9 of the Most Successful Film Adaptations of Terrible Books

It’s a constant refrain. You tell someone that you liked a particular movie, only to have him or her ask, “Well, have you read the book? It’s SO MUCH better!”

True enough, many movies fail to live up to the grandeur of their source material. Often, though, this is a function of translating a story from one medium to another. There are just some things that the written word can do better than sound and picture!

But, not all good books are corrupted by Hollywood. In fact, sometimes a terrible book can be turned into blockbuster or even award-winning material. Below, we’re going to introduce you to nine of the most successful film adaptations (some of which might be your favorites) that were adapted from terrible books…

1. Mrs. Doubtfire

It really sucks that Robin Williams isn’t with us anymore. Over the years, he’d given the world so many beloved performances, perhaps none more so than as the titular character in “Mrs. Doubtfire”. We might be wrong, but we think this a movie that parents will be watching with their kids for decades and decades to come. It’s really that funny and that good.

What few may not realize, though, is that Mrs. Doubtfire is actually based upon a book. It was written by Anne Fine and published in 1987, eight years before the film was released. The book, though, goes by a slightly different name Madame Doubtfire and is written for young adults. Few have leafed through its pages, but those who have report that it is dreadfully dull where the movie was wildly funny.


2. American Psycho

Brutal and uncompromising, American Psycho is an incredibly compelling film, one that remains a favorite of many cinephiles to this day. Originally released in 2000, the film casts Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman, a murderous New York yuppie. (Although is he really murderous, or has he simply been imagining everything?)

The book is based upon a novel by Bret Easton Ellis, who is – we’ll admit – a tremendous writer. However, there are two kinds of people when it comes to American Psycho the novel: those who haven’t read it, and those who lie about having read all of it. While there are some sharply written and harrowing passages in the book (many of which did not make it to the screen), one also has to slog through interminable passages of description.

3. A Clockwork Orange

For movies like American Psycho to exist, there first had to be movies like A Clockwork Orange. Released in 1971, the film was the brainchild of famed movie director Stanley Kubrick, who’s no stranger to adapting text into film. (The Shining, another Kubrick classic, is based upon a story written by Stephen King.)

The film was based upon a book written by Anthony Burgess also called A Clockwork Orange. Anthony, if you’d believe it, actually wrote the novel at the age of 19. As such, it’s prone to all the problems that novels by young writers tend to have. In fact, Anthony Burgess himself wasn’t a fan of the finished product, feeling almost embarrassed by its youth.

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