All Women's Talk

Some Famous Books Can't Be Made into Movies ...

By Corina

Even though many of the films that are made today are an adaptation of a famous book, there are, in fact, quite a lot of books that proved impossible to film. There are some film scholars like Andrew S. Allen who think that adapting books into movies is a sign of Hollywood's waning creativity; he says that there were about half as many original films in the 2000s as they were in the 1980s. Studies also show that about a third of all Hollywood productions are book adaptations and that half of each year’s 10 highest-grossing movies have been adapted works. But just because a book is famous, it’s well-written and it sells really well, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy to film. Here are 7 famous books that proved impossible to film:

1 One Hundred Years of Solitude

This masterpiece written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of the most famous books that proved impossible to film. It’s not that there aren’t a ton of movie directors out there who would be more than happy to turn this epic novel into an Oscar winner. The thing is that the author refused to sell the book’s movie rights, even though he did tell Harvey Weinstein once he would agree under one condition: if they film the entire book but release one chapter, two minutes long, each year for 100 years.

2 The Catcher in the Rye

J.D. Salinger’s masterpiece is another famous book that can’t be adapted because the author has carefully guarded the movie rights. There are a lot of filmmakers who have expressed interest in adapting this book but they had very little luck so far, since Salinger was always concerned that the book’s narration wouldn’t translate into film.


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3 Infinite Jest

This book was written by David Foster Wallace and it’s a very complex satire that touches a lot of difficult themes like depression, child abuse and addiction. David Foster Wallace is considered to be one of the best postmodernist writers and even though this book is more than 1000 pages long, so far only an episode of Parks and Recreation has come close to a screen adaptation of this book.

4 A Confederacy of Dunces

There were a lot of filmmakers who have tried to turn John Kennedy Toole’s 1980 novel into a movie. Actually a series of big names like Chris Farley, John Goodman, Will Ferrell and even Zach Galifianakis have been attached to the film, but so far nobody has succeeded in turning this book into a film.

5 What Make Sammy Run?

Bud Schulberg’s work, “What Makes Sammy Run?” is actually a brilliant take on the inner aspects of the entertainment industry and it’s about an unscrupulous boy named Sammy Glick who works his way up from copy boy to screenwriter. Even though in 2001, DreamWorks paid $2.6 million for the rights to adapt the book on behalf of Ben Stiller, so far they haven’t announced a start date.

6 Nostromo

About Joseph Conrad’s book, F. Scott Fitzgerald once said: “I’d rather have written Conrad’s Nostromo than any other novel.”. Even though this book was adapted for television in 1996, it wasn’t turned into a big-screen masterpiece. Even though apparently in 2002 Martin Scorsese had agreed to be the director for this project, so far they haven’t started filming.

7 House of Leaves

This book written by Mark Z. Danielewski was a huge best-seller but so far nobody has tried to turn it into a movie and this may be related to the fact that this novel is kind of hard to categorize and it’s difficult to summarize since it’s a manuscript written by a blind man about a documentary that doesn’t exist and also about a house with supernatural qualities.

There are quite a few books that have proved difficult to film. I just mentioned a few but I’m sure that there are many more I could add to this list. Do you know any other famous books that have proven impossible to film? Do tell!


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