I don’t have much room to talk about the cannibalization of already-made stories in order to make new products. I consume superhero films like they’re candy, for crissakes. And while it might be true that all stories borrow from other stories again and again in some form of fashion–a copy of a copy of a copy, to Fight Club it up in here–I’m not sure that anyone was necessarily clamoring for a modern, serialized, made-for-TV adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s novel of faith and horror, The Exorcist.
And yet, the pop culture soothsayers from Fox closed their eyes, felt around through the aether, and deemed, hey, let’s invest in some crucifix props and fake pea soup, because we’re throwing The Exorcist on the small screen. Entertainment Weekly reports that Fox has given the go-ahead for a pilot based on Blatty’s book that will add a modern sensibility to the original tale, characterized as “a propulsive, serialized psychological thriller following two very different men tackling one family’s case of horrifying demonic possession, and confronting the face of true evil.” Heading up the project will be Jeremy Slater, screenwriter of last year’s Fantastic Four flick, for whatever that’s worth.
Here’s the thing: Putting new spins on old stories isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Coen brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou?, loosely based on Homer’s The Odyssey immediately springs to mind. However, when the basic premise of the source material is changed to such a degree that it only tacitly resembles the original, can it truly be said to be an adaptation? While using the tagline “based on the novel by William Peter Blatty” surely will initially bring in fans of his novel and the film, creators risk alienating those very fans if they are soured by their view of how much the new product ain’t quite The Exorcist they remember. It’s the same fear I have with Fox’s upcoming Lucifer: From the series description and the trailers the network has released, it barely resembles the Vertigo comic book source material. If both series veer off so radically from what they propose to adapt, why not just use the premises built to create new shows? To be fair, I guess I shouldn’t dole out judgment until I see the finished products of either series. Skepticism shelved for now.
[Source: Entertainment Weekly]