Hollywood movie novelizations are novels based on mainstream films and published about the time these films are released in theaters. The present article explores the ambiguous status of this generally little-esteemed and frequently ignored form of adaptation. On the one hand, novelizations are works of literature that can be enjoyed without knowledge of the film they are based on; on the other, they can be (and often are) seen as mere tools of film advertising. This latter aspect becomes particularly evident when looking at the cover design of a novelization. It invariably features the film’s artwork (the poster image, stills, and/or typography used for promoting the film) and frequently highlights the film’s stars rather than the book’s author. By analyzing a selection of book covers of novelized versions of recent films and comparing the novelization of Terminator Salvation (Foster 2009b) with the film (Terminator Salvation 2009, dir. McG) it is based on, the article traces and examines the frictions between the opposing forces—literature and film marketing—that define the genre.

This content is only available as a PDF.

References

References
The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen
1988
Directed by Gilliam, Terry, performers Neville, John; Idle, Eric; Polley, Sarah (
Culver City, CA
:
Columbia
).
Alice in Wonderland
2010
Directed by Burton, Tim, performers Wasikowska, Mia; Depp, Johnny; Carter, Helena Bonham (
Burbank, CA
:
Walt Disney
).
Allison, Deborah
2007
Film/Print: Novelisations and Capricorn One
,”
M/C Journal
10
(
2
), journal.media-culture.org.au/0705/07-allison.php.
Anderson, Kevin J.
1997
The X Files: Ruins
(
New York
:
HarperPrism
).
Austen, Jane
2005
Pride and Prejudice
(
London
:
Penguin
).
Avatar
2009
Directed by Cameron, James, performers Worthington, Sam; Saldana, Zoe; Weaver, Sigourney (
Los Angeles, CA
:
20th Century-Fox
).
Baer, William
2004
On the Waterfront: A Conversation with Budd Schulberg
,” in
The Muse upon My Shoulder: Discussions of the Creative Process
, edited by McTague, Sylvia Skaggs,
174
96
(
Cranbury, NJ
:
Associated University Press
).
Baetens, Jan
2005
Novelization: A Contaminated Genre?
,”
Critical Inquiry
32
:
43
60
.
2007
From Screen to Text: Novelization, the Hidden Continent
,” in
The Cambridge Companion to Literature on Screen
, edited by Cartmell, Deborah; Whelehan, Imelda,
226
38
(
Cambridge
:
Cambridge University Press
).
2008
La novellisation: Du film au roman
(
Brussels
:
Les Impressions Nouvelles
).
2010
Expanding the Field of Constraint: Novelization as an Example of Multiply Constrained Writing
,”
Poetics Today
31
:
51
79
.
Baetens, Jan; Lits, Marc, eds.
2004
La novellisation: Du film au roman/Novelization: From Film to Novel
(
Louvain, Belgium
:
Louvain University Press
).
Bolt, Robert
1986
The Mission
(
New York
:
Jove
).
1990
A Man for All Seasons
(
London
:
Vintage
).
Boulle, Pierre
2001
[1963]
Planet of the Apes
(
New York
:
Del Rey
).
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
1992
Directed by Coppola, Francis Ford, performers Oldman, Gary; Ryder, Winona; Hopkins, Anthony (
San Francisco, CA
:
American Zoetrope
).
Busch, Jenna
2009
Interview with Alan Dean Foster, Author of Terminator Salvation: The Official Movie Novelization
,”
Huffington Post
,
August
10
, www.huffingtonpost.com/jenna-busch/interview-with-alan-dean_b_254723.html.
Butler, Michael; Shryack, Dennis
1979
The Gauntlet
(
London
:
Star
).
Butler, Nancy
2009
Pride and Prejudice
(
New York
:
Marvel
).
Capricorn One
1978
Directed by Hyams, Peter, performers Gould, Elliott; Brolin, James; Vaccaro, Brenda (
Boston, MA
:
Associated General Films
).
Carroll, Lewis
2011
[1865]
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
(
London
:
Puffin
).
Charmed
1998–2006
Created by Burge, Constance M., performers Combs, Holly Marie; Milano, Alyssa; Krause, Brian (
Los Angeles, CA
:
Spelling
).
Ciencin, Scott
2002
Jurassic Park III
(
Harlow, UK
:
Pearson Education
).
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
1977
Directed by Spielberg, Steven, performers Dreyfuss, Richard; Truffaut, François; Garr, Teri.
Culver City, CA
:
Columbia
.
Coburn, James
2007
New Indiana Jones Film Has Edmond Actor
,”
Edmond Sun
,
September
17
, www.edmondsun.com/archive/x519221606.
Coe, Jonathan
2005
Diary of an Obsession
,” Coe, Jonathan, www.jonathancoewriter.com/oddsAndEnds/diaryOfAnObsession.html.
Collins, Max Allan
2010
CSI Miami: Florida Getaway
(
London
:
Pocket
).
Cooper, James Fenimore
1986
[1826]
The Last of the Mohicans
(
New York
:
Penguin
).
Corzine, Amy
2008
Jane Eyre: The Graphic Novel
(
Litchborough, UK
:
Classical Comics
).
Cowboys and Aliens
2011
Directed by Favreau, Jon, performers Craig, Daniel; Ford, Harrison; Wilde, Olivia.
University City, CA
:
Universal
.
Cox, John
2004
The Raymond Benson CBn Interview (Part IV)
,” CommanderBond.net,
April
15
, commanderbond.net/2339/the-raymond-benson-cbn-interview-part-iv.html.
Crabb, Kelly Charles
2005
The Movie Business: The Definitive Guide to the Legal and Financial Secrets of Getting Your Movie Made
(
New York
:
Simon and Schuster
).
CSI Miami
2002
Created by Donahue, Ann; Mendelsohn, Carol; Zuiker, Anthony E., performers Caruso, David; Procter, Emily; Rodriguez, Adam.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
:
Alliance Atlantis Communications
.
David, Peter
2011
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
(
New York
:
Del Rey
).
Defoe, Daniel
2001
[1719]
Robinson Crusoe
(
London
:
Penguin
).
Desmond, John M.; Hawkes, Peter
2006
Adaptation: Studying Film and Literature
(
Boston
:
McGraw-Hill
).
Dickens, Charles
2003
[1859]
A Tale of Two Cities
(
London
:
Penguin
).
Dorian Gray
2009
Directed by Parker, Olive, performers Barnes, Ben; Firth, Colin; Hall, Rebecca.
London
:
Ealing Studios
.
Eggers, Dave
2010
The Wild Things
(
London
:
Penguin
).
Eisner, Will
2008
Comics and Sequential Art: Principles and Practices from the Legendary Cartoonist
(
London
:
Norton
).
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
1982
Directed by Spielberg, Steven, performers Thomas, Henry; Barrymore, Drew; Coyote, Peter.
University City, CA
:
Universal
.
eXistenZ
1999
Directed by Cronenberg, David, performers Law, Jude; Leigh, Jennifer Jason; Holm, Ian.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
:
Alliance Atlantis Communications
.
A Fistful of Dollars
1964
Directed by Leone, Sergio, performers Eastwood, Clint; Volonté, Gian Maria; Koch, Marianne (
Frankfurt, DE
:
Constantin Film
).
Foster, Alan Dean
2009a
Star Trek
(
London
:
Pocket
).
2009b
Terminator Salvation
(
London
:
Titan
).
2009c
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
(
New York
:
Del Rey
).
Gallagher, Diana G.
2008
Charmed: Trickery Treat
(
London
:
Pocket
).
The Gauntlet
1977
Directed by Eastwood, Clint, performers Eastwood, Clint; Locke, Sondra; Hingle, Pat.
Burbank, CA
:
Malpaso
.
Gelder, Ken
1994
Reading the Vampire
(
New York
:
Routledge
).
Genette, Gérard
1997
Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation
, edited by Lewin, Jane E. (
Cambridge
:
Cambridge University Press
).
Gilliam, Terry; McKeown, Charles
1989
The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen: Story of the Screenplay
(
London
:
Mandarin
).
The Glass Key
1942
Directed by Heisler, Stuart, performers Ladd, Alan; Lake, Veronica; Donlevy, Brian.
Los Angeles, CA
:
Paramount
.
Glut, Donald F.
1985
The Empire Strikes Back
(
New York
:
Del Rey
).
Goedhart, Bernie
2007
Transcript: Interview with Dave Eggers
,”
Gazette: Postmedia Network
,
December
7
, www.canada.com/montrealgazette/news/arts/story.html?id=0872e59b-6145-4dae-8604-22dcc9e8dd62.
Golden, Christopher
2005
King Kong
(
London
:
Pocket Star
).
Goldman, William
2006
The Screenwriter
,” in
The Movie Business Book
, edited by Squire, Jason E.,
60
71
(
Maidenhead, UK
:
McGraw Hill
).
Goodman, Evelyn; Orlando, Joe; Christie, Stuart; Dickens, Charles
1996
A Tale of Two Cities (Classics Illustrated)
(
New York
:
Acclaim Classics and Young Readers
).
Goulart, Ron
1978
Capricorn One
(
New York
:
Fawcett Gold Medal
).
Hagberg, David
2003
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
(
New York
:
TOR
).
Hammett, Dashiell
1931
The Glass Key
(
New York
:
Knopf
).
Hardwick, Michael; Hardwick, Mollie
1970
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
(
New York
:
HarperCollins
).
Harris, Thomas
1988
The Silence of the Lambs
(
New York
:
St. Martin’s
).
Haupman, Ira
1981
Novelization: The Theater’s New Crisis
,”
Theater
12
(
2
):
87
91
.
Hawtree, Christopher
2007
Obituary: Leslie Waller
,”
Guardian
,
April
18
, www.guardian.co.uk/news/2007/apr/19/guardianobituaries.booksobituaries1.
Hutcheon, Linda
2006
A Theory of Adaptation
(
New York
:
Routledge
).
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
2008
Directed by Spielberg, Steven, performers Ford, Harrison; Blanchett, Cate; LaBeouf, Shia.
Los Angeles, CA
:
Paramount
.
Jewell, Peter
2008
Collector’s Tales: A Personal Overview of Film Fiction at Bill Douglas Centre
,”
Film History
20
(
2
):
149
63
.
Jones, William B.
2001
Classics Illustrated: A Cultural History, with Illustrations
(
Jefferson, NC
:
McFarland
).
Jurassic Park III
2001
Directed by Johnston, Joe, performers Neill, Sam; Macy, William H.; Leoni, Téa.
University City, CA
:
Universal
.
Kanter, Albert Lewis; Foley, June; Severin, John Powers; Addeo, Stephen; Cooper, James Fenimore
1997
The Last of the Mohicans
(
New York
:
Acclaim Classics and Young Readers
).
Kent, Roberta; Gotler, Joel
2006
Exploiting Book-Publishing Rights
,” in
The Movie Business Book
, edited by Squire, Jason E.,
91
97
(
Maidenhead, UK
:
McGraw Hill
).
King Kong
2005
Directed by Jackson, Peter, performers Watts, Naomi; Black, Jack; Brody, Adrien.
Universal City, CA
:
Universal
.
Kotzwinkle, William
1982
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
(
London
:
Sphere
).
Larson, Randall D.
1995
Films into Books: An Analytical Bibliography of Film Novelizations, Movie, and TV Tie-Ins
(
Metuchen, NJ
:
Scarecrow
).
Last Man Standing
1996
Directed by Hill, Walter, performers Willis, Bruce; Dern, Bruce; Sanderson, William.
Los Angeles, CA
:
New Line Cinema
.
Leitch, Thomas M.
2007
Film Adaptation and Its Discontents: From “Gone with the Wind” to “The Passion of the Christ”
(
Maryland
:
Johns Hopkins University Press
).
2010
The Ethics of Infidelity
,” in
Adaptation Studies: New Approaches
, edited by Albrecht-Crane, Christa; Cutchins, Dennis Ray,
61
77
(
Madison, NJ
:
Fairleigh Dickinson University Press
).
Lerangis, Peter
2000
M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Sixth Sense”
(
New York
:
Scholastic
).
The Lord of the Rings
2001–3
Directed by Jackson, Peter, performers Wood, Elijah; McKellen, Ian; Astin, Sean.
Los Angeles, CA
:
New Line Cinema
.
Luceno, James
2008
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
(
New York
:
Scholastic
).
Maberry, Jonathan
2010
The Wolfman
(
New York
:
Tor
).
Mahlknecht, Johannes
2011
Promotion vs. Suppression: Intermedial Relationships between Early Narrative Film and Its Fan Magazine Fictionizations
,” in
The Visual Culture of Modernism
, edited by Klarer, Mario; Madsen, Deborah L.,
105
18
(
Tübingen, Germany
:
Narr
).
Marich, Robert
2009
Marketing to Moviegoers: A Handbook of Strategies and Tactics
(
Carbondale
:
Southern Illinois University Press
).
The Matrix
1999
Directed by Wachowski, Andy; Wachowski, Larry, performers Reeves, Keanu; Fishburne, Laurence; Moss, Carrie-Ann.
Burbank, CA
:
Warner
.
McCarthy, Cormac
2005
No Country for Old Men
(
London
:
Vintage
).
McKee, Ryan
8 Stars You Maybe Didn’t Know Auditioned for ‘Twilight’
Next Movie
,
October
11
.
McLean, Adrienne L.
2003
‘New Films in Story Form’: Movie Story Magazines and Spectatorship
,”
Cinema Journal
42
(
3
):
3
26
.
The Mission
1986
Directed by Joffé, Roland, performers De Niro, Robert; Irons, Jeremy; McAnally, Ray (
Burbank, CA
:
Warner
).
Moonraker
1979
Directed by Gilbert, Lewis, performers Moore, Roger; Chiles, Lois; Lonsdale, Michael (
Los Angeles, CA
:
Eon
).
Motion Picture Association of America
2011
What Each Rating Means
,” www.mpaa.org/ratings/what-each-rating-means.
Naremore, James, ed.
2000
Film Adaptation
(
New Brunswick, NJ
:
Rutgers University Press
).
No Country for Old Men
2007
Directed by Coen, Joel; Coen, Ethan, performers Jones, Tommy Lee; Bardem, Javier; Brolin, Josh (
Hollywood, CA
:
Paramount Vantage
).
Novak, John Luther
1999
eXistenZ
(
London
:
Pocket
).
The Omen
1976
Directed by Donner, Richard, performers Peck, Gregory; Remick, Lee; Stephens, Harvey (
Los Angeles, CA
:
20th Century-Fox
).
O’Neill, Joseph
2003
Film: The Best Novelists, the Worst Movie Adaptations
,”
New York Times
,
November
9
, www.nytimes.com/2003/11/09/movies/film-the-best-novelists-the-worst-movie-adaptations.html.
On the Waterfront
1954
Directed by Kazan, Elia, performers Brando, Marlon; Malden, Karl; Cobb, Lee J. (
Culver City, CA
:
Columbia
).
Out of the Past
1947
Directed by Tourneur, Jacques, performers Mitchum, Robert; Greer, Jane; Douglas, Kirk (
New York
:
RKO
).
Owenashi,
2006
Comic Book Novels: What, JUST Words?
Penny Arcade
,
November
, forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/7613/comic-book-novels
. . . what-just-words.
Planet of the Apes
2001
Directed by Burton, Tim, performers Wahlberg, Mark; Carter, Helena Bonham; Roth, Tim (
Los Angeles, CA
:
20th Century-Fox
).
Pride and Prejudice
2005
Directed by Wright, Joe, performers Knightley, Keira; Macfadyen, Matthew; Blethyn, Brenda (
Universal City, CA
:
Focus Features
).
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
1970
Directed by Wilder, Billy, performers Stephens, Robert; Lee, Christopher; Blakely, Colin (
Hollywood, CA
:
Mirisch
).
Queenan, Joe
2009
Read ’Em and Weep
,”
Guardian
,
July
9
, www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/jul/10/joe-queenan-movie-novelisation.
Quick, William T.
2001
Planet of the Apes
(
New York
:
HarperCollins
).
Rosenberg, Scott Mitchell; Van Lente, Fred; Foley, Andrew; Lima, Luciano
2011
Cowboys and Aliens
(
New York
:
HarperCollins
).
Ross, Bernard L.
1978
Capricorn One
(
London
:
Futura
).
Rudnick, Elizabeth
2011
Thor
(
New York
:
Marvel
).
Saberhagen, Fred
1992
Bram Stoker’s Dracula
(
New York
:
Signet
).
Schmitt, Claudia
2007
Der Held als Filmsehender: Filmerleben in der Gegenwartsliteratur
(
Würzburg, Germany
:
Königshausen and Neumann
).
Schulberg, Budd
1979
Waterfront
(
Cambridge
:
Bentley
).
Scott, A. O.
2005
Among the Believers
,”
New York Times
,
September
11
, www.nytimes.com/2005/09/11/magazine/11BELIEVERS.html.
Seltzer, David
2006
The Omen
(
New York
:
Signet
).
Sendak, Maurice
1988
[1963]
Where the Wild Things Are
(
London
:
HarperCollins
).
Shail, Andrew
2008
The Motion Picture Story Magazine and the Origins of Popular British Film Culture
,”
Film History
20
(
2
):
181
97
.
Shrek
2001
Directed by Adamson, Andrew; Jenson, Vicky, performers Myers, Mike; Murphy, Eddie; Diaz, Cameron (
Universal City, CA
:
DreamWorks
).
The Silence of the Lambs
1991
Directed by Demme, Jonathan, performers Foster, Jodie; Hopkins, Anthony; Glenn, Scott (
New York
:
Orion
).
Singer, Ben
1993
Fiction Tieins and Narrative Intelligibility 1911–18
,”
Film History
5
(
4
):
489
504
.
The Sixth Sense
1999
Directed by Shyamalan, M. Night, performers Willis, Bruce; Osment, Haley Joel; Collette, Toni.
Burbank, CA
:
Hollywood
.
Slumdog Millionaire
2008
Directed by Boyle, Danny, performers Patel, Dev; Pinto, Freida; Shukla, Saurabh.
London
:
Celador
.
Spielberg, Steven
1977
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
(
New York
:
Dell
).
Stam, Robert; Raengo, Alessandra, eds.
2005
Literature and Film: A Guide to the Theory and Practice of Film Adaptation
(
Malden, MA
:
Blackwell
).
Star Trek
2009
Directed by Abrams, J. J., performers Pine, Chris; Quinto, Zachary; Pegg, Simon.
Hollywood, CA
:
Paramount
.
Star Wars
1977
Directed by Lucas, George, performers Hamill, Mark; Ford, Harrison; Fisher, Carrie.
San Francisco, CA
:
Lucasfilm
.
Star Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back
1980
Directed by Kershner, Irvin, performers Fisher, Carrie; Ford, Harrison; Hamill, Mark.
San Francisco, CA
:
Lucasfilm
.
Stevenson, Robert Louis
1999
[1883]
Treasure Island
(
New York
:
Penguin
).
Sutherland, T. T.
2010
Disney Alice in Wonderland
(
New York
:
Disney
).
Swarup, Vikas
2005
Q and A
(
New York
:
Scribner
).
Tangled
2010
Directed by Greno, Nathan; Howard, Byron, performers Moore, Mandy; Levi, Zachary; Murphy, Donna.
Burbank, CA
:
Walt Disney
.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
2003
Directed by Mostow, Jonathan, performers Schwarzenegger, Arnold; Stahl, Nick; Loken, Kristanna.
Boston, MA
:
C2
.
Terminator Salvation
2009
Directed by McG, , performers Bale, Christian; Worthington, Sam; Yelchin, Anton.
Culver City, CA
:
Sony
.
Thor
2011
Directed by Branagh, Kenneth, performers Hemsworth, Chris; Hopkins, Anthony; Portman, Natalie.
Los Angeles, CA
:
Paramount
.
Thorpe, Kiki
2002
Treasure Planet
(
New York
:
Scholastic
).
Toy Story
1995
Directed by Lasseter, John, performers Hanks, Tom; Allen, Tim; Rickles, Don.
Emeryville, CA
:
Pixar
.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
2011
Directed by Bay, Michael, performers LaBeouf, Shia; Huntington-Whiteley, Rosie; Gibson, Tyrese.
Los Angeles, CA
:
Paramount
.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
2009
Directed by Bay, Michael, performers LaBeouf, Shia; Fox, Megan; Duhamel, Josh.
Universal City, CA
:
DreamWorks
.
Treasure Planet
2002
Directed by Clements, Ron; Musker, John, performers Gordon-Levitt, Joseph; Thompson, Emma; Short, Martin.
Burbank, CA
:
Walt Disney
.
Trimble, Irene
2010
Tangled
(
New York
:
Random House
).
Van Parys, Thomas
2009
The Commercial Novelization: Research, History, Differentiation
,”
Literature-Film Quarterly
,
October
1
, www.thefreelibrary.com/-a0217787236.
Van Parys, Thomas; Jansen, Lien; Vanhoutte, Elisabeth
2004
eXistenZ, a Different Novelization?
Image and Narrative
9
(
October
), www.imageandnarrative.be/inarchive/performance/vanparys.htm.
Vinge, Joan D.
2011
Cowboys and Aliens
(
New York
:
Tor
).
Welsh, James M.; Lev, Peter, eds.
2007
The Literature/Film Reader: Issues of Adaptation
(
Lanham, MD
:
Scarecrow
).
WENN
2007
Steven Spielberg Furious over Indiana Jones Plot Leak
,” Hollywood.com,
October
1
, www.hollywood.com/news/Spielberg_Furious_over_Indiana_Jones_Plot_Leak/4926622.
“Where the Wild Things Are” [poster]
2009
Internet Movie Poster Database
, www.movieposterdb.com/movie/0386117/Where-the-Wild-Things-Are.html.
Where the Wild Things Are
2009
Directed by Jonze, Spike, performers Cooper, Chris; Keener, Catherine; O’Hara, Catherine; Ruffalo, Mark; Whitaker, Forest.
Burbank, CA
:
Warner
.
Wilde, Oscar
2009
[1890]
The Picture of Dorian Gray
(
London
:
Penguin
).
Williams, Jenny
2009
Lunch with Alan Dean Foster, Part I: Turning Movies into Books
,”
Wired
,
July
1
, www.wired.com/geekdad/2009/07/alandeanfosterparti.
The Wolf Man
1941
Directed by Waggner, George, performers Rains, Claude; William, Warren; Chaney, LonJr.
University City, CA
:
Universal
.
The Wolfman
2010
Directed by Johnston, Joe, performers Del Toro, Benicio; Hopkins, Anthony; Blunt, Emily.
University City, CA
:
Universal
.
Wood, Christopher
1979
Moonraker
(
London
:
Jonathan Cape
).
Wray, Sam; Boyette, Pat
1991
Robinson Crusoe
(
New York
:
Berkley
).
The X Files
1993–2002
Created by Carter, Chris, performers Duchovny, David; Anderson, Gillian; Pileggi, Mitch.
Los Angeles, CA
:
20th Century-Fox
.
Yacobi, Tamar
1995
Pictorial Models and Narrative Ekphrasis
,”
Poetics Today
16
:
599
649
.
Yojimbo
1961
Directed by Kurosawa, Akira, performers Mifune, Toshirô; Tôno, Eijirô; Nakadai, Tatsuya (
Tokyo, Japan
).

Author notes

This article was written as part of the research project Framing Media: The Periphery of Fiction and Film at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) and headed by Mario Klarer. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Meir Sternberg and the anonymous referees of Poetics Today for their many priceless suggestions that helped improve this article.