Occasionally, as part of the release of an original movie, the production company will commission a writer to produce a full-length novel based on the script. This happened recently, for example, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens (and has happened with all previous Star Wars movies. In such cases, the novel is referred to as a novelization of the movie.

Similar novelizations, while rare, also happen for other media adaptations, including television shows, video games, and comic book series.

However, this seems to be the only type of adaptation that has it's own specialized term. When a book (say, Harry Potter) or video game (e.g. World of Warcraft) is adapted to film, it's simply referred to as an adaptation of the original material.

Are there specific words for other types of adaptations? And if not, is there any particular reason why they have never developed as counterparts to novelization?

Just for some context, we discuss these kinds of adaptations all the time on Sci-Fi/Fantasy, often times in cases where one set of source material has many different kinds of adaptations. It would be useful to know the correct terminology to use.

  • 1
    You might get told off for using code formatting on a non-programming site... Jan 18, 2016 at 0:38
  • Formatting Help tells me it's called preformatted text so I think I'm safe.
    – KutuluMike
    Jan 18, 2016 at 0:41
  • I'm just going by my experiences from Puzzling, where the mods made a point of editing out what they called "inappropriate code formatting". Jan 18, 2016 at 0:42
  • You can add suffix "ize" to pretty much any noun to make a verb that means to transform, create/produce, or otherwise act on such a corresponding thing. And you can add suffix "ization" to make another noun that means the act of "*-izing". "Novelization" is just one such application of this, although it does happen to be commonly word. (There is no cut-and-dried meaning for such a constructed word; the meaning is given by whoever coins and uses the word.)
    – Drew
    Jan 18, 2016 at 1:09
  • @Drew, the immediate attempts, filmize, movi-ize, dramatize and scriptize all seem to fail, for various reasons. In another domain, going from a movie or book to a video game, gamize almost seems to work, but only because of pre-existing low to subterranean standards among gamers.
    – JEL
    Jan 18, 2016 at 2:00

3 Answers 3


How about cinematisation?

From Wiktionary:

cinematisation ‎(countable and uncountable, plural cinematisations):

  • Adaptation for the cinema.

I'm not a great fan of the concept, but have you considered


(as in adapting a piece of prose or poetry for the stage or screen; presenting something in dramatic format)?


  • When I hear the word dramatization I think of taking real-life event and recreating it with actors, e.g. a "dramatization" of a crime on a news show...
    – KutuluMike
    Jan 18, 2016 at 0:47
  • @MikeEdenfield: That would be one of the meanings, yes. Still, dramatization applies here, as in "this attempt at dramatization of his most famous novel comes off as half-baked." And - you could novelize pretty much anything, too, not just a movie.
    – Ricky
    Jan 18, 2016 at 0:52

Derivative work appears to be an inclusive hypernym for these kinds of creative work. This is a legal term, pertinent in this case, as the copyright protection of the original (the underlying work, which is the recognized dual term) seems to cover reasonably well the scope of the possible "transformations, modifications, or adaptations". It covers translations, for example, too. All of these constitute separate copyright-protected elements of the original work.

The linked Wikipedia page offers relevant terminology. In particular, it quotes the United States Copyright Act:

A “derivative work” is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”.

(emphasis mine)

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