Making a beloved book into a movie can be a tricky venture. Some film adaptations give the story new life, while others make us wish they'd just stuck to what was on the page. One that got it right? The 2000 flick "American Psycho," which is based on Bret Easton Ellis's 1991 novel of the same name. It was a hit with critics and fans and even developed a cult following. In celebration of the film's 20th anniversary on April 14, 2020, Wonderwall.com is taking a look at some of the most successful or notable page-to-screen adaptations. Keep reading for more…
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"Where'd You Go Bernadette" stars Cate Blanchett as Bernadette Fox, a wife and mother who seemingly has it all and suddenly disappears, leading her family to embark on an exciting adventure to track her down. The movie, which was released in August 2019, failed to pull in strong box office numbers despite its stellar cast, which also included Billy Crudup, Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer and more.
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The classic 1994 film "The Shawshank Redemption" is actually based on Stephen King's 1982 novella "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption." Starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, "Shawshank" tells the story of Andy, a banker who's falsely imprisoned for the murders of his wife and her lover. While locked up, Andy experiences brutal atrocities but also finds everlasting friendship. "The Shawshank Redemption" was a critical and commercial success that earned seven Academy Award nominations and more than $58 million at the box office.
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Emily Blunt's "The Girl on the Train" left us on the edge of our seats. The 2016 thriller tells the scary tale of a woman who witnesses a crime but doesn't trust herself to believe what really happened. The film was a moneymaker, earning more than $173 million worldwide, and Emily received BAFTA and SAG Award nominations for her performance.
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In September 2016, the movie version of M.L. Stedman's New York Times bestselling book "The Light Between Oceans" hit theaters… and we loved it! The drama, which starred real-life lovebirds Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander, tells the story of a couple who live on an isolated island and return to the mainland with a baby they've rescued and informally adopted, only to face reality when they discover the truth about what they've done.
Of course "Harry Potter" earned a place on this list. The magical movie franchise, which launched in 2001, made us wish we could enroll at Hogwarts, play Quidditch and be BFFs with Harry, Hermione and Ron. J.K. Rowling wrote the seven-book series, which spawned eight flicks that earned $7.7 billion at the box office.
Unlike most of the books on this list, "Mean Girls" isn't based on a novel. Instead, it was inspired by "Queen Bees and Wannabes," Rosalind Wiseman's 2002 self-help book about high school girls' cliques. Tina Fey transformed the non-fiction tome into this hilarious flick, which turned Lindsay Lohan into one of the biggest "It" girls of the '00s.
There's a major link between Kathryn Stockett's 2009 breakout novel "The Help" and its 2011 silver-screen adaptation — and it's not just the story. Octavia Spencer, who took home an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for playing sassy Minny, was Kathryn's inspiration for the character in the book.
One of the greatest cinematic masterpieces of all time was based on a book! "The Godfather" was adapted from Mario Puzo's bestselling novel of the same name. The 1972 film follows a fictional New York crime family led by Vito Corleone (played by Marlon Brando) and follows the transformation of his son, Michael Corleone (played by Al Pacino), from reluctant outsider to ruthless mafia boss. "The Godfather" was not only the highest grossing film ever made for a time, but a massive critical success that won three Academy Awards including best picture.
Way before "Twilight" fans were deciding between Team Edward and Team Jacob, readers of Helen Fieldings' 1996 novel, "Bridget Jones's Diary," were battling it out on Team Mark and Team Daniel. (Team Mark, all the way!) Not only did we get to see Bridget's love life come to life in the 2001 movie and its 2004 sequel, but a third movie, "Bridget Jones's Baby," hit theaters in September 2016.
Very rarely does a book's author get to write its screenplay, but Emma Donoghue was given that honor for her 2010 novel, "Room." Brie Larson, who starred in the big-screen adaptation, was the darling of the 2015-2016 awards season, during which she took home top acting honors at the Oscars, BAFTAs, SAG Awards and Golden Globes.
"Gone Girl" was the must-read book of 2012, so it makes sense that the Gillian Flynn-penned psychological thriller was adapted for the big screen. It was Reese Witherspoon who snatched up the book rights with hopes that she'd both produce the movie and play Amy. But when director David Fincher said she wasn't right for the role, Reese settled for sticking behind the scenes. (Rosamund Pike ended up as Amy opposite Ben Affleck's Nick.)
"The Devil Wears Prada" introduced us to the amazing Emily Blunt and reminded us that working at a fashion magazine isn't as glamorous as we thought. Even Vogue editor Anna Wintour — the inspiration for boss-from-hell Miranda Priestly — loved the 2006 flick, which was based on Lauren Weisberger's 2003 novel.
"The Hunger Games" had something for everyone when it hit theaters in 2012: romance, action, adventure. Perhaps that's why the dystopian movie series, which is based on Suzanne Collins' book trilogy, was so incredibly successful. The Jennifer Lawrence-led flicks have grossed more than $2.9 billion worldwide, making it one of the top-grossing film franchises of all time.
The tragic romance film "Atonement" is based on Ian McEwan's 2001 novel of the same name. In the movie, young lovers Cecilia Tallis and Robbie Turner are torn apart by a lie told by Cecilia's jealous little sister (played by Saoirse Ronan). Robbie is imprisoned but the couple gets a second chance at love during World War II. The period piece was a critical darling that earned six Oscar nominations including a nod for best picture and a commercial success with a $129 million box office haul.
Seeing "The Notebook" come to life in 2004 made us shed more than a few tears — and made us fall even harder for the love story between Noah and Allie, which was penned by Nicholas Sparks. Bonus points for bringing together real-life couple Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. (Sure, they eventually split up, but it was cute while it lasted!)
Chocolate rivers, Everlasting Gobstoppers, Fizzy Lifting Drinks — our greatest childhood dreams came alive with the delicious 1971 big-screen version of Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," which was renamed "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." (Roald would disagree with this addition to the list — he reportedly hated the movie, which starred the late, great Gene Wilder.) Sadly, the 2005 remake starring Johnny Depp was not nearly as sweet.
Not only did Alice Walker's epic 1982 novel "The Color Purple" win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, but its Steven Spielberg-directed big-screen adaptation later racked up 11 Oscar nominations in 1986, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Whoopi Goldberg and Best Supporting Actress for both Margaret Avery and Oprah Winfrey. It has since served as the inspiration for a Broadway musical, which starred "Orange Is the New Black" star Danielle Brooks in Oprah's role in 2016.
"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum has been adapted countless times, but it's the 1939 musical version, "The Wizard of Oz," that won our hearts. There's simply nothing like seeing the jump from black-and-white Kansas to Technicolor Oz. Add in those stunning ruby red slippers and songs like the Oscar-winning "Over the Rainbow," and you can see why the movie is often listed as one of the best of all time.
Leonardo DiCaprio went to great lengths to film "The Revenant," which was based on a 2002 novel by Michael Punke. The vegetarian ate bison liver and endured freezing cold climates to play frontiersman Hugh Glass, but it all worked out in the end when Leo won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 2016. (Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki also earned Oscars for their work on the film.)
The big-screen adaptation of Colm Tóibín's 2009 novel "Brooklyn" was nominated for three Academy Awards in 2016: Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay. It didn't take home any Oscars, but the romance — which starred a very well-dressed Saoirse Ronan — still wins big in our book.
"The Goldfinch" — the must-read book of 2013 — told the story of Theo, who was played by Ansel Elgort in the big-screen version. The book-turned-film followed Theo as he navigated life after his mother was killed in a New York City bombing. Despite great source material and a stellar cast that included Nicole Kidman, Luke Wilson, Sarah Paulson and more, the film didn't do well with critics or audiences. It was considered a box office bomb and reportedly lost the studio $50 million.