The Top Ten Movies Based on Books

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November 22nd, 2013

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The Top Ten Movies Based on Books

If you're a reader, you may know that some of the best movies ever got their start as works of fiction. Although not all book-to-movie adaptations follow the book blow for blow (and watching a movie after reading the book it's based on can sometimes be a letdown), most do a good job of capturing the essence of the original work. Some films based on books are standout flicks that take a special place in cinematic history.

"The Color Purple," which spans forty years in the life of a black woman living in the South, won novelist Alice Walker the Pulitzer Prize and went on to become a very popular film. The protagonist, Celie (Whoopi Goldberg), lives a life of servitude under her sharecropper husband (Danny Glover) and finds comfort in her friendship with Sofia (Oprah Winfrey), her husband's daughter-in-law from a former marriage. Over the course of hardships, she is able to overcome her situation and leaves her husband, striking out on her own to forge a new life. "The Color Purple" was nominated for eleven Oscars.

What do you get when you bring the best-selling hardcover work of fiction of all time to life on the silver screen? A gross take of more than $217 million at the US box office, for one thing. Such is the story behind "The Da Vinci Code," a film based on the book by Dan Brown. The plot revolves around a mysterious secret society protecting a religious mystery.

Peter Benchley couldn't have known that his best-selling thriller about a bloodthirsty shark would become the stuff of legends, but so it was with the release of the Stephen Spielberg-directed flick "Jaws." This film was Spielberg's first megahit and his first Oscar nod for Best Picture, and it would go on to spawn several follow-up films and catapult the movie industry towards a new era in the classic monster movie niche.

You don't have to look far to find a fan of Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games," so it was little surprise to the literary world when the book found a whole new fanbase in theaters. The movie was so well received that its makers decided to do round two this November with the release of "Catching Fire."

Everything that Nicholas Sparks touches with his pen turns to gold, so it was no small wonder that his novel "The Lucky One," (2012) found its own following in theaters. It is the story of a man who finds a picture of a woman, decides it's his good luck charm, and then sets out to find her. The film stars Zac Efron and Taylor Shilling and was directed by Scott Hicks.

Nicholas Sparks' "The Notebook" was also a popular book-to-movie hit. Based on Sparks' first book, the movie portrays a man reading to an elderly woman from an old notebook as a love story from World War II is retold.

Many horror flicks have been made based on suspense and horror novels, including "The Silence of the Lambs," a movie based on the Thomas Harris book of the same name. This 1991 movie, which was directed by Jonathan Demme, chronicles an FBI trainee's (Jodie Foster) pursuit of one serial killer with the help of another, Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). This hit movie has a huge following among horror fans and raked in $272 million worldwide at the box office.

Another example of horror brought to life from the pages of best-selling novels is the classic 1980 horror hit "The Shining," which is based on the book by legendary novelist Stephen King. It stars Jack Nicholson in one of his most memorable roles as the caretaker of an abandoned resort hotel, where he slowly loses his sanity while being haunted by ghosts.

Some of the most beloved movies of all time are based on books, including "Gone with the Wind," a movie based on the Margaret Mitchell novel. This saga chronicles the intense relationships of a group of Southerners during the Civil War and stars icons of the Tinseltown, including Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh. Since its release in 1939, the film has raked in a startling $400 million lifetime gross worldwide.

"Ender's Game" is one book that took over a quarter of a century to bring to life in film, a dream that was finally realized this year with the release of the movie of the same name. The movie stars Harrison Ford and follows the battle to defend Earth from an invading alien race.

There you have it—ten great films that got their starts as books. This is just the tip of the barrel, however. Many of the best movies ever made can be revisited any time at the local library.