Book to movie adaptations? A long-standing turf in the reader community is based on this. Are books better than their movie adaptations, or is it the other way around? While some would say they prefer books because it gives them the flexibility to imagine, visualize and get in-depth details about a story, others prefer movies because of their convenience in terms of time, availability, and instant gratification.
Like them or not, book to movie adaptations are becoming widely popular because they are almost always readily available and don’t require a huge time commitment. Let’s look at some of the best book to movie adaptations worth watching and their stats.
1. The Godfather (1972, 1974)
The American crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, co-written with Mario Puzo, is a blockbuster adaptation of Puzo’s best-selling 1969 novel of the same name. The film was the first installment of the Godfather series and traced the story of the Corleone family from 1945 to 1955.
The film received great critical acclaim and is regarded as one of the most influential films ever made, especially in the gangster genre. The Godfather won a record five Golden Globes in 1973, which wasn’t broken until 2017. This, along with the success of Coppola’s The Godfather Part II, revolutionized the gangster theme, increasing the production of films in the same genre.
The Godfather could arguably be considered one of the best book to movie adaptations ever.
2. Little Women (2019)
Having been adapted six times before this version, the 2019 film adaptation of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott was directed by Greta Gerwig, with development beginning in 2013. The story follows the lives of sisters Jo, Beth, Amy, and Meg in Massachusetts in the 19th century. The film had an ensemble cast including Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, and Timothee Chalamet, among others.
The movie adaptation garnered broad appreciation and acclaim for the storyline and character representation. It earned over $200 million worldwide, with a production budget of merely $40 million. The film had six Academy Award nominations, five British Academy Film Award nominations, and two Golden Globe nominations. It also has an average rating of 8.6/10 from reviewers.
3. Forrest Gump (1994)
Based on Winston Groom’s 1986 novel of the same name, this comedy-drama film was directed by Robert Zemeckis in 1994. The story revolves around a man named Forrest Gump who recounts his eventful life story to strangers who sit next to him on a bench in 1981.
The movie cast Tom Hanks in the role of Forrest Gump and had actors like Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, and Mykelti Williamson, among others. The gross box office collection hit $300 million and was the 2nd highest-grossing film of the year, just behind The Lion King. In addition, it won 6 awards at the 67th Academy Awards and 3 Golden Globes.
4. The Harry Potter Series (2002-2011)
From being rejected by almost every publishing house to having her books made into a blockbuster movie series, J. K. Rowling’s story isn’t any less fantastical than her novels. Directed by Chris Columbus, along with other directors, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, the Harry Potter franchise is among the most successful of all time.
Starring Daniel Radcliff, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint in the leading roles, along with a wide plethora of cast, the story revolves around selected children sent to the magical school of Hogwarts to learn magic. The ratings range between 77-96% on average, and the franchise has been nominated for and won multiple awards. In addition, it is the 3rd highest-grossing film franchise ever as of 2021, grossing over $7.7 billion worldwide.
This is one child/young adult fantasy franchise that you must see!
5. The Lord Of The Rings (2001-2003)
Another fantasy book to movie adaptation is J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings. Directed by Peter Jackson in his native New Zealand, all films were shot simultaneously between 1999-2000. It was one of the biggest and most ambitious projects of its time, valued at $281 million. However, it proved worth it by grossing over $2.99 billion worldwide.
Starring an ensemble cast including Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, and Orlando Bloom, among others, the series was set in a fictional world of Middle-earth. The film was highly successful and critically acclaimed for the music score, emotional elements, cast, and use of special effects. It even won 17 out of its 30 nominations at the Academy Awards. In addition, the series has a whopping 93% average rating from reviewers.
6. The Exorcist (1973)
One of the scariest films of its time, The Exorcist, was directed by William Friedkin, with screenwriting done by the author of the novel of the same name, William Peter Blatty himself. With a budget of just $12 million, a relatively unknown cast, and an initial release in just 24 theatres by Warner Bros. Pictures, the film was released on low expectations.
However, it exceeded those low expectations with a bang. Worldwide, it earned a total of $112 million; as of 2019, it had grossed around $441 million worldwide. When adjusted to 2014 prices, that totals almost $1.2 billion! Not bad for a least expected-to-do-well film.
The Exorcist received mixed reviews but was a runaway hit with audiences who had alleged heart attacks, miscarriages, and other physical symptoms during showings. In 1975, The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease published a paper by a psychiatrist documenting four cases of what he called “cinematic neurosis” triggered by viewing the film.
The Exorcist is a must-watch for fans of horror and supernatural genres.
Nowadays, so many books are made into movies, especially as society’s attention span continues to shrink with mobile phones, social media, and other life distractions that offer instant gratification. This list is just a sampling of the best book to movie adaptations out there – ones that have had success over many years.
They were all loved by readers too, so don’t hesitate to grab the book instead of the movie and slow yourself down!