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The Film of the Book

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"From J.K. Rowling, the author of the book series that kept Borders open for another few years, comes the movie adaptation for people too lazy to read."
Epic Voice Guy, Honest Trailers, trailer for Harry Potter

Got a hit book? Turn it into a hit film. What could be more natural? The name alone will sell tickets, the movie will bring the books back into the light for people wanting to read the original, and everybody either makes huge wads of cash or has a good time contributing to the economy. Simple, right?

Unfortunately, as many studios have found, it's not that simple. Print and film are very different media; what works for one will fall flat on the other. In print, special effects are cheap; in film, they are more expensive. In print, describing a character's thoughts is par for the course; in film, a voiceover is seldom acceptable. In print, a short story can take days to read; in film, audiences generally won't sit still for more than a few hours. In print, your award-winning author may have a way of spinning Black Comedy between dialogue; in film all their clever wordplay is fed to the dogs, making the film deadly serious. Getting round these problems means changing the story, for better or for worse.

One issue is that a typical novel is simply much too long to fit all of it into a two (or even three) hour movie, so significant parts of it must be hacked out. Sometimes entire characters may be changed, have their screen time lengthened/shortened (if not cut altogether), or important book-related plot points or dialogue may be whizzed by, creating a moment of Fridge Logic. All of this tends to a trendy belief that no matter how good or bad the movie is, "The book was better."

Sometimes though, the film is so successful the book gets forgotten over time. Other times, the original book is still read long after the film is forgotten. Most frequently though, the book will probably be republished with a cover based on the movie poster and "Now a major motion picture!" or something the like emblazoned on it.

The Film of the Book is the opposite of Novelization, except when it's a new novelization of The Film of the Book.

The Other Wiki has something to say about this kind of thing in its usual style. Adaptations like this are likely to lead to Old Guard Versus New Blood incidents.

See also The Show of the Books, The Film of the Play, The Movie.


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  • The film adaptation of Jack Higgins' "The Eagle Has Landed" is very different from the book; it eliminates the Birmingham Gangsters that provide Devlin with the stolen military vehicles later used by the Germans-masquerading-as- British-paras (the film apparently has the IRA steal them from an army base),and the two Special Branch policemen who almost arrest Devlin after the failure of the mission, and, most importantly, the British traitor Harvey Preston who is the only real Nazi in Steiner's Fallschirmjager team.
  • The Bourne Identity had its setting moved from The '70s to the Present Day, and as a consequence its plot, a Cold War tale featuring Ripped from the Headlines villain Carlos the Jackal, had to be completely reworked and now featured the US government, rather than Carlos, as the Big Bad. For some unearthly reason, Marie is turned from a Canadian economist into a German hippy. On the other hand, the adaptations of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, which were shot by a different director, bear almost no similarity to the books and a major character (Marie) is killed off fairly early on.
  • James Bond:
    • Goldfinger: The book has a plot to steal the gold from Fort Knox (which the movie Bond points out is impossible) using a nuclear bomb to blow open a door while everyone is suicidally close. The movie changes the scheme into a plan to raid the fort just long enough to place the nuclear bomb in the main vault. Any gold surviving the blast would be radioactive and thus worthless, making the value of Auric Goldfinger's own gold jump at least tenfold.
    • Diamonds Are Forever: While earlier films played it pretty close to the books (especially On Her Majesty's Secret Service and, for obvious reasons, Thunderball), this one changed everything about the book's plot and setting, except its central plot conceit about diamond smuggling. Also, the Roaring Rampage of Revenge was not there, at least not at first, in the actual follow-up novel, You Only Live Twice, being replaced instead by a massive and prolonged Heroic BSoD that takes Bond being assigned a suicide mission by M to snap him out of it, and which does lead to the smackdown being placed, hard and ruthlessly, on Blofeld.
    • The Spy Who Loved Me was based on one of Fleming's least favorite Bond novels, which centers around Bond rescuing a woman from two assassins in a ski lodge. The movie threw it out and replaced it with Bond teaming up with a Russian agent to stop a plot to wipe out mankind. Justified since Fleming himself gave the filmmakers the rights to the title only, not any of the contents of the book.
    • The only Bond movie from the eighties to follow the plot of the novel was The Living Daylights, which was a short story with major Adaptation Expansion.
    • All of the Bond films borrow elements from the various novels, with the titles being somewhat arbitrarily attached from the long list afterward. As such, anything added probably came from one of the other books, and anything taken away will probably show up in a later film. (The Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films used the very same technique).
  • Jaws started life as a harmless-enough page-turner with extremely unlikeable characters, and was adapted into one of the best movies ever made.
  • K-20: Kaijin nijû mensô den (English title: K-20: Legend of the Mask) is an adaption of Kaijin Nijū Mensō Den by Sō Kitamura, itself based upon the characters from Edogawa Rampo's stories.
  • Die Hard was based on an airport novel.
  • Fight Club: Even the book's author thinks the film ended better. A foreword in a later run even lampshades this trope; "There was a book?"
  • Movie adaptations of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan novels have gone from remaining true to the spirit of the original to... not, as the movie series rolls on, according to some fans of the original novels.
  • Watchmen obviously comes from the graphic novel Watchmen. The ending is changed to something... less bizarre.
  • The Band of Brothers miniseries is based on a historical novel written by Stephen Ambrose, despite a few blatant inaccuracies. The sequel, The Pacific, is based on several veterans' memoirs.
  • Tropic Thunder lampshades and parodies this trope. The entire premise of the film is that a movie company is attempting to make a film based on an in-universe book of the same name. Humorously enough, it's implied that the script is fairly faithful to the book... it's just that nobody has read either. The trope is eventually subverted twice when it's revealed that the author never went to Vietnam and at the end, when the film is changed to Tropic Blunder, a documentary on how badly the production of the film failed.
  • The Guns of Navarone became a movie.
  • The book Battle Royale was made into a film of the same name.
  • Smith's Dream, by C. K. Stead, about an industrial dispute that grows into civil war in New Zealand, was adapted as Sleeping Dogs (1977) in 1977, the first film to be entirely produced and set in that country.
  • Tomorrow, When the War Began, an adaptation of the book of the same name. This is used for a meta joke when one character, while reading a book, remarks about how the book is always better than the movie.
  • The Rambo movies started out as an adaptation of a novel entitled First Blood. The movies diverge from the source material after the first act of the first film, and never look back. They brought the original author, David Morrell, back to write the Novelization of the second film, and in the introduction he mused on some of the major differences between the first book and its film adaptation.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service based on The Secret Service.
  • Stormbreaker, based off the first Alex Rider novel of the same name.

  • Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff. The movie turned out to be pretty faithful.
  • White Fang and The Call of the Wild by Jack London. The problem seems to be that Hollywood can't handle an animal as the main star of a movie, and so completely rewrites the story to include an important human who is actually the main character. The canine star becomes the sidekick.
  • Somewhat inverted in Monty Python and the Holy Grail with "The Book of the Film" which they dip into to cover the boring bits quickly.
  • The Seeker is supposedly based on The Dark is Rising. The book is pretty good, to the point that some consider it an underground classic of (children's?) literature. The movie is pretty bad, to the point where it deserves to have an episode of MST3K based around it.

    Biblical Stories 


    Children's Fiction 


    Coming-of-Age Story 

  • Custody (2007), a Made-for-TV Movie, is based on Mary S. Herczog's Figures of Echo.
  • Forrest Gump was adapted from a very funny novel about an Idiot Savant who becomes an astronaut, a chess master, a harmonica player and a millionaire into a guy who's Inspirationally Disadvantaged, and who touches important events and people. The character of Jenny was changed from a sensible Girl Next Door type into a tragic shallow party girl (admittedly deepening her character). The sequel, Gump And Co., followed more in the vein of the movie, both in increasing the number of random cameos and retaining the deaths of Forrest's Mom and Jenny, neither of whom died in the original book.
  • The Godfather novel, written by Mario Puzo which becomes:
    • The Godfather movie, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, which has since become one of the premiere classics of the genre. In the subsequent 18 years, two more movies were produced; Part II, which surpassed even its worthy predecessor. And Part III, which didn't.
    • In the early 2000s, an author named Mark Winegardner published two books, entitled The Godfather Returns and The Godfather's Revenge, which in many ways are sequels to Part II. In many ways, the new novels read very much as if written in Mario Puzo's own hand, only enhanced in quality and subtly altering facts which simply did not fit. Eventually, in the closing chapters of the second book, we learn that Nick Geraci, a Winegardner original character who had died trying to take over the Corleone family business, had written his memoirs while in exile and had them published posthumously. Which, in time, are...
    • ...made into a trilogy of movies (two of which become cinema classics) detailing the story of a "fictional" mafia family through the years. Thus, it is suggested that, within this apparently separate universe, the events of the books and film are true and were brought to us by somebody who was there.
  • Apollo 13 was based on Lost Moon, written by mission commander Jim Lovell about his experience on that mission. In fact, filming started before Lovell had finished the book—he had pitched the book idea to publishers, who sent it to filmmakers while Lovell was writing.
  • Primary Colors. An epilogue is added to the movie that is not in the book but which naturally follows from the story the book was very loosely based on.
  • The Damned Utd was later made into a movie titled The Damned United.
  • Friday Night Lights is a mostly-faithful adaptation of H. G. Bissinger's Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team and a Dream.
  • Most of John Grisham's early novels have been made into films by this point, with varying degrees of success. Even the novel that Grisham said he would never option for film (A Time to Kill) was made into a movie... a fairly good one at that. It helps that Grisham's novels are essentially beach-read page-turners.
  • Invictus was based on Playing the Enemy, a book by British journalist John Carlin about how Nelson Mandela used the 1995 Rugby World Cup, hosted by South Africa, to help reconcile South Africans in the post-apartheid era.
  • Kill the Poor (2003), based on the book of the same name by Joel Rose.
  • Killers of the Flower Moon is a 2023 adaptation of a critically acclaimed 2017 nonfiction book of the same title by David Grann.
  • Never Let Me Go, based on the book of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro, kept the majority of the plot intact, as well as pulling off spot-on portrayals of the three main characters.
  • Several reviewers have criticized The Scarlet Letter. This was mocked in Easy A, in reference to English students watching the film adaptations of their required reading in lieu of doing the actual reading.
  • No Country for Old Men by The Coen Brothers is a very rare example of a film that's even better than the book on which it was based. And the book is pretty damn good.
  • Mysterious Skin is considered another rare success: It is both faithful to the book, and it presents the difficult subject matter with consideration instead of shoving it into the viewer's face.
  • Only Love, based on the book of the same name by Erich Segal.
  • The Lovely Bones is a highly-acclaimed book and a movie.
  • Greed, the film adaptation of the novel McTeague, is famous in film history as the most literal adaptation ever. Director Erich von Stroheim faithfully recreated every scene as it appeared in the novel, included every character most of the dialogue (not a mean feat considering that it's a silent movie), and was shot on location. The result was a movie that was a unwatchable mess (except to film buffs) that's over ten hours long (for comparison, the unabridged audiobook of the novel was only 14 hours long). The producers trimmed the footage down to a more manageable 2 hours, whereupon von Stroheim disowned the film. A four-hour cut has since been assembled that uses production stills and title cards to re-create the missing scenes.
  • The Color Purple (1985)
  • Deep Love though the film was displaced by the later series.
  • Cold Mountain was based on the novel of the same name by author Charles Frazier.
  • The Constant Nymph by Margaret Kennedy and the 1943 film starring Joan Fontaine.
  • S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders was adapted into a movie that was identical. To know one is to know the other.
  • James Ellroy's novels:
    • L.A. Confidential managed to make a great film out of a brilliant book, despite having to shed about half a dozen subplots, compress the action from five years down to one, and alter the ending slightly.
    • The Black Dahlia however, didn't do so well. Ellroy even mocked it before it was being made.
  • Jackie Brown, Quentin Tarantino's adaptation of Elmore Leonard's Rum Punch
  • La Reine Margot, adapted from the novel of the same name by Alexandre Dumas, père.
  • My Left Foot was made into an Oscar-winning movie of the same name.
  • The book Trainspotting was made into a movie, but not without a Pragmatic Adaptation as the content was deemed unfilmable.
  • The 2007 film version of Gone Baby Gone. Director Ben Affleck did a good job of condensing and streamlining a very complex novel.
  • Nathanael West's 1939 novel The Day of the Locust was made into a feature film in 1975.
  • Mildred Pierce was adapted for the screen in 1945 and again for a TV mini-series in 2011.
  • Larry McMurtry's novel The Last Picture Show was made into a feature film in 1971.
  • Manila in the Claws of Light is an adaptation of the novel In the Claws of Brightness.
  • Judith Guest's 1976 novel Ordinary People was made into a Best Picture Oscar-winning film in 1980.
  • The 1982 film Sophie's Choice was adapted from the 1979 novel of the same name by William Styron.
  • Horace McCoy's 1935 novel They Shoot Horses, Don't They? was adapted into a film in 1969.
  • Inherent Vice is the first attempt to adapt a work by Thomas Pynchon, whose work was previously thought to be un-filmable.
  • As with a number of Jason Reitman's films note , Men, Women & Children is adapted from a book. One of the key advantages to putting the work to a visual medium is getting to make use of Pop-Up Texting and overlaying certain websites and video game sequences over their users' faces in real-time for "show, don't tell" emotional reactions.
  • The film version of The Joy Luck Club stuck admirably to the book until Ying Ying's confrontation with her daughter, which is emotionally powerful but very brief. France Nuyen was one of the few exceptions to the decision to cast mostly unknowns in the main roles, and Amy Tan (and presumably Oliver Stone) were apparently concerned that the gifted veteran Nuyen would steal the entire movie if she were allowed to do and say everything she does in the book. Ms. Nuyen, understandably, was pissed.
  • A Dog's Purpose is based off a xenofiction book of the same name. It removed segments of the book and had a lot of Composite Characters. It also removed a lot of the xenofiction and the darker elements of the book.
  • A Dog's Way Home has a film adaptation that was released in 2018.
  • The Sicilian is based on the Mario Puzo novel of the same name.
  • The baseball series Battery has been adapted into a Japanese film named The Battery.
  • Teen drama novel One Fat Summer was adapted into a movie entitled Measure of A Man.
  • Liz in September: It's based on the play Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, although not strictly.

  • The Black Cauldron is a bit of a mash-up of elements from the first two books of The Chronicles of Prydain series, The Book of Three and The Black Cauldron.
  • Field of Dreams was based on W.P. Kinsella's novel Shoeless Joe. The film eliminates Ray's twin brother Richard, and transfers Richard's rift with their father onto Ray himself. It also changes J.D. Salinger into the fictional author Terrance Mann and makes Ray's wife Annie a stronger character, and her brother a more believable "Bad Guy".
  • The Harry Potter films are considered masterpieces, but have some removed plotlines. Major in the case of the third, fourth, and fifth movies, which took good chunks out of the main plotline.
    • Most obvious in the third movie, as some of the stuff taken out was vital to understanding the plot. It's never explained that the four names appearing in the Marauder's Map are the pen names of Professor Lupin, Sirius, Peter Pettigrew and James Potter.
    • Cho and Harry's relationship in Order of the Phoenix is changed to take up less time. In the book, they date until Harry realizes they're only together because Cho thinks being with him will help give her closure over Cedric's death. In the film, the romance dies earlier as Chang tells Umbridge about Harry's secret society (Dumbledore's Army); even after it's revealed that it was because she was forcefully given Veritaserum to confess against her will, the two characters never get along again.
    • Major in the case of the sixth movie, which misses the overall function of the book by almost entirely omitting the lessons delving into Voldemort's past that ultimately help Harry understand and thus defeat Voldemort.
  • Eragon has an adaptation whose problem is multiple missing main characters, more main characters having a single line or so, completely different locations, general failure to understand universal laws such as magic in-universe, and a completely different ending. Proved a Franchise Killer to the prospect of a movie of the sequel, since so much was omitted or defiled, although it still managed to make a profit.
  • The Lord of the Rings, some notable differences are the removal of the Tom Bombadil and the Scouring of the Shire subplots, the increased role for Arwen, and the different motivations and actions of Faramir's character (and Elrond's). The biggest change was making Gimli a comic relief character—though there was comedy of juxtaposition in the book-Gimli's infatuation with Galadriel, which was retained in the film. The original book primarily used Sam (the rustic/loyal retainer) and Merry and Pippin (the young innocents) for comic relief purposes, as the films did as well; though unlike Gimli the hobbits, in the films as in the books, got a lot of character development that made their comedy dark and bittersweet by the end.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians, based on the novel of the same name.
    • The bare bones of the book's story is there (Poseidon's child is framed for stealing Zeus's lightning bolt, he goes on a quest to get it back with Annabeth and Grover, he's successful). Might be more towards executive meddling because a number of the plots that were left out because they leave things open for future movies, which they didn't know wouldn't happen. Add to that some of the character personal changes (namely aging the main characters 4-6 years) made it easier to make the movie.
    • They removed a swordfight with the god of war.
    • The biggest outright removal was the main villain of the series, Kronos. Among other things they changed the character of Grover from a somewhat serious character who had moments of comic relief, to an outright jive-talkin' black kid. They removed the concept of mist, which explains why no one noticed greek gods actually existing. They didn't mention the prophecy that led to no children of the big three being born. All the characters were changed from ages 12 to ages 16, and the main overarching romantic plotline between Percy and Annabeth was resolved in the first film.
    • The second movie is stated to be more accurate to the literature than the first one. Although there's a still a lot of small changes though, but like the first film, the main premise and plot of the book are the same in the movie.
  • The Princess Bride had a particularly accurate film version. It helps that William Goldman (who was an Oscar-winning scriptwriter to begin with) wrote both the book and the movie.
  • Mary Poppins. P. L. Travers, author of the Mary Poppins books, was horrified with the result, even after demanding and getting an unusual amount of creative control.
  • The Neverending Story: The film doesn't actually show the whole book. Far from it. It simply couldn't. Even so, some changes were unnecessary. In the book the protagonist (Bastian Balthasar Bux) is an overweight, awkward kid and his Fantasia-based friend Atreyu is green-skinned. The second half of the book puts the protagonist in grave danger. The movie, if faithful to its source, needed to be at least two movies long. The second film covers the second half of the book, and takes more liberties with it.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia films, which made it to the third book before the franchise fell apart and slowly became forgotten.
  • The Golden Compass, an adaption from the His Dark Materials novels, suffered from considerable Executive Meddling for its subject matter and Downer Ending. While it is often praised as a good film by people who haven't read the book, the Executive Meddling caused many fans of the series to hate the film.
  • Stardust took Neil Gaiman's pointedly Bittersweet Ending and changed it so that the last line of the movie is "And they all lived happily ever after". They also threw out Tristran's sister and step-mother. Then they changed the main character's name (removing the second R), removed the Fairy Tale and nursery rhymes that marked it as a fairy tale for adults, but instead pumped it full of One Scene Wonders, fleshed-out versions of previously bland characters (especially the one that Robert de Niro played), and gave the story a genuine climax.
  • 7 Faces of Dr. Lao is the film adaptation of The Circus of Doctor Lao.
  • MGM's The Wizard of Oz, somewhat loosely based on the first book, shortened the journey to Emerald City and ended the story shortly after the Wicked Witch was killed. Among other changes was addition of original characters like Almira Gulch, creating a new subplot involving Dorothy's family. Perhaps the most infamous change in the movie was that Oz had been made an elaborate dream instead of a fantasy country. The reasoning for this was that executives believed that audiences were too "sophisticated" to accept a "real" fantasy world.
  • What Dreams May Come is based on a 1978 novel of the same name by Richard Matheson. There are substantial differences between the book and movie in the characters, the presentation of afterlife, and the ending. Matheson based his depiction of afterlife on extensive research into mysticism and near-death experiences, which he lists in a bibliography at the end. He states in an author's note at the beginning that the characters are the only fictional component of the book.
  • Dinotopia. The miniseries and TV series were very different than the books.
  • The Saga of Darren Shan:
    • When the book was adapted into a movie, Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, there was a mixture of outrage and pure disgust from fans of the series. The first three books were attempted to be crammed into the movie (plus added spoilers from book nine) meaning many scenes were missed out.
    • Some fan favourite characters were cut (Debbie and Sam) and put back in as a single entity: Rebecca the monkey girl. Personalities of both main and secondary characters were changed and an added pairing was put in, practically destroying a canon one apparent in later books.
    • Something that also annoyed many UK and Ireland fans was the way the whole thing was Americanised, as the general consensus is that the main character is Irish, due to him supposedly being the same person as the Author, just from a parallel world.
  • The Sky1 Made For TV Movies based on the Discworld novels have been generally well-received, although it's been observed they've been getting steadily more pragmatic. Going Postal keeps the main characters, their basic characterisation and the broad strokes of the plot, and proceeds to change almost everything else.
  • The Flight of Dragons is loosely based on The Dragon and the George by Gordon R. Dickson, the first book in The Dragon Knight series". Starting with the same basic premise of "a man from the 20th century enters a fantasy medieval world and accidentally winds up sharing a body with a dragon", the stories go in very different directions. The title, main character's name, and the biological details of dragons (how they fly, how they breathe fire, etc.) come from an unrelated book by Peter Dickinson and were not part of Dickson's work.

  • Pick any Stephen King book, and chances are it's been adapted to film (in some cases, twice). In turn, pick any of those movies. Chances are, Stephen King himself didn't like it. He's outright stated that he hates some of the movies based off his books, such as the two sequels of Children of the Corn (1984) and The Shining (Stanley Kubrick removed several plot elements that King felt very personal about, because they were partly based on his own life). He did, however, like the movie's ending of The Mist even more than his original.
  • All of Thomas Harris's books involving Hannibal Lecter — in fact, the most recent one, Hannibal Rising, saw the screenplay (also by Harris) finished before the book was. The series of four novels has produced five movies (The Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon, Hannibal, Hannibal Rising, and Manhunter, an earlier adaptation of Red Dragon starring William Petersen). The Silence of the Lambs is one of the few movies that is probably better than the book.
  • An American Haunting was based on the novel The Bell Witch: An American Haunting by Brent Monahan, which was itself based on the Tennessee legend of The Bell Witch.
  • Although frequently so altered as to be nearly completely unrecognizable, almost every single movie by Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock were based on books (notable exceptions are 2001: A Space Odyssey and North By Northwest, and Kubrick wanted the 2001 book written and out before the movie). The early sections of 2001 (set on the Moon) were based on Arthur C. Clarke's short story, "The Sentinel".
  • Stir of Echoes is a movie "based" on a book of the same title by Richard Matheson. Other than one or two plot points, they have nothing else in common. The book itself is fairly outdated, which probably explains why the movie managed to be so removed from it and still be good.
  • The Relic was a highly entertaining book that has spawned a really interesting series. The movie, not so much.
  • Psycho, the classic film by Alfred Hitchcock, was adapted from a much less well-known book of the same name by Robert Bloch.
  • Dracula has been made into dozens of films, the most notable being the 1931 Bela Lugosi film (actually an adaptation of a play that was based on the book) and the 1958 Christopher Lee film (a direct but loose interpretation).
  • Flowers in the Attic was adapted in 1987 from the 1979 novel of the same name.
  • Eye Candy: R. L. Stine wrote the novel as his last attempt at taking on the adult market. The TV show is not only Darker and Edgier, it also gives the heroine and her two potential love interests drastic upgrades in personality, IQ, backstory, and general appeal. It changes the killer's identity, but the path to discovering said killer is much more intricately plotted; the killer also gets an upgrade: from a two-part threat: a troubled but ultimately harmless guy with delusions of killing women, ala Patrick Bateman, and a homicidally jealous room-mate who really should have been caught much earlier in the book to a cyber-genius psychopath and stalker.
  • The Visitation was adapted from The Visitation.
  • Rosemary's Baby was extremely faithful to the book by Ira Levin, mainly because Roman Polański had never done a film adaption from a book before and he didn't realize he was allowed to make any changes. Because there are so many details, right down to exact dates, he was able to make the picture very realistic. He about went nuts trying to find which "shirt that was in the New Yorker" Guy said he had gotten until Levin revealed he had just made that up and hadn't actually picked out a shirt from ads in the magazine.
  • The House With a Clock in Its Walls is adapted from the John Bellairs novel of the same name.
  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) takes some of the most well-known stories from the source material and ties them together in an overarching narrative about a group of teenagers suffering the wrath of a ghostly curse whose methods of killing are tied to a Deadly Book.
  • The Howling: The first movie and a few of the sequels loosely adapt the books by Gary Brandner, but many of the films have no connection to them beyond revolving around werewolves and featuring "The Howling" in the title.
    • The Howling (1981) shares its basic premise and certain plot points with the first novel, but otherwise tells its own story and the way it depicts the werewolves differs slightly. In both stories, the protagonist is a woman who is left traumatised by a attack and moves to a remote town in the countryside, only to be terrorised by werewolves while her husband grows distant. The movie also notably has a more darkly comedic tone compared to the novel.
    • Howling III: The Marsupials is credited as being based on The Howling III: Echoes, but adapts virtually nothing from that book; about the only things they share in common are taking a more sympathetic stance on the werebeasts than is typical for the franchise.
    • Howling IV: The Original Nightmare is heavily inspired by the first novel, actually being more faithful to the book than the 1981 movie in places, though it also takes several liberties, such as adding a plotline about nuns and the heroine being plagued by mysterious visions and dreams.
    • The Freaks bears little resemblance to any of the novels, but it does take a few pointers from the third book, such as featuring a sympathetic werewolf protagonist and werewolves working for a carnival freakshow.
    • Reborn is credited as being based on the second book, The Howling II, but it actually has more in common with the first and third books while still mostly being its own thing, such as starring a sympathetic young werewolf and ending with the protagonists burning down a building to kill the evil werewolves; it also takes cues from the first movie by having the last scene feature the protagonist transform on-camera to reveal the existence of werewolves.



    Science Fiction 
  • With the exception of A Scanner Darkly, no book by Philip K. Dick will ever be faithfully adapted. Mostly because he was crazy, and yet the books were incredibly smart. Also, almost none of the movies keep the titles of the books and stories that inspired them, mostly due to trying to turn quirky, introspective science fiction into bigass action movies, and the names had to reflect that switch.
  • Children of Men was more enjoyable than the book, which was a 350 or so page guide to how to do Christian symbolism in the least subtle way possible.
  • The Darkest Minds
  • Dune (1984). David Lynch took a lot of liberties in this adaptation (and so did the Executive Meddling). The film's biggest hurdle, though, was telling the story in less than six hours — if you've read the original, there's a reason its first volume is divided into three "books". Sci Fi Channel's Mini Series, Frank Herbert's Dune and Frank Herbert's Children of Dune, were much more faithful than David Lynch's film, though they still took a few liberties. Such as increasing certain characters' roles, and downplaying or outright removing other characters.
  • Dune and Dune: Part Two by Denis Villeneuve. It aims at succeeding where the 1984 film didn't.
  • The Giver
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy was made into a film (with the screenplay written by the book's author, Douglas Adams). An unusual example in that the series doesn't have a canon, which is how it's been since the beginning, and after a while Douglas Adams almost certainly did it deliberately. The books it was based on were comedic and satiric, but the laughs, except for a few throwaway lines, did not come from the dialogue or the situations but rather from the narration itself. The novel were themselves adaptations of the original radio series, as well as lending and taking elements with the British television production, during all of which Adams constantly fiddled with jokes and narrative order.
  • The Host (2013)
  • The Hunger Games was rather faithful to the books, especially in terms of tone and theme. It is at the same time a Pragmatic Adaptation, cutting out several minor characters and plot threads. One very noticeable change is in Haymitch, whose alcoholism is severely downplayed in the films.
  • Divergent
  • Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend has been adapted to film four times in four wildly different versions: The Last Man on Earth, starring Vincent Price; The Ωmega Man, starring Charlton Heston; I Am Legend, starring Will Smith; and The Asylum mockbuster I Am Omega, starring Mark Dacascos. Not a single one of those adaptations is faithful to the book.
  • I Am Number Four is based on the book of the same name by Pittacus Lore, a penname of James Frey and Jobie Hughes.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars was made into John Carter. Some needful updating was done but some very pointless major alterations were also made. Instead of Mars being a dying planet simply because it's really frigging old, the Therns were dragged in from a later book, Gods of Mars, as the real power behind the Zodangan leader Sab-Than. He leads the mobile city (perhaps inspired by Greg Bear's Strength of Stones?) of Zodanga. Mars' deprecated state is blamed on the planet-wide resource pillaging of the Zodangans, with the Therns as the shadowy big bad behind the scenes, though they show up in the first few minutes. The atmosphere factory, powered by Ninth Ray energy is nowhere in the film. It was likely excised to give Dejah Thoris a reason to be made over into a scientist working on a machine to use the Ninth Ray to restore the environment. To make it a family friendly instead of NC-17 film, everyone on Mars is wearing way too much clothing. To the good, the designers got the Tharks, thoats, Woola, white apes and other critters dead on to the book. Too bad they didn't adhere so close to the actual story.
  • Jumper was adapted into movie form. "Based on the novel" was very noticeable during the opening credits of the movie. Other than the title, only three points from the source material remain: the protagonist ran away from his alcoholic father, he uses his ability to teleport ("jump") to steal money from a bank vault, and he ends up in a relationship with a girl named Millie; and the backstories involving each of these events were considerably changed.
  • 1962's The Man Who Fell to Earth, by Walter Tevis, was adapted for the big screen in 1976. The basic plot is the same — an Alien Among Us, trying to save his dying planet/race via establishing a MegaCorp on our world to provide the means, falls prey to human treachery and addictive vices like alcohol and television. But the movie is far less straightforward in the telling of it, to Mind Screw levels. In addition, the relationship between him and a hotel maid is upgraded from mere friendship to increasingly troubled romance and the sex lives of all the significant characters are explored (often in depth) whereas the book never even raises the issue. On the other hand, the side issue of how Earth will benefit if the hero's plot succeeds is dropped. The Criterion Collection DVD edition allows viewers to compare and contrast the book and the film by including a physical copy of the novel as an extra feature.
  • The Maze Runner Series
  • Mortal Engines
  • The Japanese book Parasite Eve circa 1995 got sent to the big screens in '97. Then in '98, SquareSoft caught on and made a video game sequel called (you guessed it) Parasite Eve.
  • The Postman became The Postman
  • Planet of the Apes has had two very different film adaptations in the 1968 film and in the 2001 film.
  • Richard Matheson's novel Bid Time Return was made into Somewhere in Time (the title of which was used for later editions of the book). There are some significant changes in its adaptation to screen, most notably in the period to which the protagonist travels back in time (in the book, it's the late 19th century, in the movie early 20th) and in the nature of what's happening (in the book, but not the movie, the protagonist is dying from a brain tumor, raising questions about whether the time-traveling experience is real or not). Also, the movie but not the book includes a spectacular ontological paradox centering around a watch with apparently no origin (the protagonist receives it from an old lady in the present day; he goes back in time and gives it to a younger version of the same lady, and that's how she got it in the first place; and so on).
  • Starship Troopers: The script was already mostly written (under the title "Bug Hunt at Outpost Nine") when they heard about "a book that had a bug war similar to the one in the script" as well as Verhoeven never finishing the actual novel.
  • The 5th Wave
  • Battlefield Earth's film is a good example of a Pragmatic Adaptation not being enough to salvage the source material, but can at least be said to have turned out better than a purely faithful adaptation.
  • The 100: While expanding on the subject of the adults from the Ark and the inhabitants of Earth (Grounders and Mountain Men), the TV series also kill off one of the POV characters (Wells) in the second episode and introduce a bunch of Canon Foreigners among the titular Hundred.
  • Jurassic Park (1993) changed quite a bit of the novel, including deleting characters or making them composites of each other, changing Nedry from trying to get back at Ingen for how poorly he'd been treated by them to simply being greedy, making Hammond a kindly old man who created the park to make children smile instead of being only in it for the money, deleted scenes, gave the kids a much larger role in the plot (in addition to switching their ages), and completely changing the ending.
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park deviated from its literary material even further, completely overhauling the plot, changing the villains to all new characters, adding a climax where one of the dinosaurs is brought back to the mainland and goes on a rampage, and even altering the title.
  • Childhood's End has been adapted into a three-part miniseries, with some obvious changes to fit with a modern setting.
  • How to Talk to Girls at Parties, based on the short story of the same name by Neil Gaiman.
  • Kelly Eskridge's novel Solitaire was adapted to the 2017 film, OtherLife
  • Bicentennial Man: This movie is based on Isaac Asimov's "The Bicentennial Man". The opening credits also reference the novelization co-authored with Robert Silverberg, The Positronic Man.
  • Chaos Walking (2021) is based upon the 2008 novel The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first instalment in the Chaos Walking trilogy from which the film takes its title.


  • Left Behind, the religious thriller by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, got two different adaptations. The first was in 2000, which featured Kirk Cameron in the role of Buck Williams, and condensed the first book fairly well, leading to two sequels that were both based on the second book Tribulation Force. The second was in 2014, which featured Nicolas Cage in the role of Rayford Steele, and focused mostly on the airplane flight during which the Rapture took place and occurs in the book's first chapter.
  • The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad was adapted into the film Sabotage (1936) by Alfred Hitchcock. The film had a number of changes such as turning Verloc's shop into a Cinema and portraying Stevie as an ordinary schoolboy. A straight adaptation from 1996 was released too, following the book's plot more closely.
  • Through Black Spruce: It's the adaptation of a novel with the same name by Joseph Boyden in 2008.

Heffer: "The book was better."

Alternative Title(s): Film Of The Book, The Movie Of The Book, Movie Of The Book