- Adaptation (film)
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Spike Jonze Produced by Jonathan Demme
Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman Based on The Orchid Thief by
Starring Nicolas Cage
Music by Carter Burwell Cinematography Lance Acord Editing by Eric Zumbrunnen Studio Good Machine
Distributed by Columbia Pictures Release date(s) December 6, 2002 Running time 114 minutes Country United States Language English Budget $19 million Box office $32,801,173
Adaptation. is a 2002 American comedy-drama film directed by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman. The film is based on Susan Orlean's non-fiction book The Orchid Thief through self-referential events. The film stars Nicolas Cage as Charlie and Donald Kaufman, Meryl Streep as Susan, with Chris Cooper, Cara Seymour, Brian Cox, Tilda Swinton, Ron Livingston and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The film tells the story of Charlie Kaufman's difficult struggle to adapt The Orchid Thief into a film. In addition, Orlean romances with John Laroche while Charlie enlists the help of his fictional twin brother Donald.
The film had been in development as far back as 1994. Jonathan Demme brought the project to Columbia Pictures with Kaufman writing the script. Kaufman went through writer's block and did not know what to think of The Orchid Thief. In turn Kaufman wrote a script about his experience adapting The Orchid Thief into a screenplay. Tom Hanks was at one point set for the role of Charlie Kaufman while John Turturro was approached to portray Laroche. Jonze signed to direct and filming finished in June 2001. Adaptation achieved critical acclaim, as well as outstanding success at the 75th Academy Awards, 60th Golden Globe Awards and 56th British Academy Film Awards.
While Being John Malkovich is being filmed, the self-loathing and agoraphobic Charlie Kaufman is hired to write the screenplay for The Orchid Thief. Charlie is going through melancholic depression and is not happy that his twin brother Donald has moved into his house and is mooching off him. Donald decides to become a screenwriter like Charlie and attends Robert McKee's famous seminars. Charlie, who rejects simplistic formulaic script writing, wants to ensure that his script is a faithful adaptation of The Orchid Thief. However, he comes to realize that there is no narrative to the book and that it is impossible to turn into a film, leaving Charlie with a serious case of writer's block.
Meanwhile, Donald's spec script for a clichéd psychological thriller, called The 3, sells for six or seven figures, while Charlie accidentally starts writing his script with self-reference. Already well over his deadline with Columbia Pictures, Charlie visits Susan in New York for advice on the screenplay. Unable to face her, Charlie visits McKee's seminar in New York and asks him for advice and then brings Donald to New York to assist with the story structure.
Donald pretends to be Charlie and interviews Susan but is suspicious of her account of events because it is too perfect. He and Charlie follow Susan to Florida where she meets Laroche. It is revealed that the Seminole only wanted the Ghost Orchid to manufacture a drug that causes fascination; Laroche introduces this drug to Susan. Laroche and Susan catch Charlie observing them taking the drug and having sex, so Susan decides that Charlie must die.
She forces him at gunpoint to drive to the swamp where she will kill him. Charlie and Donald escape and hide in the swamp where they resolve their differences and Charlie's problems with women. Then, Laroche accidentally shoots Donald. Fleeing, Charlie and Donald drive off but crash into a ranger's truck which kills Donald. Charlie runs off into the swamp to hide but is spotted; Laroche is killed by an alligator before he can kill Charlie.
Susan is arrested. Charlie then makes up with his mother, tells his former love interest, Amelia, that he is still in love with her, and finishes the script. It ends with Charlie in a voice-over announcing the script is finished and that he wants Gérard Depardieu to portray him in the film.
- Nicolas Cage as Charlie Kaufman / Donald Kaufman
- Meryl Streep as Susan Orlean
- Chris Cooper as John Laroche
- Cara Seymour as Amelia Kavan
- Brian Cox as Robert McKee
- Tilda Swinton as Valerie Thomas
- Ron Livingston as Marty Bowen
- Maggie Gyllenhaal as Caroline Cunningham
- Judy Greer as Alice
- Stephen Tobolowsky (deleted scenes) as Ranger Steve Neely
- Bob Yerkes as Charles Darwin
Tom Hanks was originally set for the double role of Charlie and Donald Kaufman, while Variety was convinced Donald was a real person. Cage took the role for a $5 million salary, and wore a fatsuit during filming. Streep expressed strong interest in the role of Susan Orlean before being cast, and took a salary cut in recognition of the film's budget. John Turturro was approached to portray John Laroche. Cooper heavily considered turning down Laroche, but accepted it after his wife's persistence. Albert Finney, Christopher Plummer, Terence Stamp and Michael Caine were considered for the role of Robert McKee, but McKee personally suggested Brian Cox to filmmakers.
Litefoot and Jay Tavare have small roles as Seminoles. John Cusack, Catherine Keener, John Malkovich, Lance Acord and Spike Jonze have uncredited cameos as themselves in scenes where Charlie Kaufman is on the set of Being John Malkovich. More cameos include Doug Jones as Augustus Margary for a small scene when Susan fantasizes about the history of orchid poaching, Jim Beaver as Ranger Tony, director Curtis Hanson as Orlean's husband, and David O. Russell as a New Yorker journalist.
The idea to do a film adaptation of Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief dates back to 1995. Fox 2000 purchased the film rights in 1997, eventually selling them to Jonathan Demme, who set the project at Columbia Pictures. Charlie Kaufman was hired to write the script, but went through writer's block and did not know what to think of The Orchid Thief. In turn, Kaufman wrote about his experience adapting the script through exaggerated events, and created a fictional "brother" named Donald Kaufman. Charlie even went as far as putting Donald's name on the script and dedicated the film to the fictional character. By September 1999, Kaufman had written two drafts of the script, and turned in another draft in November 2000.
Kaufman explained, "The idea of how to write the film didn't come to me until quite late. It was the only idea I had, I liked it, and I knew there was no way it would be approved if I pitched it. So I just wrote it and never told the people I was writing it for. I only told Spike Jonze, as we were making John Malkovich and he saw how frustrated I was. Had he said I was crazy, I don't know what I would have done." In addition Kaufman stated, "I really thought I was ending my career by turning that in!" Adaptation went on fast track in April 2000, with Kaufman mildly rewriting the script. Scott Brake of IGN leaked the script on the Internet in June 2000, as did Drew "Moriarty" McWeeny of Ain't It Cool News in October. Columbia Pictures committed to North America distribution only after Intermedia came aboard to finance the film in exchange for international distribution rights. Filming started in late March 2001 in Los Angeles, California, and finished by June. The "evolution" fantasy sequence was created by Digital Domain, while Skywalker Sound was responsible for the audio mixing of Adaptation.
Columbia Pictures had at one point announced a late 2001 theatrical release date. Adaptation. opened on December 6, 2002 in the United States for a limited release. The film then was released nationwide on February 14, 2003, earning $1,130,480 in its opening weekend in 672 theaters. Adaptation. went on to gross $22.5 million in North America and $10.3 million in foreign countries, coming at a total of $32.8 million. Based on 193 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, Adaptation. received an average 91% overall approval rating; the film was more balanced with the 34 critics in Rotten Tomatoes' "Top Critics", receiving a 85% approval rating. By comparison, Metacritic calculated an average score of 83 from 40 reviews.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times believed the film was something "That leaves you breathless with curiosity, as it teases itself with the directions it might take. To watch the film is to be actively involved in the challenge of its creation." He later added the film to his "Great Movies" collection. At the end of 2009, Ebert named the film one of the best of the decade. Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe thought "This is epic, funny, tragic, demanding, strange, original, boldly sincere filmmaking. And the climax, the portion that either sinks the entire movie or self-critically explains how so many others derail, is bananas." David Ansen of Newsweek felt Meryl Streep had not "been this much fun to watch in years", while Mike Clark of USA Today gave a largely negative review, mainly criticizing the ending: "Too smart to ignore but a little too smugly superior to like, this could be a movie that ends up slapping its target audience in the face by shooting itself in the foot."
Chris Cooper won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, while Nicolas Cage (Actor in a Leading Role) and Streep (Supporting Actress) were nominated. Charlie and Donald Kaufman were nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. Donald became the first truly fictitious person nominated for an Oscar. Cooper and Streep won their respective categories at the 60th Golden Globe Awards. Spike Jonze, Cage and Kaufman were nominated for awards while Adaptation. was nominated for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Cage, Cooper and Streep received nominations at the 56th British Academy Film Awards, with Kaufman winning Best Adapted Screenplay.
- ^ a b Michael Fleming (6 April 2000). "Brothers in a Conundrum; Rat Pack lives". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117780287. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
- ^ a b Claude Brodesser; Charles Lyons; Dana Harris (23 August 2000). "Cage has Adaptation. inclination". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117785470. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
- ^ Stax (3 May 2001). "Hey, Fatboy!". IGN. http://movies.ign.com/articles/057/057663p1.html. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
- ^ Claude Brodesser (6 September 2000). "Streep eyes Adaptation.". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117786034. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
- ^ a b c Greg Dean Schmitz. "Greg's Preview — Adaptation.". Yahoo!. Archived from the original on 18 May 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070518021750/http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/preview/1808402845. Retrieved 13 April 2008.
- ^ Claude Brodesser; Jill Tiernan; Geoffrey Berkshire (23 March 2003). "Backstage notes". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117883243.html?categoryid=1043&cs=1. Retrieved 8 April 2008.
- ^ Lynn Smith (3 November 2002). "Being Robert McKee, both on screen and off". Los Angeles Times.
- ^ Spence D (5 December 2002). "Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman Discuss Adaptation". IGN. http://movies.ign.com/articles/379/379456p1.html. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
- ^ Bill Desowittz (18 August 2002). "Development players make personal choices". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117871334. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
- ^ Oliver Jones (17 December 1999). "Cruise in tune with Shaggs project". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117760122. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
- ^ Jonathan Bing (26 February 2001). "Lit properties are still hottest tickets". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117794235. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
- ^ Claude Brodesser (10 November 1999). "Scribe revisiting reality". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117757917. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
- ^ Charlie Kaufman (24 September 1999). "Adaptation.: Second Draft". BeingCharlieKaufman.com. Archived from the original on April 7, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080407235615/http://www.beingcharliekaufman.com/adaptation.pdf. Retrieved 16 April 2008.
- ^ Charlie Kaufman (21 November 2000). "Adaptation.: Revised Draft". BeingCharlieKaufman.com. Archived from the original on April 7, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080407235612/http://www.beingcharliekaufman.com/adaptationnov2000.pdf. Retrieved 16 April 2008.
- ^ Michael Fleming (14 November 2002). "What will follow film success for Eminem?". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117876083. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
- ^ Stax (13 March 2002). "Charles Kaufman Talks Shop". IGN. http://movies.ign.com/articles/355/355413p1.html. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
- ^ Scott Brake (8 June 2000). "Script Review of Charlie Kaufman's Adaptation". IGN. http://movies.ign.com/articles/035/035453p1.html. Retrieved 8 April 2008.
- ^ Drew "Moriarty" McWeeny (10 October 2000). "Moriarty Rumbles About Adaptation, The Royal Tenenbaums, and Catch Me If You Can!". Ain't It Cool News. http://www.aintitcool.com/node/7162. Retrieved 17 April 2008.
- ^ Charles Lyons (18 June 2001). "Helmers let out a rebel yell". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117801603. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
- ^ "Adaptation. (2002)". Box Office Mojo. http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=adaptation.htm. Retrieved 8 April 2008.
- ^ "Adaptation (2002)". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/adaptation/. Retrieved 8 April 2008.
- ^ "Adaptation.: Rotten Tomatoes' Top Critics". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/adaptation/?critic=creamcrop. Retrieved 8 April 2008.
- ^ "Adaptation. (2002): Reviews". Metacritic. http://www.metacritic.com/video/titles/adaptation?q=Adaptation. Retrieved 8 April 2008.
- ^ Roger Ebert (20 December 2002). "Adaptation". Chicago Sun-Times. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20021220/REVIEWS/212200302/1023. Retrieved 11 April 2008.
- ^ Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essay about Adaptation.
- ^ Wesley Morris (20 December 2002). "A revolutionary look at the evolution of creativity". The Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/movies/display?display=movie&id=1810. Retrieved 11 April 2008.
- ^ David Ansen (9 December 2002). "Meta-Movie Madness". Newsweek. http://www.newsweek.com/id/66762. Retrieved 12 April 2008.
- ^ Mike Clark (5 December 2002). "Cage's Adaptation? Sorry, Charlie". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/reviews/2002-12-05-adaptation_x.htm. Retrieved 12 April 2008.
- ^ "Golden Globes: 2003". Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/Sections/Awards/Golden_Globes_USA/2003. Retrieved 12 April 2008.
- ^ "BAFTA Awards: 2003". Internet Movie Database. http://www.imdb.com/Sections/Awards/BAFTA_Awards/2003. Retrieved 12 April 2008.
- Adaptation, Shooting Script, by Charlie Kaufman, Spike Jonze. Nick Hern Books, 2002. ISBN 1-85459-708-6.
- Official website
- Adaptation. at AllRovi
- Adaptation. at the Internet Movie Database
- Adaptation. at BeingCharlieKaufman.com
- Adaptation. at Rotten Tomatoes
- Adaptation. at Box Office Mojo
- Susan Orlean's original article for The New Yorker
Films directed by Spike Jonze Films DocumentariesAmarillo by Morning (1998) · Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak (2009) Short films Skateboarding films Charlie Kaufman filmography Writer DirectorSynecdoche, New York (2008)
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