Movie Adaptations of Books: Latest Top Films and Classic Favorites

Movie Film
Movie Film | Source

Spoiler Alert!

Some of the summaries listed below may spoil the story for those who have yet to read the book or watch the films.

The Film Adaptation

The movie adaptations of books can be a good or bad thing when it comes to the fans of a particular novel or series of novels. Fans either sit there, heartbroken or shocked, as characters are ruined and story lines are shattered for the sake of Hollywoodising what was a perfectly great story, or they take delight in seeing their fictional heroes dance across the screen, despite having to hold back some frustration over a few changes that they may not completely agree with. Whether you are a fan of the book or not, one thing is for certain: some of our greatest movies have come from the minds of authors written in books before they ever appeared on the silver screen.

Below, you will find a list of over fifty movies that are the film adaptation of books. These movies are either considered classics, are immensely popular today, or are just about to hit theaters, to the delight of many fans out there. If there are some movies that aren't listed here that you think deserve some recognition, please share them in a comment below.

Did you enjoy The Lord of the Rings movie adaptations?

Did you like the LOTR movies?

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The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King

From the time I was first handed a copy of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien in elementary school, I have been a major fan of his works. At one point, I was attempting to teach myself Elvish, memorizing some of his poems, and reading the histories, on top of my annual rereading of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Just when I had grown out of my major Tolkien nerd phase, The Fellowship of the Ring appeared in theaters and my craze for all things Tolkein was rekindled.

Yes, the movies are long and the books are even longer but they are well worth watching. In The Fellowship of the Ring movie adaptation (released in 2001), Frodo and his companions set out from the Shire to destroy the ring at Mount Doom. They are faced with many challenges, beginning with the unexpected burden of the journey and the ring for the unsuspecting Frodo Baggins. As he and Samwise, Merry, and Pippin begin their travels, they are joined by other companions including Legolas, Aragorn, Gimli, Boromir, and Gandalf, but are forced to travel different paths at the end.

The Two Towers movie adaptation (released in 2002) begins where the first film left off, with the companions broken and setting off on new adventures in their journey to destroy the ring. As Frodo and Sam continue on to Mordor with the help of Gollum, Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn attempt to track down the other hobbits that have been taken captive by the Uruk-Hai (orcs). As all characters inch closer to Mordor, war begins to brew in Isengard, Rohan, and Gondor between good and evil.

Finally, the last installment in this series, The Return of the King (2003), finishes off the tale in an epic battle. As Sauron wages war against Middle Earth, Frodo and Sam make their way up Mount Doom to finally destroy the ring. Of course, in these movies, much of the story is cut out and characters are changed in order to suit a wider audience and keep the films as concise as possible but, despite all the changes, these films are still a great adaptation for Tolkien fans and regular audiences alike.

  • The Blind Side
  • The Children of Men
  • Choke
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • The Color Purple

Movie Adaptations of Books

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • 300
  • Atonement
  • Beloved
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Jeremy Jahn's Review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit Films

Imagine my joy and excitement upon hearing, almost ten years after The Return of the King was released, that Peter Jackson is producing not one, but three films for his movie adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. For those who may have found the Lord of the Rings trilogy too long and dull for comfort, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and the next two films that will be released these next couple of years, may still strike their interest because of the faster pace and simpler story line of the original novel.

Set about sixty years before the epic story of Frodo Baggins and the ring, The Hobbit follows the endeavors of his uncle, Bilbo Baggins, which include his initial discovery of the ring and his own taste of adventure that he so longs for in The Lord of the Rings. This unexpected journey begins with Gandalf's efforts to bring together a large band of dwarfs with Bilbo as their "burglar" to reclaim the lost dwarf kingdom from the clutches of the dragon, Smaug. Their journey to the Lonely Mountain and the battle following Bilbo's interactions with the dragon and even Gollum make this tale action packed and full of entertaining moments.

Twilight Books
Twilight Books | Source

Did you like the books or the movies better?

Did you enjoy Meyer's books better then their movie adaptations?

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Twilight Series Film Adaptations

No matter how much you may dislike the films and/or books, there is no denying their popularity. The Twilight novels surround a vampire romance literally dreamed about by Stephenie Meyer and put to life on paper. Following the release of the first film in 2008, Meyer's books and the next four sequels divided teens (and a few moms) into Team Edward and Team Jake, and opened up audiences to a whole new world of glittering blood suckers, werewolves, and all the drama and intrigue that comes along with a mortal getting mixed up in an immortal's secret world.

The first film, Twilight, introduces audiences to Bella and Edward as they awkwardly get to know each other and eventually the secret of Edward's immortality and glittery skin, alongside his thirst for blood, is revealed. Despite their major age difference and lifestyle, a relationship blossoms, only to be threatened by vampires who, unlike Edward and his Cullen clan, drink human blood rather than hunt animals.

The second part of the Twilight Saga, New Moon (released in 2009), begins with Bella's 18th birthday. Celebrations are cut short when she cuts her finger and is nearly trampled by one of the Cullens, Jasper, in his thirst for her blood. This freaks Edward out so he leaves Bella, who falls into a deep depression that she only starts to come out of when she seeks an adrenaline rush from motorcycling and cliff diving. Miscommunications lead Edward to believe Bella has killed herself, which makes him want to kill himself, and so Bella is faced with the challenge of saving her beloved vampire.

In 2010, the third part in the Twilight series film adaptations was released, entitled Eclipse. The movie begins with the revelation that a vampire army is growing in Seattle and are out of control in their newborn lust for human blood. While tensions continue within her vampire and werewolf love triangle, Bella is applying for college and dealing with the fact that Victoria, an enemy vampire first introduced in Twilight, may be coming back to Forks to seek revenge.

2011 brought us Breaking Dawn, Part One. In the previous film, Bella and Edward were engaged and now it's time to get married. Right after the wedding ceremony, Edward brings Bella to a small private Island off of Brazil to spend their honeymoon. The trip is cut short when, unexpectedly, they find out that Bella is pregnant. With a fetus growing at such an accelerated rate, everyone fears that Bella will die. Furthermore, such a child is unheard of and so the relationship between the werewolves and vampires become ever more tense as they grapple with keeping Bella alive and allowing a possibly dangerous child to live or taking extreme measures to protect Forks.

Finally, the series ended in 2012 with Breaking Dawn, Part Two, ending the saga with five parts, rather than four, like the book series. Bella's child, Renesme is born and now Bella has finally gotten what she has wished for since day one, immortality and the chance to live with Edward forever. Just as everyone is happy knowing that Bella is alive and that the child is sweet and innocent despite her strange accelerated growth, new challenges arise as the Volturi come to wage war against the Cullens under false allegations surrounding Renesme.

  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Silence of the Lambs
  • No Country for Old Men
  • American Psycho
  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • The Exorcist
  • The Godfather
  • The Wizard of Oz

Other Books Made Into Films

  • Life of Pi
  • Anna Karenina
  • Les Miserables
  • Fight Club
  • The Shining
  • Jaws
  • Gone With the Wind
  • Atlas Shrugged

The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games | Source

Did you read The Hunger Games series?

If so, did you like the ending?

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The Hunger Games Trilogy Movies

Released on the movie screen in 2012, Suzanne Collins's trilogy has only just become a well known film adaptation, with sequels yet to come. In her books as well as the movie adaptation, Katniss Everdeen attends the Hunger Games in her sister's place. The Hunger Games are a competition in which two children from each district are sent to fight to the death in an arena as entertainment for the upper classes living within the city that benefits from the hard work from the poorer district populations. The first book introduces us to this future society within what used to be the United States and follows Katniss as she overcomes challenges she must face while she fights for her life in the Games.

The second book that has yet to be released on the silver screen is called Catching Fire. Now that Katniss has survived the Hunger Games, she is known as the girl who caught fire, a title first given to her during her initial appearances before the Games but that has become even more popular with her success. As she tours the districts, she must maintain appearances she does not totally agree with for the sake of keeping her family alive and appealing to audiences. In a shocking twist, she is suddenly thrust back into the games by forces beyond her control and must fight for her life once again.

Mockingjay is the third and final book in the series. The Games are over and the real fight for her life has begun as Katniss finds herself in a revolution against the government. This time, instead of being the girl on fire, she is the mockingjay, a symbol of hope for those fighting for freedom. This third and final installment in the series is much darker, more serious, and even a little controversial for audiences because of an ending that some find unsatisfactory and in a completely different direction that the first two novels.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

These three novels, turned movies, make up the Millennium Series by Stieg Larsson. They follow Lisbeth Salander, a computer genius with an attitude, dark clothing, and piercings that help make her the most unlikely hero of our time. Alongside Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist and publisher, Salander helps solve the Wennerström case and then goes on to discover more about herself and where she comes from as conflict continues to arise throughout the series.

This series was first adapted into film in Sweden in 2009 but only recently was made into film in the United States in 2011. Many fans argue that the Swedish versions are much better than the American version, which so far has only produced the first part in the series with the next two soon to come.

Harry Potter Books Fan
Harry Potter Books Fan | Source

Harry Potter Movie Franchise

It would take a whole other article to summarize the Harry Potter series as it takes up seven books and eight movies. The first novel by J.K. Rowling was published in 1997 while the first film version was released in 2001. The final installment in the series hit the screens in 2011, making the whole Harry Potter craze last a total of 14 years, if you are counting from the time the book was released to the time the final movie finished off the film series.

For me, this means that I was about nine or ten years old when my mother first came home with a copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone for my sister and I to share and about 23 when the final movie came out. It's no wonder some call the kids my age the "Harry Potter Generation."

For those who may not have any idea what the books or films are about, I will provide a very brief summary. Harry Potter is a child that has survived a murder attempt by Lord Voldemort that even his own parents did not live through. As a result, he is left with a lightning shaped scar on his forehead and lives with his aunt and uncle, outside of the wizarding world. His story really begins when he is introduced back into the world of magic and starts school at Hogwarts and, alongside Hermione Granger and Ron Weasely, he goes on adventures to fight back against Voldemort and defeat him once and for all.

  • The Devil Wears Prada
  • Dracula
  • Frankenstein
  • Interview With the Vampire
  • Forrest Gump
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Queen of the Damned

Even More Film Versions of Books

  • World War Z
  • Charlotte's Web
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Deliverance
  • Dances With Wolves

© 2012 LisaKoski

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Comments 10 comments

mattforte profile image

mattforte 3 years ago from Spanaway, WA

And don't forget, 48fps on the Hobbit. People complained about it for some reason but I thought it stepped up the level of 3D realism.


Monis Mas profile image

Monis Mas 3 years ago

Thank you for a very interesting read. I voted up! I actually enjoy watching a movie first, and then reading a book. Weird, I know! I just like to have the characters right there, so when I read the book, I can imagine everything much easier.


Thefilmguy24 profile image

Thefilmguy24 3 years ago

Great article. Really impressed with all of the research you've done. I've read parts of the Lord of The Rings but couldn't get into them due to them being so long and sort of difficult to read. Don't get me wrong, I still love to read and I may again pick of the trilogy again along with The Hobbit. You also may have forgotten to list the Jack Ryan Series of novels by Tom Clancy including The Hunt For The Red October, Patriot Games, and Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum Of All Fears. All were great books and only a few of the films were great adaptations, Hunt For The Red October and Patriot Games were the best out of the film series. 300 was actually a graphic novel or comic book but still a story no less that was adapted onto the big screen. Gone With The Wind was also a book that was adapted into a film and became a classic movie. Just wanted to name a few that I thought were great additions to your article. Keep up the good work. Voted up.


mattforte profile image

mattforte 3 years ago from Spanaway, WA

Monis - I'm the same way. I have always enjoyed both the movies and the books better when I see them in that order. Queen of the Damned is a great example. It was a killer standalone movie in my opinion, but they completely destroyed the story. Had I seen it before reading the book, I would have loved them both even more than I already did.


Monis Mas profile image

Monis Mas 3 years ago

Mattforte, I am so glad I am not alone :-)


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for all the work you put into this impressive report.


Lipnancy profile image

Lipnancy 3 years ago from Hamburg, New York

I am always disappointed in any movie when I read the book first. Even if they do follow the plot, You already have the characters built up more in your imagination.


Max Havlick profile image

Max Havlick 3 years ago from Villa Park, Illinois

Hi Lisa. Another one of your well-researched, well-written essays, a delight to read, and this time one of my favorite topics: movies, books, and their continuing rush to the altar of inter-marriage, even though they know going in that most such relationships turn sour.

But unfortunately, Lisa, I know little about both the book and movie versions of any of the titles you treat here -- not another harbinger, I hope, that you and I are destined never to connect! Because I do truly enjoy your writing, which I have just recently started going through.

Among the book-movies you list to the side, I would especially enjoy seeing your analysis and opinion of The Great Gatsby, Jaws, and Atlas Shrugged.


mattforte profile image

mattforte 3 years ago from Spanaway, WA

Atlas Shrugged is a very little known movie, I am a fan of Ayn Rand and didn't even know about it until the 2nd one came out. Jaws has not stood the test of time in any form, and I was unaware of a movie adaptation for the Great Gatsby.

I am very glad this hub mentioned none of these...they aren't what one would call "Google friendly" by any means.


Max Havlick profile image

Max Havlick 3 years ago from Villa Park, Illinois

An unlikely culture war: Tolkien's "little people" vs. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Steven Spielberg, and Ayn Rand (the novelist, not the reactionary philosopher)!

Lisa's essay is very good; I didn't water down that evaluation simply by noting some films she listed in her side panels that I'd like her to discuss later.

For the record, The Great Gatsby spawned four enduring films: (1) silent 1926 with Warner Baxter, Lois Wilson, Neil Hamilton; (2) in 1949 with Alan Ladd, Betty Field, Shelley Winters, Ed Begley Sr., Elisha Cook; (3) in 1974 with Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, Bruce Dern, Karen Black, script by Francis Ford Coppola, music Nelson Riddle; (4) in 2001 with Toby Stephens, Mira Sorvino, Martin Donovan.

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