25 Famous Movies That You Might Not Know Were Based On Books

You didn’t think Disney created Cruella de Vil themselves, did you?

1. Mrs. Doubtfire

 

Based on: Alias Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine

Year published: 1987

The 1993 film is actually a fairly close adaptation of the YA novel.

2. 101 Dalmatians

 

Based on: The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith

Year published: 1956

The charming children’s book was closely adapted by Disney for its 1961 film. Smith also wrote a sequel to the book, The Starlight Barking, in 1967 — which Disney did not base any of its subsequent sequels on.

3. Father of the Bride

 

Based on: Father of the Bride by Edward Streeter

Year published: 1949

Father of the Bride became an instant New York Times best-seller and was adapted into a movie — starring Elizabeth Taylor and Spencer Tracey — the following year.

In 1991, the film was remade into a hit movie starring starring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, and Martin Short.

4. Terms of Endearment

 

Based on: Terms of Endearment by Larry McMurtry

Year published: 1975

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist has actually had several books adapted into classic films, including Hud (1963) and The Last Picture Show (1971) — but the 1983 adaptation of his classic tearjerker remains one of his most enduring.

5. Shrek

 

Based on: Shrek! by William Steig

Year published: 1990

Steven Spielberg actually acquired the rights for the book in 1991; it would take 10 years before it finally made it to the big screen.

6. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

 

Based on: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Wang Dulu

Year published: Between 1938–1942

The novel is actually the fourth book in the Chinese author’s five-part Crane-Iron Series.

7. Election

 

Based on: Election by Tom Perrotta

Year published: 1998

The novel was inspired by the U.S. presidential election of 1992 — so much so that Perrotta even set it as the year in which the book takes place.

8. Forrest Gump

 

Based on: Forrest Gump by Winston Groom

Year published: 1986

Groom’s novel actually has quite a few key differences than the 1994 blockbuster film. Most noticeably the ending: (Spoiler alert!) Jenny does not die, but rather reunites with Forrest at the end.

In 1995, following the success of the movie, Groom wrote a sequel, Gump and Co.

9. Fast Times at Ridgemont High

 

Based on: Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A True Story by Cameron Crowe

Year published: 1981

The then-22-year-old Crowe famously wrote the book after spending a year undercover as a student — pretending to be a senior at Clairemont High School in San Diego.

Crowe also adapted the book into the screenplay.

10. The Graduate

 

Based on: The Graduate by Charles Webb

Year published: 1963

Webb wrote the novel — his first — during his final year of college, and while both the movie and the book are essentially the same, this is one of the rare cases where the film is actually better.

In 2007, Webb wrote a sequel, Home School, that gave us the answers to what happens to Ben, Elaine, and of course, Mrs. Robinson.

11. Apollo 13

 

Based on: Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger

Year published: 1994

The book is Lovell’s (played by Tom Hanks in the film) account of what happened during Apollo 13’s failed Lunar landing mission.

12. Drive

 

Based on: Drive by James Sallis

Year published: 2005

The book is actually the first in a series. Sallis wrote a sequel, Driven, in 2012.

13. Goodfellas

 

Based on: Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family by Nicholas Pileggi

Year published: 1986

The book is a nonfiction novel that chronicles the life of mobster turned FBI informant Henry Hill (who was played in the film by Ray Liotta). Pileggi also adapted the book into the screenplay.

Pileggi was married to another famous author and screenwriter, the late Nora Ephron, up until her death in 2012.

14. Rambo: First Blood

 

Based on: First Blood by David Morrell

Year published: 1972

Sylvester Stallone co-adapted the screenplay from Morrell’s debut novel. He did make one major change in the film adaption: He keeps John Rambo alive at the end. In the book, Rambo is killed by Sheriff Teasle.

15. Die Hard

 

Based on: Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp

Year published: 1979

Thorp wrote the book as a sequel to his 1966 book The Detective, which itself had been adapted into a movie of the same name, starring Frank Sinatra, in 1968.

Nothing Lasts Forever was adapted into screenplay for Sinatra to star in — as sequel for The Detective — but after he declined, the script was rewritten as a standalone film.

16. The Birds

 

Based on: “The Birds,” part of The Apple Tree collection by Daphne du Maurier

Year published: 1952

Alfred Hitchcock loosely based his classic horror film on du Maurier’s short story.

17. The French Connection

 

Based on:The French Connection: A True Account of Cops, Narcotics, and International Conspiracy by Robin Moore

Year published: 1969

Moore’s book was a nonfiction account of two NYPD detectives’ investigation of a major heroin-smuggling ring.

18. Planet of the Apes

 

Based on: La Planète des Singes, known in English as Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle

Year published: 1963

The classic sci-fi novel was first published in France in 1963 and was translated into English the same year. Like the film, the book has it’s own twist ending.

Boulle’s other well-known novel, The Bridge Over the River Kwai, was also made into a classic film.

19. Blade Runner

 

Based on: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Year published: 1968

The film was loosely based on the book — in fact the term “blade runner” does not even appear in the book.

Other popular films based on Dick’s writing include Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, and Paycheck.

20. Field of Dreams

 

Based on: Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella.

Year published: 1982

This classic guy-cry film was originally going to be titled Shoeless Joe — like the novel — but the name was changed after filming completed, due to executives at Universal hating the name.

Ironically, Kinsella’s original title for the book was The Dream Field, but his publisher hated it and made him change it to Shoeless Joe.

21. Ordinary People

 

Based on: Ordinary People by Judith Guest

Year published: 1976

Guest’s now classic debut novel was actually turned down twice before it was published. One publisher said in the rejection letter, “While the book has some satiric bite, overall the level of writing does not sustain interest and we will have to decline it.”

Obviously they were wrong: The novel caught the interest of Robert Redford, who liked it so much he bought the film rights for his directorial debut. The movie went on to win four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

22. Babe

 

Based on: The Sheep-Pig by Dick King-Smith

Year published: 1983

The British writer won the 1984 Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize (a literary award presented by The Guardian) for the novel.

23. The Brave Little Toaster

 

Based on: The Brave Little Toaster: A Bedtime Story for Small Appliances by Thomas M. Disch

Year published: 1980

The Brave Little Toaster first appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine in 1980 and was then published as a short novel.

The book won the Locus, Seiun, and British SF Association awards — it was also nominated for both a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award — before being adapted into the 1987 film.

24. FernGully: The Last Rainforest

 

Based on: FernGully by Diana Young

Year published: N/A, but the book was republished in 1992 to tie in with the film’s release.

The Australian author first created the story in 1975 as a way entertain her children.

25. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

 

Based on: Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary K. Wolf

Year published: 1981

The book is actually quite different than the film; two of the major differences include the setting — it’s set in the world of comic strips, not cartoons — and Eddie Valiant is actually trying to solve Roger’s murder, who we also find out had murdered someone himself.

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