11 Biggest Book-to-Big Screen Adaptations of the Last 25 Years
4:05 PM PDT 10/17/2011 by Sophie Schillaci, Emily Blank
Always looking for a good story, Hollywood has often turned to literature to inspire some of its most successful films. While the industry has a reputation for ruining countless classic novels, several filmmakers have managed to achieve greatness with their big screen adaptations. Among a few of the most notable in recent years are the "Harry Potter" franchise, "Forrest Gump" and of course, "Lord of the Rings."
Based on Thomas Keneally's novel, Schindler's Ark, Steven Spielberg's powerful film about the Holocaust earned 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. Despite the grim subject matter, the film was a box office hit with more than $321 million worldwide.
In 1993, Steven Spielberg brought Michael Crichton's sci-fi novel to the big screen, where it revolutionized visual effects and grossed $914 million worldwide. It spawned two sequels, with a long-rumored fourth film in the works.
In 2010, Johnny Depp put on his Mad Hatter hat to bring the beloved Lewis Carroll character to life in director Tim Burton's opulant live action version of the story. Newcomer Mia Wasikowska held the title role. The film was a huge success for Disney, grossing more than a billion dollars worldwide.
Robert Zemeckis' 1994 adaptation of Winston Groom's novel nabbed six Academy Awards and has earned a lifetime gross of $677.3 million worldwide. Tom Hanks stars in the Paramount film, which opened to $24.4 million domestically in its opening weekend.
Based on Kathryn Stockett's 2009 novel, The Help surprised with an A+ CinemaScore and rave reviews. The film opened on Wednesday, Aug. 10 and has thus far raked in $173.3 million worldwide. Stockett's childhood friend, Tate Taylor, directed the film for DreamWorks. Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain star.
'Lord of the Rings'
Fans of the original fantasy series by J.R.R. Tolkien were not disappointed with its movie counterpart. 2003's Lord of the Rings: Return of the King took home an astonishing 11 Academy Awards -- a record tied only by Titanic and Ben-Hur. The third and final installment proved to be the most successful of the series which, in total, brought in more than $2.9 billion.
'The English Patient'
Set during World War II, the romantic drama The English Patient (1996) is based on the novel by Michael Ondaatje. Anthony Minghella's film won 9 Academy Awards, and has earned a worldwide gross of $231.9 million. Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche star.
'The Blind Side'
Sandra Bullock won her first Oscar for her portrayal of the real-life Leigh Anne Tuohy. Based on the 2006 football book by Michael Lewis, John Lee Hancock's adaptation focused on the true story of Michael Oher, who was essentially homeless as a young man before becoming a football star, and eventually, an offensive tackle for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens. The film has raked in more than $309 million worldwide.
'The Twilight Saga'
Based on the supernatural romance novels by Stephenie Meyer, The Twilight Saga became a cultural phenomenon, launching actors Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner into superstardom. The four book series was turned into five films, with the final installment broken into two releases. With only three released to date, The Twilight Saga has grossed over $1.8 billion globally. While popular on the teen award circut, taking home hardware from the MTV Movie Awards, Teen Choice Awards, People's Choice Awards, and in some instances, the dreaded Razzie Awards, the films have failed to generate any Oscar buzz or critical acclaim.
The Harry Potter series, based on J.K. Rowling's highly regarded books, translated to the screen with great success on both sides of the pond. The eighth and final film in the beloved franchise hit theaters in the summer of 2011, bringing the combined worldwide gross to $7.7 billion. Actors Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Tom Felton grew up with the series, as did millions of fans all over the world.
Photo by: Lionsgate
'The Hunger Games'
Suzanne Collins' massively popular trilogy made its big screen foray in 2012 with the premiere of The Hunger Games. Top-lined by a critically adored Jennifer Lawrence, Lionsgate's franchise-starter brought in a record-breaking $152 million domestic haul in its first weekend alone. That made it the third highest-grossing opening weekend of all time and the best for a non-sequel.