to take on a new tone. The question that many people ask is why does this series appeal to such a wide range of audiences? Critic Al Lautenberger quotes Professor Philip Nel’s answer which is that “all good children's literature appeals to both adults and children because it does not talk down to its readers and because there are multiple levels of meaning” (Lautenberger, 2003). Nel is correct in his answer because Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is something that can be understood by 9 year olds as well as 90 year olds, meaning, what the audience infers from the plot depends on which analytical level the novel is being read at. Nonetheless, Hollywood writers continue to change and rework the plot line in order to create a screenplay that omits scenes and storylines that 50% of the readers relate to. The changes made to the…