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What makes a book-to-film adaptation so successful?

Despite the film industry commonly drawing on books as a source of story inspiration, nowadays we still prefer to sit down with a 90 min movie than read a 400-page book.

Yet these 2 industries are intrinsically linked and either one wouldn’t be the same without the other.

Take the James Bond franchise for example where novelist Ian Fleming had written the entire book series even before the first film, Dr. No, was made.

Betway Casino looked into the most successful book-to-film adaptations and found the relationship between book and film benefit both industries. Successful films can often increase book sales, keeping alive the legacy of the character and author. While the best selling books can lead to box office hits at the cinema.




Making the top 10 top of grossing film adaptations of books are Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Alice in Wonderland and The Hobbit, all firmly established as iconic books, years before the film were released. All of these are of course books series adapted into numerous films, eight Harry Potter films, three Lord of the Rings films, while The Hobbit is one novel adapted into three films.

Having multiple books as source material only builds the popularity and hype of the franchise with each release.

With the huge anticipation that was built after seven books and films, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II was as close to a sure-fire hit as you could get.

But just because a book-to-film adaptation is successful in financial terms doesn’t mean it’s a hit with the critics, this can be seen in the IMDB ratings.




For example of the top-10 highest-grossing movies based on books, only two are rated among the top 10 on IMDB. Seven in the top 10 on IMDB are standalone releases. The other three gained universal global appeal partly due to being part of a huge franchise.

Three Harry Potter films featured in the top seven most lucrative films yet don’t feature in the 10 best-rated film adaptations.

When we compare the Harry Potter ratings on Goodreads and IMDB we find it’s the quality of the book series that often lead to huge film ticket sales. The common pattern is that the book always gets a higher rating than its subsequent film adaptation.

This theme that the most popular and iconic book series produce more financially successful films can be seen more generally too.

Six of the seven standalone releases in the top 10 IMDB film adaptations were rated higher by IMDB than Goodreads – the film was considered critically better than the book, yet were not as financially successful compared to films made from higher-rated books.


This trend continues, as with all the top 10 highest-grossing book-to-film adaptions, none are rated higher than the books. Great examples would be Alice in Wonderland and The Hobbit books

So while films are more accessible and have a bigger reach than books, being linked to an iconic book series increases the odds of having a financial hit.

Look no further than Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises that have set the high benchmark for how successful a book-film franchise can be.

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