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Adaptation Displacement / Live-Action Film

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    Examples #-F 
  • After a year on The Shelf of Movie Languishment, 9½ Weeks came out eight years after the original book, a memoir of a relationship the pseudonymous author claims she actually had and failed. Since the book was not widely reprinted after the movie's box office failure, and since the movie takes the book primarily as inspiration, the audiences that later gave it a cult following on video were largely unaware of the book's existence outside the movie's credits.
  • Everyone knows about the movie 300; not so many know that it's based on a Frank Miller comic book from the late 1990s. Both were also (very loosely) based on a real, historical battle. There have even been complaints about the liberties the film takes with history from people who don't realize it's a comic book adaptation.
  • How many classic cinema fans today are aware that The African Queen is actually based on a novel by C.S. Forester?
  • Most people believe that Airplane! is an original send-up of "airplane disaster" movies in general (Airport 1975 and the like). It's much more specific than that — ZAZ bought the rights to do a remake of the 1957 Paramount film Zero Hour!, which shares the same plot, most of the same characters, and even some of the same lines, so in essence Airplane! is a Played for Laughs remake of Zero Hour!
  • The 1938 film Algiers is a remake of the 1937 film Pepe Le Moko. The producers of the remake tried to destroy all copies of the previous film, and darn near succeeded. Also, in neither film did Jean Gabin or Charles Boyer say any variation of "Come with me to ze Casbah."
  • All About Eve was based on a short story, "The Wisdom of Eve", which was only later adapted into a play and a musical.
  • Although most viewers of Amadeus are probably aware that it was adapted from the 1979 play of the same name by Peter Shaffer, they may not be aware that Shaffer's play was in turn based on Alexander Pushkin's one-act play Mozart and Salieri (written in 1830, almost forty years after Mozart's death and just five years after Salieri's), or that Pushkin's play was adapted into an 1897 opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and a 1914 silent film directed by Victor Tourjanski.
  • Many Marx Brothers fans are unaware that their early films, Animal Crackers and The Cocoanuts, started out as Broadway musicals.
  • Annie is a famous musical from The '70s about a little red-headed girl who goes through a Rags to Riches story. This became a movie in The '80s (released in 1982, to be exact). The musical is based off a long-running comic strip called Little Orphan Annie, who most people probably only recognize from A Christmas Story or Robot Chicken. Arguably both the stage musical and the strip have been displaced by the 1982 movie.
  • Unless you're a devotee of English Lit, Joseph Conrad's 1902 novella Heart of Darkness has been completely eclipsed by Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now — which is ironic, because the final spoken line in the movie ("The horror! The horror!") is lifted verbatim from the book. For this, you can probably blame Robert Duvall's Colonel Kilgore: "I love the smell of napalm in the morning!"
  • O Auto Da Compadecida is often held as a classic of Brazilian cinema, but very few people know it was based on a play by Ariano Suassuna that was very different from the movie, due to taking aspects from his other works. It was also the third adaptation of the said play with the first one made in 1969 and the second one (a parody, no less) in 1987, both of which are considered extremely obscure with the 2000 movie being the most well known.
  • How many people are familiar with the children's novel The Sheep-Pig, by Dick King-Smith? How about Babe?
  • Before Babes in Arms was a famous MGM musical starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, it was a Broadway hit by Rodgers and Hart. The film version retained and popularized the original show's premise of kids putting on a show in a barn; what it did not retain, sadly, was more than a couple of Rodgers and Hart's songs.
  • Babes in Toyland is best known as a Laurel and Hardy movie from 1934, which was subsequently remade several times. Its true origin was thirty-odd years earlier as a stage extravaganza (which was produced as a Spiritual Successor to a highly popular adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz).
  • Barbarella is more well-known than the French comics that it's based on, at least outside of France where the comics had some cultural impact.
  • A decidedly negative case: Battlefield Earth, the universally despised Box Office Bomb of a 2000 film starring John Travolta, is this relative to Battlefield Earth, the bestselling but polarizing 1982 novel written by L. Ron Hubbard on which it was based. This may be at least partly because the book sold well to a niche audience while the movie failed miserably in its attempt to be a crowd-pleasing hit (and was made after more negative allegations about Scientology had been made).
  • In the U.S. at least, more people have watched the Battle Royale movie adaption instead of the 600-plus-page book by Koushun Takami. Opinions are split on whether the film does the novel justice or the alterations are far too drastic.
  • The film Beaches is much better known than the 1985 novel it was loosely based off. There was even a sequel to the novel entitled I'll Be There, though it has never been adapted.
  • The Beastmaster: The original Andre Norton novel takes place in the future and involves Earth being destroyed, and the protagonist is Navajo. Nobody wears a loincloth, and there isn't any Human Sacrifice.
  • Jerzy Kosinski's novella Being There is still in print, but it's with a picture of Peter Sellers on the U.S. cover and a tagline that it was the basis for a film on the U.K. one. Arguments that the movie was an improvement on the book don't help.
  • Ben-Hur (1959) was based on a book by Lew Wallace (it was the best-selling American novel until Gone with the Wind), but has since overshadowed it as well as the other three film adaptations, including an animated one.
  • Bird Box was a well-regarded book, but it did not become the memed-to-death pop culture phenomenon until it was turned into a film.
  • The Blade Trilogy movies were pretty successful but they overshadow the comic character to the point that even comic fans seemingly prefer the movie version since none of Blade's comic series lasted very long.
  • Most people who watched and enjoyed the Bourne movies are blissfully unaware of the books they're loosely based on. Whether this is a bad thing is left as an exercise to the reader.
  • Breakfast at Tiffany's was a novella by Truman Capote before it was an Audrey Hepburn film.
    • An interesting case because although most people know the film was an adaptation and are aware of Capote's novella, most are unaware of how vastly different they are (specifically, that the film was a Screwball Romantic Comedy, and that the book has no romance whatsoever between the narrator and the lead.)
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai: Pierre Boulle's The Bridge Over the River Kwai (and its sequels) suffer from this, as most people can only recall the famous movie starring Sir Alec Guinness.
  • Some people react the same way to Buck Rogers. They may be aware that it was based on a newspaper comic strip, but not that that was based on the novella Armageddon 2419 A.D. by Philip Francis Nowlan.
  • Camille (1936) starring Greta Garbo overshadows the Alexandre Dumas, fils novel/play La Dame Aux Camelias, which is the original. La Dame Aux Camelias is about a consumptive courtesan who falls in love, and was overshadowed first by Verdi's opera adaptation La Traviata, and then by several film adaptations (including the aforementioned Camille).
    • The 2001 musical film Moulin Rouge! also borrows heavily from Dumas' novel. Early drafts of the script included even more plot parallels to Camille/La Traviata, including an intervention by Christian's father.
  • While Carnosaur wasn't exactly popular, it's certainly more famous than the novel it was loosely based on.
  • The film Carousel, like most Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, was a Broadway show before it was a film. But before that, it was a Hungarian play called Liliom. Which incidentally inspired a now-obscure Fritz Lang film, 20 years before Carousel.
  • Casablanca originated as an unperformed play called Everybody Comes to Rick's. Incidentally, Everybody Comes to Rick's was written before the U.S. entered World War II and was set in the "present". Since the film went into production after the U.S. entered the war and the storyline wouldn't make sense if the U.S. was in the war, lines were added to make it clear that the movie's setting is pre-Pearl Harbor.
  • While Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is hardly forgotten, its story and characters are better known from the film adaptation Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, which became a popular classic. It's telling that audiences objected to many aspects of the 2005 adaptation Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory that were actually taken from the original books but left out of the first film.
  • Mention Cheaper by the Dozen to most people, and they'll probably assume you're talking about the 2003 film. Chances are they won't know there was a book, or that the book actually got an earlier film adaptation in 1950.
  • The Disney Channel movie (and later band) The Cheetah Girls was based on a 13-book series by Deborah Gregory that lasted from 1999-2001.
  • Children of Men was originally a 1992 dystopian novel by author P.D. James, which has since been completely overshadowed in most pop culture circles by Alfonso Cuarón's overly gritty-realist 2006 film adaptation of the same name which features Hollywood stars Clive Owen, Julianne Moore and Michael Caine.
  • The Children's Hour is best known as a 1960s film starring Audrey Hepburn instead of a play. The earlier bowdlerized version of the play, a film adaptation named These Three, is somewhat well-known as well, but it's typically known in connection to the former two due to the extreme changes to the plot.
  • Chocolat? Oh yeah, the Johnny Depp movie — wait, it was based on a book?
  • There are lots of people who love A Christmas Story who are unaware that: 1) It's only based on a few chapters of one Jean Shepherd book (In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash), and 2) Shepherd has a body of work about growing up in Indiana during the Depression, which he worked on for about three decades, spanning books, magazines, radio, TV, and film.
  • The Crow. The 1994 film was a critical and commercial success, but how many people have read the original graphic novel, first published in 1989?
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was originally a wuxia novel written by Wang Dulu, part of a pentalogy released between the years of 1938 and 1942.
  • The Brad Pitt film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is based on a jazz age short story with the same name by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • Wolfgang Petersen's miniseries/film Das Boot is an icon of the war genre, but most people don't realize it was based on a novel written by a man who actually served as a war correspondent aboard a real-life U-Boat during World War II.
  • The Departed is based on Hong Kong's The Infernal Affairs Trilogy. The Hong Kong films were very successful and spawned a Korean remake, but never got any mainstream attention in the west. An announcer at the Academy Awards ceremony went as far as to state that it was adapted from a Japanese film called "Internal Affairs".
  • Many Die Hard fans don't know that the first movie of the series is based on a novel (Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp, 1979). But wait, there's more. The book that Die Hard was based on was itself a sequel to a 1966 novel, The Detective. The Detective had a film adaptation in 1968 starring Frank Sinatra, which ultimately became unrelated to the Die Hard series when Sinatra declined to star in the first entry of the latter. Moreover, Die Hard 2 was also based on a novel — a novel entirely unrelated to the novel on which the first film was based (but all Die Hard sequels started unrelated).
  • Doctor Dolittle was a series of books by Hugh Lofting. There are three film adaptations, but the one with Eddie Murphy, an extremely loose update to The Present Day, is the better-known of them and had several sequels.
  • Due to being an extreme Long Runner and the lack of home video, Dr. Who and the Daleks was better remembered within the Doctor Who fandom of the 70s than the actual serial it was based on, "The Daleks". Several traits from the film that have worked their way into a general understanding of the story are multicolored Daleks, camp Thals in tons of makeup, Ian being Plucky Comic Relief and the Doctor being a lot nicer (thanks to Peter Cushing's charismatic Silver Fox interpretation compared to William Hartnell's prickly and alien portrayal). This was part of Hartnell's relative unpopularity with the fanbase at that time and exaggerated reputation for being angry and nasty, as when people saw "An Unearthly Child" in 1981 as part of The Five Faces of Doctor Who and compared Hartnell's unpleasant personality to Cushing's.
  • Drugstore Cowboy is based on a novel, though this may be justified here as the novel, written by an Oregon convict serving a long sentence, was not published until after the movie came out.
  • Mel Gibson's Edge of Darkness was based on a seminal British miniseries that is very obscure outside of the U.K.
  • El Dorado was based on The Stars in Their Courses by Henry Brown.
  • Elle suffers from this because the novel it's based on not only has a different title, it hasn't been translated into English.
  • The classic French erotic film Emmanuelle was an adaptation of the book Emmanuelle: Pleasures of a Woman.
  • The English Patient is better known as a movie than as a book, inasmuch as it's known at all these days.
  • The Exorcist. Yes, there was a novel before the film, which in turn was based on allegedly true events that took place in the Alexian Brothers Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. In Real Life, a young boy was allegedly possessed, but the novel's author changed it to a girl either out of respect or just for fiction's sake.
  • The Fan with Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes was based on a novel by Peter Abrahams.
  • Fatal Attraction was based on a short film called "Diversion" by James Dearden. Stanley Jaffe and Sherry Lansing saw it and thought it could be a feature film. So they hired Dearden to adapt it, and he got the unusual credit "Screenplay by JAMES DEARDEN, based on his original screenplay." When it became a huge hit, most people didn't realize it was a derivative work.
  • The movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High is remembered for many things today. Sean Penn's breakout performance as Jeff Spicoli, his "Hey bud, let's party" Catchphrase, his battles with Ray Walston and the poolside scene with Judge Reinhold and Phoebe Cates. It has been almost forgotten that it was based on a novel by Cameron Crowe, which was based on his year undercover at a Southern California high school.
  • Fight Club was based on a book by Chuck Palahniuk. The book popularized Palahniuk as an author, but the film's cult success and social impact cause almost everyone to think of the film first. In a print edition of Fight Club that came out after the movie, Palahniuk relates a tour in which the tour guide quoted the movie. Palahniuk said, "You know, I wrote that book", and he responded, "There was a book?"
  • Relatively few people have heard of the play The Man Who Was Peter Pan, which was adapted into Finding Neverland.
  • David Cronenberg's 1986 remake of the 1950s film The Fly (1958) is more famous than the original. That first film was based on a short story by George Langelaan, reproduced here for your reading pleasure.
  • The vast majority of people who have seen Forrest Gump aren't even aware that a book exists. (If you thought he got up to a lot of hijinks in the movie...) In a variation, most people are likely only aware that the book has a sequel (Gump and Co.) due to the numerous reports that have been made about the attempts to get said sequel adapted into a film.
  • Massacre by James Warner Bellah was later made into western Fort Apache.
  • 42nd Street, before it was a movie musical and long before its well-known Screen-to-Stage Adaptation, was some novel by Bradford Ropes.
  • Four Brothers was a loose remake of an old John Wayne Western called The Sons of Katie Elder. However, it wasn't one of the Duke's most well-known films and is only really recalled by hardcore fans, allowing Four Brothers to largely overshadow it with its unique tone and performances.
  • To date, there have been seven film versions of The Four Feathers, notably the Korda Brothers' 1939 version and a 2002 remake starring Heath Ledger. A.E.W. Mason's 1902 source novel is comparatively obscure.
  • Freaky Friday was originally a novel with three sequels. The screenplay of the first film adaptation was written by Mary Rodgers, the author of the novels.

    Examples G-L 
  • Casual fans may not know that the 1944 film Gaslight is a remake of a 1940 British film of the same name, and before that a 1938 British play which went on to have a long run on Broadway under the Market-Based Title Angel Street.
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is most remembered as the title of a 1953 movie starring Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe. It's sometimes forgotten that this was loosely adapted from a Broadway musical (but not so loosely as to discard the show's most famous songs) adapted from a best-selling novel by Anita Loos.
  • The trope Released to Elsewhere misidentified its Trope Namer The Giver as a film without addressing its literary origin.
  • The Godfather series is widely known as some of the best films ever made. The books, which were actually bestsellers when the first film was written, are best known for having been adapted into films. However, Paramount backed Mario Puzo's books, so they were planning to displace them in the first place.
  • Gone with the Wind, In-Universe example: On an episode of Roseanne, despite being told three times that Gone With the Wind was originally a book, Roseanne still can't contain her astoundment.
  • Good Burger is better known as a film than the original All That sketches with modern audiences.
  • The Graduate was originally a book by Charles Webb.
  • Grand Hotel was adapted from a play, which was translated from a German play, which was based on a novel.
  • Grease is much better known as the 1978 movie than the original Broadway musical, and a lot changed when the story was adapted to movie format. Both the movie and Broadway show also displaced the early, off-Broadway Grease musical that had run at Chicago's Kingston Mines theater.
    • Many modern productions of the play even insert elements from the movie, mainly a couple of the songs and the name of the boys' gang.
  • Hairspray: Everybody knows the 2007 musical... which was adapted from a Broadway show that was based on a movie released in 1988 which wasn't actually a musical.
  • Takashi Miike's The Happiness of the Katakuris is based on a 1998 South Korean film by Kim Ji-Woon called The Quiet Family. That it's so loosely based on it is probably the reason why The Quiet Family isn't even mentioned on the TV Tropes page for the Katakuris.
  • Both the 1963 black-and-white psychological horror piece The Haunting (1963) with Claire Bloom and its 1999 remake are much more well-known than the book they were based on—Shirley Jackson's 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House.
  • A lot of people didn't know Hellboy was a comic before a movie, and that in many ways they're drastically different.
  • Clive Barker's Hellraiser, as well as its 9 sequels, are so popular with horror fans that there are probably some people out there who don't realize that it was based on a novella called The Hellbound Heart, which was also written by Barker.
  • High Noon was based on The Tin Star, a book by John W. Cunningham.
  • His Girl Friday is the most popular version of the story which originated in the play The Front Page, which had an earlier film adaptation. Long stretches of The Front Page are still recognizable in His Girl Friday, despite substantial alterations including a gender flipped protagonist.
  • A History of Violence was loosely based on a graphic novel of the same name.
  • House of 1000 Corpses was actually inspired from a haunted house attraction of the same name, that Rob Zombie created in 1999 for Universal's Halloween Horror Nights.
  • Anyone who knows the name Howard the Duck most likely knows it for the infamous movie by George Lucas instead of the obscure Marvel comic book character.
  • I Am Legend is a pretty bad example, as there are three movies all loosely based on a book; the book was a major Trope Codifier for the vampire (and by extension, zombie) genre, but is lesser-known than its adaptation starring Will Smith.
    • As noted above, the movie overshadows the other two — a semi-faithful The Omega Man (starring Charlton Heston) and the most faithful version The Last Man on Earth (starring Vincent Price), which was partially written by the author Richard Matheson himself, though word through the vine is that Matheson was so disappointed with that film's final result and deviations from the original book that he refused to have his name attached to it, instead of being credited as 'Logan Swanson'.
  • Ang Lee also managed to do this with The Ice Storm, another example of a film improving on a non-bestselling book so much that most viewers aren't aware the original existed.
  • The manga Ichi the Killer has been displaced by its live-action adaptation. Especially odd since the manga was Banned In Japan. Even more so than the manga though, is the anime.
  • The 2002 Christopher Nolan film Insomnia is a remake of the much less-known Norwegian film Insomnia from 1997. The original is said to be much darker, in particular the dead dog that Al Pacino fires a bullet into in the remake was alive in the original.
  • I Know What You Did Last Summer was originally a book written by prolific YA horror/suspense novelist Lois Duncan.
  • Some youngsters think the cartoon version of Inspector Gadget was based on the 1999 movie, making their older cousins/siblings feel very old.
  • James Bond is more famous as a movie icon than as a novel series, with the "Bond formula" being exclusive to the movies. However, the release of Casino Royale (2006) was accompanied by a marketing push for the original books.
  • Jaws was based on a best-selling novel with the same name, written in 1974 by Peter Benchley. The novel is almost completely forgotten today. Ironic, as the original poster reminds you that it's based on the book. Justified because this adaptation is considered a rare case where the movie is better than the original book.
  • Before it was a movie, Judgment at Nuremberg was an episode of the CBS anthology series Playhouse 90. Maximilian Schell played the same role in the TV episode as in the theatrical remake, but the rest of the cast was different.
  • Jurassic Park is an impressive example. The book is the most popular novel of one of the most popular modern novelists. The film is one of the highest-grossing films of all time and ushered in the reign of the CG-driven blockbuster. The film was so popular that Crichton used its plot rather than the one from his own novel when writing the novel's sequel, most notably retconning away Ian Malcolm's death since he survived in the film and having Gennaro die of dysentery between books because he died (on the toilet, no less) in the film.
  • Zathura seems like a space-themed Jumanji knock-off. Not only is it based on a book by the same author, but it's a sequel to Jumanji.
  • Jem and The Holograms's live-action adaptation was anticipated to be this to the target audience of teenagers, as the cartoon came out 30 years before the film. Ultimately averted, as both the cartoon and IDW comic adaptation are well known, the film was too unfaithful for older fans and too poorly marketed to attract new ones, so it sunk like a stone at the box office.
  • Kamikaze Girls maybe know in Japan as a Light Novel and a Manga, but in the west is mostly known as a film.
  • While quite a few people are aware that the 2010 film Kick-Ass (and to an extent, it's sequel) was an adaptation of a comic book due to its satirical take on superhero movie tropes of the 2000s. A lot of people don't know that Kingsman: The Secret Service was also a comic book first, and that the two are both set in Mark Millar's own connected comic book universe.
  • The Toho Kaiju film King Kong Escapes was actually based on the Rankin/Bass Productions cartoon The King Kong Show (Kong's opponent Mechani-Kong actually originated from the show, although aside from being a robot Kong, bears little resemblance in the live-action film), which has long since fallen into obscurity.
  • Lifeforce, aka the "Naked Space Vampire Movie". While the movie is mostly cult, the book on which it is based is even more obscure nowadays.
  • The classic 1931 film Little Caesar gets a permanent mention in all accounts of film history for practically creating the whole gangster genre (making it the great-granddaddy of The Sopranos). What every account leaves out is that it's based on a novel by W. R. Burnett.
  • While not completely displaced, The Little Rascals movie from 1994 is better-known than the original series of theatrical shorts with modern audiences.
  • Many more people have watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy (and played the spinoff video games, etc.) than have read the book it's based on. Though the book is a Trope Codifier for the High Fantasy genre, it still remains a Cult Classic and hasn't escaped Mainstream Obscurity compared to say the Harry Potter books. This also applies to its predecessor The Hobbit as compared to the later Hobbit trilogy from the same filmmakers.

    Examples M-R 
  • Booth Tarkington's The Magnificent Ambersons was a prizewinning bestseller in its day (the early 1920s), but today it's been displaced by the film adaptation, known for being Orson Welles' followup to Citizen Kane, and for its studio-forced Troubled Production.
  • Not only is the 1941 film The Maltese Falcon an (incredibly faithful) adaptation of a novel, there were two other adaptations, one with the same title and one with a different title, before it. Dashiell Hammett is still widely known as a highly influential and often-imitated author, but The Maltese Falcon is considered one of the greatest films of all time.
  • The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance was originally written by Dorothy M. Johnson.
  • Mary Poppins was a series of books, and Miss Poppins was not 'Practically Perfect in every way', as evidenced by the stage play. Furthermore, while the books are set in the 1930s, the Disney film has inextricably associated her with Britain's Edwardian era of 1910.
  • In an example of an adaptation into a third medium causing the displacement, the long-running M*A*S*H* series has led many people to forget that the film on which it was based is itself adapted from a novel.
  • Not many people know that the film The Mask (with Jim Carrey), was based on a series of rather adult-oriented and graphic comic books of the same name. Since the movie and its Animated Adaptation for television, more family-friendly versions of the comic have been made.
  • Mean Girls was originally a non-fiction book called Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman.
  • Meet the Parents, the 2000 film starring Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller, is a remake of a little-known 1992 independent film of the same name, which featured Emo Phillips in a One-Scene Wonder role but otherwise didn't have anyone well-known in the cast. The names of the main characters and the general premise of a man having a disastrous first meeting with his girlfriend's parents are all that remained from the original film.
  • Men in Black is loosely based off a relatively obscure comic book. The characters' names and relative roles are there (Zed, K, and J, though J wasn't black and Zed was a computer), and they're The Men in Black; that's about it.
  • The 1990 film Mermaids was adapted from a 1986 novel of the same name written by Patty Dann. Seeing as how the novel was unacknowledged on the film's trope page for a while, it's probably safe to assume that the film has overshadowed the novel.
  • The silent science-fiction film Metropolis, which codified many sci-fi tropes, was written concurrently with a serial novel of the same name by the screenwriter, Thea von Harbou. English translations of the novel have been reprinted over the years, but the reason was mainly that previously available copies of the film were incomplete; the only way people could piece together the original plot was by reading the novel. Now that a (nearly) complete cut of the film has been found, the novel might fall into obscurity again.
  • Midnight Cowboy was originally a novel by James Leo Herlihy.
  • Midnight Express was based on a memoir by Billy Hayes of his actual time in, and eventual escape from, a Turkish prison.
  • Some people don't know that Mission: Impossible was originally a TV series (which was loosely inspired by the film Topkapi, which was based on an Eric Ambler novel).
  • You know the The Mothman Prophecies? Yeah, it was a book. And a non-fiction book, at that.
  • The 1961 kaiju film Mothra is loosely based off of the obscure novel The Luminous Fairies And Mothra.
  • Not exactly the film, but Mortal Kombat: The Movie features a catchy techno music by The Immortals. This piece of music did not appear in a game until Mortal Kombat 11, but yet it's synonymous to the whole video game franchise as its 'official theme song'.
  • Mrs. Doubtfire is actually based on the book Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine, re-titled Alias Madame Doubtfire in the U.S.
  • Quite a few people are unaware that Steven Spielberg's film Munich, as well as the lesser-known Sword Of Gideon, are both adapted from a book "based on true events".
  • John Ford's My Darling Clementine (1946) is generally considered one of Classic Hollywood's greatest Westerns. Less well-remembered is Frontier Marshal (1939), of which it's a close, in some scenes almost shot-by-shot remake. Which was itself a remake of a 1934 film of the same title... which in turn was based on Stuart N. Lake's same-titled biography of Earp.
  • Mystery Men was (very loosely based on) a comic by the creator of Flaming Carrot before it was a movie.
  • The Naked Gun film trilogy, starring Leslie Nielsen and written by the famous Zucker/Abrams/Zucker (ZAZ) team, was based on a short-lived TV series called Police Squad! that was canceled after 6 episodes due to low ratings. The TV series had every joke in the movies, plus a large number of bizarre additional running gags (impossible to replicate in a movie), and had very high joke density (blink and you'll miss three) — best watched on DVD, but aired before home video recording became common.
  • Nanny McPhee was originally a series of books, called Nurse Matilda.
  • Most people outside Germany, where it remains a literary classic, have no idea that The Neverending Story was, in fact, a bestselling book first — and that the original movie only adapts the first half of it, resulting in the title going unexplained. The author, Michael Ende, was not pleased with the changes made for the movie adaptation and wanted his name to be removed from the credits, which is likely a reason for the book's obscurity. (The second movie uses bits and pieces of the book's second half, and the third film even less.)
  • Night at the Museum was based on a children's book.
  • Night of the Lepus was loosely adapted from a novel titled "The Year of the Angry Rabbit". One key difference: the book was a satire with its tongue firmly in its cheek, and it clearly knew the premise wouldn't be scaring anyone. The movie played every word of its script dead seriously, desperate for audiences to be terrified by Giant Killer Bunny Rabbits.
  • While Cormac McCarthy certainly has a strong audience, most will know No Country for Old Men as one of the Coen Brothers movie.
  • The Nutty Professor — Eddie Murphy's popular 1996 film was a remake of a Jerry Lewis vehicle from 1963.
  • The 2001 version of Ocean's Eleven overshadows the original 1960 version by the same name to the extent that people who see the Ocean's Eleven Casino near San Diego think the casino was named for the 2001 movie, not the 1960 version.
  • Whilst Oldboy was a rather successful story about revenge following imprisonment, most people have only heard of its award-winning Darker and Edgier film counterpart. Originally a mystery/thriller story about protagonist Yamashita trying to discover why he was locked up for ten years, the Korean adaptation instead traded a lot of the tension, drama and reveals that probably wouldn't work in a 2-hour film, instead opting for a Roaring Rampage of Revenge approach. Considering the movie is infamous for having its protagonist remove a man's teeth with a claw hammer and eat a real living squid, it really isn't surprising people have a tendency to know and remember the movie version.
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was originally a novel by Ken Kesey, later adapted into a film with Jack Nicholson.
  • One, Two, Three is based on the obscure Hungarian play Egy, kettő, három by Ferenc Molnár.
  • The Outlaw Josey Wales is today regarded as one of the classics of The Western genre, and anyone with even the slightest interest in the genre will have heard of it. By contrast, the novel it was based on (Gone to Texas: The Rebel Outlaw Josey Wales, if anyone's interested) had an original print run of less than 100 copies, and it was only luck that put a copy in the hands of Clint Eastwood.
  • The German children's novel Das doppelte Lottchen by Erich Kästner, translated into English as Lottie and Lisa, isn't nearly as well known as The Parent Trap and its remakes (except in German-speaking countries, where the book is considered a classic and where film adaptations tend to stick closer to it).
  • The Philadelphia Story was a play by Philip Barry before it was a movie, but the play, like the movie, was produced as a vehicle for Katharine Hepburn.
  • Disney managed to displace itself with Pirates of the Caribbean, which is better known than the ride in Disney Theme Parks that inspired it. They have since modified the ride to feature Jack Sparrow animatronics in place of some of the generic pirates they had before.
    • Likewise, the ride displaced the film it was based on: the 1950 version of Treasure Island. Hence, the film series is based on a ride, based on a film, based on a book.
  • When most people think of Planet of the Apes, they think of the classic 1968 film starring Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, and Maurice Evans, or perhaps the ultimately forgettable 2001 remake starring Mark Wahlberg — not the novel by Pierre Boulle. This may largely be because the original novel was written in French. Despite what you might think, Tim Burton didn't make up the ending to the 2001 movie; it's actually closer to the original book than the 1968 movie. But in the book, it made a kind of sense and followed naturally from the events in the story, instead of being tacked-on surreal randomness. 2010s audiences might be more familiar with the Rise prequel continuity than either of those.
  • Pokémon Detective Pikachu was based on a decently-selling spinoff game that didn't quite catch on in the West. Ryan Reynolds voicing the title character almost certainly helped with this.
  • Primal Fear was based on a novel by William Diehl.
  • Many people who can quote the script of The Princess Bride by heart have never touched the novel it was adapted from. William Goldman wrote both.
  • The Producers has a long and convoluted one. The musical movie based on the broadway show (itself satirized in Curb Your Enthusiasm), based on the 1960s hit film that launched Gene Wilder's career, was itself based on Mel Brooks' unproduced musical, Springtime For Hitler.
  • Since the Craig Harrison novel on which The Quiet Earth is based is very hard to find today in New Zealand and impossible anywhere else, few people who don't pay attention to the credits realize the movie is an adaptation.
  • The same thing applies to the Rambo series (First Blood, 1972), which is also victim of the Oddly Named Sequel — most people forget that the first Rambo movie was titled First Blood, not Rambo. The sequel was Rambo: First Blood Part II, which was followed by Rambo III (there is no Rambo 2), which is then followed by the confusingly titled Rambo from 2008. Also First Blood was actually based on a book wherein John Rambo dies at the end. Bet you never knew that. Also, there has been a significant displacement of the first film within the Rambo film franchise itself. How many Rambo fans remember that First Blood was a depressing film about a Shell-Shocked Veteran fleeing the law?
    • To put it in further perspective: the original casting choice was Dustin Hoffman, and had elements closer to a slasher film than an action flick, with the unique twist that the slasher himself was comparatively innocent. Sure, he was a threat to everyone around him, but only because the law provoking him to the point where he had flashbacks.
      • Colleges and high schools actually used to teach First Blood (Stephen King used in it when he worked as a teacher). The association of the novel with reactionary politics grows doubly ironic.
  • Re-Animator is much better known than Herbert West–Reanimator, a magazine serial by H. P. Lovecraft. While the title character of Lovecraft's serial was explicitly blond and blue-eyed, all adaptations after the movie came out more closely resemble the film's lead Jeffrey Combs.
  • Maybe one of the most magnificent examples of adaptation displacement is in the progression of Dashiell Hammett's novel Red Harvest — the story began as a Hardboiled Detective novel (Red Harvest), then became a Jidaigeki film (Yojimbo), and was then adapted once more as a Spaghetti Western (A Fistful of Dollars) before being again adapted as Gangster Films ('Last Man Standing and Miller's Crossing). Any story in which a character plays two opposing sides against each other will be called a Red Harvest knock-off. Even still, much fewer people have actually read the book than have seen its adaptations.
  • Red River was based on The Blazing Guns of the Chisholm Trail by Borden Chase.
  • Rio Bravo was originally a book by Barbara Hawks McCampbell, Howard Hawks' daughter.
  • The Ring is the American remake of the Japanese horror flick Ringu, which is an adaptation of a book by the same name by Koji Suzuki. Proof can even be found in the oft-referenced "crawl out the TV" scene: whilst an almost iconic scene for the series, it doesn't happen once in the books.
    • Further of note is that, while the films lead to their own less popular sequels, the book spawned separate, successful sequels that follow different protagonists: Spiral follows Ando Mitsuo, the coroner on the Ring deaths; and Loop follows Kaoru Futami investigating the seemingly irrelevant "LOOP Project".
  • Road to Perdition was adapted from a comic, which itself was loosely inspired by Lone Wolf and Cub.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show is another movie musical that displaced the original stage version (known as The Rocky Horror Show).
  • Run Wild, Run Free isn't exactly famous, but it's a lot better known than the original novel, The White Colt.

    Examples S-Z 
  • Richard Mackenna's novel The Sand Pebbles was a best-seller in its day, but has long since been eclipsed by the Steve McQueen-starring movie adaptation.
  • The 1920s Russian novel Sannikov Land is best remembered for the 1970s film adaptation.
  • Scarface began as a novel by Armitage Trail, and was adapted into a film directed by Howard Hawks and produced by Howard Hughes. Both have been completely displaced in popular consciousness by the 1983 reimagining by Brian De Palma.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (and its game adaptation) has gotten lots of attention, popularity, and praise. But what some people don't know is that it was based on a six-volume comic book series.
  • The Search by Alan LeMay — made into western The Searchers.
  • The Serpent and the Rainbow was based on the novel by Wade Davis. Well, loosely based actually, as the original novel was more like a documentary and nothing at all like the horror film Wes Craven directed. Furthermore, Davis was not at all pleased with the film.
  • More than a few people aren't aware that the 1989 comedy film She-Devil starring Roseanne Barr and Meryl Streep was a loose adaptation of a novel entitled The Life and Loves of a She-Devil by English author Fay Weldon. Fewer still likely know the novel received a much more faithful BBC miniseries adaptation three years before the film.
  • The classic romantic comedy The Shop Around the Corner is based on an obscure Hungarian play (Parfumerie), which also served as source material for the Broadway musical She Loves Me.
    • You've Got Mail was loosely based on one or more of the above, modernized for the 1990s. In certain circles, the ones more into Meg Ryan than old films, it has displaced them.
  • Not only is The Silence of the Lambs based on a book, but the film's popularity even overshadowed the fact that it's the second entry of the series, the first book was Red Dragon, which was adapted as Manhunter. The popularity of The Silence of the Lambs meant most people didn't know Anthony Hopkins wasn't the first actor to play Hannibal Lecter, or that a prior entry existed until it was remade with Hopkins as Dr. Lecter.
  • Single White Female was originally based on the novel SWF Seeks Same by John Lutz.
  • Most people who saw the film Slumdog Millionaire aren't aware it's an adaptation of a book by Vikas Swarup (Q&A). Which is a shame, because that fact appears on the screen during the Academy Award-winning song-and-dance part of the closing credits. Before the actors are named.
  • Snowpiercer was actually based off of a series of Franco Belgian comics. The film caused them to be released in English saying they were the inspiration for the books. Despite the film being an In Name Only adaptation featuring none of the characters from the original comics, this was later used when they received a part three (decades later) and adopted the events of the film as a story that took place elsewhere concurrently with the second book.
  • Although it wasn't a commercial nor a critical success, the Steven Soderbergh film Solaris is more famous than the Soviet classic cult film by Andrei Tarkovsky, if only because the Soderbergh version enjoys better distribution. And both movies are better known than the original Stanislaw Lem novel.
  • Many people who have seen the extremely cinematic movie version of The Sound of Music could swear that it wasn't an adaptation of a stage musical, and certainly not a star vehicle for an actress who wasn't Julie Andrews. Some who are familiar with both the movie version and the original Broadway version say that the movie version was an improvement; a few elements of the movie version have even made it into licensed productions and revivals as Ret-Canon. And then there's the autobiography The Trapp Family Singers Rodgers and Hammerstein were Suggested by..., but that's obviously not as similar.
    • The autobiography had already been eclipsed by the West German movie Die Trapp-Familie (1956), which also was fairly successful in America and had spawned a sequel — Die Trapp-Familie in Amerika (1958) a year before The Sound of Music opened on Broadway.
  • The film Soylent Green was inspired by the novel Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison. In the novel, "soylent" is not made out of people and only warrants a passing reference. The novel is, in turn, an expansion of the short story "Roommates" by the same author.
  • Stage to Lordsburg by Ernest Haycox is more famously known as Stagecoach.
  • Likewise Stalker, the other Soviet classic cult film by Andrei Tarkovsy is loosely based on the short novel Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. Since it's only recently been published in an authorized English translation, and Tarkovsky took great liberties with the storyline (partially as a result of the production problems), most people aren't aware of this.
    • Curiously, the creators of the game, GSC Game World, have produced a proof-of-concept trailer for a STALKER television show. They're currently shopping it around.
  • Most people (especially if they're younger) know Starship Troopers from the Paul Verhoeven film, not the Robert A. Heinlein novel. Though the book and the movie are sufficiently different enough for one to get away with treating them as two different entities with a similar plot (the book focuses more on the political commentary of the society the story takes place in, while the movie is a vociferous Author Tract against the novel and its supposed glorification of militarism often mistaken for a straight action-adventure flick).
  • More people know of the crazily violent film Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky than the manga on which it was based. The movie was actually only based on the first story arc of the manga (which covers the first volume and the beginning of the second), which continued for several volumes that were even more insane than what was adapted into the movie. Considering the content that made it into the film...
  • Hardly anyone remembers the Patricia Highsmith novel that Strangers on a Train is based on (though the novel gets a reference in Castle).
  • The Stunt Man was based on Paul Brodeur's novel. However, The Other Wiki only has a page for the movie.
  • Taxi was a remake of a French film by the same name. Few people knew it was a remake because the original Taxi and its sequels were never officially released on DVD in the U.S., although series director Luc Besson was a producer for the remake.
  • There Will Be Blood was based on (part of) Upton Sinclair's novel Oil!, though most do not know that the film is even an adaptation. It is understandable that most would assume that this is an original creation from Paul Thomas Anderson because each of his works prior to this one are all his original properties.
  • John Carpenter's seminal 1982 sci-fi horror film The Thing and Howard Hawks' classic 1951 creature flick The Thing from Another World both overshadow John W. Campbell's original novella Who Goes There?
  • There are probably many people who've seen The Thin Man films and are unaware of the fact that the original film is based on a novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett. There are also plenty of other people who are aware that the film is based on the Hammett novel but then wrongly assume that the entire series is based on a series of Thin Man books. They're not. Not only was The Thin Man the only Nick and Nora Charles story Hammett ever published, but it was also the very last novel Hammett ever published. Hammett did co-write the screenplays of the next 2 films in the series (he supplied the mysteries while others supplied the jokes) and those screenplays were much later posthumously adapted into novels, adding to the confusion.
  • The Third Man is a novel by Graham Greene, but almost everyone knows it as a film. This case is sort of similar to 2001. Greene wrote the short novel to prepare himself for writing the screenplay. He might not even have published it, but the film was a runaway hit.
  • Three Men and a Baby was adapted from the French film Trois hommes et un couffin.
  • Speaking of Orson Welles, Touch of Evil has made the obscure pulp novel on which it was based, Badge Of Evil, even more obscure, not in the least because Welles made so many changes (such as relocating the action to the U.S.-Mexican border) that it's widely considered that everything good about the film came from him.
  • In many cases, if you say "Transformers", people will think you're talking about the original cartoon thanks to Pop-Cultural Osmosis. However, kids, teenagers, and mainstream audiences will think you're talking about the live-action film series, because of the relatively low popularity of the cartoon outside its designated fandom. They were toys first.
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is vastly better known than the book, to the point that even obsessive Bogart fans often don't realize it's an adaptation.
  • True Grit applies doubly so — people typically think of it as a John Wayne film with a Coen Brothers remake, and rarely as the Charles Portis book.
  • True Lies completely eclipsed the French film on which it was based, La Totale!.
  • The 1957 film 12 Angry Men starring Henry Fonda was a remake of a 1954 teleplay.
  • The Untouchables had a television show that is nowhere near as popular as the film. And before that, it was a 1957 book written by Eliot Ness with Oscar Fraley.
  • Many remember one version or the other of Village of the Damned but would look puzzled if asked about The Midwich Cuckoos.
  • Wanted was not widely known to film audiences, who wouldn't have noticed that the film has almost nothing to do with the original comic.
  • Few people realize that The Warriors is based on a 1965 Sol Yurick novel of the same name. The novel is, in fact, considerably darker and more realistic than the fantastical setting of the movie.
  • Movies based on Alan Moore's work (such as Watchmen) for DC usually follow this trope pretty well, though, because of his disgust with working with them (and hence Warner Bros.); he often insists his name be taken off the projects. Only Watchmen has mostly avoided being overshadowed by its adaptation due to its origin as a graphic novel being heavily advertised and accompanied by a huge surge in the comic's media attention and popularity.
  • Not many people know that Withnail & I was based on a novel (written by the director) — though whether it qualifies as this trope is debatable since the said novel was never actually published.
  • Downplayed with The Wizard of Oz. While the original book is still a classic, it isn't quite as iconic as the movie adaptation. In fact, there was a whole series of books, but Oz had been adapted to film and stage long before the 1939 movie.
    • The most significant indicator of this is often in later Wizard of Oz adaptations. Even those that are supposedly adapted straight from the book tend to repeat certain decisions made in the 1939 movie, specifically the use of the Composite Character version of Glinda and eliminating most of what happens in Oz after the Wizard disappears.

    Author — Philip K. Dick 
Philip K. Dick is a favorite source for film adaptations, though he didn't live long past Blade Runner to see his future movie influence. Examples of his work being overshadowed include:
Most are far better known to the general public than the originals, though Dick's writing is still quite popular in science fiction literary circles. Perhaps because the originals aren't terribly well-known, most adaptations take massive liberties with the material, making them almost entirely unlike the original. It doesn't help that Philip's style is so left field as to be out of the ballpark.

    Author — Stephen King 
A significant amount of King's non-horror novels and short stories suffer this, especially as he's widely known as "one of the big horror writers." Major films based on his novels include:That said, even his shorter horror fiction suffers this, albeit to a lesser degree; often, you'll hear "Wait, that was a Stephen King story?" from:
  • Pet Sematary (1989)
  • Children of the Corn (1984)
  • Firestarter
  • The Shiningnote 
  • The Lawnmower Mannote 
  • Even Apt Pupil.

    Director — Alfred Hitchcock 
Nearly all of Alfred Hitchcock's films are based on books or plays:
  • The 39 Steps was based on the novel by John Buchan.
  • Vertigo is widely considered Hitchcock's greatest film. Few know it's based on Boileau-Narcejac's novel The Living and the Dead.
  • Hitchcock made Psycho famous as a movie, but it was originally a novel by Robert Bloch. Some of the displacement here may be attributed to Hitchcock himself: the story goes that he bought all the copies of the book he could find so that the ending of the movie wouldn't be spoiled.
  • Not many people are aware, despite Daphne du Maurier getting due credit, that The Birds is based on one of her short stories.

    Director — Stanley Kubrick 
This is actually common with a lot of Stanley Kubrick's movies:
  • Spartacus remains well-regarded while Howard Fast's novel has long since faded into obscurity.
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey was adapted from Arthur C. Clarke's short story, The Sentinel, which it swiftly overshadowed.
    • Working in collaboration with Stanley Kubrick, Clarke wrote a novel version that Kubrick turned into a screenplay as they went. Then when Kubrick shifted the penultimate scene from the surface of Saturn's moon Iapetus to Jupiter orbit for ease of production and invented the "open the pod door, Hal" scene, Clarke's novel was pushed to the back too (and ultimately retcanoned — when Clarke wrote 2010, he wrote it as a sequel to the movie, not the book).
  • Kubrick's controversial A Clockwork Orange, aided by a legendary score and a star-making performance by Malcolm McDowell, overshadowed the book, which has enjoyed much of its later success due to the film. Anthony Burgess later regretted writing the book and was particularly displeased by the film, in part due to the attention it continued to give the book.
  • The Vietnam War film Full Metal Jacket is based on a now obscure semi-autobiographical novel by U.S. Marine Corps veteran Gustav Hasford called The Short-Timers.
  • Dr. Strangelove: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, widely recognized as one of the best movies ever, was taken from Peter George's non-satirical book Red Alert. (George subsequently wrote a novelization.)
  • Barry Lyndon is already one of Kubrick's more obscure films. It was originally a novel by William Makepeace Thackeray.
  • Ever heard of Traumnovelle? No? Maybe you've heard of Eyes Wide Shut.
  • Kubrick's adaptation of Paths of Glory is widely considered a classic in the war genre. You won't find very many people who have read the book.
  • The Shining is still fairly well-known as a Stephen King novel, but most people will immediately think of the Kubrick film when they hear the title. This caused King no end of frustration since he hated what Kubrick did to the story.

Alternative Title(s): Live Action Films


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