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When Authors Adapt Their Own Work: Have These Films Suffered?

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Sep 29, 2013 | 8:00am EDT

The Perks of Being a WallflowerSummit Entertainment

Adaptation is a tricky business; a disaster waiting to happen. Significant change is inevitable and necessary when taking a story from one medium to another. But, when studios are more concerned with making a marketable product than a quality one, much can be lost in translation. The elation authors after having their work optioned must be followed by a crippling fear that what they've created will wrenched out of their hands and twisted into something unrecognizable. These novelists decided to hold onto their babies and adapt the screenplays themselves.

John IrvingThe Cider House Rules

Irving finessed his epic novel into a two-hour film (starring Tobey Maguire and Michael Caine) by compressing some 15 years of action into nine months, and then took home the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for his efforts.

Stephen ChobskyThe Perks of Being a Wallflower

Generation Y'ers the world over would have protested if they felt that Chobsky's ode to teenage angst was being bastardized by Hollywood. They breathed sighs of relief when the novelist not only took up screenwriting duties, but the directing gig too.

Graham GreeneThe Third Man

Greene's strategy for developing the Orson Welles-fronted classic was a little different. He wrote the novella version of the story to aid him in developing the screenplay, and then published the book after the film came out. 

William Peter Blatty — The Exorcist

Blatty also won the Academy Award for Adapted Screenplay for adapting his bestselling horror novel into a movie that's so scary it caused viewers to cry, faint, and, if the urban legends are true, be institutionalized.

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