Biggest Book To Movie Rewrite

I love to read books of movies that I’ve seen and I have notice a lot have simple rewrites. For instance in the book Rebecca, the guy get’s away with it, but in the movie the killing is an accident.

Or in “The Hucksters” the woman was a widow in the movie but in the book was married and cheating on her husband.

Now I now a lot of the small rewrites like the above are done to comply with the old movie “moral” codes, of yesteryear.

And I realize they sometimes rewrite characters like combining the Good Witch of the North and Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, to save time of introducing a new character and the like

Question is what movie do you think is the biggest change overall from it’s transition from book to movie. What movie did you think was almost nothing like the book?

One of my favorite books of all time, John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany, was drastically rewritten and made into a dud of a movie called Simon Birch. There are probably people who like this movie, but I bet none of 'em ever read Irving’s book first. Events are changed in major ways. Characters are changed in major ways. I guess it’s a good thing that the title was changed, too. But now it’s likely that no other movie will be made of A Prayer for Owen Meany, and that is a damned shame.

Forrest Gump
The Scarlet Letter

the Children’s Hour. (well, play to movie rewrite)
Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa to Field of Dreams cut out Ray’s twin brother, oh the ‘having a catch with dad’ at the end wasn’t in the book.

In Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the POV is of Bromden, the chief. In the movie it’s from McMurphy’s.
Must have been a bit of a rewrite there changing an entire book’s POV. It probably wouldn’t seem so seeing how they could just tell the same book tale but just focus on McMurphy more…however I think it would be harder than most think.

Frankenstein has never been accurately adapted. Of course, Mary Shelley didn’t write it with Hollywood in mind.

In the book version of Jaws, Hooper bangs Cheif Brody’s wife. Kind of left that one out of the movie.

The Running Man, hands down. The movie was fun, and Richard Dawson was fabulous, but it has almost nothing in common with the book whatsoever (and it’s only a little over 200 pages, so it’s a very quick read if you’re interested). A guy named Ben Richards is on a game show where people are trying to kill him - that may be the only similarity between the two.

Incidentally, I love the book and enjoyed the film. I think the fact that the movie is so different makes it a lot easier to accept the differences.

Jaws was almost completely rewritten (and for the better if you ask me). Entire characters and backstories were made up for the movie and the book as written would have made a terrible movie.

I think taking a nonfiction book about people obsessed with flowers and turning it into a movie about screenwriting featuring the book’s author, the screenwriter, and his fictional twin brother has to be one of the strangest Adaptations I’ve seen.

*Creator *by Jeremy Leven was rewritten for the screen by Jeremy Leven. He made it much better when he re-wrote it.

Still nowhere near another Stephen King adaptation (and I use the word “adaptation” in the loosest possible sense): Lawnmower Man. The movie has nothing in common with the short story apart from the title. It was billed as “Stephen King’s Lawnmower Man” despite the stories lacking similarities.

Herman Wouk once complained that one of his novels got adopted by Hollywood by changing a country man into an urban woman. I don’t recall which book or movie he was talking about, but it’s par for the course.

Most of the movies listed here really don’t have much of a change at all. You want Different, try these:

The Screaming Mimi and The Bird with the Crystal PLumage, both ostensibly based on Fredric Brown’s "The Screaming Mimi

The Day the Earth Stood Still, based on “Farewell to the Master” (And a good change it was)

Who Framed Roger Rabbiot, based on “Who Censored Roger Rabbit?”, another good change

The Terrornauts based on Murray Leinsters “The Wailing Asteroid”

Starship Troopers – no more need be said

I, Robot – ditto

The Osterman Weekens, based, supposedly, on the Robert Ludlum book of the same name

Both versions of The Bourne Identity, for that matter.

Ice Station Zebra by Alistair Maclean

The James Bond novels-to-movies Casino Royale (the 1967 version), Doctor No, You Only Live Twice, Live and Let Die, Moonraker, The Spy Who Loved Me (arguably the winner in this derby), The Man with the Golden Gun, Octopussy, and The Living Daylights

This Island Earth, to my chagrin, given my name

Invasion of the Saucermen (Based on Wellman’s “The Space Frame”), Total Recall (based on Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”), and Mimic (based on Donald Wollheim’s “Mimic”) all actually covered the original story, but then had so much time left on their hands that 70% or more of each has nothing to do with the original idea.

Philip K. Dick ought to get his own category. Compare the book or story versions he wrote with **Bladerunner, Paycheck, Screamers, Total Recall, ** or Minority Report with his original. About the only time they were faithful was A Scanner Darkly.
I’d like to see Frddric Brown done properly one of these days – either his science fiction, or his fantasy, or his detective fiction. Besides what’s listed above, we have vastly changed versions of Arena, Martian Go Home, and Knock 3-1-2.

I’d like to se Robert Sheckley’s stuff done properly, too. Freejack had virtually nothing to do with “Immortality, Inc.” and The Tenth Victiom little to do with “The Seventh Victim”. Disney’s Condorman wasn’t exactly his “The Game of X”… I’m curious to see how well “Masters of Science Fiction” did with his “Watchbird”. It wasn’t broadcast, but I noticed over the weekend that it’s now out on the DVD (as Exapno had predicted). I’m almost curious enough to pick it up, except that most of the rest of the series was awful. Sheckley has to be the most ripped-off author. I thought that Total Recall, The Running Man , and other films lifted ideas from him without attribution.

Most changed: Woody Allen’s movie based on the book “Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex And Were Afraid To Ask.”

And, although you didn’t ask, the least changed: Shane, the movie version of which is almost a word for word reenactment of the book.

Most changed: The Stepford Wives

Least changed: Rosemary’s Baby.

Another mainstreamer: The Firm. The movie looks as if the studio lawyers got their hands on the screenplay before it could be shot.

Although there’s much to be said for R.C./ Semone’s choice (changing a question and answer book to a set of comedy skits – and you could argue that [V]How to Succeedc in Businesxs Without Really Trying** did something similar), no one really expected the movie to be at all like the book, and I think the OP was looking for cases where you’d think you could get close to filming the book with minimal changes. As I argue above, The Spy Who Loved Me arguably fits this bill the best. The James Bond movies had by this time given up even trying to be faithful to the books, with just a token nod to authenticity (like the “mud bath” scene at the beginning of Diamonds are Forever). But in this case they had an iron-clad reason NOT to do it – Ian Fleming explixcitly sold only the title in that case, and wouldn’t allow them to use the plot. So the movie very deliberatyely has nothing to do with the novel.
Of course, there was never much chance of that one being adapted at all faithdfully anyway – told from the point of view of the heroine, most of the book having nothing to do with Bond, and all the action taking place at a little middle-of-nowhere motel in upstate New York. No sweep, no supertechnology. The only concession to things Bondian was a villain with Allopecia, making his appearance memorable.
But in this case, an arguably filmable book had not an iota of its content retained for the screen version. And that was forbidden by the author. That’s way beyond Woody Allen’s EYWTKAS, which retained the book’s question-and-answer style, and even (I think) one of the actual questions.

The 2001 film version of Kingdom Come (with LL Cool J) did not resemble the 1996 Mark Waid / Alex Ross comic.


Mean Girls was adapted in a similar fashion - it’s not a novel, just a book about social relationships among high school girls.

For least changed, I’d nominate The Maltese Falcon and No Country for Old Men.


How about The Treasure of the Sierra Madre?

For least, I’d go with The Andromeda Strain – they changed the sex of one character, with no major repercussions. Everything else is practically straight from the book.

Or how about Sin City? It’s a graphic novel, true, but that hasn;t stopped movies from rewriting them (look at The League of Extraordinary Gentlen, or From Hell). They literally used pages from Miller’s book as production drawings for the movie.
You could almost say the same from 300, but they actually added significant material for that film.