How Effective Is Author Input In Book-To-Movie Adaptations?

The Harry Potter movie franchise. The Hunger Games film trilogy. The Bridgerton Netflix series. The Twilight Saga movie series. The Fifty Shades of Grey movie trilogy. These book-to-movie adaptations all have one thing in common: the active influence of the authors in the adaptations. But what are the drawbacks of having the authors so closely involved?

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When authors get involved in the movie adaptations of their books, the result often is a very accurate movie adaptation. The Harry Potter movie franchise, The Hunger Games film trilogy, and even The Twilight Saga movie franchise were all very similar to their book counterparts. On the other hand, the Percy Jackson Fox movies were terrible and horribly inaccurate to the books, thanks to Rick Riordan’s lack of input.

However, in a recent interview with Dakota Johnson, star of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie series, she declares that having E.L. James, the author of the book series, involved made the shooting process very complicated.


It is important to note though, that while Johnson declares that there were battles behind the scenes, she harbours no regret or ill will towards James or the Fifty Shades of Grey film trilogy that gave her much fame and fortune.

She specifically states:

“If I had known at the time that’s what it was going to be like, I don’t think anyone would’ve done it. It would’ve been like, ‘Oh, this is psychotic.’ But no, I don’t regret it…There are things that I still cannot say because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s career and I don’t want to damage anybody’s reputation, but both Jamie [Dornan] and I were treated really well. [James] is a very nice woman, and she was always kind to me and I am grateful she wanted me to be in those movies.”

It is great that Johnson is still crediting James and the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise for playing a part in her success, but all the same, having the author onset was very trying for the cast and crew. Johnson explains that E.L. James had a lot of creative control, all day, every day, and she demanded things happen that wouldn’t work for a movie. The actors ended up shooting two different takes of a lot of scenes – the version that James wanted, and the version that they wanted.


It just goes to show that sometimes having the writers of the book series on set isn’t always a good thing. There is a fine line between having an accurate book-to-movie adaptation and producing a good movie. The Bridgerton Netflix series, for example, has a lot of input from Julia Quinn but was adapted to be made more inclusive and racially diverse for a 21st-century audience.

What makes an adaptation good? It is not necessarily sticking exactly to the book ‘script’ because every author would say that some scenes are impossible to depict on-screen the way that they are written in the books. While author input is good and usually determines that the adaptation is book-accurate, sometimes said authors can be problematic as well, seeing as they know so much more about the books and characters than everyone else involved.

What is your favourite book-to-movie/television series adaptation? Let us know in the comments and feel free to check out our other articles about book-to-movie/television series adaptations here!