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Who Knew? Eight Movies That Were (Surprisingly) Based on Books

Book-to-film adaptations are nothing new, and neither is that feeling of anticipation (or dread?) when you know that your favorite book is being adapted into a movie.

But what about a favorite movie that you didn’t know came from a book? It can be a pleasant surprise to find out that a great flick was a great read first.

Here's a list of movies that you might be shocked to find were based on books.

Are there any movies based on books that didn't make the list? Share your picks in the comment section below.

Nothing Lasts Forever

Die Hard, one of the best Christmas movies of all time (yes, it is a Christmas movie), and possibly the most influential action movie ever made, was a book first. While the novel and film do have some differences, including the name and age of the protagonist, they both share the same amazing action sequences and "man against the odds" thrills. Yippee ki yay indeed.


Before Daniel Day-Lewis chewed the screen to pieces as Daniel Plainview in Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood, Upton Sinclair's satire Oil! riveted readers in 1926. The movie is only a loose adaptation of the book, but you can definitely see the skeleton of the story there.

Rum Punch

Crime writer extraordinaire Elmore Leonard blessed us with Rum Punch, the inspiration for Quentin Tarantino's third film, Jackie Brown. A whip-smart crime novel overflowing with amazing characters and sharp dialogue, it's easy to see why Tarantino set his sights on this one.

Dream story

The great Stanley Kubrick based his final film, Eyes Wide Shut, on this 1926 novella. Swapping out the book's Vienna setting for New York City, he cast then-real-life husband and wife Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as a couple who take a strange and sometimes surreal journey through their sexual desires. 

Who Goes There

John Carpenter's terrifying 1982 horror masterpiece The Thing took its inspiration from this 1938 novella. Lean, mean, scary as hell, and surprisingly close to the film, this one is worth discovering the next time you're snowed in.

The Minority Report and Other Classic Stories

Sure, the main character of Philip K. Dick's 1956 short story The Minority Report is overweight and balding, and the main character in Steven Spielberg's adaptation is well, Tom Cruise, but there are other, more interesting differences between story and film that make this one well worth picking up. Not to mention the fact that it's written by one of the masters of sci-fi.

The Running Man

As Arnold Schwarzenegger was just beginning his ascension to the throne as King of the Box Office, he starred in The Running Man, a science-fiction action film focussed on the world's most twisted reality show. Its inspiration came from a novella by Stephen King, writing under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman, which takes a more satirical tone than the action-heavy movie.


Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas is on every cinephile's best-of list. Scorsese co-wrote the script with Nicholas Pileggi and based it on Pileggi's non-fiction book Wiseguy. It's a great companion to one of the greatest films of all time, adding some additional depth to already amazingly well-drawn characters. 


Book lover, movie buff. Marketing copywriter for Bookwitty. A cat-person, a dog-person, and a person-person.