Famous Author Laments Hollywood’s Obsession with ‘Making It Their Own’ in Adaptations

George R.R. Martin, the creator of the “Game of Thrones” series, recently shared his thoughts on the challenges and frequent missteps of the adaptation process in a blog post. Martin criticized the pervasive industry attitude that seems to prioritize novelty over fidelity to the original texts, with many screenwriters and producers believing they can improve upon the classics.

“No matter how major a writer it is, no matter how great the book, there always seems to be someone on hand who thinks he can do better, eager to take the story and ‘improve’ on it,” Martin wrote. “‘The book is the book, the film is the film,’ they will tell you, as if they were saying something profound. Then they make the story their own.”

Martin’s critique is broad and encompassing, touching on adaptations of works by a wide range of legendary authors, from Jane Austen to J.R.R. Tolkien. He reflects on an industry increasingly eager to reframe and reinterpret established literary works, often to the detriment of the stories themselves.

“They never make it better, though. Nine hundred ninety-nine times out of a thousand, they make it worse,” Martin added.

Martin had similar sentiments in 2022 when he and fellow author Neil Gaiman buried Hollywood for its love of reimagining books, stating that it was a controversial issue in Hollywood to feel obligated to be faithful to the written material.

However, Martin’s critique is not without exceptions. He singles out the adaptation of James Clavell’s “Shogun” by FX as a rare instance where the essence of the book was not only captured but also celebrated on screen. Martin suggests that Clavell would have been pleased with this treatment, which meticulously preserves the depth and breadth of his historical epic.

The author’s latest comments come amidst a wave of remakes and sequels announced by major studios, including Disney and Warner Bros., which prioritize marketability over originality.