Roundtable: Leave It Alone!

Hollywood loves adapting things to the big and small screen. Everywhere we look, something we love is getting made into a movie or a television show, or maybe it’s getting rebooted, rebranded, or relaunched. Sometimes, this is exciting! We can’t wait to see our favorites come to life on the big or small screen!

But sometimes, this can lead to controversy, as with the new Ghost in the Shell movie. So my question to our contributors this month was simple:

What property do you want Hollywood to LEAVE ALONE? This can be a book, a book series, a comic series, a game, anything. OR, if it’s already been adapted, what do you want them just to give up and stop trying to make a THING out of it?

Curious to hear what Hollywood should leave alone? And Hollywood, are you listening? If not, maybe you should….

Merrin: The intersection of faith and science fiction has been a fascinating one for me since the day in 11th grade when I picked up Sharon Shinn’s Archangel, but this is not about that book. If Archangel piqued my interest, The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell was a thousand suns exploding in my brain. In it, a missionary team containing four Jesuit priests and four scientists takes a journey to Rakhat, a planet on which humans have discovered intelligent life. The story covers first contact and the acclimatization to their new environment, but this book isn’t just about that. You know from the first page that Jesuit priest Emilio Sandoz is the only survivor of the mission, and that it left him brutally scarred and at odds with God and the church. Ultimately, the book is Sandoz’s journey of faith from someone with absolute certainty that God’s hand guided their mission and everything that happened on it, to someone who can’t believe in God at all. Russell’s lyrical, beautiful prose weaves a tragic tale of man’s struggle with theodicy, an ultimate crisis of faith.

So, if I love this book so much, why do I want it left alone? Almost at the same time I discovered the book in late 1999, I also discovered that Brad Pitt had already purchased the rights to it. At the time, still high on my love of Legends of the Fall, I was heavily invested in the idea that someone would make a movie of my favorite book. As I’ve gotten older and the rereads have gotten weightier on my soul (and I saw the mess Brad Pitt made of World War Z, another favorite), I realized there’s no way Hollywood could do it justice. To water it down to make it palatable enough to get the funding it deserves (and needs, to do a good job of it) would be to make the story something it isn’t. Not one single part of me wants that done to this gorgeous book.

J.L. Gribble: One good thing came of last summer’s Independence Day: Resurgence travesty. After that box office disaster, I stopped seeing online rumors of a Stargate reboot. As much as I wish their shared creative team well, I sincerely hope their future projects have nothing to do with my beloved science-fiction property.

Stargate was the first science-fiction to suck me in until I couldn’t get enough of it. I caught episodes of Stargate SG-1 when I could in high school, lost track during college, then fell head over heels in love with Stargate Atlantis during its cable run. Though I was never as impressed with Stargate Universe, it even had me hooked by the time it found its footing in season 2. Now, I not only own all ten seasons of SG-1 and all five of Atlantis on Blu-ray, but I’ve even watched every episode with the director’s commentary.

So what does this all boil down to? If someone wants to experience the amazingness that is Stargate, they already have one film and three television series, with a combined 17 full seasons worth of episodes to enjoy. And if they still want even more to explore, either set during the series or continuing adventures afterward, plenty of media tie-in novels are available to satisfy any craving.

There’s already plenty to absorb and enjoy. Stargate shouldn’t be resurrected for a half-assed reboot just because everyone else is doing it.

Nancy: A few years back, it was announced that they wanted to reboot Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the modern era with a brand new movie. My reaction was far from positive.

At first, this was more of a knee-jerk reaction. Buffy was my First Fandom after all. Buffy (to my nostalgia induced brain) was perfect the first time! How could anyone possibly do better?!

That’s where my second objection came in. The movie, like most reboots, wouldn’t have been made with the involvement of the show’s creator/showrunner Joss Whedon, or any of the original creative team. Which just felt wrong on so many levels.

Years have passed since this announcement was made. The movie (like most projects in Hollywood) never went anywhere, and while that initial knee-jerk reaction has faded, I still don’t think it’s a great idea. And a big part of that has to do with the fact that they wanted to make a Buffy movie, specifically.

There are certain stories that work perfectly in that two-hour blockbuster format. It’s why I love going to the theater. But others work better in a more serialized format, whether it be in television, comics, or a book series. Buffy was a show that was amazing not necessarily because it had an exceptional pilot — or even first season — but because of the way the characters grew and changed over the seven years of the show’s run (as well as spin-off Angel’s five year span). Buffy was all about the journey, and trying to press a complex multi-year journey into a two-hour movie would have been an impossibility.

So please, Hollywood execs, please don’t take all of the nostalgia that has come up as a result of Buffy’s 20th anniversary as invitation to make a new movie, because that’s a losing battle you don’t want to sign up for.

And now that I think on it, maybe don’t do a television show either. I mean, Sarah Michelle Geller was the perfect Buffy. And don’t even get me started on Willow, Spike, Anya, or Giles. How could anyone possibly do better?

Casey: I would dance through the streets in utter and complete joy if Steven Spielberg and his buddies would all just put down those Ready Player One scripts and back. Away. Slowly. Or quickly, I’m not that particular. The point is this: I loved Ready Player One beyond rationality and truly feel more than a little queasy when I remember that there’s going to be a movie next year. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a perfect story whatsoever. I can point out any number of problems with the novel if you give me half the chance. None of this makes me love it any less. Furthermore, the novel’s premise means that recreating key scenes and plot points is going to be nigh impossible. For those who aren’t familiar with the story, our characters spend a large portion of the story deep in the depths of the OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation), which is a massively multiplayer online simulation game. Think virtual reality dialed up to eleven.  So, while our characters are making their way through the story, they experience things such as real life Dungeons & Dragons dungeons, simulations of entire movies, and replicas of famous starships such as the Enterprise and Millennium Falcon. In the OASIS, if you can dream it, you can be it. Translating all of that wonder and nostalgia into a film is an extremely tall order, one that I’m not certain could be accomplished by even a trilogy of movies (please do not tell Spielberg that I’ve uttered that phrase — don’t want him getting any ideas). I don’t even think that a high-budget television series could do the trick. This is my plea and my wish: Hollywood? Go ahead and drop this project, OK? Go reboot E.T. or something.

Betsy: I remember, back in the day (15-20 years ago), when every so often there would be some kind of big buzz in the Pern fandom about the series being optioned for film or TV, and everyone would get all excited and hopeful. Of course, nothing ever came of it, but there was all sorts of talk. Folks charted which actors should play which key roles in the series, suggestions for filming locations were made, and on and on… and in the end? I’m really, really glad that no one has actually managed to put together a viable movie or — God forbid — TV series based on Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books. I just don’t think that anything can possibly live up to the image I have in my mind of the dragons of Pern, and the mechanics of their flight and teleportation. Even Michael Whelan’s iconic cover art — which is gorgeous, in its way — didn’t actually ever quite do justice to McCaffrey’s descriptions. I just don’t know how Hollywood would ever pull it off without messing it up. So yeah, I’m glad no one has actually attempted it, and even with all the new CGI capabilities constantly being developed, I would be extremely hesitant to actually go see a Dragonriders movie. Because I don’t know if I can handle seeing it ruined, and it feels like it almost certainly would be. So yeah. Keep leaving Pern alone! It’s very happy in my head, and I’d like to keep it there and stay happy.


  • Shara White April 14, 2017 at 8:21 am

    I adore The Sparrow. It’s one of my favorite books. I remember hearing the news that Brad Pitt wanted to adapt it, and that he wanted to play the lead, and I was like, “Are you freaking crazy?” If anyone should play Emilio Sandoz, it should be Oscar Isaac or Diego Luna. And that’s just me thinking off the top of my head, because I’m a Star Wars geek. 🙂

  • steelvictory April 14, 2017 at 8:57 am

    Not gonna lie…I’m really excited to see Ready Player One in film form. /hides from Casey

    • Casey Price April 16, 2017 at 6:30 pm

      Haha, we can still be friends! I just don’t see how they’re going to do it and do proper justice to the full-film walkthroughs, for example. Sure, they can probably acquire the rights to certain scenes, enough for the viewer to get an idea of what’s going on, but I…just don’t trust an adaptation. I’m going to have to work very hard to divorce my thoughts on the book from my opinion on the movie. Terrible things happened when the Harry Potter adaptations started showing up.

  • Kelly McCarty April 14, 2017 at 10:08 am

    I’m another person who wants to see Ready Player One as a movie. I thought that the book had a cinematic quality. I enjoyed the book, but it’s not a work with a lot of emotional or philosophical nuances that would be hard to translate to the screen and even if special effects don’t capture everything that was in the book, it could still be a good movie.

    • Casey Price April 16, 2017 at 6:32 pm

      I want to know how they’re going to incorporate the numerous copyrighted materials into the movie. That’s my biggest question right now. The charm of the story was that it included so many nostalgic touches. I don’t know how it’s going to work without so many of them.

  • davidbrawley April 14, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Given how much I loved the audio book of Ready Player One, I’m honestly not sure I need or even really want a movie. Plus they aren’t going to do anything about my biggest gripe about the book.

    • Casey Price April 16, 2017 at 6:27 pm

      What is your biggest gripe? If you can say so without spoilers, that is.

      (And the audio book really is great, too)

      • David Brawley April 17, 2017 at 8:44 am

        Yet another straight white male protagonist…

        • Casey Price April 17, 2017 at 11:03 am

          Yes, that’s getting boring. There was a big opportunity to go innovative here given the virtual nature of much of the setting.

  • Nicole Taft April 15, 2017 at 12:34 am


  • Shara White April 15, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    You know, it just now occurred to me: Battlestar Galactica. We’ve had the original, and now we’ve had the reboot. I don’t mind what’s happening in the comics in either iteration: that’s cool. What I do mind are these insistent rumors of a new BSG movie not set in the reboot, which is what’s critically acclaimed and most current, but in the original incarnation, which feels like a giant misstep to me. It’s not to take a dump on the original: it has its fans, and it will always have its fans, but why make a movie featuring the original verse when the remake did so many things and is such a product of the here and now? Like most things going on, it’d be a giant step backwards, and frankly, I wish Hollywood would just forget they ever came up with the whole idea.


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