15 Famous Film Adaptations Hated By The Original Authors

The Book Was Better: 15 Famous Literary Adaptations Hated By The Original Authors

Queen of the Damned PF WENN

Photo: WENN.com

Books and movies are completely different mediums. Where literature is a cerebral art form, movies are a purely visual one. As such the core of a novel can change when adapted to the big screen, much to the chagrin of fans and, sometimes, the authors themselves. For examples of writers who publicly spoke out against their famous film adaptations, here are 15 book-to-movie transitions that caused a vitriolic reaction from the original authors.

The Shining

The Shining PF WENN

Photo: WENN.com

Most of us can agree that Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining ranks as one of the most unsettling movies ever made. Well, “most of us” not including the film’s author, Stephen King. King has said in interviews that, while Kubrick’s film is a dazzling work stylistically, it failed as an adaptation of his novel. Among the changes King was displeased with were Kubrick’s downplaying of the film’s haunted house plot. This, in turn, made protagonist Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson) less likeable and removed the character’s transformation from frustrated writer to psychopath. Despite his belief the film failed, he has cited Kubrick’s direction as “dreadfully unsettling,” a sentiment most of us can get behind.

  • JustSaying_IMFO

    Oh yeah, Queen of the Dam ned was and awesome book. The movie sucked.

    • delorb

      Sounds like Anne Rice’s thumb will go up or down depending on the box office. She changed her tune about Interview after all the money started pouring. She tried to say good things about Queen, until the box office returns were announced.

      • Truth

        No she didn’t. She was completely shut out of the production process. At least with Interview, she was the one who wrote the script, but the producers didn’t want her input on QofD at all. And before it came out, she told people not to go see it. I can provide sources if you like.

        • Alesana

          To be fair, Queen of the Damned was meant to be much longer and in depth. Aaliyah unfortunately died before they were 1/3 of the way through her scenes. They didn’t want to scrap the entire movie and start over, so they made do with what they had.

  • I remember when the Heinlein family disowned “Starship Troopers,” though it was later revealed that the Director later said he had never actually finished the book, finding it too depressing.

    • Subversable

      The movie was not so much unfaithful to the book as it was hostile to it. Robert Heinlein wrote a book in which he climbed high on a soapbox and proclaimed the civic virtue of a militarized society. Paul Verhoeven made a film that expressed what Heinlein sounded like to someone who had lived under fascism.

  • NM2000

    I also love Matheson’s quote on I Am Legend: “I don’t know why Hollywood is fascinated by my book when they never care to film it as I wrote it.”

    It is such a good book. Shame it has never been translated properly.

    • LexiconD1

      But, I totally DISAGREE with the assessment that Vincent Price in “The Last Man On Earth” was ‘unfortunate’ casting. That is the most faithful rendition of the book, and it totally rocks!
      The other two were good films, in their own right, but not good renditions of the book at all.

    • David Busby

      there is a good adaption of the novel it’s called night of the living dead.

      • Bobby Healey

        Have you read I am Legend? There isn’t a single zombie in the book….it’s fricking vampires. VAMPIRES not ZOMBIES. Even the movie kind of let on they were vamps by not letting them go out in the day and the sun burning them.

  • The sad thing is that if they had just been more faithful to the book, Queen of the Damned would have made an awesome movie. It already had an incredible story and interesting characters, why did they feel the need to change so much?

    • April Trotter

      Most of it is not even from Queen of the Damned. Most of that movie takes place in The Vampire Lestat. Which I never understood. Like you said the Queen of the Damned book would have made an awesome movie. But Anne was right, they mutilated it and made it dreck.

      • peter puffer

        Anne Rice is awful, the movie’s badness was fitting.

  • How can a shark drown? Is that possible?

    • zevonia

      Sharks have to keep water moving over their gills to get oxygyn. They don’t have to move constantly but can “drown” if they can’t get enough oxygyn into their gills.

    • David Busby

      yes if a great white stops moving, it stops pushing water over the gills and drowns.

  • you forgot jurassic park!

    • False, Crichton helped write it.

    • David Busby

      agree the novel Jurassic park makes the movie into a petting zoo. great freaking book, both it and the lost world. even though malcom dies at the end of Jurassic park, and is some how alive for lost world.

  • Mike

    Ultimate Jack Ryan movie? Try Red October, dude.

  • Mitchellplou

    Isaac Bashevis Singer HATED Streisand’s adaptation of “Yentl” saying it was all about Streisand and not about Yentl at all!!

    • robertm2000

      He was right. I’m not sure how many people wanted to see Streisand “coming to terms with her … something.” Horrible film. WAY WAY too long

  • Jeff

    I am a little surprised that Eragon did not make the list.

    • I thought for sure it would be. Even though I suppose it isn’t as prestigious a novel as the ones listed, it was still very good. The movie was putrid. It was corny and didn’t make much sense. They rushed it out so quickly because of the popularity of the book and it failed miserably. There’s no way Christopher Paolini wasn’t furious with it.

      • Jessi Jeffries

        I totally agree, the books were amazing, but the movies were a piece of crap.

      • peter puffer

        Book sucked, movie sucked. Eragon was nothing more than one hack’s attempt to cash in on the resurgence of literary fantasy popularity in the wake of the Peter Jackson LotR movies.

        “Hey you know what? I’ll even make the title of the book sound a bit like a popular character from Lord of the Rings! Genius, I’m gonna be so rich”

    • D.Cunningham

      Oh yea, Eragon Definitely deserves to be on this list.

  • Lacey W

    Books and movies are two different mediums. Of course they are going to be different.

    Ever try to write a chase scene? Ever try to film a page and a half description of a pastoral setting? Thirty seconds in, the audience gets the point and is nudging the film to move on.

    On the other hand, try to make a two hour movie out of the story “We can remember it for you wholesale,” (Total Recall) or “His Master’s Voice” (Day the Earth Stood Still).

    • NM2000

      Or a two hour movie out of Lawnmower Man, which it’s been a while since I’ve read but was something like 6-8 pages long, I think, and involved more interdimensional beings and Greek gods then computer hacking and cyberspace.

      They were just buying the King name in that case.

  • Are you kidding me??!! American Psycho, the movie, was awesomely done and Christian Bale was the only actor I can think of who could have pulled it off.

    • April Trotter

      They said everyone BUT the author thought so.

  • Joe Cool

    Lord of the Rings should be on this list, as Christopher Tolkien has completely disowned them.

    • likalaruku

      You sure he wasn’t referring to the creepy-as-hell animated movies by Rankin-Bass & Ralph Bakshi? Neither were good at making the characters look like their descriptions in the books.

    • Christopher Tolkien didn’t write them so, no it shouldn’t.

    • Bubba

      And Christopher wasn’t the author, JRR was.

      • David Busby

        he has the rights to them so yes he should, after all it was his fathers work.

  • Hannah

    The author of Mary Poppins is P.L. Travers, not P.L. James.

    • Elle

      Thank you. That’s exactly what I was going to say!!

  • beth

    The movie version of queen of the damned was a great film, but it was not a good adaption of anne rices work. But it was still a fabulous film in it’s own right.First DVD I ever bought too.

  • likalaruku

    Queen of the Damned is one I tried to get my money back on. I told everyone I knew never to watch it.

    If comics count, all of the X-Men movies.

    I’d say “Aeon Flux” since it had a graphic novel, but in the end, it’s still ::cough:: “based” on the animated series.

    The MGM & Disney live action adaptations of the Wonderful World of Oz series, plus Wicked for me. & yet for some reason I’m willing to let all of the adaptations for Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass slide.

    A Series of Unfortunate Events looks awesome, until you read the books. At least Jim Carey really captured the look & feel of Olaf.

  • Winston Groom had another reason to hate the movie of Forrest Gump: the studio used Hollywood accounting to claim that the movie had lost money, so Groom (who had sold the rights for a percentage of the profits) didn’t make any money off of the adaptation.

  • Why can’t you list things without all this “next page” clicking?

    • E1462

      You can fit more Advertisements on more pages, and it creates the illusion of more content.

    • Cactus_Wren

      So they can start a separate autoplay video ad every single time.

      • Nick Benoit

        And so they can lose another viewer after the first or second one.

    • D.Cunningham

      Lots more advertising opportunity. I hate it too.

  • Actually, Roald Dahl’s dislike with “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” had more to do with the fact that he was removed as the screenwriter. Despite granting the company the rights to make a movie of his work, he got all shirty when they made decisions with casting he didn’t like (he wanted Spike Milligan as Willie) and when any changes were made. Also, deadlines weren’t his friend.

  • Anne Rice just likes to complain, I think.

    • BoredMe

      Definitely. Excellent writer, but as a person? Kind of a piece of s**t.
      She was totally right here though.

  • E1462

    Writers will write books and movie makers will make movies. Neither should tell the other how to do their jobs.

  • I wonder how Bret Easton Ellis felt about that pile-of-puke American Psycho 2. I can only assume he didn’t sign off on it, or if he did he was delving deep into hardcore drugs.

  • seriously

    On what planet is Tim Burton’s version of The Chocolate Factory closer to the story than the original film? The only things closer are the characters (Charlie having both parents, Violet going with her mother etc). As far as plot, and Willy Wonka, Tim Burton’s was completely off. Everyone who has told me it’s closer to the book than the original later admits that they’ve never read the book.

    Gag me.

  • I can’t believe “A Clockwork Orange” was not included. Anthony Burgess absolutely hates the movie version. Stanley Kubrick seemed to be good at pissing off authors.

  • ViviWannabe

    You forgot Legend of the Seeker.

  • E.A. Blair

    The plural of “medium” is “media” – unless you’re talking about sizes* or psychics.

    *As in, “Here are the sodas. They’re all mediums.”

  • formerrepublican

    The two that really stand out here are Jaws and Queen of the Damned. Both were utterly atrocious books (I made it through Queen, but abandoned Rice’s vampires thereafter; I did not make it through Jaws, and regret only that I tried.)
    Jaws turned into a good movie, rather like the abominable book Wicked that made a great play. I never saw Queen of the Damned, it was past the point where I banished Anne Rice from my world after (literally) crawling to within 50 pages of the end of The Witching Hour.

  • Tragic Anarchy

    What about the Lord of The Rings? The whole time I was ready, I expected it to pop up. But, no. No LOTR. But, we get Queen ofthe Damned as number one. Cause that was sooo famous.

    • Cactus_Wren

      Given that LOTR was not released as a film until its original author was five years dead, it would be a trifle awkward to get his opinion. (But if you Google the phrase “Three Rings for Hollywood” you’ll find an article that mentions the never-produced 1957 adaptation by, God help us, Forrest J. Ackerman. Tolkien did read this treatment, which 4e called “Operation Ringslord”, and to put it mildly cared for it not at all.)

      • realmusicfan

        There was also the proposed Kubrick/Beatles adaptation. He probably would have hated that too.

  • Jim Donaught

    Cusssler’s books are painfully bad — the movies are doomed from the outset.

  • One that should be on here is The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, except that Michael Chabon actually likes it for some reason known only to him. The book is awesome, the movie awful.

  • From now on when I watch a classic 60’s comedy about a lanky TV writer I’ll think of it as the “Package Van” show……

  • Ahem, should be “Hughes Brothers’ “.

  • delorb

    Sorry, but before an adaptation can be done the author has to sign off on it. Once you sign off, it stops being YOUR baby and becomes THEIR baby.

  • dfsdf


  • Jaws is my favorite example for one of the rare instances where the movie is MUCH better than the book. The novel was disposable summer reading. The movie was a classic.

    • David Busby

      yeah the ending ruined the book.

  • Taka

    The Movie studio literally threatened to sue Anne Rice if she didn’t publicly stop bashing Interview. And how exactly do you mutilate a book that the writer has publicly apologized for? Interview was a good movie and a crap adaption. Queen was a crap adaption of a book that sucked in the 1st place.

  • Truth

    Anne Rice never attempted to support the film adaptation of Queen of the Damned – she always called it for the horrible movie it was. Always.

    • D.Cunningham

      I love her Vampire Chronicles. But I have to disagree. She may have been putting on a fake smile at the time but she attempted to be a team player during production. Even thought they shut her out of the process (mistake). She fully endorsed Stuart Townsend and Lestat. She thought he was perfect for the role.

      • D.Cunningham

        “as Lestat”

  • Spring24

    I ALMOST didn’t read Queen of the Damned after the movie. I’m so glad I did, the book was fantastic, but as far as the movie adaptation, ‘mutilated’ is putting it beyond mildly.

  • Giddy Pony

    Who is PL James? PL Travers wrote the Mary Poppins books, and she was RIGHT.

  • Helene Logan

    The book ‘Prozac Nation’ sucked, too.

    “Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of the original memoir, was none too pleased with her onscreen depiction as a half-crazed egotist who becomes addicted to prescription drugs.”

    Yep, that was my takeaway from the book.

  • The Cappy

    Mary Poppins was written by P. L. Travers, not P L James.

  • Apple

    Queen of Damned only happened because the Studio was about to lose the rights to the book and revert back to Anne Rice. They didn’t want to lose out on the material so they slapped together the movie quickly. Wes Bentley was originally attached to star but even in his heroin state knew the movie was a clunker and dropped out. RIP Aalliyah but she was woefully miscast and didn’t have the talent to make the character work.

  • direwolf

    please stop linking from cracked. I see articles that sound good, but when I click the link and get sent here i am always disappointed

  • William Brown

    Unfortunate casting of Vincent Price? Havethe writer seen the movie? “The Last Man on Earth” was not a cheap American-International Roger Corman quickie, although it had about the same budget. Price’s performance is understated and genuine.This writer seems to think Vincent Price was only capable of the campy performances he made in the “Poe” series of films, and neglects the body of work previous that ranged from film noir to heavy drama to light comedy and kept him in demand and respected for four decades.

  • William Brown

    Sorry, Queen of the Damned sucked as a novel too, the movie even more so. I was never so disappointed, nor felt so strung along and jerked around by an author as I did with Queen of the Damned

  • Patrick Karnes

    The queen of the damned was “mutilated” it was jumpy and the plot was totally forced and the story of the twins really did not exist, it was crap

  • Cameron Lazlo

    Mary Poppins was created by Pamela Lyndon Travers. She never married.

    • La Javelina

      Yes, who’s this “James” person?

  • greenlynn

    The film “Forrest Gump” was superior to Winston Groom’s tedious rip-off of “Candide.”

  • Tom Horsley

    It is easy to create a list of “the book was better” movies. A more challenging list would be “the movie was better”. As near as I can tell, the only movie in that category is “The Green Mile”.

  • Jon

    I think I’ll have to take out Jaws from the local library sometime, so I can understand out how Benchley worked in having the shark “drown”.

  • David Busby

    they should take out jaws from this list the ending of that book makes you want to throw it out the window screaming. horrible way to end such a great book.

  • Realityh03$Anonymous….ohwait

    Hey Paul, AAAHHHHH!!!!!I dont care if American Psycho isnt like the book, its still effin excellent!

  • D.Cunningham

    They forgot one of the biggest book to film screw ups ever…Battlefield Earth by L. Ron Hubbard. The book was about 800+ pages. The movie was 1 1/2 hours. FAIL!
    And yes Queen of the Damned definitely deserves to be on this list. The movie was actually based off of two books. The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned. They took two whole books and scripted a 2 hour movie out of it. FAIL!
    To those who loved the movie Interview With The Vampire, if you are a reader, get The Vampire Lestat. It continues the story and is way better than Interview. You will thank me later.

  • D.Cunningham

    They forgot one of the biggest book to film screw ups ever…Battlefield
    Earth by L. Ron Hubbard. The book was about 800+ pages. The movie was 1
    1/2 hours. FAIL!
    And yes Queen of the Damned definitely deserves to
    be on this list. The movie was actually based off of two books. The
    Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned. They took two whole books
    and scripted a 2 hour movie out of it. FAIL!
    To those who loved the
    movie Interview With The Vampire, if you are a reader, get The Vampire
    Lestat. It continues the story and is way better than Interview. You
    will thank me later.

  • Bobby Healey

    Alan Moore…douche bad. I admit I love his work, but to bash how Hollywood butchers his movies, yet he’ll take the royalty checks and still sell the rights to his work.

  • Brawny71

    Yentl is another. Isaac Bashevis Singer was livid with what Barbara Streisand did to his short story. She struck again with The Prince of TIdes, but as I recall, the films were well-received by those who weren’t familiar with the books. Another lesser-known one is “The Boyfriend School”. Work on this film began when Shelley Long and Steve Guttenberg still had viable film careers, but by the time it was completed, they had both tanked big time. It first went straight-to-video as “Don’t Tell Her It’s Me”, a re-titling the author hated. Now, it can be found under the novel’s title, which strikes some people as odd why they bothered–and quite frankly for once they were right to change the bland original novel title. It’s really not a bad, little romantic comedy, dumb but watchable.

  • DrNope

    I didn’t think there was anything faithful going on in Tim Burton’s Wonka movie. It felt absolutely nothing like the book, for me at least. It was just crap.

  • LiddyBug86

    Who won the damn law suit over Sahara…….Dont leave me hanging…..Cause I dont believe in Google…..and I’m giving Jeeves a rest !

  • jay

    anyone else find it funny how they list ‘american psycho’ on both the book was better and the movie was better lists? not even gonna read the rest of it. or visit this site again

  • Cuervo Jones

    I looked on IMDB for someone named “Package Van” but I couldn’t find him there. PLEASE HELP ME I MUST KNOW WHAT OTHER MOVIES THIS “PACKAGE VAN” WAS IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • writergal

      🙂 I think the filter took D*ck Van D*ke’s name and substituted ‘package’ for ‘D*ck’ (which is of course a euphemism for p*nis) and removed D*ke entirely because it’s a derogatory term for a l*sbian. I THINK that’s what happened!

  • Serai 1

    Kesey didn’t object to the narration because there wasn’t one. THAT is what he objected to – the book was told completely in the Chief’s voice. It’s also what made the book unfilmable as written, since the Chief was constantly hallucinating. True, his hallucinations were savagely witty and sometimes touching, but it just wouldn’t have been possible to make them work.

  • Joe

    Just the opposite for Gump. Terrible terrible book. Much better movie.

  • Joe

    Though I enjoyed the first two books of the Vampire series, Queen of the Damned was not very good. From that point on Lestat essentially became Super-Vampire. Never bothered with the adaption, but it couldn’t have been much worse.

  • Shaun

    Mary Poppins was created by P. L. Travers. Who the hell is P. L. James?

    • APSux720

      50 Shades of Mary Poppins

  • donatellavee

    And let’s not forget the mess made of Susan Isaac’s wonderful “Compromising Positions” film, miscast with the otherwise wonderful Susan Sarandon and Raul Julia. Or the even more heinous recent self-indulgent pastiche made of Fitzgerald’s timeless wonder,The Great Gatsby, despite lovely Leonardo DiCaprio. On the other hand, Peter Pan (the English live version, not Disney’s animated one) and The Departed, are spectacular adaptations. In general, the English and Europeans have a lot more respect for plot, character and dialogue than we do; and they also are willing to have a bit of dark reality (as opposed to dark fantasy) enter into creative work.

  • MartyRotten .

    One that was missing was Ralph Bakshi’s FRITZ THE CAT. Although it was a breakthrough in adult animatinon (the first X Rated cartoon), Robert Crumb, Fritz’s creator hated it. So strong was his hatred of the film that he not only had his name removed from the credits, but he drew one more story of Fritz the Cat ending in the character’s death. He’s never drawn it since and has often disavowed the movie.

  • Uncle Benny

    “American package Van?” Huh?

  • Anni

    For all those who are on about Queen of the Damned, you do realise one of the lead actors died during the making? I saw it when I was fifteen and went onto read the books.
    That’s why I don’t understand author’s being a bit ott about them not sticking to the book truly etc, Life of Pi was a best-seller for weeks after the film came out, because people wanted to read it.I imagine many of these films encouraged people to read the book.

    If you want a really bad representation of a novel to film, try “The Lovely Bones”. It was complex, layered book, with many aspects. The film missed out the majority of the story (and certainly some of the most interesting parts) and rated it a 12A in the UK, meaning you couldn’t include a lot of it.

  • Ukulelemike

    This is why I often enjoy both movie and book, because not being a huge reader in general, I will usually see the film adaptation first, and liking it, I will read the book, and even though it is different, I will then enjoy both. If you read the book first, then watch the movie, you have an expectation that is often dashed. Not, after I saew the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I finally read the book, and it is indeed much more faithful to the book, though even there, there are some differences.