25 Movies You Didn’t Know Were Based on Books

I can not tell you how excited I am about the film adaptation of John Green’s powerful book, The Fault in Our Stars. I have been enjoying reading John’s enthusiastic tweets and posts about the filmmaking process. It’s a pretty creative way to give all of his fans a sneak peek at all of the work that is involved in turning a book into a film.

When a well-known book becomes a movie, the question is: Which should you experience first? Should you read the book and then watch the movie, or watch the movie and then go back and read the book? For every obvious film based on a book (think Gone With the Wind, Lord of the Rings, Twilight), there are many films based on books that we may not have heard of, or that we may not have realized a book existed first.

Did you know Bambi was based on an Austrian novel, or King Ralph was based on a piece of serious literature? What about all of the chick-flicks based on actual self-help books… wow. That certainly says a lot about the state of chick-flicks these days. Read on for a movie-cation!

  • You’ve seen the movie, but have you read the book? 1 of 26

    I knew there was a Gone With the Wind book before there was a movie, but do you know what books some of your favorite films are based on? Now you've got 25 books to explore and compare to the film it was adapted into! Let's see what they are...

  • Mrs. Doubtfire 2 of 26

    Anne Fine is an English young adult author who has written several books of note. Madame Doubtfire, or Alias Madame Doubtfire as it was named in the U.S., was published in 1987. The young adult novel about divorce was adapted into the film Mrs. Doubtfire in 1993.

    Buy the book: Madame Doubtfire

  • Pitch Perfect 3 of 26

    Mickey Rapkin is a journalist and former editor for GQ. He followed a season in a cappella and wrote about it in his 2008 nonfiction book, Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory. The book was turned into the smash-hit comedy Pitch Perfect in 2012.

    Buy the book: Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory


  • The Parent Trap 4 of 26

    The Parent Trap is based on a German children's book published in 1949 called Lottie and Lisa. The German title was Das Doppelte Lottchen — "The Double Lottie." 

    Buy the book: Lottie and Lisa

  • Mean Girls 5 of 26

    The high school comedy and cautionary tale, Mean Girls, is based on a self-help book. Queen Bees & Wannabes, a book by Rosalind Wiseman, was published in 2002. Mean Girls was released in 2004.

    Buy the book: Queen Bees & Wannabes

  • Iron Giant 6 of 26

    A former poet laureate of England wrote a children's book called The Iron Giant in 1968. The movie, based on the book, was released in 1999. I will admit that I had no idea that this was first a children's book. This movie is one of my son's all time favorites, and now I can not wait to read him the book. 

    Buy the book: The Iron Giant

  • P.S. I Love You 7 of 26

    P.S. I Love You was a bestseller in Ireland for 19 weeks in 2004. It was the first novel by Cecelia Ahern, who was only 21 when she published the novel. Cecelia is also the daughter of a former Prime Minister of Ireland. The novel was adapted into an American film in 2007. 

    Buy the book: P.S. I Love You

  • The Object of My Affection 8 of 26

    Stephen McCauley wrote the incredibly sweet The Object of My Affection in 1987. It was adapted into the incredibly sweet film with Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd in 1998.

    Buy the book: The Object of My Affection

  • King Ralph 9 of 26

    In 1980 Emlyn Williams published Headlong, a novel that takes place in England in the 1930s. From this dramatic novel came the film comedy King Ralph! Emlyn Williams was a Welsh actor and writer, and after reading briefly about some of the work he created, I am looking forward to reading more about him.

    Buy the book: Headlong

  • Precious 10 of 26

    The novel Push by Sapphire came out in 1996. This is the basis for the movie Precious. (Early marketing actually referred to the movie as: Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire.)

    Buy the book: Push


  • Moneyball 11 of 26

    Michael Lewis wrote a book in 2003 chronicling the 2002 season of the Oakland Athletics team. His book, Moneyball, was adapted into a film in 2011 and was nominated for six Academy Awards.

     Buy the book: Moneyball

  • Sleeping with the Enemy 12 of 26

    Sleeping With the Enemy was originally a book written by Nancy Price. The novel was published in 1987 and the film was released in 1991.  

    Buy the book: Sleeping with the Enemy

  • Jaws 13 of 26

    In 1974 Peter Benchley published Jaws. It was a terrifying book inspired by real life events that had happened in the early 1900s. Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown, who ultimately became the producers of the movie Jaws, read an advanced copy of Peter's book and bought the film rights before it was even published. The movie was released in 1975.

    Buy the book: Jaws

  • Mary Poppins 14 of 26

    The 1964 musical is based on a book series by P. L. Travers which began in 1934. There are a total of eight Mary Poppins books. 

    Buy the book: Mary Poppins

  • Friday Night Lights 15 of 26

    The 1990 nonfiction book by H. G. Bissinger follows the actual story of a high school football team in Odessa, Texas. Friday Night Lights was adapted into a movie in 2004, and then later into a TV series in 2006.

     Buy the book: Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, and a Dream

  • He’s Just Not That into You 16 of 26

    In 2004 Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo wrote a self-help book that was a smash hit. It was on Oprah and everything! He's Just Not That Into You was a game changer for modern women in the dating world. It was adapted into a romantic comedy in 2009.

    Buy the book: He's Just Not That Into You: The No Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys

  • The Blind Side 17 of 26

    In 2006 Michael Lewis wrote about offensive football as well as the story of Michael Oher. It was the captivating story about Michael that filmmakers focused on when creating the 2009 adaption of The Blind Side

    Buy the book: The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game

  • Bambi 18 of 26

    In 1923, a novel came out in Austria called Bambi: Eine Lebensgeschichte aus dem Walde. Translation: Bambi: A Life in the Woods. In 1942, Walt Disney Studios turned the classic book into an animated film. 

    Buy the book: Bambi: A Life in the Woods


  • Mercury Rising 19 of 26

    Simple Simon, a novel by Ryne Douglas Pearson, was published in 1996. Imagine Entertainment (Brian Grazer and Ron Howard's company) bought the film rights to the book, and adapted it into Mercury Rising which was released in 1996.

    Buy the book: Simple Simon

  • Fight Club 20 of 26

    Chuck Palahniuk wrote Fight Club in 1996. David Fincher adapted the book and turned it into a film in 1999. The movie was such a hit that it encouraged Chuck Palahniuk to continue writing. 

    Buy the book: Fight Club

  • The Basketball Diaries 21 of 26

    The musician Jim Carroll kept a journal from the ages of twelve to sixteen. He later published this journal, The Basketball Diaries, as a memoir in 1978. His book was then adapted into a film in 1995. 

    Buy the book: The Basketball Diaries

  • Beaches 22 of 26

    Iris Rainer Dart wrote Beaches in 1985, and it was adapted into a film in 1988. The author actually had a difficult time getting the book published. From an interview with Iris, "When I first tried to get Beaches published, no publishers were interested in a book about two little girls meeting on a beach. They asked if I had any ideas that were commercial. So instead I presented them with a proposal for a book called The Boys in the Mail Room, a trashy Hollywood novel about young men making their way in Hollywood. When that one became a huge success, then they decided maybe Beaches was commercial after all."

    Buy the book: Beaches

  • Bedknobs and Broomsticks 23 of 26

    In 1943, Mary Norton wrote The Magic Bedknob or How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons. She followed it with Bonfires and Broomsticks in 1945. The books were adapted into one of my favorite Disney films, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, in 1971.

    Buy the book: The Magic Bedknob

  • Whale Rider 24 of 26

    A Māori author named Witi Ihimaera published Whale Rider in 1987. The book was adapted into a film in 2002 and earned the young star an Academy Award nomination.

    Buy the book: Whale Rider

  • The Apple Dumpling Gang 25 of 26

    Jack Bickham wrote The Apple Dumpling Gang, the 1971 novel about orphans in the California gold rush. Disney adapted it into the classic with Don Knotts in 1975.

    Buy the book: The Apple Dumpling Gang

  • Trainspotting 26 of 26

    Trainspotting is based on a novel of the same name by author Irvine Welsh. It was published in 1993. The film was released in 1996.

    Buy the book: Trainspotting

Image Credit: All images from Wikimedia

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