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The Worst Book-To-Film Adaptations

The Worst Book-To-Film Adaptations

Novels and short stories are being adapted in movies all the time. It’s been a trend ever since the first motion pictures were made. Some have been done incredibly well – Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series spring to mind. However, some have been done very, very badly. Those are the ones we’re after in this list.

Dune (1984)

With a new version of this movie on the near horizon, it’s hard not to be worried about history repeating itself. Director David Lynch has actually disowned his version of the classic Sci Fi / Fantasy story that was released in 1984.

Fans of the book and of the incredible names that made up the cast were left confused, sad and angry after watching the movie. The book is fairly convoluted and left a lot of concepts up to the imagination – which a good book should do. However, this makes it increasingly difficult to adapt into a film. Inner thoughts and internal processes don’t translate well onto the screen.

Percy Jackson (2010 and 2013)

Taking a beloved (and high grossing) series of books and turning them into a series of films that star some big names just makes box office sense. You have fans of the books and fans of the actors coming together to enjoy several movies over a span of up to a decade (Harry Potter anyone?).

However, the producers, scriptwriters and director of the Percy Jackson series managed to get it all wrong. Their first mistake was making pivotal changes to the mythology and rules of the world, like making it impossible for the gods to talk to their children who were demigods. Despite the serious raking over the coals that the first film got in 2010, the producers went ahead and released a second one that had an even worse reception in 2013.

Billy Bathgate (1991)

It isn’t just fantasy and science fiction novels that get some poor treatment in the adaptation process. El Doctorow’s 1989 novel is a biographical crime drama, which had all the makings of becoming one of the great gangster films of the time. Unlike the way you can now buy bitcoin instantly, it did not impress.

This was despite an all-star cast of Dustin Hoffman, Nicole Kidman, Steve Buscemi and Bruce Willis, as well as Tom Stoppard as the scriptwriter and Oscar-winner Robert Benton at the helm. Yet, the magic was completely lost because they were unable to capture the central character’s narration that made the book so impactful.

The Girl On The Train (2016)

It was never going to be Gone Girl – the book or the movie. Both of those are critically acclaimed and very well loved by fans. The novel of The Girl on the Train is intelligent, gritty and full of pace. However, it just doesn’t quite live up to the same heights of Gone Girl.

The movie version of this second book comes nowhere close to novel and is even further from its predecessors. Despite having Emily Blunt as the lead, this film completely lacks nuance. And for some unknown reason, is not set in London.