×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

How the Entertainment Industry Is Rising to Meet Demand for More Adaptations

With around 520 original series set to premiere on television in 2019, a 69% increase in the past five years, the demand for source material and existing intellectual property in Hollywood is greater than ever.

“With the advent of so many new streaming services, there is more available bandwidth,” says Rich Green, head of media rights at ICM. “In the search for original programming, those purveyors of original content want to take advantage of all these new opportunities. If you are a show creator, perhaps you’re capable of coming up with one, two, three original ideas on your own in a given season, but you have five, six, seven, eight opportunities to sell multiple shows for television. So where do you go?”

That’s where departments such as Green’s come in. The increase in buyers means more opportunity to sell existing material adapted for a new medium. Novels and other source material such as podcasts and articles come with some built-in knowledge of what the property will be, which at times can feel like a smaller risk for buyers. It’s all about combing “through the carefully curated material,” including many backlist titles, to find the right ones to bring to the marketplace at the right time, Green says.

Jason Richman, a media-rights agent at UTA, says when he started at the agency, his department was selling book rights to film 95% of the time. Now, however, agents are selling more than 60% to television. There’s a simple explanation: “The distribution model is changing, but they still need content to help drive all of that.”

Michelle Weiner, who heads CAA’s books department, says the increasing demand for adaptations has changed the internal structure of companies supplying the content.

“We have almost 15 people now doing books to film and television,” she says. “It is a culture of reading as much as you can get your hands on.”

The same approach to finding adaptations has trickled over to the programming side, says Beatrice Springborn, Hulu’s vice president of originals development.

“We’re really looking for books that we and our audience are going to emotionally connect to, books that have a world that exists beyond the page — worlds in which you can expand beyond the imagination of the reader,” Springborn says.

“For us it’s not about a trend; it’s not about a fad; it’s about just wanting to capture that feeling and hopefully that translates into the shows that are based on these books,” she says.

She and her team saw the potential for that audience connection and expansion beyond the page in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” which was published in 1985 and long past its bestseller days — until Hulu adapted it.

Thanks to the adaptation explosion, a diverse range of voices have gotten the opportunity to be heard, with more women, people of color and LGBTQ voices making waves in the marketplace.

“I feel like I naturally gravitate towards being able to give a voice to those that I believe should have or need a bigger voice out there, through film and television,” says Richman, who helped sell “Hidden Figures” based on a book proposal. “And I think it’s important for us as representatives to be able to embolden those voices.”

Right now Richman has also noticed a larger interest in “literature that has a hopeful bent” so audiences can “take their mind off of the world.” But overall, quality writing and a unique voice are key for players on both sides of the business when they are looking for material to adapt.

“Some of the reasons why there’s been such a demand for good content is wherever there are good stories, you’re going to get the best and top talent,” Springborn says. “The demand for the types of stories are because we want to be able to attract talent that want to tell stories that haven’t been told before. You can only do that when you have the best materials to do so.”

More TV

  • Art Malik2017 Costa Book of The

    Hannah Simone's ABC Pilot Casts Art Malik in Lead Role (EXCLUSIVE)

    Hannah Simone’s comedy pilot at ABC has cast one of its lead roles. Variety has learned exclusively that Art Malik has signed on to star opposite Simone in the single-camera comedy. In the project, Hannah (Simone) and her Indian-American immigrant father Sid (Malik) have always been close, but after she admits to herself that she’s [...]

  • Apple TV Plus Reese Witherspoon Jennifer

    Apple Unveils First Look Footage From Its Original Shows (Watch)

    At a special event in Cupertino, Apple unveiled its Apple TV+ streaming service, and with it a short clip of some footage from its slate of upcoming original shows. One of the main originals teased was “The Morning Show,” a series which “offers an inside look at the lives of the people who help America [...]

  • 'Pretty Little Liars' presentation

    I. Marlene King Exits Warner Bros. TV for Overall Deal at 20th Century Fox

    I. Marlene King has signed a new multi-year deal at 20th Century Fox Television, exiting her longtime studio home of Warner Bros. Television. King will develop, write, produce, and direct new projects for network, cable, and streaming under the new deal via her Long Lake Media banner. Long Lake’s executive vice president of development Lauren [...]

  • 9-1-1: Angela Bassett. CR: Mathieu Young

    '9-1-1' and 'The Resident' Renewed for Third Seasons at Fox

    Both “9-1-1” and “The Resident” will be returning for third seasons on Fox, Variety has learned. The news comes as the two shows, which are paired together on Monday nights, are on course to finish with solid ratings in their sophomore seasons. “’9-1-1 redefined’ what a procedural series can be, consistently delivering edge-of-your-seat emergencies, mixed with emotional [...]

  • Studios Spurn WGA Request to Ban

    Studios Reject WGA Request to Ban Non-Franchised Talent Agents

    Studios have rejected a request by the Writers Guild of America to bar talent agents if the current franchise agreement expires on April 7, saying it could expose them to extensive legal damages. The WGA will hold five days of member voting starting March 27 on a proposed “code of conduct” eliminating agency packaging fees [...]

  • Apple Reveals New TV Streaming Service

    Apple Reveals New TV Streaming Service

    Apple on Monday unveiled plans for its long-anticipated streaming TV service. Sharing a stage with top talent including Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Jason Momoa, Alfre Woodard, and Kumail Nanjiani, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced Apple TV+, the company’s new subscription platform for original television programming, slated to launch this fall in more than [...]

  • La Liga Launches LaLigaSportTV OTT Streaming

    Spain’s La Liga Launches Pioneering OTT Service to Promote Spanish Sports Federations

    Spain’s top Soccer league, La Liga, has unveiled a new OTT service, LaLigaSportsTV. The service provides audiences with free coverage of major and minor Spanish sports content streamed directly to their personal devices. It looks set to be the first such service offered by a major European league, and of singular scope and objectives. LaLigaSportsTV [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content