When it comes to perfect material for the big screen you can’t beat the works of JRR Tolkien, it seems. Chris Price looks at the most successful book-to-film adaptations of all time including The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Next time you are chatting to your mates down the pub or at work and can’t think of anything to talk about, ask them what their favourite book-to-film adaptation is. It’s a subject that most of us don’t consider on a daily basis, but you’ll definitely have your favourite. Personally, I’ve always liked the original version of the sci-fi movie Blade Runner and recently read the book on which it’s loosely based, the wonderfully titled Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick. They’re very different but I enjoyed the book which is more philosophical and obviously less action-based.
Other times I’ve read the books first and wondered whether the films are going to be as good. Often they’re not (I was disappointed with Tom Hanks in The Da Vinci Code after imagining him to be completely different from the book), but sometimes they’re better – or at least more popular which isn’t always the same thing. Personally, I think this is the case with the Harry Potter movies. Which you perhaps won’t be surprised to hear was the verdict of Betway Casino which looked at the most successful book-to-film adaptations. Its research discovered that Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows II – the eighth and final film of the series, based on the JK Rowling novel – is the highest-grossing book to film adaptation of all time, having grossed $1.34 billion.
Of course, bringing in the most dosh doesn’t mean that it’s the most critically acclaimed. Indeed the 10 Highest Rating book-to-film adaptations don’t contain any of JK Rowling’s films, though I daresay she won’t be too upset. That accolade goes to The Shawshank Redemption (9.3 on IMDB) which is truly a great film, though I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read the Stephen King book. Indeed Stephen King, who has written an astonishing 62 novels, has proved a pretty reliable ‘go to’ author when it comes to scoring film hits even though many, including The Shawshank Redemption and The Shining, have proved to be more critical successes than box office hits.
However, there is one author that stands out from the crowd when it comes to successful book-to-film adaptations. And that’s the Lord of the Ring himself, JRR Tolkien. Not as if he knows too much about it, having died in 1973, but all three Lord of the Rings titles are in the Top 10 Highest Rated list (The Return of the King at number 2, The Fellowship of the Ring at number 3 and The Two Towers at number 5). Furthermore, four are in the highest grossing list including two Hobbit and two Lord of the Rings films. Indeed, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King is the second highest grossing book adaptation of all time, having taken a whopping $1.15 billion.
But just why is Tolkien’s work so popular on the big screen? Perhaps it’s the way his fantastical, imaginative worlds have been brought to life, the superb direction from Peter Jackson as well as the stunning backdrops of course. No wonder New Zealand, where the entire Lord of The Rings trilogy was filmed saw a 40% rise in tourism after the films were shown. Not sure the same happened in Edinburgh when Irvine Welsh’s gritty novel, Trainspotting, hit the big screen!
You can see the research here: https://blog.betway.com/casino/what-makes-a-book-to-film-adaptation-so-successful/