Even the best-selling books that spend weeks, months or years at the top of best-sellers lists around the country can't guarantee the success of a movie based on the original story. While some movie versions are major successes and spin off into other movies, franchises, clothing lines and more, others are best left forgotten. Explore some of the most popular books ever written that didn't translate into equally great movies.
"The DaVinci Code" by Dan Brown was a controversial and best-selling novel about a dangerous, religious secret that had been kept under wraps for centuries before being exposed by symbologist Robert London. The movie, which was released in 2006, made $217 million at the box office.
Film critic Brandon Fibbs said of the movie, "So intent on being faithful, 'The DaVinci Code' forgets to be entertaining."
"Bonfire of the Vanities" by Tom Wolfe was a bestseller and major commercial success when the book was released in 1987, telling a story of politics, greed and racism in New York City during the 1980s.
The movie, released in 1990, starring Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis and Melanie Griffith, was a flop prompting one critic to say, "[The] screenplay eviscerates Tom Wolfe's forceful work of social criticism of its moral meaning."
"A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" was first released as a graphic novel series set in the Victorian era. The series won multiple awards for its story lines and illustrations. A movie based on the comics was released in 2003 to a very poor reception prompting movie critic Robert Roeper to call it "odd, loud, unintentionally funny and quite awful."
"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams was released in 1979 in the comedy science fiction and is a fictional guide for hitchhikers written in the style of an encyclopedia. The movie, which was released in 2005, earned just $50 million at the box office and was a disappointment to fans of the original book.
John Grisham's comedy novel "Skipping Christmas" hit the number one spot on the New York Times' Bestseller list and was the inspiration for the box office bomb "Christmas with the Kranks" which critics called an "unfunny disaster."
When the first novel in the "Left Behind" series came out, it was a smashing success and hit the New York Times Bestseller list, as did seven of the 16 books in the series. However, "Left Behind: The Movie" movie, starring Kirk Cameron, only brought in $3 million and even though it was the most ambitious Christian film ever made, it only garnered heavy criticism and extremely negative reviews.
First published in 1850, "The Scarlet Letter" enraged religious leaders who took issue with the idea of a Puritan woman conceiving a child out of wedlock, but was praised by critics of the day. The 1995 movie version of "The Scarlet Letter" starring Demi Moore and Gary Oldham was a sharp deviation from the book and was universally panned by critics winning "Worst Remake or Sequel" at the 1995 Golden Raspberry Awards.
Jonathan Swift's timeless classic was published in 1726 and was an instant hit and has never gone out of print. It has been made into a movie several times, but the 2010 version of "Gulliver's Travels (2010)" starring Jack Black was considered to be an utter failure. Rolling Stone magazine called the film "a dumb excuse for a movie."
In 1976, Isaac Asimov's "Bicentennial Man" won the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for best science fiction novelette, being part of a series originally intended to celebrate the bicentennial birthday of the United States.
The "Bicentennial Man" movie based on the book, starring Robin Williams, was released in 1999 to poor reviews, being considered a bland and boring interpretation of the book.
"The Kite Runner" spent more than years on the New York Times Bestsellers list, telling a story of friendship between two Afghan boys from different worlds. In 2007, the movie version was released and only took in $15 million at the box office, pointing to disappointed audiences, although it was praised by critics.
"Great Expectations" is a classic novel by Charles Dickens first published as a weekly periodical story in the early 1860s. The story has been adapted numerous times for film and television, plays and other media. The 1998 adaption of "Great Expectations" , set in modern times, starring Ethan Hawke, Hank Azaria and Gweneth Paltrow was expected to draw big crowds, but not even the hottest stars could save the film from being being called "more of a tragedy than a story."
"The Black Cauldron" by Lloyd Alexander was a hit in 1966, placing as runner-up for the year's "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children."
Its high fantasy drew Disney's attention and an animated film of the same name was released in 1985, considered a very loose adaption of the original story and was named "Disney's worst animated film" by a critic.
Alexandra Dumas wrote "The Three Musketeers" as a serial story, first published in 1844 following the adventures of d'Artagnan and his three inseparable friends Porthos, Athos and Aramis. It has been made into movies, plays, TV shows and comic books. The 1993 Disney-made film of "The Three Musketeers (1993)" was a comedic adaptation with an all-star cast, but was a box office dud as it incorrectly interpreted French history and was a very lose retelling of a beloved classic.
Written by Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, the book "Battlefield Earth" was released to mixed reviews, but still landed on the New York Times, LA Times and Time magazine's bestseller lists. The "Battlefield Earth" movie, released in 2000, starred famed Scientologist John Travolta and was hailed as "the worst movie ever made" for hammy acting, poor camera angles, plot inconsistencies and corny dialogue.
"The Time Traveler's Wife" was a first novel for author Audrey Niffenegger, and it became an award-winning best-seller after it was featured on "The Today Show." In 2009, a movie adaptation was released, which the New York Times promptly called "ridiculous, awkward [and] unsatisfying."
Author F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel "The Great Gatsby" was first published in 1925, although its popularity didn't take off until it was republished decades later. It is considered a literary classic, but the 1974 movie, the third film to be made based on the book, while a financial success, was a bomb with critics for being lacking any of the true emotion of the book. A remake is scheduled for release in 2012.
Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love" was a memoir about her travels through the world and lessons she'd learned following a painful divorce. It was praised by the New York Times, Time magazine and even Oprah Winfrey. The movie, however, was heavily criticized for not being able to carry the emotional weight portrayed in the book and for being "too whiny."
Instant best-seller "The Lovely Bones" was a major success for author Alice Sebold as she told the tale of a murdered girl watching from heaven as her family struggles to move on. Even though the film adaptation had big stars like Mark Walhberg and garnered a "Best Supporting Actor" Academy Award nomination, it struggled to find success as critics felt it was a poor retelling of a great story.
"All the King's Men" by Robert Penn Warren won the author a Pulitzer Prize in 1947 and made TIME Magazine's "Best 100 Novels Since 1923" list.
The 1949 film adaptation won the Academy Award for Best Picture that same year; however, it was remade in 2006. Critics said the 2006 version, which was meant to be truer to the original story than the first film adaptation, was dull, lacked focus and had poor writing and underwhelming acting despite an all-star cast.
Theodore Geisel, otherwise known as "Dr. Seuss," wrote his most famous story in the "Beginner Books" series, "The Cat in the Hat," to help encourage kids to read and in response to a challenge to write a book first-graders couldn't put down. It was a smashing success among early readers and parents for decades. Although a cartoon had already been made, a film adaption was released in 2003, taking in $100 million, but was universally considered to be a major disappointment for crude humor, mature content and adult language.