Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Telling the story v. marketing the story

This weekend I got to see THE LIGHTNING THIEF, which you may know is the adaptation of the first book of the PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS series. Love the series--the whole family has read it (I'm the last to finish, only on book 3, pathetic). Was the film OK? Mostly. I'm a book girl more so than a film-adaptation-of-the-book girl, so it's a given that I'd like it less.

But here's where I object: the book is middle grade, verging to YA. The film is most definitely older YA--a very clear marketing choice.

Why? If you have YAers, you can go to Vegas and really live it up in the casino. You can have more sexual tension. You can be ironic and cool. That stuff is more off-limits to middle graders. There's still an innocence and a sweetness to them, in my opinion, though that's changing more and more. But those things don't sell as well.

Plus, the original book audience was middle schoolers. The rating is PG, suitable for younger kids (wise move), but wouldn't you like to think they'd like to see the "real" Percy Jackson on screen? He's 12 when the series starts, not sixteen and pouty/crabby/crappily ironic all the time! I really didn't like Percy. My heart was with Grover.

If I was Rick Riordan, after I got over the ecstasy of having my book made into a film and I laughed all the way to the bank, I'd be a little sad, because it wasn't really my story up there. I KNOW--it was a film adaptation. But the marketing decision twists the adaptation into something even less recognizable.

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