By Rinshi Ansari, December 30, 2022

You get delighted when a book you adore is made into a movie. It’s challenging not to harbour hopes. The imaginary places and characters you have created are about to come to life on the big screen. Will they resemble the image you had in your head? Will the drama and page-turning suspense that made the novel so good be present in the scenes as well? What new elements will the film bring to the novel that will surprise you and give the narrative a new sense of life? There are countless options!

So what happens if the movie ends up being a complete dud? Although it is disappointing, there is much more to it than that. Now the books we adore will always be linked to a film that essentially no one liked. You won’t be able to stop yourself from having visions of the (very terrible) movie in your head if you ever reread the book. In other words, it’s not merely a lousy movie. It’s disrespectful to the book and its reputation.

On book-to-movie adaptations, we all have different perspectives. For instance, many people, like me, believe that turning The Hobbit into three (3!) movies was an insane idea. However, some people adored the movies. However, some book-to-film adaptations are so terrible that almost everyone thinks the film should never have been made.

The following are the worst book-to-film adaptations, which almost all reviewers and spectators agree were terrible ideas. So, settle in because it’s going to get worse as we continue; they are arranged from the highest score to the lowest score.


The Golden Compass, written by Philip Pullman, was made into a movie in 2007. It was a young adult fantasy adventure that audiences adored. Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Sam Elliott, Eva Green, and Ian McKellen are among the outstanding cast members. Additionally, Dakota Blue Richards gave a promising first performance. The Golden Compass and the rest of the His Dark Materials series, however, deal with subversive topics like the hypocrisy of institutionalised religion. The 2007 remake utterly missed the point because it stripped the film of all problematic material. What we were left with was an utterly soulless adaptation.


We were all ecstatic in 2018 when Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time was adapted. After all, it was helmed by Ava DuVernay, a director who has received much praise. Additionally, all of the previews’ visuals appeared to be really amazing. But the movie itself fell short of expectations and failed to convey the wonder and magic of the renowned Newbery Medal-winning book. This one lacked substance and only had elegance. The novel itself had a great deal of emotional impact, but the movie was plain ridiculous.


The Giver, a movie based on Lois Lowry’s novel, was released in 2014 at the end of the YA dystopian adaptation boom. The Giver isn’t the Hunger Games, though. In truth, these are two entirely dissimilar works, so why is this adaptation of The Giver meant to resemble The Hunger Games or Divergent? An enormous error. And see, in 2022, we all have “Midnights” by Taylor Swift at the top of our Spotify Wrapped charts. However, the pop singer’s inclusion in this movie raised a lot of questions.


Okay, I’ll be honest now. The actual book-to-film adaptation that motivated me to create this list was Persuasion from 2022. This movie would be at the top of this list if it were up to me. Another film that received a lot of hype, especially following the success of Bridgerton and Emma. And yes, I was equally thrilled to see Dakota Johnson and Henry Golding in the film version of Jane Austen’s novel. But this one, gosh, was just so wrong in so many ways. The writing deserves responsibility since it was so awful. Lines like “It’s often believed if you’re a five in London, you’re a ten in Bath” made viewers grimace all across the world.

It wasn’t simply the script, though (or the fact that no one involved in this movie knew what the heck to do with Anne Elliot). It seems like a dull movie. The outfits appeared to have been pulled from the wardrobe of my high school’s theatre department, and the settings lacked imagination. No offence intended to the theatre department at my high school; we were making the best of the resources we had, but come on, Persuasion had the funding. What the hell just happened? Probably by itself, this film put an end to Jane Austen’s adaptations for years to come.


When I first read “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold in 2002, it brought tears to my eyes. But what about Peter Jackson’s 2009 movie adaptation? Yikes. The fact that the movie completely missed the novel’s message was its biggest error. A reflection on loss and dying can be found in The Lovely Bones. Yes, it is recounted from the viewpoint of a young child who is in paradise and is gazing down at her family. Peter Jackson, however, must have recently learned that this tale had to do with paradise.

His interpretation of The Lovely Bones places far less emphasis on the profoundly human story that serves as the book’s foundation and much more emphasis on hypothetical visions of what that heaven may be. Another one that lacked both heart and substance is this one.


Even though Amy Adams was involved, we all kind of knew this one was going to be terrible news before the Netflix movie adaptation of The Woman in the Window debuted in 2021. The controversy surrounding author A.J. Finn is the first issue. Then there’s the fact that this movie was initially planned to premiere in October 2019 but was repeatedly delayed before ultimately being streamed online. When the film was finally released, it had the feel of a parody of every other domestic thriller that had been released before it.

The true parody The Woman Across the Street from the Girl in the Window, which was published on Netflix, didn’t feel any more or less ludicrous than this horrifyingly terrible film because The Woman in the Window felt so much like a parody.


Friends, we are approaching the very end of the road. The 2014 fantasy horror comedy film Vampire Academy was based on Richelle Mead’s YA book series of the same name. This movie tried desperately to capitalise on the Twilight craze, yet it far exceeded expectations. The script was embarrassing. Even by 2014 standards, the CGI was stale. Furthermore, this comedy lacked a lot of genuine laughs for a comedy. Even yet, it’s not that horrible that you can giggle at this one. It is awful.


A young adult fantasy adaptation released in 2006 would seem to be a surefire hit, wouldn’t you agree? Wrong. Nobody appreciated this movie that was made from Christopher Paolini’s beloved book. Fans of the book were shocked by how much the movie strayed from the original work, even though it is common knowledge that movies must alter books at least a bit in order to adapt them for the screen. Another film that had poor performances and lousy special effects was this one.

Originally intended to be the first of a series, the box office failure of this picture led to the cancellation of the entire movie series. Fans of Eragon continue to wait for the well-deserved movie version of this book.


How on earth did you mess this up? The dark sci-fi/fantasy Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series is the inspiration for the movie. Idris Elba is a part of it. It shouldn’t have been difficult to fix this. And yet, we are in this situation with a 15% rating. What happened? According to Stephen King, the film “lost a lot of the roughness” of the books by default since the studio insisted on keeping the picture’s PG-13 rating. King was perplexed by the decision to begin the plot in the middle of the series rather than at the beginning of the movie.

As a viewer who had only read the first book in the Dark Tower series, I must say that I also found that choice to be extremely perplexing. Idris Elba was not able to save this one for me, as much as I enjoy seeing him on my television (or anyone else, it seems).


The Scarlet Letter, another cinematic adaptation that completely missed the point of the original Nathaniel Hawthorne material, comes in at the very bottom of this list. The complex themes of guilt, female independence, and societal pressures from the novel were simplified into an erotic drama in this 1995 movie starring Demi Moore, Gary Oldman, and Robert Duvall. Look at this movie poster, for example. What? The Scarlet Letter was reportedly described as “a very thick, un-cinematic book” by Demi Moore. Therefore, I suppose the directors’ simple solution was to… make it sexier? We all think “sexy” when we think of Nathaniel Hawthorne, after all. You’ve got a big winner on your hands when you combine that with over-the-top, cheesy acting.

You see, I enjoy movies! I enjoy reading! I want book-to-movie adaptations to be successful, which is why it’s important to criticise these films for being so abhorrently subpar. Here are some of the best recent book adaptations, nevertheless, to end on a happier note. Let’s hope 2023 will be another successful year for adaptations!

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