I found myself thinking this after having just finished Netflix's Haunting of Hill House, an adaptation of the book of the same name.

For one, I thought the show was really great by its own merits, but that's not really what I'm talking about today. What struck me was that the show itself is absolutely nothing like the book it's claiming to adapt. Outside of familiar names and some roles and some minor references, everything about the adaptation was completely new from plot to characters.

I realised the same thing happened with the movie 'Annihilation' as well, as there's probably tons more examples out there.

It got me wondering genuinely why anyone would want to use (and buy!) the name of an established franchise, call it an 'adaptation', but actually really adapt nothing about it at all. My deep down suspicion is that it's just a marketing tactic and nothing else, hoping people will go for it because of the familiar name and enjoy it regardless. Something like a 'come for the X stay for the Y' sort of deal.

I also wonder if this runs the risk of disappointing people who WERE in fact looking for a more faithful adaptation.

Obviously, there's a whole spectrum of them. Some shows have very faithful inspirations from the source where the parallels are clear, like maybe Westworld or Game of Thrones. Some are a bit fiddly, but still have certain dynamics set up which are recognizable but twisted, like Riverdale and the like. Those are fine. I'm talking about the ones that are just plainly nothing to do with the originals except for the borrowed name.

Does anyone have any insights/thoughts about this?

And is there a sort of recognizable limit where you just can't call something an adaptation anymore? Or can I really just slap a sticker that says 'horse' onto a cat and get away with it?