Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Enders Game Movie Sequel?

Ender's Game took the number one slot at the box office over the weekend, and I watched it with a bunch of 8th graders, only one of whom had read the book. It blew their minds, and they thought it was great. (Spoilers ahead.)



As an adult who has read through to about the middle of book seven in the series (at which point I became too disturbed by his in-book comments about homosexuality to continue reading), I thought the film was very good, but not great. It hit all the major plot points I was expecting and felt true to the original story.

Battle School was the core of the story, and I think that was great. The space combat was greatly truncated compared to the book, but how many space battles can you watch when the key characters are just watching a projection above their heads and remote-controlling the battle above them?

Observation on User Interfaces for Computers: Gestural control was very dramatic when Ender is zooming in and out, changing perspectives of the projected space battles, but I still feel unconvinced that a computer interface with gestures is comfortable/workable for the end user without a lot of haptic feedback. The one-handed typing interface was interesting to watch - Ender was able to hold his tablet with one hand and use some sort of sign-langauge-esque typing technique.
One reason I say it was not great is because I had to explain so much about the ending to my group of moviegoers, not just the 8th graders, but also the other adults. When the movie isn't clear to those who have not read the book, that can be a problem. But it wasn't so confusing that it ruined enjoyment of the story. It's a complex story, and some events at the end were just a little too rushed to fully take in.

Even though the movie took the top slot, some analysts have suggested that it didn't do well enough to warrant a movie sequel. However, that doesn't seem to have stopped a lot of people from speculating about it. In fact, it was one of the first things to be discussed by my group of moviegoers after the lights came up. It's probably too early to know if there will be a sequel. Overseas sales are at least as important, if not more important than US sales these days.

The three likely paths a movie sequel might take are:
  1. Speaker For the Dead - the next book in the series which shows Ender 30 years later. There's not much action, and it's a very different kind of story.
  2. Ender's Shadow - Which is Bean's story, and mostly concurrent with Ender's Game. It might be good to make this while the actors have not aged too much.
  3. Fleet School - first in a new series of YA novels by card that picks up right after Ender's Game to show what happens to the Battle School after the war.
When you look at the fact that the Ender's Game novel has been back on the Best Seller list (mass-market paperbacks) for a year, and has held the #1 slot for the past few weeks, and a handful of other weeks over the summer, it's clear that Card is profiting from the movie indirectly, despite the fact that he does not profit directly from the movie (he got a flat fee for these film rights years ago).

I don't know about the film rights for the other books. It seems likely that Card would not sell the Fleet School rights for a flat fee if he thought he could profit more from the movie sales.

However, this Q&A from 2010 indicates that Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow were almost combined as one film. This suggests to me that the rights for Shadow might be in the same category as Game. However, that's just speculation on my part. It is equally possible that Card was hoping to work in Shadow so that he could sell additional rights that would be tied to the movie's earnings. Again, just my own speculation.

That said, if a sequel is made, I'm most interested in seeing Ender's Shadow. Bean is a great character, and we didn't get to see much of him in Game, even though he's clearly an important player.



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