I’m a big fan of movies that were made from books, including comic books, short stories and novellas. In fact, probably around half the books I’ve read were either made from a movie, or became a movie eventually. Some of my favorite book-movie-conversions include Fight Club, The Godfather Parts I and II, The Hunt for Red October, Misery, Election, (Rita Hayworth and) The Shawshank Redemption, Silence of the Lambs, Ghost World and Lord of the Rings. There are countless others that don’t come to mind right away – I’m sure that if I looked through my bookshelf I’d find several additions to this list of favorites.
Here’s what bugs me: movie studios and publishers will take a perfectly good book and ruin it. You might be thinking that they butcher the story for the sake of a Hollywood audience – this happens all the time. And when it does, remember that it’s hard to ruin the actual book. The book lives on; it’s just the movie that sucks.
No, what bugs me is when they take a perfectly good cover and replace it with some stupid movie poster. Check out these before and after shots:
Exhibit A: the solemn and determined mug of Ben Affleck warning you to spend $14.95 on the book and an additional $9 at the movie theater (and watch his really crappy adaptation of the Jack Ryan thriller), or face nuclear holocaust.
To quote one of my old friends: “The only reason I won’t read The Sum of All Fears is because I can’t stand to have Ben Affleck looking at me every time I’m about to pick it up.”
Exhibit B: just when you thought this sci-fi cover couldn’t get any hokier, the book saw its silliness undone when they slapped John Travolta’s Psychlo face on the cover and adapted the book into one of the worst movies of all time (for additional commentary see my article on the 10 Best Worst Movies Ever).
Exhibit C: this one actually isn’t so bad. Pacino was a pretty good Lefty, and Depp was spot on as the conflicted but dedicated FBI agent. But the actors’ names are biggest than the author’s. That ain’t cool.
Exhibit D: it’s almost required to do this for James Bond. I can’t complain too much about this, since these movies succeed in resurrecting the books (and this outdated cover is badly in need of a makeover).
For additional information here is a list of books that became movies.