Congratulations Holly Black and Steven Gould

It’s a good weekend for writers of my more or less general acquaintance: The Spiderwick Chronicles, based on the book written by my pal Holly Black, came in 3rd in the weekend box office with a healthy $19 million (which is right about what I told a friend of mine it would gross, so I feel shiny that my box office predictive abilities continue to work), while Jumper, the movie based on the work of Steven Gould, my soon-to-be co-instructor at Viable Paradise, clocked in at $27 million to take the number one position. Here are the box office estimates for the weekend. And there’s still tomorrow, which is a school holiday! Very exciting news for everyone involved.

35 Comments on “Congratulations Holly Black and Steven Gould”

  1. We saw The Spiderwick Chronicles after reading the books, and it was a pretty good movie. Like always, it wasn’t as good as the books, but it was a good movie, nonetheless.

    Here‘s my review of the movie. I’ll leave a link instead of a really long comment. I’m thoughtful like that. ;)

  2. Was Gould’s book better in some specific ways than all the reviews are saying Jumper is as a movie? Because the reviews (Slate, for instance, and EW) that I’ve read make it seem pretty pointless and dumb.

  3. Steve: I read the book some time back, and from what I hear of the reviews, the more serious elements of the book were completely removed. I hope this isn’t setting a precedent for Hollywood!

  4. What’s even cooler for Black (and Tony DiTerlizzi), I’d imagine: premiums inside boxes of Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms. The grocery store breakfast aisle is Spiderwick central this month. Congratulations to them.

  5. The movie bears only a superficial resemblance to the (truly excellent) book.

    1) The book has Davey as a high school student, and the bulk of the ‘action’ takes place right after he hits 18. The movie has ALL of the action taking place years after that.

    2) No terrorism subplot whatsoever.

    3) In the book, the only people after Davey are government agents. In the movie, the government has no idea what’s going on – a group called ‘Paladins’ is after all jumpers, now including Davey.

    4) In the book, Davey meets Millie on his 18th birthday. In the movie, they went to school together, and he comes back to find her years later. Also, Mark, Millie’s ex-boyfriend in the book, went to school with them, and was Davey’s bully.

    5) Samuel L. Jackson’s character in the movie is a Paladin, and thus, nowhere to be found in the book.

    6) The other jumper, Griffin (Jamie Bell, from the uber-fantastic movie ‘Billy Eliott’) is of course nowhere in the book, because in the book, Davey is the only jumper. Note: Gould has since written another book in the continuity of the movie which is titled, I think, “Griffin’s Story”. Haven’t read it.

    7) Davey’s mother, in the book, escaped Davey’s abusive father when Davey was 5. In the book, Davey is searching for her. In the movie, well, let’s just say things are VERY different, and rather ridiculous, on the mom front.

    8) Samuel L. Jackson looks very creepy with snow white hair. Creepy.

    9) No ‘El Solitario’ in the movie. Too bad – I was kind of hoping to see it.

    So, I kind of reacted to this movie the way I did to the movie version of ‘Aeon Flux’. It was an entertaining movie, to be sure – especially the action scenes of Jumpers fighting each other and finding Paladins. But this movie has nothing to do with the book. Like Aeon Flux, this movie should stand on its own, and should have had its own title. *shrug*

    Worth seeing if you want a decent action flick. Go read the book, though, if you haven’t. Very nicely done. I wasn’t able to finish the sequel to the original, but plan to. Gould has another nice book titled, ‘Wild Side,’ that I can recommend highly.

  6. On the topic of movies, though, if you want to see something really good, go check out, ‘In Bruges.’

    George Romero’s latest zombie movie, ‘Diary of the Dead,’ a sort of ‘reset’ of the topic, from the point of view of people experiencing the first outbreak of zombies, was, well…very much in the vein of most of Romero’s movies. In a word: bleh. Can’t stand the characters, which is my main problem with most of his movies. I had high hopes for this one because his previous effort ‘Land of the Dead’ was SO much better than the ones before. Oh well. I liked the commentary on the media and the new trend of everyone becoming the media now, but other than that, not so much. Nice use of electric paddles, though. *bbzzzap!*

  7. Been reading Spiderwick Book One to my five-year-old son. We’re waiting another week on the movie, though. Let’s here it for five year olds, also, learning new words like “grudgingly” from books like Spiderwick. Yay, grudgingly!

  8. I remember going and seeking out the book “Jumper” after Boing Boing posted I think two years ago that it was going to be made into a movie. I enjoyed it a lot. Fast-paced but realistic in its own unrealistic way. I’ve been looking forward to the movies, but the trailers right away set off warning alarms. I’ll still see it, but with a smidgen of sadness in my heart.

  9. Excuse me…

    Which doesn’t mean I don’t have many congratulations to Gould for his work making it to screen. May it catapult his name into the lights, so he can sell more books, which is, after all, what we’re celebrating here.

  10. That’s good news for us, though — thanks for posting the stats.

    The film Jumper is a pretty good action flick that bears only a passing resemblance to the novel Jumper. The tie-in novel Griffin’s Story, which Steve wrote, fills in the back story for the character of Griffin O’Connor, who was created for the film. It’s also a pretty good novel, though not quite up to Jumper itself — Steve had to work with the material given to him by the screenplay.

  11. Good point, Hobbyns. I don’t like the book any less because there’s a movie with the same name out there. And the movie WAS enjoyable; it just had little to do with the book. No biggie. I just hate it when a movie is billed as one thing, and is something else, even if what it is is good. ‘Lord of War’ was a great example – billed as a comedy, SO not a comedy, but still a good movie. I was just in the mood for a comedy, not a really depressing movie at the time. That tends to spoil what could’ve been a good movie experience.

    I’m hoping the movie will get people to read Jumper the book (and Wild Side), and whatever else of Gould’s work is available. And by the way, if you’re reading this, Steven, I’d really like a sequel to Wild Side. :)

    I’m sure I’ll pick up Griffin’s Story soon, as that was a good character (very good actor, in Bell – everyone should go rent/buy “Billy Eliott’ if you haven’t seen it – one of the very best movies of the past ten years).

  12. I LOVE the Spiderwick books. I found them in the library a year and a half ago and thought that they would make a wonderful movie. I think i’ll go see it Monday.
    Jumper I’ll probably read first, but it’s an interesting idea.

    Tumbleweed @6, please announce ‘Spoilers ahead’ next time.

  13. Thanks, Tumbleweed, for the assurances that what they’ve produced as a Jumper movie is not representative of the book. I’m still skeptical I’d enjoy the film much if I thought about it all (pure spectacle, maybe a bit), but it sounds like the book might have the substance to warrant checking out.

    I can identify with Hobbyns @9 a bit, about discovering the book through early online news about the movie based on it. Not with Jumper, which I didn’t know was a book until this week, but with Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I heard of the comics miniseries through a news of the film production, bought the trade paperback, and loved the book. Then the previews for the film came out, and it looked absolutely horrible. That thing looked like junk even without regard for its radical differences from the book.

    Er, that didn’t go off-topic problematically, did it, Scalzi?

  14. Now that I think about it a bit more, I believe perhaps my biggest problem with this movie claiming to be based on the book Jumper is the differences in the main character. The Davey from the book is a very thoughtful kid — very smart, passionate about reading (as an escape from his abusive father), etc. He thinks about the ethical implications of his actions, etc. Very short shrift is paid to movie-Davey’s ethics (he leaves IOUs when he steals stuff). My favourite line from the book, when asked what he does, “Banking. Banking speculation. I speculates whether there’s any money in the bank, and I takes it.” is reduced to “Banking” in the movie. Ah well. The movie-Davey is not very smart – he’s just a normal guy with the power of teleportation. Book-Davey is a very smart and thoughtful person with the power of teleportion. You tell me which is the more interesting concept.

    And really, without the impetus of what happens with his mother in the book version, the movie version is simply about his survival and getting the girl, nothing more.

  15. My son’s read all the Spiderwick books and I love HB’s urban fantasy so we can’t wait to see this. I didn’t know Jumper was based on a book (and now Tumbleweed made me want to read it!)

  16. I loved the book Jumper. Just bought it yesterday afternoon and finished it this one. The book resonated with me in alot of ways, and left me desperately wanting more.

    I’m sort of sad with what I know of the movie now – it just won’t be able to live up to the book. Not to say it might not be good on it’s own, but it won’t be the same as the book – that much I can tell from comments here and what I’ve seen in the trailers.

  17. Holly:

    I told our mutual friend Justine that I expected Spiderwick to come in at about $20 million for the weekend, plus or minus a couple of million. I also told her I expected Jumper to come in at about $15 million if people listened to the critics, and at about $25 million if they didn’t.

    I do expect that next week Jumper will have a more significant fall-off than Spiderwick, because family films typically have a smaller falloff than films that have young males as their primary audience (and which have gotten slagged by the critics). But in both cases I think the movies are going to do fine overall.

    So: Yay Holly! I’m really excited for you.

  18. I have been reloading all the reloadable sites like a crazy person all weekend. Well called, sir, well called.

  19. Personally, I like to see the movies first, then read the books. The stories have nowhere to go but up, at that point, so I am always having all of my expectations generously met and then some.

  20. I discovered Jumper, and Wildside years ago when I was working in a tiny SF/F bookstore, and enjoyed them both so much I went out and got hold of all of his other books. Helm, Blind Waves and Greenwar, (co-written with his wife, Laura J. Mixon) are all good reads, if not quite up to the stellar standards of Jumper and Wildside.

    I much later heard about the sequel to Jumper, Reflex, which is a worthy sequel, extending the story in believable ways and also adding some very interesting new twists.

    I’ve been very leery of the idea of a Major Motion Picture™ since I heard that it was being made, and even more so once I discovered that Hayden Christiansen was cast as Davey. (Has anyone seen evidence that he can act? Please tell me he’s just had a bad couple of roles and that it’s not just he’s an awful actor.)

    I’ll be picking up Griffin’s Story sometime soonish, purely to read more Gould goodness, but I currently consider the movie an AU version of the book, and AU stories are almost never as good as the original universe.

    (I’ve also commented on Mr Gould’s blog to let him know about this discussion if he doesn’t already.)

    As for Ms Black: I didn’t even realise the movie was based on a book, let alone a series, but I’ve heard several good reviews of it and I’m planning on going to see it at the cinema, whenever it shows up here in Aus.

  21. Re 2, 3, 6, 12, others comparing film and book:
    It’s ironic after the succesful Writers Guild of America Strike, which I supported with actual sweat, when I pushed a disabled writer in a wheelchair for an hour around and around in front of Paramount Studios, on 13 Dec 2007 when Harlan Ellison was the mesmerizing keynote speaker. But Hollywood doesn’t quite know that novelists exist, let alone Science Fiction and Fantasy novelists.

    February 17, 2008

    The Oscars
    More novel-based films are staying truer to their source
    Complex stories and nuanced characters mark many in this year’s crop.

    By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

    THERE’S an old joke of sorts — attributed to Norman Mailer, or maybe it was Hemingway — about how writers should respond when studios start sniffing around their work. “Drive to California,” the punch line goes, “throw your book over the state line, and wait for them to throw the money back.”

    Here we have a cautionary tale, about the corrupting influence of Hollywood, the way the industry will take first your art and then your soul. Yet it also offers a more philosophical message, having to do with the ambiguous place writers hold in the movie business, the century-long push and pull between words and film.


    In a Jan. 28 post on the National Book Critics Circle blog Critical Mass, former San Francisco Chronicle Style Editor Paul Wilner lamented that at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, “almost no actual writers were acknowledged for their contributions” to the winning films. “I waited in vain to hear . . . Cormac McCarthy mentioned in conjunction with the multiple honors for ‘No Country for Old Men,’ ” Wilner wrote, “or a nod to . . . Alice Munro for the short story upon which ‘Away From Her’ was based. . . . Daniel Day-Lewis’ tribute to Heath Ledger was moving, but somehow Upton Sinclair’s role as the progenitor of ‘There Will Be Blood’ was not noted. [The film was inspired by his 1927 novel ‘Oil!’]”

    This is an old story; Ken Kesey, Wilner notes, went unacknowledged when “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” won the best picture Oscar in 1976, and 19 years later, Winston Groom was similarly slighted after “Forrest Gump” took the top prize.

    Such a disconnect is particularly ironic this year because so many films, nominated and otherwise, have roots in literary work. Not only is there “No Country for Old Men” and “Away From Her” but “The Namesake” and “Atonement”; not only “There Will Be Blood” but “Persepolis.” Literature figures even in “The Savages” and “Margot at the Wedding,” which deal, in part, with the struggle to come to terms with writing, its odd and at times parasitic connection to the world….

    [JVP: Hollywood studios and critics did not blame Dave Brin for the faults of the film “The Postman.” They consider “2001” to be a masterpiece by Kubrick, whereas it was a fully collaborative product of Kubrick and Sir Arthur C. Clarke. They now associate Will Smith with “I, Robot” instead of Isaac Asimov. They attacked to film of “Starship Troopers” as fascist, ignorant of the fact that the novel had been attacked, incorrectly, with the same appellation. But don’t expect them to refer intelligently to Steven Gould when they pan “Jumpers” or to Holly Black for the more sophisticated subplots left on the cutting room floor of The Spiderwick Chronicles. The good news is: the public ignores the critics who ignore the books, and sees actual ideas in these movies, and adores them. And it’s safe for Hollywood to praise J.R.R. Tolkien, Philip K. Dick, Jomer, and Shakespare, now that they’re safely dead. Whoops, Tolkien’s heirs are still alive, and correctly fighting for their rights. And Stpehen King is the exception that proves the world, as a brand name unto himself, a litery immortal who earns 50% of GROSS of his book sales, and is thus de facto a co-publisher.]

  22. My comparison is more for the fans of the book who may be expecting the film to resemble the book, rather than how people may react to Steven Gould’s work. This movie wasn’t even an attempt to remain faithful to the book, but more a ‘reimagining.’ And it’s not a bad movie by Hollywood standards – it’s entertaining action fare, even. It just ain’t Jumper (the book). I’m happy for Gould – I’d have made the same choice in a heartbeat if given the chance. Especially if I got to meet Samuel L. Jackson. :)

  23. I’m a little saddened that “Step Up 2” beat out Spiderwick.

    I’ve just finished reading Spiderwick: Book 3 to my (4 year old) son – and he loves them. We’ll be reading 4 and 5 this week, and then seeing the movie.

  24. I’m really bummed that /Spiderwick/ and /Jumper/ went head to head since I think there’s a venn diagram subset who would see both and might not have. I’ve been travelling almost continuously and am finally home, so I haven’t had a chance to see /Spiderwick/ yet. I think the girls and I will get there this afternoon (President’s day, no school.)

    /Jumper/ (the movie), as Laura puts it, really could use some serious story connective tissue. The burden it puts on the viewer to fill in and justify missing expositiion, is kinda high. It’s a good ride, though, and it’s wonderful seeing bits of the book poke through here and there.

    My hope is it will do well enough that they go through with their (emphasis on =their=) projected sequels. Then they might relax a little and let the story out in a more leisurely way.

    Because of the many openings I’ve attended (premier, sneak, opening night, and a mini-premier for my parents in Texas) I’ve now seen it four times. There’s some stuff to catch and some nuanced acting that seems to be going right past the reviewers. However, I’m really trying not to read those. With a 15% “fresh” rating over at Rotten Tomatoes it’s hard not to get discourages. So I just try to thing about the fact that 68% of the movie viewers gave it an “A.”

  25. Hey Steven – glad to see you chime in. Do you know if there’s any deleted scenes due for the DVD that might help with that?

    And does Samuel L. Jackson really have a wallet that says, ‘Bad-ass Motherfucker” on it? :)

    I can just imagine the Jackson Jumper jokes now, “I want these motherfuckin’ jumpers off my motherfuckin’ planet!”

  26. I took my kids & two of their friends to see The Spiderwick Chronicles today. What fun! A great way to spend a cold (-15F with wind chill) afternoon.

  27. Hey Steven, your stuff is da bomb. Don’t sweat it if the critics don’t like the movie, it’s not your child, it’s your ugly, red-headed step child. It was born for the sole purpose of making money for it’s investors, and if it does well (like it appears to be doing) then you get more fun tickets. Which is a good thing.

    Call me selfish, but I hope the movie does well only because I want you to write more books, so I can read them.

  28. #20 Holly,

    Tell Tony I said congrats. I remember when he announced The Spiderwick Chronicles at his site, and how he hoped it meant big things after the end of his association with Planescape.

  29. No one’s mentioned _Reflex_, the excellent “real” (i.e., not movie-based) sequel to _Jumper_.

    Both novels are excellent. Of course, so are Steven’s other books, like _Wildside_ and _Helm_…

    The movie… eh. It had teleporting, and the main characters’ names was David Rice and Millie. That’s about as close to the book as it got. It wasn’t a HORRIBLE movie, it’s actually an ok action picture, but it would have been much better if they’d just stuck with the book’s story…

  30. Lost in the Hollywood jungle

    ‘There Will Be Blood’ skips the radical politics of Upton Sinclair’s novel.
    By Ernest Freeberg
    The Los Angeles Times
    February 19, 2008

    “… In the early 20th century, [Upton] Sinclair was one of the first serious writers to be fascinated by the movies — as a source of income and as a way to spread his socialist ideas to a wide audience. Imagine his surprise when he watched one of the first movie adaptations of one of his novels, ‘The Moneychangers,’ in 1920. The filmmaker had turned a muckraking expose of Wall Street into a melodrama about opium dens in San Francisco. Sinclair may have been the first American novelist to protest that ‘it is the amiable custom of the film producers … to take an author’s name and the title of his book, and then write an entirely different story of their own, which they think will please the public better.'”

    “Some critics now praising ‘There Will Be Blood’ have applauded producer Paul Thomas Anderson’s decision to ignore the radical politics at the core of Sinclair’s 1927 novel, ‘Oil!,’ the book that inspired the film….”

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