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20 Movies You Might Not Know Were Based on Books

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Hollywood often turns to novels and non-fiction books for movie ideas, but sometimes the films are so popular that they overshadow their source material. Here are 20 famous movies you might not know were based on books. [Note: Some spoilers.]

1. Movie: Die Hard // Book: Nothing Lasts Forever

Author Roderick Thorp wrote Nothing Lasts Forever after watching The Towering Inferno, which features a skyscraper that catches on fire. Thorp envisioned a group of terrorists with guns chasing his character Joe Leland, a retired NYPD detective, through the skyscraper’s fiery ash. Nothing Lasts Forever was later adapted into Die Hard with the main character’s name changing from Joe Leland to John McClane.

Both stories feature NYPD detectives in the middle of a terrorist siege inside of a skyscraper on Christmas Eve in Los Angeles, but a notable difference is that Die Hard features a young version of the main character and a different ending. While Die Hard includes a happy ending, Nothing Lasts Forever ends with Leland’s life in the balance.

2. Movie: The Parent Trap // Book: Lottie and Lisa (Das Doppelte Lottchen)

Disney’s original Parent Trap starring Hayley Mills was based on a German novel titled Lottie and Lisa (Das doppelte Lottchen) from author Erich Kästner. The novel was first published in 1949 and was turned into various film and TV adaptations from nine countries, including the United States, Germany, India, Japan, and Iran.

3. Movie: Rambo: First Blood // Book: First Blood

Author David Morrell sold the film rights to his novel First Blood in 1972, shortly after it was published. But the property went through an extensive development period; there were various iterations of the screenplay because of its subject matter and themes surrounding the Vietnam War.

The main difference between the book and the movie is its ending. The character John Rambo commits suicide at the end of the book, while he turns himself in to the authorities in the film.

4. Movie: Who Framed Roger Rabbit // Book: Who Censored Roger Rabbit?

The Walt Disney Company acquired the rights to Gary K. Wolf’s 1981 book Who Censored Roger Rabbit? Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy, and Steven Spielberg developed the project and convinced rival studios to loan Disney their iconic cartoon characters, such as Warner Bros’ Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.

The novel was presented as a hardboiled spoof that took place during modern times and featured the death of Roger Rabbit, a cartoon character on the downswing of his career, while Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was family friendly and lighter in tone.

5. Movie: Full Metal Jacket // Book: The Short-Timers

In 1987, Stanley Kubrick adapted Marine Corps veteran Gustav Hasford’s 1979 novel The Short-Timers into Full Metal Jacket. While both feature soldiers going from boot camp to the Vietnam War front, Stanley Kubrick’s film re-arranges the novel’s structure into something more cohesive and tragic in tone.

6. Movie: Mean Girls // Book: Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends & Other Realities of Adolescence

In 2004, Tina Fey called upon Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels to produce a film version of Rosalind Wiseman’s book Queen Bees and Wannabes, and Michaels got in touch with Paramount Pictures to acquire the film rights. Although Queen Bees and Wannabes is non-fiction, Fey incorporated elements of her own high school experience into the screenplay.

7. Movie: There Will Be Blood // Book: Oil!

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Academy Award-winning There Will Be Blood was a loose adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel Oil! While Anderson was a big fan of the original source material, he only adapted the novel’s first 150 pages to There Will Be Blood. He decided to take the story in a different direction, focusing on the self-made oil tycoon Daniel Plainview, played by Daniel Day-Lewis, rather than the character's son.

8. Movie: Mrs. Doubtfire // Book: Alias Madame Doubtfire

The 1993 hit comedy Mrs. Doubtfire is based on British author Anne Fine’s young adult novel titled Alias Madame Doubtfire. The movie and the book share very similar plots: Both feature a man, who — after a messy divorce that limits his time with his family — dresses like an old woman to take a job as his kids' nanny.

9. Movie: Pitch Perfect // Book: Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory

Former GQ editor Mickey Rapkin spent an entire season covering competitive collegiate a cappella at Tufts University, the University of Oregon, and the University of Virginia for his non-fiction book, which screenwriter Kay Cannon adapted into the comedy Pitch Perfect. The film was a sleeper hit, taking in a $113 million worldwide box office haul in 2012.

10. Movie: Drive // Book: Drive

In 2005, producers Marc E. Platt and Adam Siegel acquired the film rights to James Sallis’ Drive shortly after Siegel read a rave review of the novel. The producers originally wanted Drive to be an action thriller with Hugh Jackman in the starring role as The Driver. Ultimately, Jackman dropped out of the project, Ryan Gosling signed on to play the lead, and the film transformed into a character drama.

11. Movie: The Town // Book: Prince of Thieves

Although director Adrian Lyne and producer Graham King bought the film rights to Chuck Hogan’s Prince of Thieves, which followed a team of bank robbers planning one last heist, they were unable to adapt the novel to Warner Bros’ requirements for a two-hour movie with a budget under $37 million. However, Ben Affleck, fresh off his directorial debut Gone Baby Gone, signed on to the project to star, write, and direct the film adaptation, which was re-titled The Town.

12. Movie: Clueless // Book: Emma

Amy Heckerling’s teen comedy Clueless is a modern film adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1815 novel Emma. Clueless launched the careers of its young cast — including Alicia Silverstone, Britney Murphy, Donald Faison, and Paul Rudd.

13. Movie: Cruel Intentions // Book: Les Liaisons dangereuses (The Dangerous Liaisons)

French author Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ Les Liaisons dangereuses (The Dangerous Liaisons) serves as the inspiration for Cruel Intentions. The teen drama’s screenwriter/director Roger Kumble moved the story from the 18th century to the modern day, and instead of featuring French aristocrats, he made his characters wealthy and privileged teenagers living in New York City.

14. Movie: Slumdog Millionaire // Book: Q & A

The Academy Award winning Slumdog Millionaire was based on Indian author Vikas Swarup’s Q & A, which was first published in 2005. The novel followed a young orphan who becomes a very successful game show winner, only to be sent to jail under accusations of cheating.

15. Movie: Death Wish // Book: Death Wish

Death Wish was based on author Brian Garfield’s 1972 book of the same name, with considerable differences between the film and the novel. Both feature a man fed up with violent crime in New York City after the murder of his wife and the sexual assault of his daughter, but the film seems to enthusiastically support vigilante violence; the novel denounces it.

16. Movie: The Thing // Book: Who Goes There?

John Carpenter’s The Thing was based on the science fiction novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr., who wrote it under the pen name Don A. Stuart. The novella first appeared in the magazine Astounding Science-Fiction, published in August 1938.

17. Movie: Fast Times at Ridgemont High // Book: Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A True Story

Cameron Crowe, then 22, wrote Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A True Story, which chronicled his experience posing as a high school senior at Clairemont High School in San Diego, California. Amy Heckerling directed the film adaptation in 1982.

18. Movie: Silver Linings Playbook // Book: The Silver Linings Playbook

The Weinstein Company optioned author Matthew Quick’s debut The Silver Linings Playbook for a big screen adaptation before the book was released in September 2008. Although Sydney Pollack developed the project, it was handed over to David O. Russell at the time of Pollack’s death earlier in the year.

19. Movie: The Iron Giant // Book: The Iron Man: A Children's Story in Five Nights

Brad Bird’s directorial debut The Iron Giant was based on Ted Hughes’ 1968 modern fairy tale The Iron Man: A Children's Story in Five Nights. Bird took a few liberties with Hughes’ story, including changing its setting from the British countryside during the 1960s to an American coastal town during the 1950s. According to Bird, the time period “presented a wholesome surface, yet beneath the wholesome surface was this incredible paranoia. We were all going to die in a freak-out."

After its release, The Iron Giant won an Annie Award for Best Animated Feature Film in 1999.

20. Movie: Psycho // Book: Psycho

Alfred Hitchcock acquired the film rights to Robert Bloch’s horror genre novel Psycho for $9,500 in 1959. The director went as far as buying up every available copy in the country to keep the story’s surprises from the general public.

Although Psycho is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most popular films, Paramount Pictures didn’t want the legendary director to make the movie because the studio felt its source material was objectionable and highly offensive. So Hitchcock put up his own money to help finance Psycho, used his Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV crew to make it, and agreed to shoot the film in black-and-white to keep production costs down.

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10 Terrific Facts About Stephen King
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Scott Eisen/Getty Images for Warner Bros.

As if being one of the world's most successful and prolific writers wasn't already reason enough to celebrate, Stephen King is ringing in his birthday as the toast of Hollywood. As It continues to break box office records, we're digging into the horror master's past. Here are 10 things you might not have known about Stephen King, who turns 70 years old today.

1. STEPHEN KING AND HIS WIFE, TABITHA, OWN A RADIO STATION.

Stephen and Tabitha King own Zone Radio, a company that serves to head their three radio stations in Maine. One of them, WKIT, is a classic rock station that goes by the tagline "Stephen King's Rock Station."

2. HE'S A HARDCORE RED SOX FAN.

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Not only did he write a story about the Boston Red Sox—The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (who was a former Red Sox pitcher)—he also had a cameo in the Jimmy Fallon/Drew Barrymore movie Fever Pitch, which is about a crazed Sox fan. He plays himself and throws out the first pitch at a game.

In 2004, King and Stewart O'Nan, another novelist, chronicled their reactions to the season that finally brought the World Series title back to Beantown. It's appropriately titled Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season.

3. HE WAS HIT BY A CAR, THEN BOUGHT THE CAR THAT HIT HIM.

You probably remember that King was hit by a van not far from his summer home in Maine in 1999. The incident left King with a collapsed lung, multiple fractures to his hip and leg, and a gash to the head. Afterward, King and his lawyer bought the van for $1500 with King announcing that, "Yes, we've got the van, and I'm going to take a sledgehammer and beat it!"

4. AS A KID, HIS FRIEND WAS STRUCK AND KILLED BY A TRAIN.

King's brain seems to be able to create chilling stories at such an amazing clip, yet he's seen his fair share of horror in real life. In addition to the aforementioned car accident, when King was just a kid his friend was struck and killed by a train (a plot line that made it into his story "The Body," which was adapted into Stand By Me). While it would be easy to assume that this incident informed much of King's writing, the author claims to have no memory of the event:

"According to Mom, I had gone off to play at a neighbor’s house—a house that was near a railroad line. About an hour after I left I came back (she said), as white as a ghost. I would not speak for the rest of the day; I would not tell her why I’d not waited to be picked up or phoned that I wanted to come home; I would not tell her why my chum’s mom hadn’t walked me back but had allowed me to come alone.

"It turned out that the kid I had been playing with had been run over by a freight train while playing on or crossing the tracks (years later, my mother told me they had picked up the pieces in a wicker basket). My mom never knew if I had been near him when it happened, if it had occurred before I even arrived, or if I had wandered away after it happened. Perhaps she had her own ideas on the subject. But as I’ve said, I have no memory of the incident at all; only of having been told about it some years after the fact."

5. HE WROTE A MUSICAL WITH JOHN MELLENCAMP.

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King, John Mellencamp, and T Bone Burnett collaborated on a musical, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, which made its debut in 2012. The story is based on a house that Mellencamp bought in Indiana that came complete with a ghost story. Legend has it that three siblings were messing around in the woods and one of the brothers accidentally got shot. The surviving brother and sister jumped in the car to go get help, and in their panic, swerved off the road right into a tree and were killed instantly. Of course, the three now haunt the woods by Mellencamp's house.

6. HE PLAYED IN A BAND WITH OTHER SUCCESSFUL AUTHORS.

King played rhythm guitar for a band made up of successful writers called The Rock Bottom Remainders. From 1992 to 2012, the band "toured" about once a year. In addition to King, Amy Tan, Dave Barry, Mitch Albom, Barbara Kingsolver, Matt Groening and Ridley Pearson were just some of its other members.

7. HE'S A NATIVE MAINER.

A photo of Stephen King's home in Bangor, Maine.
By Julia Ess - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

King writes about Maine a lot because he knows and loves The Pine Tree State: he was born there, grew up there, and still lives there (in Bangor). Castle Rock, Derry, and Jerusalem's Lot—the fictional towns he has written about in his books—are just products of King's imagination, but he can tell you exactly where in the state they would be if they were real.

8. HE HAS BATTLED DRUG AND ALCOHOL PROBLEMS.

Throughout much of the 1980s, King struggled with drug and alcohol abuse. In discussing this time, he admitted that, "There's one novel, Cujo, that I barely remember writing at all. I don't say that with pride or shame, only with a vague sense of sorrow and loss. I like that book. I wish I could remember enjoying the good parts as I put them down on the page."

It came to a head when his family members staged an intervention and confronted him with drug paraphernalia they had collected from his trash can. It was the eye-opener King needed; he got help and has been sober ever since.

9. THERE WAS A RUMOR THAT HE WROTE A LOST TIE-IN NOVEL.

King was an avid Lost fan and sometimes wrote about the show in his Entertainment Weekly column, "The Pop of King." The admiration was mutual. Lost's writers mentioned that King was a major influence in their work. There was a lot of speculation that he was the man behind Bad Twin, a Lost tie-in mystery, but he debunked that rumor.

10. HE IS SURROUNDED BY WRITERS.

A photo of Stephen King's son, author Joe Hill
Joe Hill
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Stephen isn't the only writer in the King family: His wife, Tabitha King, has published several novels. Joe, their oldest son, followed in his dad's footsteps and is a bestselling horror writer (he writes under the pen name Joe Hill). Youngest child Owen has written a collection of short stories and one novella and he and his dad co-wrote Sleeping Beauties, which will be released later this month (Owen also married a writer). Naomi, the only King daughter, is a minister and gay activist.

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Dedicated Middle School Teacher Transforms His Classroom Into Hogwarts
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Kyle Ely

It would be hard to dread back-to-school season with Kyle Ely as your teacher. As ABC News reports, the instructor brought a piece of Hogwarts to Evergreen Middle School in Hillsboro, Oregon by plastering his classroom with Harry Potter-themed decor.

The journey into the school's makeshift wizarding world started at his door, which was decorated with red brick wall paper and a "Platform 9 3/4" sign above the entrance. Inside, students found a convincing Hogwarts classroom complete with floating candles, a sorting hat, owl statues, and house crests. He even managed to recreate the starry night sky effect of the school’s Great Hall by covering the ceiling with black garbage bags and splattering them with white paint.

The whole project cost the teacher around $300 to $400 and took him 70 hours to build. As a long-time Harry Potter fan, he said that being able to share his love of the book series with his students made it all pay off it. He wrote in a Facebook post, "Seeing their faces light up made all the time and effort put into this totally worth it."

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Inside of Harry Potter-themed classroom.

Though wildly creative, the Hogwarts-themed classroom at Evergreen Middle School isn't the first of its kind. Back in 2015, a middle school teacher in Oklahoma City outfitted her classroom with a potions station and a stuffed version of Fluffy to make the new school year a little more magical. Here are some more unique classroom themes teachers have used to transport their kids without leaving school.

[h/t ABC News]

Images courtesy of Kyle Ely.

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