As the old adage goes, “The book was better than the movie.” While in most cases that’s true, we have to admit that there are some pretty stellar adaptations out there; I’m looking at you, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.
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While everyone on the planet is aware that many of these amazing films got their start as prose, many more books are forgotten beneath the success of their big screen counterparts.
I’m willing to bet you ten bucks that you didn’t know most of these famous movies were based on books. Scroll the list below to find out:
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The Parent Trap
Disney’s The Parent Trap was actually based on a German book, Lisa and Lottie, originally titled, Das doppelte Lottchen (The Double Lottie) written by Erich Kastner in 1949. The book follows a similar plot in which the twin girls, each living with their respective parent, meets at summer camp and decides to switch places. One of the major differences between the book and movie was that the book took place during World War II, a plot the film decided to leave behind.
Jumanji the feature film is based on the children’s picture book by the same name written and illustrated by author, Chris Van Allsburg. The 1995 film starring Robin Williams was made fourteen years after the fantasy book was published.
Even if you haven’t seen this film series starring Bruce Willis, you can undoubtedly picture his classic bloodied brow and white tank top of a costume. This action flick was based on the thriller novel, Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp in the late ’70s.
Clueless is a quintessential ’90s film starring Alicia Silverstone as the (in)famous Cher Horowitz. This film was loosely based on Jane Austen’s 1815 novel, Emma. While the setting is vastly different, the characters relate closely to the onscreen counterparts. Remember when Cher snaps a photo of Tai for Elton’s locker? In the book Emma (the character Cher is based on) paints her portrait.
Night at the Museum
Originally a children’s picture book by the same name, this story was written and illustrated by author Milan Trenc thirteen years before the film adaptation was released. Plot isn’t the only similarity these two works share: the movie poster also contains a striking resemblance to the book cover.
Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Adolescents is quite a novel title, but I’m pretty pleased with the renovated movie title, Mean Girls. This self-help book by Rosalind Wiseman helps navigate parents through the life of teenage girls which makes it a pretty obvious choice for Tina Fey to pick up and run with all of her comedic might.
This classic fur-friend tail (see what I did there?) is based on the children’s novel, The Incredible Journey, by Sheila Burnford, which chronicles the journey of three pets who travel 300 miles to find their owners. The 1993 film adaptation of the 1960’s book starred Sally Field as the cat Sassy and Michael J. Fox as one of the dogs, Chance. I certainly don’t think Burnford could have seen that coming.
Mrs. Doubtfire may be our beloved film starring Robin Williams, but Madame Doubtfire was the original English YA novel written for a teenage readership by Anne Fine. The film seems to have stayed true to the book’s plot and humor, but, I ask you, was the line, “It was a drive by fruiting!” originally written for fiction or film?
It seems impossible to imagine how a film which is so heavily centered around music and singing could have originated as a book, but the impossible is happening. Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory was written by journalist Mickey Rapkin. While the movie may seem totally made-up, this stranger-than-fiction tale by Rapkin follows a real season of collegiate a cappella competitions in which he encountered groupies, rivalries, and some famous a cappella alums.
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
This rom-com is at the top of my list, but even I didn’t know it was based on a How-To (and To-Not) book by Michele Alexander. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days: The Universal Don’ts of Dating is a humorous rule book on how to dig your relationship six feet under in only a week and a half. The book has promise to be just as hilarious as the movie, sans the Hudsen/ McConaughey action.
This classic flick is based on the 1986 novel of the same name by author Winston Groom. Although I was in utter shock when I first discovered the film’s doppelganger, it all totally makes sense now. The movie really does move like a book, when you think about it.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG… what do all of these films have in common? They were written by Roald Dahl, of course! But did you know that the 2009 Wes Anderson film was also based on a Dahl classic? Well I didn’t. This just makes me love the animated film even more.
Shrek the animated movie is loosely based on the children’s book, Shrek! written and illustrated by William Steig. The rights to the story were originally owned by Steven Spielberg, and bought by DreamWorks who produced their film in 2001.
So… who owes who ten bucks?
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