Let me back up — Nine years ago, 20th Century Fox “optioned” the cinematic rights to The Mountain Between Us. In layman’s terms, that’s like leasing with an option to buy. For six years, nothing happened. Crickets. Then slowly information started trickling in. A script was written. Then rewritten. And rewritten. A director was added. Then actors. The film was shot, produced, directed, acted, edited and a music score added. A few weeks ago that film released in North America, Mexico, Russia, Europe, the UK and Australia to name a few.
In all that time, I had nothing to do with any of that. Zilch. No consultation. No influence. No voice. Until recently, much of what I learned about production etc, I learned from the internet. Like you. During this process, Christy and I learned one simple rule: Selling an intellectual property is like selling a house.
How do I feel about this? I was, am, and will remain grateful and totally blown away that a studio like FOX would put my book on the big screen. Even with the changes, sitting in that theatre and staring at images that began somewhere between my head and heart is possibly the most surreal and coolest thing I’ve ever experienced. For the record, I think the movie is cinematically stunning. Still is after seeing it several times.
Would I — had I any control — have done things differently? Of course. Do I wish they’d followed my story more closely? Certainly. Was that sex scene in my book? No. Do I still love my ending? More than you know.
One of the things that happened in me during this process is that I really came to care for the folks who “did” the movie. Still do. All those names that scroll up from the bottom after the final scene. I have prayed for them a lot. By name. As recently as today. I’ve never been angry that they didn’t follow my story. It’s their movie and if I’m honest, if I hadn’t read the book, I would have enjoyed the movie immensely. Save one scene. But I can close my eyes and still eat my popcorn.
Some - no let’s be honest - many of you have expressed your great displeasure with me. Several claimed I, “sold out to satan.” As a writer, it is awesome to have invested readers who spend hours with my words and cry and laugh and tell everyone they know about my stories. Let me turn the table and ask one question of you— if it hurt you to hope a movie was like my book and then figure out it wasn’t, do you seriously think I reacted differently? Can I let you in on a secret? When I wrote the final scene to The Mountain Between Us, I cried like a baby. Stories are like children. You carry them with you everywhere. Forever.
Hop in the helicopter with me and ride up above the swirl for a moment. Christy and our three boys pray all the time that The Lord would take my stories and put them on the big screen. We prayed that with Mountain. We continue to pray it for the other 12.
What matters is not that I get my way or even that the movies match the book. I hope they do but here’s the thing: Mountain had been out 8 years until they made the movie. Had never hit any best seller list anywhere. The movie came out and the book has been on the NYT list since it released. Last week it was #8. More people have seen and been made aware of that book in the last month than in the last several years combined. I got an email yesterday from someone who doesn’t use the same letters I’m currently using to talk with you. A lot of those folks are now reading my other stories. Jesus tells us, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to me.” I pray my stories do that. Movies, too.
Next May, my 13th novel releases. “Send Down The Rain.” It’s the story of a 62 yr old Vietnam vet who’s been keeping a secret for 45 years but something beyond his control brings him out of hiding and forces him to wrestle with whether or not to tell the secret. Problem is, if he tells it, somebody dies. If he doesn’t tell it, somebody dies. It’s a good story. I don’t think I’ve ever written anything better. Maybe, because of the movie, New readers will read that story who otherwise never would have heard of Charles Martin.
C.S. Lewis said he hoped his stories would stand as ‘Road signs to Jerusalem.’ Walker Percy called them ‘Signposts.’ I like what David says in Ps 45: “I want to make Your great name known to the nations.” When Jesus met the woman at the well and told her about her life, she ran back to town and said, “You’re not gonna believe this.” The thing is they did — and a lot of people believed because of that woman. Think about what an unconventional way to spread the Gospel to the gentiles. Would you or I have chosen such an ‘unholy’ mouthpiece? The distinctive and chacterizing nature of Jesus is that He walked in forgiveness. I want to be like that. He also said in these last days, the love of many will grow cold. I don’t want to be like that.
For those of you who think I’m making excuses, I probably can’t satisfy you. I’m grateful to the folks at FOX. Many are tender to me and I’d like to think they would call Christy and me friends. I hope to see them again. Hug their necks. I pray The Lord blesses their hopes and dreams and draws them to Himself.
If you’re still torque’d, And if you have to send me more angry email, let me propose an alternative. Something that might help. After you click send, Pray with me. Both for the folks who did my last movie and for the folks who will do the movies in the future. Something about that strikes me as the heart of Jesus. Because here’s the thing — When we stand before Jesus — and we will— my movies won’t matter. But these people will. A lot. They are why He came. So are we. So, let’s become unoffendable and pray these folks into the Kingdom of Heaven where every knee will bow and every tongue confess.
Given the climate of our life, Christy and I have started praying that we would ‘Love furiously.’ I love that phrase. It’s not easy. Matter of fact, it’s really hard, but I would love it if Jesus said that of me. That I and we did that. So, join us. Love furiously. How cool will it be to turn around in 5 or 10 years and say, “Look what God did!”
To all of you who so deeply believe in my stories, hang in there. I have a lot of books on the shelf and more in my heart. We will get there. All is not lost. Aslan is on the move. And In the process, who knows, maybe, if we pray like crazy, if we love even when it hurts, if we forgive like Jesus, well…maybe He will use an 'unholy' mouthpiece like me, and us, to ‘draw people to Himself.’
Would all of this then be worth it?
As the author of the books, who passionately loves Jesus...Yes. It would.