Some book-to-movie adaptations are on your radar the minute the rights are sold. You keep track of the casting, read every article about the movie’s progress, and attend the premiere (in costume, of course). Then you complain about any tiny detail that the movie left out in the adaptation, loudly complain to your friends that the book is always better, then go see the movie three more times because you just really love the story.
These movie adaptations are usually bestsellers. The books they're based upon are popular before the movie, and you probably read them once or twice or three times before the movie even became a thing. But then, there are also movies that you thought were just that: movies. You didn’t pick up a copy of the book before going to the theater, because you didn’t even know that the book version existed. You might even find the book in a store years later and pick it up, thinking that it seems familiar, but you can’t quite place why — yep, there are so many movies that you had no idea were based on books. Here are 15 of the most surprising book-to-movie adaptations:
1 'Mrs. Doubtfire'
This hilarious yet poignant comedy film was originally a children's novel called Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine.
2 'Blade Runner'
Blade Runner is based on the 1968 science fiction novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. Needless to say Dick was ahead of his time in writing this one.
3 'Pitch Perfect'
This musical was inspired by the nonfiction book Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate a Cappella Glory by Mickey Rapkin. Now it's hard to imagine the Pitch Perfect story without singing — but you can always read the book while listening to the soundtrack.
Steven Spielberg's hit that made you scared to swim was originally a 1974 novel: Jaws by Peter Benchley. Benchley was inspired to create the character Quint after learning of fisherman Frank Mundus.
Before Shrek was your favorite animated movie, it was a children's book called Shrek! by William Steig. Fun fact: the word "shrek" is based on the Yiddish word "schreck," which means fear or fright.
6 'The Birds'
Alfred Hitchcock was often inspired by author Daphne du Maurier. The Birds is based on her short story of the same name (and his film Rebecca is based on her novel of the same name).
7 'Mean Girls'
The movie written by Tina Fey is partially based on the nonfiction book Queen Bees and Wannabees by Rosalind Wiseman. Turns out truth also makes for great fiction.
8 'Die Hard'
This Christmas classic was originally a book called Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp. Fun fact: the thriller book is actually a sequel to the first in the series by Thorp, The Detective.
9 'The Parent Trap'
Your childhood favorite had a long journey from concept, to book, to screen. The Parent Trap was originally conceptualized as a movie by Erich Kästner, a screenwriter, but he was forbade by the Nazis to work. After World War II, Kästner turned the idea into a book called Lottie and Lisa. The book then went on to become a film — and a remake.
Election by Tom Perrotta was a black comedy novel before it was a film starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick.
11 'Freaky Friday'
Freaky Friday was released in 1976, and then a remake was released in 2003. The original story, however, was a children's book of the same name by Mary Rodgers published in 1972.
12 'The Princess Bride'
This cult classic movie was based on The Princess Bride by William Goldman. It's pretty much the perfect adaptation — probably because Goldman also wrote the screenplay.
13 'The Graduate'
Charles Webb wrote the novella The Graduate in 1963 after — you guessed it — graduating from college. Four years later it was adapted into the classic movie you love to quote today.
14 'Silver Linings Playbook'
This beloved film was based on The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. There are some big differences between the film and book, but if you're a fan of this movie, you should give the book a read.
This techno-thriller movie was based on YA book Nerve by Jeanne Ryan. The setup is the same — watchers view players doing dares in a game called NERVE.