The NYT today looks at the halo effect of the success of the Starz adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander on the books. After the TV series debuted, the first in the book series went to #1 on best seller lists for the first time since its publication twenty years ago, two others in the series also hit the lists (in addition, the most recent in the series, Written In My Own Heart’s Blood, RH/Delacorte, which came out in June, hit the list at #1).
The final eight episodes of season one are set for release on April 4 of next year. Starz has also ordered a second season, to be based on the next book in the series, Dragonfly in Amber, (RH/Delacorte, 1992). Like Game of Thrones, to which it is compared, there are plenty more books to draw on, eleven novels plus several novellas and shorter pieces (see Gabaldon’s own chronology here).
While Game of Thrones and other TV series have brought readers to the original books, the article does not mention that this is not always the case. The just-concluded HBO series The Leftovers, for instance, had only a small effect on Perrotta’s book and it seems most people didn’t even get that NBC’s About A Boy is based on Nick Hornby’s novel.
Predicting which adaptations, whether film or TV, will have a halo effect can drive selectors (and de-selectors) nuts. Over a dozen more adaptations are on TV schedules through 2015, with many more in the works (see our downloadable Books to TV listing; our full list, including film adaptations is here).
Play along with us as we try handicapping the adaptations coming up through the end of the year:
Big Driver — Lifetime TV movie, 10/18/14 — A one-off movie, based on a lesser-known Stephen King title (a novella published in Full Dark, No Stars,, S&S/Scribner, 2010), won’t inspire many to seek out the original.
Death Comes to Pemberley — PBS, 2 episodes, begins 10/16 — P.D. James riffed on Pride and Prejudice in her 2011 book. Matthew Rhys plays Darcy in the adaptation, but sorry, we don’t think he’ll have the impact that Colin Firth did when he played the role in the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. As a two-part series, it won’d have time to build an audience, so we are not expecting a big resurgence of interest in the book. Tie-in, RH/Vintage.
Olive Kitteridge, HBO, four parts, begins 11/2/14 — Winning the Pulitzer Prize shortly after it was released in trade paperback sent Elizabeth Strout’s novel on to the NYT list where it stayed for nearly two years, rising to #5. HBO publicity will remind people who always meant to read it to pick it up and it will go on to lists again, but won’t reach previous heights. Tie-in, Random House Trade
The Red Tent, Lifetime, 12/7 & 12/8/14 — Just two nights long, this won’t have much time to build a following. However, as a reading club favorite, the title has remained in the public consciousness, so the series promotion may remind people to look for the book. That beautiful new cover, displayed in the front of book stores won’t do it any harm, either. Tie-in, Picador
Mr. Miracle, Hallmark, Holidays — This is the fourth holiday-themed movie based on a Debbie Macomber book. This time, both Mr. Miracle, the book, RH/Ballantine and the movie are being released in the same season. Hallmark has already burnished Macomber’s brand, so there’s little room for growth. Watch next year, however, when Hallmark plans to do the same for Karen Kingsbury and Sherryl Woods.