One thing you hear whenever a literary work is adapted into a film is that the filmmakers left out something or other that fans of the book find absolutely critical to the work and without its inclusion, the movie stinks. I can not think of recent one book-to-film adaptation that didn’t attract this criticism.
In recent years, it seems as if there are two contingents of fans who have complained the loudest over liberties taken by filmmakers with their favorite books. There are the Tolkien fans who declared sight unseen that The Lord Of The Rings films were an artistic failure due to such changes as the lack of inclusion of the Tom Bombadil, a character who only appeared in two scenes in the book. Fans of J. K. Rowlings Harry Potter books have also been vociferous over some of the plot compression the films have done to get into a manageable runtime. To be fair, some of these complaints have merit- the most recent Potter film, Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix was the longest book in the series up to that point, but the shortest of the film series, resulting in some rather rushed storytelling.
But now Potter fans might have some cause to be relieved as London’s The Mail On Sunday is reporting that the final installment of the book-to-film series, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, is being prepped as a two-part film. The paper is reporting that the crew working on Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, the series’ penultimate installment due in theaters on November 21 this year, have been told that Deathly Hollows will be released in two separate installments.
Of course, this is not the first time that two films have been shot at once to stretch the production budget dollar. The original Superman: The Movie was shot simultaneously with Superman II, until the producers began to interfere with director Richard Donner’s work. Since then, films like Back To The Future Parts 2 and 3, The Lord Of The Rings and Matrix Revolutions and The Matrix Reloaded have shot back-to-back to economize on production costs.
Of course, such savings when matched against the box office receipts of not one but two films of an already successful and lucrative series only means bigger profits for studio Warner Brothers.
However, if this plan is currently being considered by Warner Brothers, there is one possible hitch that will need to be overcome. Series stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rubert Grint and the rest are all under contract for seven films, not eight. Back in the 1970s, producer Ilya Salkind, one of the same folks who fired Donner before he could complete work on Superman II, deceived the cast of The Three Musketeers and its sequel The Four Musketeers into believing that they were shooting one long film, when it was his intention to release them separately. Salkind wanted to get away with paying the cast for only one film’s worth of work, not two. the cast disagreed with him and sued. Since then, there have been clauses put into place in standard actors’ contracts to prevent such a thing from happening again.
I would think that there will need to be some contract renegotiation between Warners and the Potter cast if the two-film finale plan is to come to pass. And with this being the final film of the series and Warners would come under a ton of fan backlash if a favorite actor were to appear, it looks as if the cast may have the upper hand in any such negotiations.
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows is currently scheduled to appear in theaters, in one or two parts, in 2010.