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Read Your Favorite Movie (If You Can Recognize It)

February 7, 2017

Before home video was cheap and widely available, a book that retold the events of a movie was one of the few ways to experience a favorite film after the projector stopped rolling. The problem with “novelizations” was that the writers hired to churn them out were often given a very early version of the script. They had to fill in the blanks, or add story elements, and were even given free reign to do so.
Novelization of Movies

Grease…

Novelization writer Ron De Christoforo took a lot of liberties with his adaptation. For one, the book is told in first-person from the point of view of minor character Sonny (Michael Tucci in the film). And he includes a bunch of “summer nights” with Danny and Sandy that are only alluded to in the movie. (The events of the movie start about 50 pages into the novel.) There’s also one scene where the teenage characters reflect on the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly. De Christoforo includes the movie’s musical numbers—by restating them as prose dialogue. For “Beauty School Dropout,” Frenchy just tells her friends about a weird dream she had: “Teen Angel really rubbed it in. I mean he said “Beauty School dropout, Beauty School dropout” over and over again.”

Batman Forever…

Remember in Batman Forever when the Riddler, portrayed by Jim Carrey, builds and wears a giant robotic muscle suit and terrorized Gotham City with it? No? That’s probably because that didn’t happen in the movie. But that scene is in the novelization of Batman Forever by Peter David.

Back to the Future…

Back to the Future was extensively rewritten between when it was first pitched to studios and when it filmed. Novelization writer George Gipe clearly got an early version of the screenplay to write his book with, because the book Back to the Future bears very little resemblance to the movie Back to the Future. Instead of the amiable and clever hero as portrayed by Michael J. Fox, Marty McFly is dumb as well as mean: He puts down his family, friends, and even his best friend, Doc Brown. (Marty also swears a lot and uses out-of-date expressions like “Eureka!”) As for Doc Brown, in the movie he invents time travel to advance science. In the book, he does it do get back at his enemies.

The Goonies…

At the end of the 1985 adventure movie The Goonies, the thought-to-be-scary Sloth (John Matuszak) forms a bond with the Goonie named Chunk (Jeff Cohen). The novelization by James Kahn provides plot details that happen after the events of the movie. For example, Chunk’s family legally adopts Sloth. They also throw him a bar mitzvah.

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