This year, Hollywood will pack theaters with more than forty movies that are film adaptations of books. These stories were so popular in written form producers felt it profitable to turn them into movies.
See the complete list in my MRGADFLY article, Reader Theatre: Complete Guide to Film Adaptations 2015
What does this mean for magicians?
Brother John Hamman once told me that if you want legendary magic, start with a legendary story. He said Wild Bill Hickok, Jesse James, and Billy the Kid were all great magic tricks. In the late nineties, I took his advice and adapted the latter example into the card routine Left Handed Gun. The response was incredible. Since then, I have learned to weave relatable themes into my performances as a core fundamental.
And there is no shortage of material.
New stories become popular culture everyday. After the first Harry Potter movie, the magic market was flooded with HP wands and HP playing cards. At The Magic Castle, I heard a magician make a Hunger Games reference. Any trick with a little heat is now Catching Fire. Both examples are popular books that became popular movies.
Pop-culture plots and characters are an excellent way to relate with your audience, especially the younger demographic since YA fiction often produces the biggest blockbusters.
Our magical forefathers used the same technique.
They told stories of China and India and The Orient to capture the imaginations of audiences craving the exotic. In fact, the fictional patter from the famous “India Sands” fooled generations of magicians into thinking Sands of the Desert was of Indian origin. Some of our craft’s most famous patriarchs believed the story without question, causing the myth to survive to present day.
If a story feels real, it does not matter if it is true—audiences will identify with and accept the narrative. And with today’s cinematographic technology, movies have opened the floodgates to creative ideas. The suspension of disbelief is at a “magical level.”
Where to start? Use my list of book to film adaptations to quickly glance at what will be popular this year. Get a feel for some of the characters and incorporate them into your magic. Make a movie title the punch line to a joke or introduce yourself as a character you resemble. Become part of the legend!