The 10 most successful films based on popular novels, ranked

Movies based on popular novels often do strong business at the box office.

Most of us know that some of our favorite movies have been launched by the publication of a popular novel, but the age-old discussion ‘Which is better: the book or the movie?’ it’s a tough debate when it comes to these movies.

The Marvel franchise, for example, technically stems from a comic book series and has proven to be a blockbuster hit in every form, but many novels and film adaptations grew out of a book and a big idea.

To make a list of the top-grossing novel adaptations at the box office, most of the top 20 would be filled with Harry Potter movie, Jurassic Park movie and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. If we combine these series, we can see a somewhat surprising list of the best novels adapted for the big screen.


10 Alice and Wonderland: $1 billion

The novel published by Lewis Carroll in 1865 has been adapted again and again, first coming to life during Hollywood’s silent film era. After appearing on the big screen more than 20 times, the 2010 adaptation by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp has grossed more than a billion at the box office.

9 IT – $1.1 billion

Stephen King can always be counted on for spooky fun; whether it is through his novels such as “IT”, published in 1986 or through the film adaptation. IT was first brought to the television screen in a 1990 miniseries, then in 2017 and 2019, Pennywise the clown haunted the big screen, in a two-part film. According to Cheat Sheet, King has written nearly 60 novels over the course of his career, and at least two dozen of them have been adapted for film.

8 Jaws – $1.15 billion (adjusted)

The 1975 thriller has to be included because it is known as the top summer blockbuster of all time. Furthermore, it is based on a 1974 novel by Peter Benchley. The novel was a success, but nothing prepared Hollywood for Steven Spielberg’s adaptation. He omitted much of the novel’s subplots and concentrated on the shark and the three main characters, played by Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw.

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7 50 Shades of Grey: $1.3 billion

The highest-grossing erotic love story of all time has come to terms with a trilogy based on the novels by EL James. Popular novels have risen to the top of the list for avid readers and during publication. His first film in the series was released in 2011 and the first film was released in theaters in 2015. Two sequels followed in 2017 and 2018, starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan.

6 James Bond: $2.3 billion

The first film in the series, Dr. No it debuted in 1963 and led to more than 25 additional films. Some may forget, however, that the series was based on a set of 12 novels written by Ian Fleming, a British author with a penchant for 007 and all things Secret Service. Over the years, audiences have flocked to see Sean Connery, Pierce Bronson, and Daniel Craig as the immortalized, classy, ​​handsome character.

5 The Lord of the Rings – $2.9 billion

The film series derives from a 1954 novel by JRR Tolkien and while the books (a total of three) were popular, Tolkien may have been surprised to see what director Peter Jackson does with them in the 2001 trilogy on the big screen. According to Marie Claire, Jackson filmed the entire series over the course of just one year with stars like Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett and Orlando Bloom.

4 The Hunger Games: $2.9 billion

Suzanne Collins released the first of three novels in 2008 and the first of four films released in 2012. Not only did the story of a dystopian world and the struggle to survive draw audiences to the theater over and over again, it also brought us Jennifer Lawrence’s biggest film role at the time. Other stars of the franchise include Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks.

3 Twilight – $3.3 billion

Who doesn’t love a story of star-crossed lovers, who go to extremes to be together? In 2005, Stephenie Meyer released the first of four in Dusk series and the first film was released in theaters in 2008. The original film and four additional films (the last novel was split into two parts for the theatrical version) starred Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, launching the two into the A-list of Hollywood and the rest is history.

2 Jurassic Park: $6 billion

The ‘Jurassic Park’ franchise already holds some records as it continues to rake in profits at drive-ins and theaters across the country decades after its original release. The book, written by Michael Crichton, was released in 1990, and director Steven Spielberg released his stage adaptation in 1993. According to Movie Web, the success sparked a franchise that would go on to earn over $6 billion at the box office.

1 Harry Potter: $7.7 billion

In 1997, JK Rowling released her first book in the Harry Potter series, followed by six more novels. The seven novels were adapted for the big screen as eight films starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson and took the world by storm. The Potter franchise made $1.3 billion for the eighth and final film alone. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2making it the highest-grossing book-to-film adaptation in history.

Sources: CheatSheet, MarieClaire, MovieWeb

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