Time Magazine talked to Scott and Michael about how to turn a great book into a movie that makes fans and critics happy.
Fans of John Green’s beloved bestseller The Fault in Our Stars have been waiting just two years for the film adaptation on June 6 — but for devout followers of the book, it’s felt like much longer. Thanks to the author’s on-set social media teasers and extensive marketing from FOX, the amped-up-anticipation turned into a fan frenzy, which all weighed heavier on the imminent question: Will the film live up to the book?
After all, it’s difficult to trust Hollywood, and it’s not just fans who are often disappointed. Bestselling writer Jodi Picoult has voiced frustration over her books being made into movies, telling TIME: “It’s really hard to have people in Hollywood lie to you. What’s really upsetting is when a fan says, ‘Why did you let them change the ending?’ As if we have any say in the matter.” Stephen King, similarly, was vocal about disliking Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation ofThe Shining.
While the book-is-always-better mindset persists, a new dawn is near: as Hollywood continues to look to books tied to a preexisting fan base, screenwriters continue expressing a desire to stay true to the original work.
The lucky job of pleasing Green’s fans went to Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, the dominant screenwriting duo behind 500 Days of Summer; next, they’re set to tackle book-club favorite Me Before You. The story for The Fault in Our Stars follows Hazel and Gus, terminally ill teens who fall in love after meeting in a cancer support group. Though some changes did have to be made, Neustadter and Weber stumbled on the book as fans and wanted to preserve the heart of the story as much as possible.
“Our attitude resembled the fans who thought this might get screwed up,” Weber says. “We were, like, someone is going to do this the wrong way.” The task at hand wasn’t easy, Neustadter explained. “Your job is to figure out how to take something that people read over a week and do it in 100 minutes.”
But those who’ve been privy to early screenings ofThe Fault in Our Stars seem pleased with the results. The substance of Green’s voice and the tear-jerking storyline is still very present. Approval from devoted fans has already begun to trickle in on social media — plus Green’s own endorsement, which he explained at a separate BookCon panel dedicated to the film’s release. “There were parts [of the script] I was infuriated by,” he said. “But it’s because it was so much better. They captured the tone, the feel, the kind of vibe I wanted to book to have.”
These are only snippets of the whole article, which includes interviews with the screenwriters of The Giver and This Is Where I Leave You. Check out the whole very interesting article at the source.