10 Awesome Books That Made for Crappy Movies

Hollywood seems to love making movies of bestselling books. It is a great recipe for success, after all: firstly you tap into an already large fan base of people who will help sell the movie for you and secondly you know that most people will like the story. The problem comes in when the director gets it all wrong: some books are just not suitable to be converted into a movie-format and sometimes they just deviate way too much from the original story, alienating the fans.

This is a trend that seems to be ongoing - directors just don't always "get" the feel of a book. According to Manybooks.net, a service that provides discounted and free ebooks, in an overwhelming amount of cases, readers enjoy books more than their movie adaptions. Why then go to the cinema? To see if the Hollywood got it right, of course! (And to look all smug in front of your friends, who haven't read the books.)

Let’s have a look at some examples of awesome books that were made into some really crappy movies:

1. Queen of the Damned

Anne Rice’s vampire novels have reached wide acclaim world-wide, but the Queen of the Damned was a movie set up for failure from the start. When Ann Rice herself offered to help write the screen play to the movie based on her own book, the studio refused and rather decided to try a weird mix-and-match combination of two of her very in-depth novels. The result was a movie that didn’t make a whole lot of sense and horribly disappointed the fans. Even if you would judge the movie on its own, it was mediocre at best. The characters were bland and two dimensional and the plot was unconnected and boring.

2. The Scarlet Letter (1995)

Although the movie “The Scarlet Letter” is labelled as a “free adaptation” of Hawthorne’s classic about betrayal, sin and guilt set in colonial New England, it is a very poor attempt and doesn’t even manage to get the message of the book across. Some say that this movie, which added a softcore coupling between Gary Oldman’s Rev. Dimmesdale and Prynne, along with a bunch of other plot twists that didn’t fit the book at all. Demi Moore’s career was never the same again after this disaster.

3. The Beach

Before the movie was made, the novel, “The Beach” was a book that gained cult status among travellers, who often referred to it as “required reading,” which is why the movie was such a disappointment to the fans. Admittedly, when you look at “The Beach” independently from the book, it is maybe not that bad – who doesn’t like seeing beautiful shots of good looking people in paradise set to a highly commercial soundtrack? The problem is that it miserably fails to paint the deep cynicism tied to the original novel by Garlands. Large parts of the book were also omitted in the film and characters were obscured beyond recognition. Read the book and you will understand!

4. Gulliver’s Travels

The satirical classic book, “Gulliver’s Travels” that was written in the 1700s by Jonathan Swift, is so popular that Holywood tried to cash in on it a couple of times, without ever succeeding. The original book describes Gulliver’s adventures as he gets into trouble in four different places: an island of tiny people, one with giants, one with intellectuals and an island where the intelligent ones are horses. The latest adaptation featuring Jack Black has about two things in common with the original story:  the name Gulliver and an island of tiny people. The humor tied to the movie is juvenile to say the least and although it featured some great comedy actors, their talent was totally wasted with jokes that don’t even garner a smile. Fans of the book all agree that this movie was an atrocity.

5. The Golden Compass

The book, “The Golden Compass” by Philip Pullman had all the ingredients for another great fantasy film, but unfortunately Chris Weitz failed to get it right. Granted, it is impossible to follow the book exactly in a movie, but the story seems to have been dumbed down to appeal to young audiences (even though it carries a PG-13 rating). The film was choppy, fast paced and lacked the intrigue of the original story, cutting out a pivotal part of the book. Despite featuring a very popular cast including Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman and Sam Elliot and sporting great special effects, the movie just didn’t live up to its name. Because a sequel was planned, the movie ended on a very unsatisfying cliff hanger, but because the first movie was such a disaster, the chances of “The Subtle Knife” ever seeing the light of day are very slim.

6. The Cat in the Hat

Many have fond memories of growing up reading the popular Dr. Seuss children’s book: “The Cat in the Hat.” The story is about two kids, bored and alone at home on a rainy day – until an anthropomorphic cat shows up and wreaks havoc. Short as the story is, Hollywood actually managed to make (a very poor) film out of this, featuring Mike Myers in ridiculous cat-makeup and weird subplots. The movie removed all of the heart from the original story and was peppered with threats of violence and sexual innuendos, giving it a PG-rating. It is not surprising that, after this disaster, Theodore Geisel’s wife, Audrey, forbid any other live-action adaptations of his book.

7. The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code was a best seller, taking the world by storm in 2003, making it an obvious choice for a quick cash in. The story followed Prof. Robert Langdon while he was trying to unravel mysteries with regards to the location of the Holy Grail thanks to clues left to him by a deceased museum curator. Unfortunately the movie didn’t do the book justice in the least and took all of the thrill out of it. Robert Langdon’s character was a whole different person compared to the book and all of the chemistry from the book was lacking.

8. All the King’s Men

All The King’s Men is considered as one of the best political novels in American Literature from the 20th century. The narrator, Jack Burden tells the story of Willie Stark’s political career,. Stark starts out as an ambitious lawyer and quickly sets his scope on the political landscape, but eventually ends up in a tangled web of corruption. The film tries to convey this story in a overly complicated way, making it excruciatingly boring. Even the star-studded cast with Kate Winslet, Sean Penn and Anthony Hopkins couldn’t save this one.

9. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

To make Captain Corelli’s Mandolin into a movie, too much had to be cut to fit the time constraints of this format. Many dramatic and funny scenes were cut, leaving a lot of confusion. Whole characters were cut and there is also no clear explanation why she falls in love with the Italian with her fiancé still around. Al in all the movie lacks heart, which is usually exactly what the audience is looking for when they go watch a romantic movie.

10. Eragon

“Eragon” was a beautiful fantasy story about a boy whose life completely changes after discovering a dragon egg. The dragon hatches, but because the king commanded all dragons to be killed, Eragon is forced to leave his village with Sapphira. The book was influenced by “The Lord of the Rings” and “Star Wars” but was still a very interesting, original read. Unfortunately the movie did not manage the same. The producers tried to squeeze a book with more pages than that of Lord of the Rings in an hour and a half, which is virtually impossible. Because of a large fandom and the fact that a lot of people love fantasy movies, it was a success financially, but when you compare it to the book, it sucks, to say the least.

Moral of the Story? Always Read The Book!

Looking at these examples, it goes without saying that you should always read the book before you see the movie. Bestsellers tend to end up on the big screen, which is why it makes sense to subscribe to a service such as Manybooks. Their email newsletter alerts readers daily to the best deals on bestselling ebooks (some of which are already in film production as we speak.)  Manybooks also offers some of the books mentioned above, such as The Scarlet Letter, Gulliver's Travels and many other classics for free as ebooks. Even if you didn't like the movie, chances are that you will love the book, so do give it a try.

Keep in mind that current bestsellers are usually only discounted for a limited time period - many offers only last a day. Signing up to Manybook's newsletter is a great way to ensure that you don't miss a deal. Click here to sign up.


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