Will J.K. Rowling’s 'The Casual Vacancy' Become a Movie and Join Ranks of Dickens Film Adaptations?

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It's one thing to want to write like Charles Dickens, and another if you're one of the best-selling novelists of all time and still want to write like the Dickens. J.K. Rowling now fits in the latter category where she can get away with writing a Dickens-inspired novel about poverty without being ripped completely apart. That's all enough to think that she'll also end up being one of the few writers for children who has her adult novel made into a movie.

Well, the ink isn't on the contract yet. But despite some tepid reviews for "The Casual Vacancy", don't be surprised to see a movie adaptation done, perhaps through an American-U.K. production. The reasons may be more to do with the abject international aspects to poverty itself ahead of the respectable Rowling name.

The reason behind the reason is the myriad Charles Dickens movie adaptations that have been made in the last 80 years. Despite other classic novels having an occasional mediocre adaptation, you can't say any Dickens movie adaptation has been bad while presenting the dreary socialist messages of poverty in 19th century London. Perhaps it's because each movie usually consisted of the noblest British actors of the day, as well as always staying true to the Dickens story--save the musicalized "Oliver."

As endemic as Dickens' tales may be, the books and movies are just as beloved in America, based squarely on the same predicaments of those stuck in a perpetual swirl of poverty. If Rowling wanted to continue the same endemic examination, she might be surprised at how many Americans will relate to her idyll plot as poverty levels frustratingly continue to rise here. Because America and the U.K. seem to be on the level playing field with everything except health care, you can count on a movie production being bi-coastal.

Whether anybody goes to see it will be another matter, particularly when the book reviews are mixed. While we see no Harry Potter magic in "The Casual Vacancy", that particular bleakness may appeal to Americans who don't mind cinematic morose content of late. That might differ from many of the Dickens movie adaptations where a little dash of magic is always added for a little light to the darkness.

In fact, "A Christmas Carol" is closer to Harry Potter territory than we care to remember. Yet from all accounts, "The Casual Vacancy" doesn't present any feel-good ending that even Dickens couldn't resist. Rowling may simply be the revisionist 21st century Dickens where the social problems continue to exist for the protagonists beyond the ending of the book.

This isn't to say that we shouldn't also support Rowling writing more Harry Potter books if she finds a workable idea. Most fans would give away their "Harry Potter" Blu-ray box sets to see a new Potter book turned into a movie. It wouldn't hurt to show a middle-aged Harry and his family experiencing the real world for a change where "The Casual Vacancy" universe hits him right between his eye contacts.

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