BrooksBlog: When Movie People Call

Working hard on the second book of a three-book set that will begin publishing in August 2012. This is in the Shannara series, set in the future after High Druid. It’s a big project with some exciting changes that I will be talking about when Measure of the Magic comes out August of this year. So anyway in the midst of all this the movie people come sniffing around again. All options on all books terminated not too long ago, so everything is available again. Word gets out, the producers, managers, production companies and studios start calling. Right away, I get heartburn. Because now I have to go through this moviemaking dance all over again. Really, I am conflicted to the max. Sure, a movie of one of my books would be exciting. Everyone agrees on that point. But what are the odds it will happen? What are the odds that the movie will in anyway resemble the book? What are the odds that I will feel somehow more complete when this is finished? I don’t know. I have said for years that the idea that you need a movie in order to validate your book is nonsense. (Or words to that affect). I keep saying, “Wait until I’m dead 30 years. Then it will happen.” I read about the adaptation of Game of Thrones, and I think, “Good on you, George.” But I also think I don’t want to find out firsthand the price of having it happen to me.

58 responses to “BrooksBlog: When Movie People Call”

  1. A part of me would love to see the Shannara books made into movies, but yet, there is that other part of me that thinks “What if the actors portraying the characters are not what I envisioned when reading the books?” I, too, am conflicted. The Shannara books are my all time favorite books and I’ve read and reread them more times than I can count. I have been a fan since the very beginning. I think that, if done right, it would be the best movie of it’s kind. But if they stray from the book, it would be like a knife in the heart for true Shannara fans! Love you, Terry! Your books are the best ever made! 🙂

    • I agree with you 100%. That is the exact reason I am having trouble coming to grips with movies being made. I have certain scenarios in my head of the way things played out and the way people look and everything. I just don’t know if I want a bad movie tainting that

      • agree with all above, it is bittersweet to all of us who have been true to the brooks sagas from the sword and on up. feature films can support the written word or weaken it, and this is the conundrum that terry has expressed. Considering the weak amount of material that would translate into film out there, i think terry’s outstanding novels are a natural for the digital media, but it needs to start with the sword of shannara, the inception point for the mesmerising shannara saga and my personal favorite book. thanks for reading, peace to all! and god bless! keep on reading writing terry, we will read

    • I personally think that The Elfstones of Shannara would make the best movie to start off with. It was the best action of any of them and the whole concept is amazing. Plus, the director could choose to go forward or backward since the first four books really arent connected. I fear that starting with the Sword or even the First king would too closely resemble the Lord of the Rings. But with the Elfstones, there hasnt been anything like it.

  2. Agree 100%, Terry. I’d rather stick to my own mental vision of your universe than have somebody try and depict it for me (and fail miserably). Unless you luck out and get another die-hard fanboy (like Peter Jackson was for Tolkien) who has the gumption (and clout) to do the job right, you’ll end up with something that everybody will hate and regret. You know, kind of like what happened when David Lynch did Dune in the 80’s. I actually liked that movie, but not because it was faithful to the books.

  3. Let them buy the rights again, but set the price ridiculously high so they will be more serious about it. Set your price and then don’t negotiate. If they really want it, then they’ll pay. Half the time, I wonder if studios go after certain books or ideas, not to make the movie themselves, but to keep another studio from having a go at it.

    • excellent point! could not agree more. hey, how about calling up , oh, i don’t know, maybe the genius, george lucas, i mean, terry wrote a film adaptation for him, which stands on it’s own.

  4. Terry, you should just write the screenplay and then everything would be the way you want it to be and if they don’t like it, well….. Personally, I think you could write anything!!!!

  5. I am skeptical about hollywood types come sniffin! I agree with everyones comments above. I will state that no matter what, if a movie is made we will have to put up with some “directors interpretation” what he believe that Terry is trying to say. I would like to see the first three books made into a movie trilogy, each book getting its own due. I know so much will be getting cut out doing it this way but there are essentials in each book that must be seen so that non-book readers don’t get confused and drop out only after one movie (a perfect example is Eragon- great movie, people never got involved enough for the studio to finish the second movie). I trust that Terry will make the right decision I just hope there made will enough that I don’t get the urge to get up and walk out disqusted halfway through the first movie.

    Also Terry may have made another great point about waiting 30 years after. When the Hobbit series got put into a movie it was just about 40+ years after being written, that means the die hard hobbit readers had time to fade out and younger movie goers got the benefit of well made movies with the old folks being to critical of them. But no matter how I look at it, I would still want a Shannara movie in my lifetime.

  6. I agree with writing the screenplay yourself. At least that will give the Hollywood people a jumping off point, although once they have the story in their hands there is no guarantee what they will do with it. I am writing a screenplay to go with my novel. If James Cameron wants to keep his top spot for highest grossing films, he needs to make my movie; otherwise, he will be knocked out of the top spot.

  7. Please, don’t make them into movies. It’s called fantasy for a reason. In my mind the magic is slightly different EVERY time I read your books – and I’ve read them plenty of times! A movie would set an image in my mind, an image of somebody elses choice, and worse – the same image as everyone else – the magic (my magic) would be lost. So don’t watch the movie, one would say… Yeah, right – that’s like saying don’t peak into Schrödingers box! Eventually, you just have to find out… Terry – You are addictive.

  8. Oh man! If it could be done in the LOTR style quality (does Peter Jackson get the credit here?) I would be the first one in the theaters! Epic style 🙂 If it got pushed through in a hurry to make a buck (The way Christopher Paolini’s Eragon was) I would be so sad…I think the Shannara books would make awesome movies if you could guarantee someone would take the time and give the budget to do it justice.

  9. There is always the option of trying to get a television spot either on showtime, starz, or HBO or even major networks for an hour long, 12 episode series for either each trilogies or books. I think the Word/Void trilogy and Gennesis trilogy would be perfect for that, depending on who decides to take it up for a project.

  10. I hate movies based on books, I would much prefer to see a miniseries. And with fantasy I’ve always felt it’s safest to do an animated or now a days computer animated using motion capture. I think with a fan directing and writing that part shouldn’t be a big fear. I also believe authors should be consulted during the production even most during the design stages. It there world and unltimately they should have the most say visually. Just my thoughts personally. And Mr. Brooks please keep up the great work, it’s Christmas for me everytime a new book is released.

  11. The movie people are sniffing again because you’re writing is top notch, and I’d personally love to see Shannarra on the big screen, however…
    I’d suggest you make a clause in the contract that allows you to input your say as the movie is being made, after all, who knows better what the author had in mind then the author himself. Perhaps take a Stephen King trick and play one of the minor characters, so you’re actually there with the cast and crew, and can work closely with the director.
    Something in the Lord of the Rings trilogy style would be EPIC! However, I’d also say, only give the right to one book, and force them to impress you with it if they want to continue making more. So many of the previous folks suggestions I can understand and agree with, I start with First King and read through the entire series whenever I get your newest works, and I can see and even hear the characters in my mind. However, there’s a portion of the population that doesn’t read books and will never find the magic unless it’s in moving pictures in front of them…

    • I am agree with what you said about people that don’t read books never finding the magic unless it is in a movie. Eragon for example to me was extremely BADLY! done as a movie, but saying that it also left me thinking there was deffinately more to the story than what the movie showed. This prompted me to read the book and I hadn’t read a book in more than 15 years. This in turn lead me to Terry’s books. I love all of them and can never seem to get enough of his magic he always leaves me wanting more. I am a huge movie fan. and would love to see a Shannara story on the big screen, however in saying that even if it turned out to be poorly done it would never ruin the magic his books has given to me. I say Terry should take the money and run. you have nothing to lose from a movie being made. your fans will still always love your writing.

  12. The only way to go would be to write the screen play yourself and the have it produced in the LOTR’s style. Don’t they realize the money this would bring in? I agree that reading the books first is the only way to go but some people don’t read, how else will experience the world of Shannara? I have been reading and rereading your books since the 80’s. I have also read Tolkien many times. I love those movies and books still. My only wish is to see this happen for your books some day. In my humble opinion you don’t need a movie to validate anything, you set the standard that others try to reach. Thanks for many years of enjoyment!

    • Unfortunately The Hobbit is being made as we speak. So. No big production company is going to want to go up against that. I think they should wait a few years after the last hobbit comes out then make the Shannera movies. Maybe by then Jackson would be interested in it. I believe he is the only one that could justify it.

  13. I understand your concerns, Terry. After all, there are more than a few poor renditions of books turned movies out there. However, try not to give up hope that someone out there can do the Shannara series right. If you are worried about what might happen if you give the rights out, maybe meeting with the head over a cup of coffee in your spare time would assuade your fears. If that still leaves you feeling queasy (and heartburnish) about the whole movie thing, then maybe it is not yet time for Shannara to hit the big screen. In the end, it’s your call (you did write the things, so you have the power as to what happens to them).

  14. Terry- “The Movie People” usually tend to screw everything up. Peter Jackson did a fantastic job putting Tokien’s books onto film, but left out and tweaked some key components to the story. They gave lines said by characters in the book to other characters in the movie, all to “fit the typical movie mold”. They cut out so much good stuff, but then gave valuable screen time to Arwen and a love story that was a minor part of the novel. I would hate to see some filmmaker dismantle your stories in the way he/she sees fit…. I don’t want to have to see Tom Cruise as Wil Ohmsford when I read “The Sword” like I visualize Elijiah Wood as Frodo every time I read “Rings” now. You’ve reached the top of your respective field, and I say who needs a film? The novels will always be great.

  15. I agree Terry. Even though The Lord of the Rings movies were good, the fact that Mr. Jackson didn’t like the way Tolkien ended The Return of the King meant that he altered the ending of a masterpiece and also decided to milk drama where it wasn’t needed while insisting on adding romance. I fear the upcoming movie version of The Hobbit, a novel I have taught for over 20 years in high school English. As much as I would love to see your work on the big screen, I shudder to think of the ways they would alter and potentially ruin them, like they did with Christopher Paolini’s novels. Hopefully if it ever happens, you will have control over the finished product, albeit a hopeful suggestion on my part.

  16. Coming from the standpoint of a fan, I think Terry should not be asked to take on the project of essentially rewriting his books in a different format. Besides, from what a friend has said its near impossible to get the production companies to realize that the script has merit without any changes. I can understand where Terry’s “heartburn” stems from. While I do wish to see his books made into films, I do not wish for Terry to be given acid reflux over the whole thing. Maybe he’ll find a writer/director/production company combination that will truly do his wonderful stories justice, but I don’t think Hollywood has the talent right now to take on the caliber of Terry’s storytelling prowess. Maybe in a few generations the weeds will die out and real filmmakers will be given the chance to shine. Until then, who knows?

  17. A miniseries (like Game of Thrones) is the only way a screen adaptation of any Shannara book would have the potential for success. Far too much is lost in translation from page to screen without trying to cram hundreds of pages into a scant 2+ hours.

  18. The likes of another “Lord of the Rings” is not likely to grace movie theaters any time soon, just judging by the gyrations going on now over “The Hobbit”: who will direct it, which studio or studios will make it, will it be one movie or two, et cetera. So for all those who say a Shannara movie would be great if it were like “Lord of the Rings”, the effort to make a prequel is proving hard enough, let alone a similar movie based on different books.

    • The reason The Hobbit had such a hard time coming to the screen dealt with two different movie studios owning two different parts of the movie making process. They had to come to an agreement before going forward and, when it comes to money, both sides wanted the best deal possible. That’s why it took so long.

      Sadly, the time that took to resolve booted Guillermo del Toro from the project because he wasn’t going to sit on his ass waiting. So now Peter Jackson is directing the two films.

      Everything Hollywood is like this. It takes someone with the clout and the vision to get a movie made. Even someone like James Cameron doesn’t get a greenlight often, which is ridiculous given his long track record of making money. It’s this problem in Hollywood that will likely prevent Shannara from being made into a movie anytime soon.

  19. I’ve always thought Elfstones would make the best movie by far of any of the Shannara books, or a miniseries of The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara (far and away the best series Brooks has done in my opinion)

  20. Film is another expression of story telling. That is what you do so well. I say take a chance and introduce an entire new audience to the Shannara Universe.

  21. I actually like Elizabeth Gilbert’s approach. She just let the movie go for the most part. Her book, “Eat Pray Love” has taken on a real life of its own and she’s, after six years, said, “Ok, I’m done” and is letting the “movement”, as it were, do what it will. Maybe it’s a matter of letting go of some of the control.

    There are plenty of ways to interpret a story – just look at Tolkien. I don’t believe his story was ruined when made into a movie – just re-envisioned. Both stories are great entertainment and both contain good messages. So let another artist creatively interpret your work and appreciate and accept it for what it is. Regardless, your work stands on its own merits, separate from the movie.

    A long time fan and admirer,

    Michelle Keyes

  22. Terry, regardless if anything you wrote ever makes it on screen, it’s your books we your fans love. If someone does make a movie on your work and it’s horrible then your true fans won’t really worry that much because your books are still there, like old friends. If someone actually manages to do a good movie of your work, then we’ll see it as icing on an already delicious cake. My opinion is to ignore the movie people, they’d mess it up anyways.

  23. personally i say start with running with the demon, and here is my reasoning, it would take much less time to produce because, most of the characters are human so less cg, they could film it within a year easily and possibly because of the story line get a huge new fan-base interest in Terry’s books to get the other more fantasy focused books made into movies. i feel the money that it would take to make a shannara book is probably a reason why they have never been green lighted, i mean the difference in production price between like elfstones and running would probably be significant.

  24. Mr. Brooks

    If they do make a movie have them do it computer animated or just animated that way they can hire any actors they want to do the voices and we won’t have to see for example Mark Harman play Allanon or something like that..

  25. Hi Mr. Brooks,
    Love yout work and hope you can come to a decision that is right for you. If you decide to get involved with writing for a movie, please don’t let it change your writing style for your books. I’ve read authors who, after having a book being made into a movie, seemed to change their writing style to that which supports a transition to a screenplay. I’ve heard and noticed that basically only 2 senses are used in movies, sight and hearing, and your books are rich in describing all 5 senses. In the authors that made these changes the books seemed shallower and lacked depth of earlier books.

  26. Since reading the Heritage series, especially Druid and Elf Queen, I’ve thought that series would transfer quite nicely to screen. And I’m a bigger fan of Wishsong than Elfstones… so contrary to you and so many fans I’m not sure Elfstones would make the better movie. I think it’s eventual though, that Shannara will be a movie at some point. It just needs the right people.

    • Now I’m in agreement with you that Elfstones wouldn’t be the best movie choice. so far for me Elfstones is my least favorite of Terry’s work, and Amberle the only character to date I really didn’t like at all.

  27. I love well done fantasy movies. I love all your books. Yet, I would be very disappointed to see the books turned in to movies.

    There is something intensely personal about reading a good book. In a way, the reader makes the book their own by adding hints of their own worldview, hopes, dreams, and fantasies. That’s what I love about writer’s. They show us their own worlds, invite us in, and if they’re good, make us want to make that world our own. We get lost in it, just as we get lost in our own lives and our own real worlds. We take a piece of the writer’s world back with us and we leave a piece of ourselves in that world. All this gets taken away when a movie is made. The only world that can exist after a movie is made is the one that was created by the film company. It may match in some places with our own version, but it can never again be solely ours.

    Terry, you’re easily my favorite author. Ever since I read The Black Unicorn in middle school (17 years ago) I’ve been hooked. It’s not just your writing and ability to build beautiful, amazing worlds with fascinating stories; your books are still “pure.” It would be very exciting to see The Sword of Shannara on the big screen but, I don’t think it’s worth what would be lost.

    Is there a chance you could work with movie companies on making something brand new?

    • I agree with Megan. I would also add that because you are so strong on character building, this is what makes your books so attractive and immersive.

      Readers are enabled to connect with your characters in a powerful way. The journey of both hero and villain is a personal one that we are able to explore with them. We know their thoughts, we feel their fears, we experience their emotions. We have time to get to know them and in doing so we share a relationship with them because our imagination (a vital component that is taken away by films) allows us to enjoy these written elements so much.

      You don’t get that with a movie. You might get an impression by a character but without your own imagination, you cannot engage with a character the way you can in print. The screen is an altogether different (and in my view inferior) experience.

      It is your choice, Mr Brooks. Whatever you decide, your written work will always be at the top of my list and It is to your books – not the screen – where I will turn when I want to visit and re-visit the magic of the world and the people of Shannara.

  28. Books are books and teleplays are teleplays.

    As a prime example, no one I know for a minute enjoys Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series any less because of the ‘Legend of the Seeker’ TV series which was a VERY loose (Xena-esque) adaptation thereof.

    I imagine the same would/will hold true for the Word:Void/Shannara stories should they ever be filmed.

    Your work, sir, will stand on its own for a long time as a masterful examination of the human condition and its resilience (and our determination to live out the same flawed and heroic roles over and over again throughout time), regardless what adaptations may come about.

  29. When talking about this very issue, Brent Weeks once said that when an author writes a book (or any work of art) his/her primary goal is to sell it, not just for money, but to expose it to as many people as possible who might enjoy it. A movie undoubtedly is good on that front, and in theory always worth selling the rights for. That said, I can’t help but think that any adaptation of one of your books would be so brutally butchered that I would hate it. For one thing, they would almost certainly shift the target age range downward, affecting both the content and the style for the worse. Most of the scenes would probably come off as cheesy, unless they had a damn good screenwriter (and what are the odds of that, really?). Then we can imagine the budget being too low to make it as epic as it needs to be. And any number of other issues.

    In conclusion, I suggest you sell the rights and hope they never greenlight it………..?

  30. hey, how about we get george lucas involved, i mean terry wrote a novelization for lucas books, let’s use that connection, surely lucas can see the film potential, he is a true visionary.

  31. I agree with many of the other comments here…I would like to see a movie or preferably a running series made of any of Terry’s books. A good 12 episode series would be great to really honor the books and be able to flesh out the little details of the books that usually get left behind on the cutting room in a movie due to time constraints. Then if the show is popular, the show could kind of take a life of it’s own and expand in future episodes, with the books acting as a reference or guideline for the show.

    A good example is the Showtime series Dexter. The books are vastly different from the show, yet the show is great on it’s own because of how different it is from the books, yet if the show didn’t exist, I probably would never have read the books. (plus the show has the luck of having great writing, excellent cast and acting, etc.) But the show stands on it’s own as being great, which brings in a whole new era of people to enjoy the books since they are interested in the show.

    So the potential is there for something great to happen out of a big screen adaptation….we will have to wait and see….I’m just happy more books are coming out that will always be a joy to read the latest book from Terry.

  32. I loved chatting up Sword while I managed a Waldenbooks over the last 12 years. The movie people……..If they start at the beginning there is no way to do justice to any of the first trilogy in anything less than 3 movies each. Sword was ground breaking then and should get no less of a treatment from hollywood, I feel that maybe the technology and mindset for Hollywood to do them justice might finally exist.

  33. I agree I read the Seeker series and could not wait to see it on TV. Let down the characters were not as I envisoned. The Mother Confessor was supposed to be recognized by her long hair only allow by her, shoulder length hair is not long and I could go on…Unless you get Speilberg and approvel to all aspects. The answer should be NO….

  34. A movie could be good – or bad. Could be like LotR or bad. I saw what Scifi did to A Wizard of Earthsea. My personal favorite is Sword but Wishsong might make the best movie.

  35. It’s nice to see that others have the same feelings about the movies conflicting with the books. I would never wish for my imagination to be over shadowed with someone elses ideas. Love the books and will keep reading them even if movies are made. I do agree with the comment about the Elfstones…was one of my favorites too! The only problem with good fanstasy books, every ones ‘visions’ are different. Unless you never read the books, you will be disappointed in some way.
    Am fully looking forward to the new series in 2012!

  36. I love the book Game of Thrones, and I was horrified to see that it is now on HBO. I will not ever watch it. Sean Bean is awesome but he is not Ned Stark. I hope Hollywood never touches Shannara.

  37. Game of Thornes is proving that the best way to adapt any novel of great length is to make it a series, I can’t believe how faithful to the books it is. Amazing.

    Let’s see The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara as a series, it would be so epic.

    • Voyage would be an incredible movie or TV series if done correctly. If things would go well with that project, I can see later series or movies spanning the timeline in both directions and really gripping new & old fans alike.

      I read Sword through Talismans about 15 years ago. I was out of the loop a bit and found out about Genesis of Shannara a little over a year ago so I read through all the newer books beginning at Word & Void through to Straken since then. Now I’m 5 chapters from finishing Sword all over again and plan to go through the original seven again, but stopping after Wishsong to sneak Indomitable between it and Scions.

      Terry, you’re one of my favorite authors of all time. I hope you keep considering finding the right fit in this medium for your books. I’ve always wanted to see the Druids, the Weaponsmaster and the Ohmsfords on a big screen along with absolutely every other character you’ve ever created in the entire Shannara series. That’s a lot to ask for but even a fraction of the story would be exciting.

  38. While I share my fellow fans’ concerns regarding to possible catastrophe a movie could(give the way Hollywood is) very likely turn out to be, I would still like to see an attempt made. I feel comfortable enough in my love for the worlds of Shannara and Landover to say that no matter what happens, no bad Hollywood flick can taint my love for these books. And if it flops who cares? The question people should be asking themselves is, “on the small chance that people won’t make a mess of these terrific books, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a movie to add to Brooks experience?”

    In all honesty, as an avid Ringer the Lord of the Rings trilogy is now so much more important to me since it has been adapted than it was when it was just this fantastic thing of my imaginings. The wonder of the films added extra significance to an author who was already so incredibly inspirational to me. I would hate to miss out on what may be a small chance of finding that same wonder with Shannara or Landover.

  39. Quite frankly, I would go with a fan of the series. However, I press the matter of caution in this act. I have seen too many movies butcher the books. In all honesty, I would rather see a series of films on television that hold true to the story than see a director no more than look at the cover of a book and try to piece some odd story together.

    With additional note and with exception to the work of Terry Goodkind which true story could not be shown on television, and all was just one short-lived farce. I take pride with Terry Brooks work, and desire nothing less than quality entertainment in a movie or on television. This same thing I hold with another writer JMS, the writer for the television series Babylon 5, and latest movie Thor.

    Terry, it was great to see you if only in a glancing moment at the Sea Tac Airport.

    Dan Rollins
    Ontario, Oregon USA

  40. I understand the need to be cautious when dealing with making a movie. However i get the feeling from allot of these fans ,that they are a little selfish and saying what they think you want to hear. No movie or T.V adaption can nor will ever take away what your books mean to me. The reality is i have friends that will never read a book, a whole generation is being raised away from reading books. There comes a time when you have to let it go, like some have said, just make sure you set the stipulations, as in writing the screenplay and having some control, to picking the director yourself. Take the risk, what a shame it would be if it was made 30 years after your death.

  41. Movies based on books…

    It is always a hard task to achieve when the audience expects the movie to be like the book, if not better. Honestly, to fit any one of these books into a two hour time span will do no justice. Transforming great stories into motion pictures that uses the same air and mood that the author has created is extremely hard. Even though I say these things, I definitely will like to see movies made for these awesome books whether the outcome be good or not.

    The only thing I would be worried about is if the movies that will be produced will be of Terry Brooks’ liking because seeing one’s offspring come to life in another form is exciting but can be disappointing if it doesn’t go accordingly. But in any case, best of luck to you!

  42. I’ve always thought that the Word & Void stories would make for a good regular tv show. You could have the plot of the first book as a sub plot to the series/season, but follow John from town to town as he chases down demons/futures he see’s while dreaming/in the future. Can see John now at the end of the first episode, falling asleep on a greyhound bus, staff in hand, with us viewers knowing the poor man is about to have another nightmare that will lead him to his next stop …

  43. Something no one has commented on yet- Magic Kingdom For Sale – Sold. I began reading this series when I was around 10. Whenever asking my friends, or even other adults, no one had heard of the series. Being fans of the series, my family and I began looking into possible movie information years ago. I would be extremely excited if the Landover series became movies. I can only picture characters such as Willow, Abernathy, and Questor, whom are some of my favorite inhabitants of Landover. I hope more people will find the joy of the Landover, whether it start on the big screen, or from word of mouth, as I love it.
    Sincerely, Jen

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