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10 Book-to-Film Adaptations Hated by the Original Authors

10 Book-to-Film Adaptations Hated by the Original Authors
written by
Hend Salah

It’s one of the oldest and truest clichés on film: no book-to-movie has ever been better, or even as good as, the book from which it is adapted. There have been a few expectations over the years – The Godfather, for example – but book-to-film adaptations almost always face an uphill battle from step one. 

Fans are usually the first to speak up when they find that their favourite book has been taken to the cleaners by screenwriters, but quite often, it’s the authors that suffer most. Some move on and enjoy the big pay-off, but others have despaired at what their masterpieces have become – and they have no problem in taking aim and firing at those that have wronged their literary efforts.

Here are ten book-to-film adaptations that didn’t exactly please the authors…

The Shining (1980)

“A big and beautiful Cadillac with no engine inside it,” were the words of Stephen King when asked about the largely praised adaptation of his book, The Shining.  Despite earning several awards and being regarded as one of the best classical horror movies of all time, King argued that director Stanley Kubrick failed to understand the nature of his book.

According to King, Kubrick focused on projecting the evil in his characters, while the book puts more focus on insane surroundings – the supernatural evil that lies within the Overlook Hotel— as the main reason behind the characters’ unstable behaviour.

Everest (2015)

Earning $203.4 million at the box office, Jon Krakauer, author of Into Thin Air, which was later loosely adapted into Everest and released in September 2015, stated that the film didn’t deserve the money it got. Krakauer, who regretted selling the rights of his book to Sony pictures, blamed Everest director, Baltasar Kormakur, for falsifying some facts; especially in the scene when he refuses to help during one of the rescue attempts.

“No one came to my tent and asked for help,” Krakauer told the Hollywood Reporter.

I Am Legend (2007)

Adapted into three different movies over the years – The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971) and, most recently, I Am Legend (2007) – Richard Matheson, the author of the original novel, I Am Legend (1954) argued that all three adaptations were miscast and failed to follow the original storyline of his book.

“I don't know why Hollywood is fascinated by my book when they never care to film it as I wrote it,” an exasperated Matheson is quoted as saying.

Forrest Gump (1994)

Although it might come out as a shock to many, Winston Groom, the author of Forrest Gump, resented the film adaption after parts of the plot were omitted – one’s which altered the book’s tone. In Groom’s novel, Forrest was framed as a cynic and having an extraordinary talent in numerical calculations. The film, of course, characterises him as naïve and well-mannered. Additionally, while Forrest owns Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and runs for three years across America; Groom’s Forrest is sent out to space as a NASA astronaut and also becomes a professional wrestler. Groom was also upset when the producers refused to give him the 3% profits as per the contract, claiming that the movie didn’t actually turn a profit – something that went to court.

Watchmen (2009)

Although it was named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Best Novels and is regarded as one the graphic novels that perfectly fused superhero alongside dystopian fiction, film noire and modern history; Watchmen’s adaptation was, according to novel’s author, Alan Moore, a big mistake. While it earned $55,214,334 in its opening week, Zack Snyder’s adaptation boasted impressive visuals, but failed to capture many of the novel’s compelling elements, according to Moore, who wasn’t impressed with the casting, either.

Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

Controversial best-selling erotic romance, Fifty Shades of Grey, faced massive challenges in its adaptation. According to the film’s director, Sam Taylor Johnson, she and screenwriter, Kelly Marcel, wanted to deviate from the source material, until author E.L. James, caught wind of their vision and took full control of the script – a privilege she was granted in her Universal Studios contract. Subsequently, James has insisted on being the sole screenwriter for the sequel adaptations, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.        

Solaris (1972)

A novel that was adapted three times, it was only Andrei Tarkovsky’s adaptation of Solaris back in 1972 which was close to what Stanisław Lem, the author of the book, had in mind. According to Lem, the adaptations were all focused on the human relationships rather than having a bigger emphasis on the planet itself.

“I only wanted to create a vision of a human encounter with something that certainly exists, in a mighty manner perhaps. This is why the book was entitled Solaris and not Love in Outer Space,” Lem argued.

Sahara (2005)

When adapted in 2005 by Eric Eisner, Sahara author, Clive Cussler, sued the film’s producers for changing elements in the plot, deviating from the source material and changing the tone. Cussler sued production house, Crusader Entertainment, which, in turn pressed charges against Cussler for hindering the film’s publicity and breaching their contract; a case that eventually ended up costing Cussler $5 million.

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)

An all-time classic children’s book, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’s adaptation was a huge success in the box office and boosted book’s sales, but was nonetheless a big disappointment to author, Roald Dahl. According to Dahl, the film focused far too much on Willy Wonka rather than Charlie Gene and that the casting of Gene Wilder for the role of Wonka was a huge mistake. After watching the movie, Dahl vowed that no producer will ever get his hands on the book's sequel.

Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)

Although, that image of a graceful Audrey Hepburn stands as one of the most iconic in film history, the casting of the starlet came as a major disappointment to author Truman Capote, who initially wanted Marilyn Monroe to play the role of Holly Golightly. Capote, of course, reacted in typically colourful fashion, saying that he felt double-crossed when Hepburn was cast.

"It was the most miscast film I’ve ever seen. It made me want to throw up," Capote said.