There are so many great books that made bad movies that we have to wonder how excellent source material can be so different in cinematic form. Many readers have been incensed to see books that they love being turned into poor movies. It's often due to the books being drastically changed by cutting out sections and making changes to suit the movie format. Sometimes it's bad casting or directing. Here are some of the great books that made bad movies …
1. The Bonfire of the Vanities
Tom Wolfe's novel The Bonfire Of The Vanities was very successful in print, but is widely considered to be a major example of great books that made bad movies. Perhaps this was due to casting Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis, both then very popular. This shows that big names don't guarantee success.
2. The Great Gatsby
Anachronistic music can work in a movie - the songs of Queen and David Bowie songs in A Knight's Tale were flawlessly blended into the story. But using the likes of Florence & The Machine and Jay-Z in a 1920s-set story just didn't work. The Twenties is so much associated with jazz that it was a distraction from the story.
The movie of Eragon may not have been as widely derided as The Bonfire of the Vanities, but it certainly upset fans of the book, which is about a young man who raises a dragon. When you've greatly enjoyed a book, you have expectations of the movie, and this version just didn't deliver.
4. Gulliver's Travels
Updating a story or transposing characters to another setting can work; the updating of Sherlock Holmes in Elementary has been very popular. But not in this case. Jack Black just doesn't work for me as Gulliver. Check out the far superior TV adaptation with Ted Danson instead.
5. Queen of the Damned
Fans of fantasy and horror literature are some of the hardest people to please when it comes to making movie adaptations. Readers of Anne Rice's vampire novels seem to have been pleased overall with Interview with the Vampire, but much less so with Queen of the Damned. Perhaps the mistake here was to assume that the latter could replicate the success of the former.
6. The Golden Compass
Philip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials is an excellent example of children's books that adults can enjoy. They're among the best books that I have ever read and a favourite on my bookshelf. The same cannot be said of the movie adaptation, which did not do justice to its source material.
7. The Cat in the Hat
Messing with the much-loved book by Dr. Seuss was a risky endeavor, and the movie was widely panned. Many viewers found Mike Myers badly miscast and completely irritating. If you can find someone who has a good word to say about this movie, do let us know …
8. The Saint
The 1930s/40s movie adaptations of The Saint with George Sanders were good. The later TV versions were enjoyable adventures. But the woeful attempt to remake it for an American audience makes you wonder why they didn't just make a standard action movie rather than adapting this classic.
Adapting books for cinema is something of a double-edged sword for movie makers. On the one hand, they get ready-made ideas to work with and a market for their movie. On the other hand, they risk alienating that audience if they get it wrong. Fans often feel a sense of ownership over a book, and have their own ideas of how it should be adapted. Too often, the result is not a critical or box-office success. Which books have you loved or hated the movie versions of?