• Listverse - finding the right balance

    05 December 2022

    There was an article on LISTVERSE a while back called "10 Popular Book Series That Didn’t Make It Past The First Film," which focused on... oh, I think you can guess!!!




    As one might expect, the Cirque Du Freak movie was one of the movies highlighted (at #7). I always have mixed feelings when I see the CDF film pop up on a list like this. On the one hand I'm of course disappointed that the film didn't do better and result in the rest of the book being adapted. On the other hand, it's nice to be reminded that the books ARE really popular, and that's the reason there was an adaptation in the first place!!


    Katie Chilton, who penned the article, makes a very good point which I think goes a good way to explaining why the the movie didn't win over audiences as well as the books did:


    "A key problem with making the first film of a franchise is the balance between the ability for it to work as a standalone film and setting it up for a sequel... Where Cirque de Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant fails is the introduction of several characters that have no purpose in the film except to set it up for a sequel."


    The film had other issues as well (the lighter tone than the novels, the dropping of some key characters, the squashing-up of plots from different books), but I think "sequelitis" was a problem for quite a few viewers who weren't familiar with the books -- it was certainly mentioned in a lot of reviews of the film at the time. You can read the first three Cirque Du Freak books as a self-contained story. (Indeed, you can read book 1 by itself and still feel it told a complete tale.) There's hardly any setting up of future plot lines, or if there is, it's barely noticeable, something you only really spot if you re-read the books having read the following nine in the series.


    The film, on the other hand, tried very hard to let viewers know that sequels were planned, and worked equally hard to set them up. I think that was a mistake, and turned a lot of watchers off. As Katie says, it's a key problem finding that balance when the plan is to make a movie series, and in this instance I think it's a balance the adapters failed to find.


    Better luck to those who (hopefully) come next time!!!




    p.s. the December issue of my monthly online newsletter is now live, with all the latest Darren Shan updates: https://darrenshan.com/news/shanville-monthly


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