The book and film industries have a closer relationship than most people realize — Los Angeles Times reports that books have always been a huge source of raw material for Hollywood. But with the rise of streaming services, there has been an explosion of book-to-screen deals over the last decade. In this article, we’ll be taking a trip down memory lane and give you five of the best book-to-movie adaptations of the last decade.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
After the success of the Lord of the Rings movies in the early 2000s, it was only a matter of time before we saw the original Middle Earth book adapted for the big screen. Based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the prequel to the Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson made three films to cover the events in the book. The first of the trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, was released in 2012. It covers the first six chapters of the book, where the mild-mannered homebody Bilbo is first presented as an awkward adventurer who’s asked to undertake a grand adventure. What makes this movie stand out from the trilogy is that it captures the fairy tale-like quality of the book, which was aimed at children, so it doesn’t have the same dark intensity as the Lord of the Rings.
It Chapter One (2017)
It Chapter One is based on a 1986 classic novel of the same name by Stephen King. The novel is told in a nonlinear fashion. It’s also complex and notoriously long, with 1,138 pages, making it difficult to keep track of the many events. However, the 2017 film adaptation only covers the children’s story, from the death of Georgie to the end of summer when the Losers Club swear a blood oath to defeat It if it comes back to Derry. This covers roughly half of the book, and it’s regarded as one of the best adaptations of a Stephen King novel.
The Hunger Games (2012)
The Hunger Games movies are based on the trilogy of the same name by Suzanne Collins. The first movie, The Hunger Games, was released in 2012, and it set off a wave of young adult and dystopian books-to-movie adaptations, including Divergent and The Maze Runner. Another thing that makes the franchise iconic is that it presented girls with a powerful role model in the form of Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen on screen. The films also nicely captured the political commentary of the books, with the filmmakers clearly trusting the young adult audience to follow along. It worked.
Hidden Figures (2018)
The only nonfiction book-to-movie adaptation on this list, Hidden Figures is based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly. It tells the story of three brilliant black women — namely Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson — and their contributions to the Space Race while working at NASA in the 1960s. The film shows the racism and sexism that were rampant during that time, and how these women broke down barriers and fought for recognition. It’s also heart warming and inspiring, showing strong female friendships and their celebrations of small victories.
Little Women (2019)
This latest adaptation of the classic book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is perhaps the most refreshing one yet. What makes this adaptation different from the others is how director Greta Gerwig gave the youngest sister, Amy March, the character depth that previous versions of the movie didn’t deliver. This version also reframes the story from the sisters’ perspectives as adults as they flashback to their adventures when they were younger.