The really successful adaptation is the one that demotes the "original" to second-class celebrity. "Hamlet" was a pre-Shakespeare play; "La Bohème" was a book. Mention the words "Godfather," "Pirates of the Caribbean" or "Titanic," and people are more likely to think of a movie than they are a novel, amusement-park ride, or sinking ship.
Say the word to certain people of a certain age, and there's a chance they'll revisit in their minds the mutating plastic robot toys that contributed to many a joyful childhood -- and a global entertainment empire built on books, games, films and TV series.
But most people will simply conjure up those loud and lucrative movies from director Michael Bay, the fourth of which -- "Transformers: Age of Extinction" -- opens June 27.
"It's kind of true," said the Irish actor Jack Reynor, who, along with Nicola Peltz, is one of the fresh faces in a now- venerable franchise. "The whole thing started 30 years ago in Japan, but Michael Bay has made "Transformers" synonymous with American culture. It's a whole different animal."
Reynor plays Shane, the boyfriend of Tessa Yeager (Peltz) who is the daughter of Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), the auto mechanic who discovers the dormant Optimus Prime within a derelict tractor-trailer. That sets off a scheme in which an industrialist madman (Stanley Tucci) tries to dominate the world through a manufactured line of Autobots and Decepticons (shades of Hasbro!).