The trailer's up for Michael Lewis' first book to be made into a movie, The Blind Side. After the embarassing Moneyball breakdown, it must be relieving for Lewis to finally have something hit the screen. Too bad it looks terrible.
Now: The Blind Side is a book that's primarily about the evolution of football strategy and the players recruited to execute it. The book has a sub-story: not so much a sub-plot, because it's so patently different — but well weaved into — the book's core. It's about a rags-to-riches college football prospect who goes from being impoverished to being taken in by a rich family. Which is basically the entire conciet of The O.C..
So: why this?
There are so, so many ways to make a great movie out of this book that walks the line between emotional and cerebral, between a rabble-rousing sports film and a heady one. A few examples: Remember The Titans, Hoosiers, Field Of Dreams, A League of Their Own, Bull Durham. They could've made the good version of Blue Chips, or the uplifting version of Hoop Dreams. Instead, it looks like they turned a bestselling Michael Lewis book into an after-school special, produced by and starring Sandra Bullock.
Fox optioned Blind Side following an excerpt The New York Times Magazine published preceding the book's 2006 release. Back then, Gawker managing editor Gabriel Snyder, writing for Variety, reported on the "intense bidding war" over the property. A look back in history shows that Lewis probably expected something like this to happen to his book:
While many of Lewis' books have been optioned through the years — Warner Bros. owns rights to his breakthrough Wall Street trader yarn "Liars' Poker" but it is not in active development — none of them have reached production. Columbia is still developing an adaptation of "Moneyball" with Mike De Luca producing.
But Lewis said his hopes are higher with "Blind Side."
"The main through-story is the collision between this destitute 16-year-old black kid and this evangelical rich white couple," he said. "Of all the books I've written, this is by far the most likely to be made into a movie."
Well, we know what happened to Moneyball, Liar's Poker's nowhere to be seen, and then there's this. Not that Lewis would have a problem with it: if the film does well, his books (and the options to them) will go for even more, and he might even be able to jack up his quote for The New York Times Magazine and Vanity Fair contracts for more money than he's already getting.
If Michael Lewis didn't have any involvement with this movie — and really, does it look like he did? — he's got this racket far more figured out than some of his more uppity book writing contemporaries: leave it to Hollywood to do whatever they want to the book. The worse the adaptation, the more commercial (and thus: bankable) it'll probably be. Besides: books are always better than the movie, anyway. Why lose out on any cash?
Come to think of it, there's probably a Michael Lewis book somewhere in that line of thought.