If a book becomes a commercial success, then the chances are that a film adaptation won’t be far behind. Many of our favourite films began life as a novel but there have also been some less than impressive interpretations of our favourite books over the years.
From unnecessary edits between page and screen, to some questionable casting choices, Hollywood hasn’t always got it right when it comes to recreating some of the world’s best-loved novels.
So, we have compiled a list of the top seven books which we believe were way better than the movie.
1. Harry Potter
The tale of the boy who lived was undeniably a huge hit as both a book and a film with the latter grossing more than £5.5 billion at the global box office. While the film franchise wasn’t the worst book to film adaptation we have ever seen, some die-hard fans were still left bemused by some creative choices.
Both Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets stayed pretty true to the book, but following the release of Prisoner of Azkaban in 2004, the films began to become more noticeably different to the books, with fans left frustrated that certain plot points and even entire characters, were not included at all.
2. The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games is a dystopian trilogy, penned by American author, Suzanne Collins. It was released to great acclaim and the first book sold more than 28 million copies. Gaining a legion of fans all over the world, it was no surprise when it was snapped up by film studio Lionsgate.
The then little-known Jennifer Lawrence was cast in the role as protagonist, Katniss Everdeen. Whilst Jennifer’s performance captured Katniss’ struggle well throughout four blockbuster movies, her on screen love triangle with Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) and Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) did not translate so well on screen, with the franchise’s conclusion coming across as somewhat anticlimactic on the big screen.
3. A Series of Unfortunate Events
This collection of 13 books were released between 1999 and 2006 and quickly became a big hit amongst children, and adults, everywhere, so there was a lot of pressure to produce something equally as special when it was announced it would be made into a film in 2004.
The film, which sees Jim Carrey take on the role of the villainous Count Olaf, was panned by both critics and fans alike as the first three novels were glazed over in under two hours. The complex plots from the novels did not work out as well onscreen and it came as no surprise that the arranged sequels were cancelled. In 2017 a Netflix series of A Series of Unfortunate Events began which is proving to be a better format of telling the story of the Baudelaire children. Unlike the film, the series has got past its first instalment with a second series now available on Netflix.
4. The Golden Compass
Philip Pullman is one of the UK’s most popular authors, and his Dark Materials trilogy was extremely successful. His first book Northern Lights was released in 1995 and saw children everywhere became engrossed in the adventures of 12-year-old Lyra Belacqua. In a world where everyone has their own daemon (a spirit animal that stays close to their respective human), the story spanned three novels with the first being made into a film in 2007.
The film version was vastly different from the book, and even had a different title, known as The Golden Compass. The changes were so drastic that it even left out the entire final three chapters of the book and some critics noted some aspects were changed to try to appeal to a more ‘family friendly audience.’ The failings of the film meant that its scheduled sequel The Subtle Knife never went ahead.
The Alex Rider books are renowned for being one of the best-selling book series in the world, with over 16 million copies sold to date. Written by Anthony Horowitz, the series focuses on Alex Rider, a schoolboy recruited by MI6 to become a spy. 18 years and 11 books later, the 12th novel in the series is set to be released soon. Unfortunately, the series was not as successful on the big screen.
The first story, Stormbreaker, was released in 2006 and had an all-star cast including Mickey Rourke, Ewan McGregor and Bill Nighy, as well as Alex Pettyfer who got his breakthrough role as Alex. The book to film adaptation was underwhelming and failed to recoup its budget. This underperformance lead to its sequels being cancelled.
6. Fantastic Mr. Fox
Almost all of Roald Dahl’s beloved and colourful children’s books have been adapted for the world of cinema – some even twice! And, Fantastic Mr. Fox was no different. The story of a mischievous fox who steals food for his family and friends from three angry farmers has delighted children since its release in 1970, but the feature length animation from 2009 does not quite have the same charm as the book.
Despite having a cast that included George Clooney and Meryl Streep, the movie just didn’t match up to its novel counterpart.
7. Percy Jackson
For years there have been books and films about Ancient Greek Mythology and the Percy Jackson franchise has demonstrated that the genre remains as popular as ever. Rick Riordan’s novels have sold over 45million copies worldwide, and the first book was adapted into a film, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lighting Thief, in 2010.
Commercially the film was extremely successful and has since spawned a sequel, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, despite this, the films have been criticised for the amount of changes made, particularly to character’s personalities. Author Riordan has even said in interviews that he himself will never watch the films.
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