…That Were Turned Into Terrible Books:
Gotta hand it to the folks at Cracked.com for this list. There was a time when novelizations of movies were quite in vogue. We are not talking about novels that were written and released and subsequently made into films. We’re talking about hiring an author, while a movie is being made, to write a “novelization” of the film in production. Said novel is then released concurrently with the film to allow the studios to make more money off their product.
I used to read a few of the ones that interested me, in particular those that were about films I was dying to see. Oftentimes, the novelization of the film would be released a month or more before the film was in theaters, and in those pre-internet days it was rare to hear much about the film before its release.
Way back in 1989, for example, I would literally kill to see the Tim Burton directed Batman. All that was known was that Michael Keaton was playing Bruce Wayne/Batman (and the fan base was really confused about that choice) but, on the bright side, Jack Nicholson was playing the Joker, and that had everyone thinking good thoughts.
Some time shortly before the film was released I got my hands on the Batman novelization. As it turned out, I didn’t get a chance to read it before seeing the film…
I was of two minds with the Batman film. While I really, really loved the first half of the film and my young(er) mind would easily give that first half four stars, roughly from the point immediately after the Joker states “Wait til they get a load of me!” on, the film became overly weird and…silly. It was as if the movie’s makers were winging (no pun intended) it from that scene, allowing the Joker to do his increasingly crazy (and for the most part pointless) stuff while Batman slowly comes after him.
A little after seeing the film, I decided, just for the heck of it, to read the novelization. What I read wound up surprising me. The first half of the book, if memory serves, followed the film pretty closely. However, the second half of the book -again, if memory serves- was almost nothing like the second half of the film. Not that it was any better, mind you, than the film, but clearly this was a movie/novelization that featured a pretty good first half but never could come up with an equally good second half.
I can only guess that the novelization followed the screenplay and the screenplay, as the film was being made, was essentially tossed out in the second half and reworked “on the fly”.
My most vivid memory of something in the novel not featured in the movie is a sequence where Bruce Wayne goes to visit Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) in her apartment for a date. The Joker, it turns out, has developed an interest in Vicki and, as Bruce and Vicki are about to leave the apartment on their date, the Joker appears at the door. Bruce and the Joker talk to each other (a sequence I can only imagine was designed to allow Michael Keaton to actually act opposite Jack Nicholson without having a disguise on) and in the end the Joker either knocks out or shoots Bruce Wayne, apparently killing him, and kidnapping Vicki.
Bruce, it turns out, was carrying a metal tray or had some kind of bullet proof suit on and the bullet was stopped by said item. Bruce leaps out the window after the two (who still think he’s dead) and jumps from building to building (sans Batman suit) while pursuing them, in touch with Alfred and telling him where he is so that he can bring the Batman suit to him. Eventually, he does.
Yet again, I must warn you: I’m going by very old memories here, so some of the details presented above may not be quite right, but this sequence, obviously, wasn’t part of the Batman film.
A curiosity, for sure!