I started reading Harry Potter when I was nine years old and in year four. My teacher read Stone to us and I loved every minute of it. I bought book four when it came out two months later and never looked back. I have been waiting outside the bookshop at seven in the morning for the 8:31 release for the last three books. I would've slept outside the bookshop had I been in the city, but in the middle of July I'm in Smalltown, NSW, so it wasn't necessary.
BUT. I have been at the first screening of every movie, too. I see them at the movies four or five times each and buy the DVDs the day they are released. I pick apart, analyse and discuss every single detail of every film including how true they are to the books. When I was eleven years old and the first film was released, yes, I was rather annoyed that Neville was not there when they discovered Fluffy, but I was a pedantic obnoxious child (as opposed to the pedantic, slightly-less-annoying teenager that I am now). I've grown past that irritation now, but I still feel it's worth discussing.
I quote both book and movie regularly and sometimes don't even realise I'm doing it until someone laughs.
I love both mediums, and not only when it comes to HP. They both have their advantages and disadvantages.
The reason I think books should be read before movies are seen is because once the image of a chracter is in your head, it's often very difficult to change. When I read GoF, I still see my Hermione in her blue dress robes, not Emma Watson in her pink dress. But I read LotR after seeing the movies and I will never shake Orlando Bloom as Legolas, which is unfortunate.
You speak of abominations? Hmph. I greatly dislike A Clockwork Orange and think it's massively overrated.
If film is an art form in its own right, then why the need to complain that it reaches a massive audience? It's an art form that takes around 400 people to make. That's why it has to make money--and of course not one of those 400 people would have a job if it weren't for a writer who sat down and created the script in the first place. Making a movie based on a book that lots of people have read and like is just good economics--there's a guaranteed audience. Denigrating an art form that creates work that's popular, because some of its practitioners seek only to appeal to what you might call "the least common denominator" does nothing to the art form itself. It just smacks of sour grapes. And what's wrong with marketing? Even Shakespeare knew how to market stuff--he wrote sequels and "popular" stories as well as lofty poetry.
Making movies out of books--even books supposedly "everyone" has read--is a great way to get people to read more. Cheers!
In the case of Harry Potter I read the first books before there were even movies. I since resolved to read all the books (tick) and not watch any of the movies. Ever. In essence I think making movies from books is pretty silly. Once I have a book in my head I don't see why I should let some backlot shyster just trying to get his hundred million bucks back ruin the dream for me. I mean, that's the heart of the problem. A book might be able to break even on 5,000 sales. Indeed, has to, in a market like Australia for example. Can a film break even on a paid audience of 5,000? No way. Hence films - especially the kind with the budget to buy screen rights for well-known books - have to go for the mass market. More blood, more vaudeville, more glitz; semantic threads and narrative craft are as waifs before the bulldozer of special effects.
As you say, film is an art form in its own right. Most of the best films I've seen were not based on novels. Rarely, a real genius and then another can come up with something like A Clockwork Orange that works in both media, in different ways. Good luck to those that can because most can't. Ideologically I don't like the elitism of expensive cinema, nor cults of celebrity, nor trashy mass marketing, nor ...
Still, you did defend your position pretty well. I'm only giving you a Semi-Abomination for this.
I used to think so too, bilby and plethora. Then I realized that's conventional snooty-film-student thinking. You know those ubiquitous complaints you hear from people who read and fall in love with a book, then bitch about the movie that's made from it? If you invariably read the book first, then see the movie, you are invariably disappointed. That's because you get an idea in your head from reading the book--assuming the book is any good at all, that's what the author aimed to do--and the movie will never, ever match that idea. But it actually shouldn't; they are two different media.
Now, the other way round--you don't read the book, you have no preconceptions, you go see the movie and you really enjoy it. Then you pick up the book, and you 1) enjoy the book that much more for all the surprising stuff that's in it that didn't fit in the movie, and 2) appreciate the movie even more (or less, if it sucks) for creating an entirely new piece of art out of the book.
I don't read fiction (because I write nonfiction and screenplays based on nonfiction), and I don't have time to wade through a lot of crappy fiction to find something good. Nor am I the person who reads whatever's on the best-seller list, trusting the general public's opinion of what matters. Possibly due to what I write, I'm way more interested in plot than in literary turns of phrase and character backstory and endless narration. It's much easier for me to sit through a two-hour movie than to read a novel, because it saves A LOT of time. Life is too short to sit through shitty movies or to read crappy books; there is so much better out there. Third, I still read the books after I've seen the movie. I don't subscribe to the belief that movies are always worse than books. Movies are the art form of the twentieth century.
And finally, in the case of Harry Potter in particular, I love series books, but I HATE sitting around waiting for the new book to come out. So if someone's writing seven books, I won't read the first one until the seventh one has been released. Also in the case of Harry Potter, I liked the movies a lot, and saw no reason to ruin my enjoyment of the movies by reading the books first, and then joining in those endless, banal conversations about "why did they cut so-and-so's character" and "but that's not the way it happened in the book." Those comments always come from people who don't understand how movies are made. So when all the movies are out and I've seen them, I'll probably plow through all seven books. I did it with Lord of the Rings, and I'm sure I'll do it with Harry Potter.
Probably far more explanation than you wanted or needed, but in the interest of proving I'm serious and I have good reasons... there you are. :) Now leave me alone and go read a book or something. That's how I roll.
To Bilby – well done! (I knew you would know, I was just egging you on). Here's another one: Refuse To Dance by Charlie Dore, speaking voice Alan Rickman, "Time Goes By", 1995. And one more: Sun Ain't Gonna Shine by Alan Rickman & Juliet Stevenson in "Truly, Madly, Deeply".
I haven't read any of them. And I won't, until all the movies are out and I've seen them all. And I know for a fact I'm not alone. So the answer to your question is yes, there are people who haven't read the books yet. :)
That said, I join you in swooning over Alan. *swoon*
Again, my efforts at being unique have been ruthlessly thwarted. Sheesh.
To bilby – well, you asked for it. Here's something harder, tailored for you: name at least three songs, where we can hear Alan Rickman's voice (you, of course, don't know who AR is, I presume), one song clip in which he dances rather spectacularly, and all this without mentioning that certain movie with Johnny Depp even once. I see you're stumped, now.