What Makes A Book-To-Film Adaptation So Successful

Book-to-Film Adaptations: The Formula to Success

Who doesn’t love movies? The film industry undeniably provides captivating movies, but some of those stories once started as a novel.

When was the last time you were captivated by a book? Novels don’t quickly achieve the same level of fame as films do, and the ones you hear about are usually after their movie counterpart has released. That makes sense when you think about watching a 90-minute movie that visually presents this fantasy world and compares it to a 400-page read.

And how do filmmakers create such compelling characters? Well, from books, of course. For example, James Bond is one of the most internationally recognizable names. Interestingly, it was first introduced in a novel by Ian Fleming.

Since the audience was so captivated by the MI6 spy, film sequels wrote themselves for almost six decades. The James Bond series has just been one example of the legacy that the film and book industry has built together.

Is There an Obvious Trend?

Not all books get adapted into movies and not all that do achieve success. After looking at some of the most iconic adaptations, we’ve found some interesting trends. Let’s talk about what makes a book-to-film adaptation work based on the findings from Betway.

Make It a Series

You may recognize Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, and the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit stories. You may have even read them before and watched all the movies. Interestingly, many of the films within the series are heavily featured among the top-10 highest-grossing adaptations of all time.

It seems that each addition to the series does better than the last. After many novels and movies (seven books and eight movies for Harry Potter and four main books and six films for the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit), it’s understandable the franchise gets more popular with each release.

New media means a unique opportunity to captivate new fans who, in turn, share their enthusiasm with those around them. The hype and hysteria build as people wait for a new story to drop.

Fan’s dedication to a series means it’s unlikely for new releases to fail, especially by the end of its film journey. This trend is seen in the top 10 most lucrative adaptions, with the final movies ranking high on the list.

Of course, money isn’t everything – audience and critical ratings tell us much more about a movie.

Have High Ratings

If an audience likes your work, you will definitely hear about it. If you’re not a reviewer, you will still hear the buzz about a new movie that’s on everyone’s minds. IMDB has been the go-to place for most media reviews.

Interestingly, on their list of highly-rated film adaptations, only two are from our previous list, and they happen to be from the same series. The rest of the movies are standalone movies that were not as profitable as franchises.

Curiously, the Harry Potter series did not list as highly-rated film adaptations, yet, almost half of them are top the highest-grossing charts. Let’s explore how these books rank against their movies.

Rating the Harry Potter Franchise

Seeing much higher Goodreads scores than IMDB ratings, it seems that people enjoyed the books more. The fanbase showed up to support a movie based on their favorite story, driving up film sales.

At first glance, the Goodreads rating does not tell you how well a movie will be received. It seems that books tend to rate as well or higher than their movie counterpart, and stories that fair incredibly well earn more.

Formula for Success

After looking at some of the most beloved franchises, the winning recipe is clear. The most iconic movies started out as a novel, and their dedicated fanbase brings the film from great to legendary. But even though the audience may consist of fans, filmmakers still have to do their best to impress every viewer equally.


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