Read Douglas Adams' frustrated 1999 Hitchhikers letter to Disney

Contributed by
Dec 16, 2012

You might have imagined a huge name like Douglas Adams would have had very little trouble getting a hugely successful property like Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy made into a movie. You would be wrong.

Back in 1997, Adams struck up a deal with Disney to bring Hitchhiker's to the big screen. By 1999, there were many scripts redrafted, but nary any true interaction between Adams and Disney.

Not one to go quietly into the night, Adams penned a letter to executive David Vogel in the hopes that some personal, written correspondence might see some forward momentum on the project.

Ever the pragmatist, Adams spoke honestly about where things currently sat and how a common desire between himself and Vogel could get things moving again:

"It seems to me that we can either slip into the traditional stereotypes—you're the studio executive who has a million real-world problems to worry about, and I'm the writer who only cares about seeing his vision realised and hang the cost and consequences—or we can recognise that we both share the same goal, which is to make the most successful movie we possibly can."

Rather than complain, Adams went on to remind Vogel of their respective strengths, stating:

"You have a great deal of experience nursing major motion pictures into existence. I have a great deal of experience of nursing The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy into existence in every medium other than motion pictures."

Ultimately, Adams made a simple proposal:

"I have a suggestion to make: Why don't we actually meet and have a chat?"

He ended with a note that showed some of his sly humor.

"I've appended a list of numbers you can reach me on. If you manage not to reach me, I shall know you're trying not to, very, very hard indeed."

It's amazing what a well-crafted letter can do. Shortly after this note was carried along, Vogel and Adams did meet, and, while Adams didn't live to see the day, Hitchhiker's did finally become a major motion picture.

(via Letters of Note)

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