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The commercial effects of the adaptation of novels into films in the United Kingdom, 19101940

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Although there has been much general discussion in the academic literature about the influence of cross-media adaptations on the success or otherwise of the additional media outputs that result, there has been less actual empirical investigation of this hypothesized link using quantitative data to test the arguments being made. This article consequently examines the commercial effects of the release of film adaptations on the sales and printing of the original books in question, by first analysing data on the outputs of two well-known popular novelists of the inter-war period (A. E.W. Mason and Baroness Orczy). It then examines this topic from a company history perspective, documenting the fate of a specific British film production company (Stoll Picture Productions Limited) that specialized in this type of literary adaptation. Finally, some more general observations about the cultural economics of cross-media productions are deduced.

Keywords: A. E. W. Mason; Baroness Orczy; Sir Oswald Stoll; cross-media adaptation; externalities; publicity effects

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Bedfordshire University.

Publication date: March 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • Adaptation, or the conversion of oral, historical or fictional narratives into stage drama has been common practice for centuries. In our own time the processes of cross-generic transformation continue to be extremely important in theatre as well as in the film and other media industries. Adaptation and the related areas of translation and intertextuality continue to have a central place in our culture with a profound resonance across our civilisation.
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