56 Film Adaptations That Are BETTER Than the Book (Yep, We're Going There)
Think the book is always better than the movie adaptation? Think again! We asked the avid readers in our POPSUGAR Book Club Facebook Group if they could think of a movie adaptation that's better than the book, and they had a lot of thoughts on the subject!
For some, a childhood favorite film couldn't compete with the book read as an adult, like The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, or The Princess Bride. For others, the book might have been OK or even good, but the movie was just so phenomenal it overshadowed its source material, like The Shawshank Redemption or The Godfather. Or it could be as simple as a film's outstanding casting choices, smart plot change-ups, or over-the-top cinematic visuals. Some of these picks may even be a little controversial — like Crazy Rich Asians, Gone Girl, and The Hunger Games — but everyone is welcome to their opinion here, and you may even discover you're not the only one who prefers certain movies to the books that inspired them.
Dive into reader-approved book-to-movie adaptation recommendations from our book club members ahead, and get in on the fun by joining our book-loving community here!
The Princess Bride
"The Princess Bride, although the book was also good. The movie was so clever and caught the characterization so perfectly. That's why it is one of my only 'movie is better than the book' choices."
— Deb M.
"Practical Magic the movie is soooooo much better than the book. But that's more because Alice Hoffman has fantastic ideas but her actual writing style is bad. I have read or attempted to read so many of her books because the premise is awesome and I'm excited to see where it goes. But almost always the actual reading feels like such a chore."
— Tamara F.
"Forrest Gump is a great book and is VERY different from the movie. Where the movie is 'feel good,' the book [is] very gritty."
— Natalie P.
Crazy Rich Asians
"The books were fun . . . but the humor in them fell more on the juvenalian side. The movie was much more lighthearted."
— M. S.
"Crazy Rich Asians is a rare case where I wish I'd seen the movie before I read the book. In reading it, I had a lot of trouble keeping track of all of the characters. I read the first one, watched the movie, then read the sequels. When reading the sequels, I was better able to 'keep track' of everyone because I had faces to put to the names."
— Cloi R.
"I read The Notebook last year and barely got through it. Noah was so boring!"
— Erin B.
"I prefer The Notebook movie over the book. Especially the movie ending. The book ending felt weird to me. In the movie, they pass away holding each other's hands. In the book, they make love. It weirds me out because she has dementia and snaps in and out of lucidity quickly."
— Mandy F. P.
"Hidden Figures was a much better story as a film than a book. The book was fine, I guess, but the storytelling was sloppy and there were points where the characters got jumbled together. The movie gave these women the story and character they deserved."
— Amy C.
"The story is so inspirational, but the book was a slog to get through."
— Melissa C.
The Devil Wears Prada
"The Devil Wears Prada. The book was entertaining, but the movie was SO much better."
— Caity G.
"The Godfather. The movie is a cinematic masterpiece. The book isn't really great."
— Susan G.
The Jane Austen Book Club
"Jane Austen Book Club movie was better. They made the characters a little more likable."
— Nikki R.
Legends of the Fall
"Legends of the Fall, my all-time favorite movie. I could watch it over and over. But I have never been able to make it through the book."
— Danielle M.
"Brad Pitt sure makes Tristan hotter than I could imagine."
— Nicole G.
Quite a few of our book club members called out the classic Steven Spielberg-directed 1975 thriller as being superior to the 1974 novel Jaws by Peter Benchley.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette
"I loved the book Where'd You Go, Bernadette, but I loved the movie even more (especially the changed ending, what they cut out, etc.)."
— Brandy K.
The iconic Steven Spielberg-directed 1993 sci-fi adventure film was one of the most popular picks to beat out its literary source material (in this case, the 1990 novel Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton) in the book club discussion.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
"[In the movies] they fill in the gaps with the things Tolkien didn't visually describe."
— Rebecca T. C.
"Fight Club. The movie — cast, cinematography, soundtrack, etc. etc. make the film so fantastic."
— Sonia O.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
"I think about this question more than a person should. The Silence of the Lambs and The Princess Bride are great books with even better movies. Searching for Bobby Fischer is an OK book with a great movie. The Devil Wears Prada and The Perks of Being a Wallflower are . . . not good books with good movies."
— Blaine B.
The Shawshank Redemption
"Shawshank Redemption. Book is excellent, too, but the movie is untouchable!"
— Megan H.
The Hunger Games Series
Several book clubbers preferred the four-film Hunger Games series starring Jennifer Lawrence to the Suzanne Collins-penned sci-fi YA Hunger Games trilogy.
Life of Pi
"Life of Pi. The book was wonderful, but the movie did an extraordinary job of bringing the visions to life."
— Karen T.
Bridget Jones's Diary
"Bridget Jones's Diary. In the movie, she was quirky and amusing. In the book, she was a pathetic example of every negative stereotype about single women."
— Tina M.
The Silence of the Lambs
According to readers, Thomas Harris's 1988 psychological horror novel The Silence of the Lambs couldn't compete with the 1991 film starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins in his chilling role as Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
The English Patient
Several book club members wrote that the 1992 historical fiction novel by Michael Ondaatje couldn't hold a candle to the 1996 epic romantic war drama film starring Ralph Fiennes.
"Austenland! I love how the movie celebrated female strength and friendship, when the book . . . didn't!"
— Jaimie C.
Gone With the Wind
"I'm just gonna say it . . . Gone with the Wind."
— Charlotte W.
"I thought the movie Room was much better than the book. I was very 'meh' about the book, but loved the movie."
— Alison K.
"Wasn't a fan of the book, but I really liked the movie, the casting was so solid. It's the only time I've ever liked a movie more than a book!"
— Cassandra V.
A Time to Kill
A few readers weighed in that they were more into the 1996 crime drama starring Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey than the book that it was based on, John Grisham's 1989 legal thriller A Time to Kill.
"I really preferred Greta Gerwig's Little Women to the book."
— Lisa P.
"The book bored me to tears. All the stuff where he was figuring out how to make fertilizer and everything was so dry."
— Serena B.
The Twilight Series
"I loved the books at 18. Now I can't get past [the] first few chapters without thinking, 'OMG date a college guy and get over it,' but I still like the movies."
— Alyssa M.
"The movie was more magical for me [than the book]."
— Kari H.
"Beaches is a great movie and a terrible book, in my humble opinion."
— Cindy D. C.
The classic 1964 musical fantasy film starring Julie Andrews beat out the children's short stories by P. L. Travers that inspired it, with one reader even describing the source material as "disturbing."
More than one book clubber said they preferred the 2009 stop-motion animated dark fantasy horror film over Neil Gaiman's 2002 novella that it is based on.
For several book club members, the 2011 film (that features an all-star cast with Jessica Chastain, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Allison Janney, Octavia Spencer, and Emma Stone) outshined the 2009 historical fiction novel by Kathryn Stockett.
The 2007 romantic war drama film starring James McAvoy and Keira Knightley was called out in the group as surpassing the book it is based on, in this case, Ian McEwan's 2001 historical fiction novel.
No Country For Old Men
"I respect Cormac McCarthy immensely, especially The Road, but Tommy Lee Jones nailed his character, and I was scared of the onscreen version of Chigurh."
— Justin S.
The Wizard of Oz
"The Wizard of Oz . . . but I watched the movie dozens of times before I ever read the book, so my opinion is very biased."
— Eileen M.
"Blade Runner ([based on the novel] Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) is infinitely better."
— Valerie R.
Ready Player One
"I really enjoyed the changes that were made for Ready Player One. I don't know if it was 'better,' but I don't think it would have been as good if the games played were the same as the ones in the book."
— Jessica S.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
"Hunter Thompson wrote a good book, but Johnny Depp nailed the movie version."
— Justin S.
Call Me by Your Name
"There were two major things that I thought made the movie better (no, I'm not going to say Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer, even though they were both amazing). I thought the shift from Elio's perspective in the book to a third-person perspective in the movie made the story more well rounded and accessible. I also thought that, in the movie, you had three main characters — Elio, Oliver, and Italy. The dreamy atmosphere of the Italian countryside made the whole love story feel so otherworldly and wonderful. The whole book pretty much takes place in Elio's head, but in the movie, the story sprawls across this amazing storybook backdrop. It was incredible."
— Amy K.
Silver Linings Playbook
Matthew Quick's 2008 novel didn't impress readers as much as the 2012 romantic comedy film starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.
The Da Vinci Code
"I actually liked The Da Vinci Code movie about 10 times as much as the book."
— Iris M.
According to readers, Michael Cunningham's 1998 novel couldn't compete with the 2002 psychological drama film starring Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, and Nicole Kidman.
Readers found the 2000 satirical psychological horror film starring Christian Bale superior to Bret Easton Ellis's 1991 novel.
Colm Tóibín's 2009 historical novel couldn't outshine the 2015 romantic historical drama film starring Saoirse Ronan, according to several readers.
Under the Tuscan Sun
The 2003 romantic comedy drama starring Diane Lane won over our book clubbers more than Frances Mayes' 1996 memoir, which it is based on.
Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children
"The ending in Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children was better in the movie than in the book. It was fairly close to the movie until the end."
— Lilly R.
"Legally Blonde was a book [first]. The movie is 100 percent better."
— Heather W.
"Contact. [The] movie adaptation made some really smart choices for a lot of the plot."
— Lauren F.
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
"The Boy in Striped Pyjamas is definitely one of the worst books ever written. The film is fantastic."
— Kate M.
Just Like Heaven
"I always thought the movie Just Like Heaven was cuter and more enjoyable than the original book!"
— Kara R.