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40 Popular Movies You Didn't Know Were Based On Books

*runs out to buy the 'Legally Blonde' book*
PHOTO: (LEFT) Freaky Friday/Buena Vista PIctures, (RIGHT) Silver Linings Playbook/The Weinstein Company

You know how there's always that one friend who's like, "Well, the book was *way* better than the movie. Have you not read it yet?" Yeah, we all have 'em! And they probably mean well, but it's still annoying! So here's a handy list of fan-favorite movies that were actually based on books for you to memorize before the next time you hang out with that know-it-all cultured friend of yours. Gonna go out on a limb here and say that most people probably don't know that these movies have literary origins because the film versions are just as good, if not—in some cases at least—better!

1. Die Hard

Surprise: Bruce Willis' classic action movie was first a book entitled Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp. However, the name of the protagonist had to be changed from Joe Leland to John McClane because Nothing Lasts Forever is actually the second book in the series—the first was already made into a movie in 1966.

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2. Red Sparrow

Jennifer Lawrence's spy thriller didn't just spring from the minds of a group of screenwriters—it's actually based on the Red Sparrow trilogy by Jason Matthews, a veteran CIA officer.

3. How To Be Single

Yeah, it also seems weird to me that this silly movie was originally a novel (How To Be Single by Liz Tuccillo), but facts are facts!

4. The Help

Yep, the idea for "poop pie" came from the mind of Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, not Emma Stone.

5. Freaky Friday

Freaky Friday, also known as some of Lindsay Lohan's BEST work (don't @ me), started as a children's book called Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers.

6. The Parent Trap

And speaking of Lilo's best work, another top-ranking movie in her oeuvre, The Parent Trap, was inspired by a novel. The German novel, Lottie And Lisa by Erich Kästner, was first published in 1949 and has been turned into various film adaptions across multiple countries—but I think we can all agree that this version is the best!

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7. Cats

So pretty much everyone knows that Cats was a musical before Taylor Swift grew fur and helped turn it into a movie. (Help.) But did you know that the musical was based on a book, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot? Didn't think so!

8. Clueless

Okay, so this is a biiit of a stretch, but many consider this teen favorite a take on Jane Austen's classic Emma. I can see it, tbh.

9. A Simple Favor

Truly shook that this story took an author (it was originally A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell), a screenwriter, Anna Kendrick, and Blake Lively wearing suits for months to reach its final form, but that's Hollywood, baby!

10. Jurassic Park

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Michael Crichton for writing the book Jurassic Park in 1990, which eventually become the cultural juggernaut that it is today. And my gratitude is mostly going out to the Jurassic Park ride at the Universal Studios theme park—real ones will know what I'm talking about.

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11. Forrest Gump

Yes, I am also very shook that Forrest Gump started out as a book (Forrest Gump by Winston Groom), but let's all note that the book was way less popular than the film, and in my opinion, that speaks to the power of American treasure Tom Hanks.

12. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Sure, not a lot of people saw this movie, but I'm guessing even fewer people know that this film was first a book named The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days In Afghanistan And Pakistan by Kim Barker.

13. It's A Wonderful Life

If you've ever watched It's A Wonderful Life with your fam around Christmas time, you might know that the 1946 movie began as the book The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern. But before you go seeking out this source material, I should warn you that the movie changed a lot of the material from the book (which, side note: clearly worked out for 'em—it's now a classic, after all).

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14. Jaws

Peter Benchley, the author of Jaws, was so upset by the reputation the movie adaption of his book gave sharks that he later became an ardent ocean conservationist. I'm all for protecting the oceans, but I'm pretty sure I'd still be terrified of sharks even without this classic film, though!

15. Legally Blonde

Hard to believe, I know, but Legally Blonde was a book before it was a movie (called Legally Blonde by Amanda Brown). In the novel, Elle heads to Stanford Law School—gasp!—not Harvard.

16. Mrs. Doubtfire

Hi, have you ever heard of Alias Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine, otherwise known as the inspo for Mrs. Doubtfire, the movie? Didn't think so.

17. The Shawshank Redemption

Twist: The Shawshank Redemption was based on a short story by Stephen King called Rita Hayworth And Shawshank Redemption.

18. Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates

This story went from an ad that went viral, to a book by the creators of said ad (Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates And A Thousand Cocktails by Mike and Dave Stangle), to a major motion picture starring the human dreamboat known as Zac Efron, 'cause that's the world we live in today, people!

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19. Psycho

If you hate scary movies but still want a thrill, good news: Psycho the film started out as the book Psycho by Robert Bloch—no jump scares included.

20. The Duff

I don't know who needs to hear this, but apparently numerous rom-coms were books first, which means your list of beach reads just got a whole lot longer. This category of course includes the movie The Duff, otherwise known as the book The Duff by Kody Keplinger.

21. Fast Times At Ridgemont High

I was today years old when I learned that a) Fast Times At Ridgemont High was a TRUE story and b) it was based on a book (Fast Times At Ridgemont High: A True Story by Cameron Crowe). The more you know, I guess?

22. Mean Girls

Okay, so Tina Fey didn't base Mean Girls off of a book in the traditional way—while she created the story, characters, etc., herself, she was apparently also inspired by Rosalind Wiseman's self-help book Queen Bees And Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends & Other Realities Of Adolescence.

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23. He's Just Not That Into You

And speaking of self-help books that were turned into movies (and please raise your hand if you want a list just dedicated to those, because I'm sure that would be a ~journey~), the star-studded movie He's Just Not That Into You was based off of a dating advice book by the same name (He's Just Not That Into You: A No-Excuse Truth To Understanding Guys) by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo.

24. Slumdog Millionaire

Obviously the screenwriters did a great job of converting Vikas Swarup's book Q & A into a movie—not only did the film launch Dev Patel and Freida Pinto's careers, but it also won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2009.

25. The Princess Bride

It actually makes total sense that the classic romance/adventure movie The Princess Bride is based on a book, The Princess Bride by William Goldman—it's literally a fairytale!

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26. Silver Linings Playbook

And before JLaw starred in book-turned-movie Red Sparrow, she starred in book-turned-movie Silver Linings Playbook, based on Matthew Quick's debut novel The Silver Linings Playbook.

27. Pitch Perfect

Wow, nothing makes me happier than the fact that the Bellas exist IRL—or at least, people like them. The idea for Pitch Perfect is based on journalist Mickey Rapkin's deep-dive into the a capella scene on American college campuses, called Pitch Perfect: The Quest For Collegiate A Cappella Glory.

28. The Art Of Racing In The Rain

Remember that dog movie that Amanda Seyfried and Milo Ventigmilia did? Well, it was based on a book with the same name by Garth Stein.

29. American Sniper

While most of us know American Sniper as the movie that tried to get away with using a doll for a baby and hoping no one would notice, Chris Kyle knows it as his autobiography by the same name.

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30. Blade Runner

Continuing on our journey of action movies that you could originally find in a bookstore, Harrison Ford's hit Blade Runner began as the weirdly titled Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.

31. The Birds

Another horror story that you can read from the comfort of your bed instead of watching it (yay?): The Birds. It actually started out as a short story in the book The Apple Tree by Daphne Du Maurier, but after the film got popular, the collection was reprinted as The Birds And Other Stories. That's just the power of Hitchcock.

32. Breakfast At Tiffany's

Technically this film is based on a ~novella~ rather than a book, but still, the cult fave started off as Breakfast At Tiffany's by Truman Capote.

33. Austenland

It actually seems pretty logical that this movie about a woman who is obsessed with Jane Austen's book is based off of a book (reading is fun, kids!). And the book in question is Austenland by Shannon Hale.

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34. The Wolf Of Wall Street

The Wolf Of Wall Street is a *wild* ride, but it's even wilder to think that it's based on a real person and that real person's memoir, aka The Wolf Of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort.

35. The First Wives Club

This work of ART has blessed us in three forms: First, a novel called The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith in 1992, then a movie starring these <<< three legends in 1996, and then it provided the inspiration for Ariana Grande's "thank u, next" performance in 2018. What a beautiful evolution!

36. 101 Dalmatians

Sorry to break it to you, friends, but Disney didn't come up with the idea for the classic 101 Dalmatians—it's based on Dodie Smith's 1956 children's book The Hundred And One Dalmatians.

37. The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book, another one of Disney's earliest animated films, was also an adaption. The 1967 film is based on Rudyard Kipling's book of the same name, though the songs were all Disney's doing.

38. Million Dollar Baby

A book-to-movie success story if I've ever seen one: After adapting F.X. Toole's Rope Burns: Stories From The Corner for the big screen, the movie went on to sweep the Academy Awards, winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor.

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39. Something Borrowed

Your favorite plane movie also didn't start out for the screen—it originated as the novel Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin.

40. Jumanji

The new Jumanji (2018) is its own situation, but the OG Jumanji movie, which came out in 1995, was based on the book Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg, and, fun fact, it scared me as a little kid.


This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.