You probably don’t remember the movie Reservation Road. When it released back in 2007, it opened in only 14 theathers and never expanded beyond 36 screens. It was the first film optioned and produced by Random House Films and, as such, quite a learning curve. Reservation Road earned $1.7 million worldwide–barely a dime in the feature film earnings machine.
Four years later, RH Films is giving it another go, and breath is bated to say the least. On August 19, One Day hits box offices, and Peter Gethers, president of RH Films, thinks this time they’ve done it right. ”I think we’ve learned a lot more about the development process, which makes us even more selective when buying or trying to buy film rights to a book,” he told Publishers Weekly, and remarked that this time around, the process seemed remarkably simple: “The book was submitted as a book and film simultaneously—the agents and the author, David Nicholls, knew they had a novel that was a natural film adaptation. There was no question in our minds that the book would make a wonderful film.”
One Day follows Emma and Dexter (played by Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess), two friends who meet on the night of their graduation from Edinburgh University in 1988. The story traces their friendship in subsequent years on the same day, July 15. To promote the book along with the release of the film, RH released a movie tie-in edition with a print run of 365,000 copies.
While RH Films remains optimistic about One Day‘s success, the real test is in impressing fans of Nicholls’ book. Though the author adapted the screenplay himself, you’d be hard-pressed to find any bookworm who is consistently happy with book-to-film translations. As Gethers said rather succinctly, “The only way to make a name for oneself is through the quality and commercial success of the projects. Plain and simple.” Let’s hope that name is a good one.
If all goes well, the publisher turned producer format may pick up a bit of speed, a welcome event for those of us who are tired of lackluster films based on our favorite books. Lay the Favorite, starring Bruce Willis, Vince Vaughn, Rebecca Hall, and Catherine Zeta-Jones is RH Films’s next feature, which has already finished principle photography.