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12 Authors Who Loved & Loathed Their Big Screen Adaptions

Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for years.


1. Loved: Philip K. Dick (Blade Runner)

Adapted from Philip K. Dick's 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Ridley Scott's 1982 science fiction film Blade Runner starred Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer and Sean Young. Prior to Scott's film, Dick was extremely apprehensive about his story being adapted and was highly critical of all screenplays drafted. Despite his reservations, when the author was given the opportunity to see some of the special effects used in the film, he was amazed that the atmosphere was "exactly how I'd imagined it!"

Though Philip K. Dick passed away from a stroke before the final cut of Blade Runner was released, he fully backed the film after the early screening. After an honest conversation and assessment with Ridley Scott, Dick stated that his, "life and creative work are justified and completed by Blade Runner."


2. Loathed: Stephen King (The Shining)

Despite now being considered one of the greatest and most influential horror films of all time, the initial reception of 1980's The Shining was not all warm and fuzzy. Based on Stephen King's 1977 novel of the same name, the movie was directed by Stanley Kubrick and featured the talent of Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. Though the famed author has gone back and forth with his feelings on the adaption, his biggest issue was the casting of Nicholson.

King believed that since the actor had previously starred in 1975's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, the audience would consider him an unstable individual from the beginning. King preferred Jon Voight or Martin Sheen for the role, as he believed they would better depict an ordinary individual slowly driven to madness. Despite feeling that Kubrick created a film with memorable imagery, overall he believed it was a poor adaption. King did not like its deviations from the novel. Following the release of the 2019 sequel Doctor Sleep, the author said, "Everything that I ever disliked about the Kubrick version of The Shining is redeemed for me here."


3. Loved: Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird)

Adapted from the 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, 1962's To Kill a Mockingbird was directed by Robert Mulligan and starred Gregory Peck and Mary Badham. When reflecting on the big screen adaption, the author once said of Peck's casting, "When I learned that Gregory Peck would play Atticus Finch in the film production of To Kill a Mockingbird, I was of course delighted: here was a fine actor who had made great films – what more could a writer ask for?"

Both critically and publicly acclaimed upon its release, the film won three Academy Awards including Best Actor for Gregory Peck. Lee loved Peck's performance of Atticus Finch so much that she gave the actor her father's pocket watch as a symbol of her admiration. Peck would later say of To Kill A Mockingbird, "My favorite film, without a question."


4. Loathed: Truman Capote (Breakfast at Tiffany's)

Arguably one of Audrey Hepburn's most famous and iconic films, Breakfast at Tiffany's was a 1961 romantic comedy adapted from Truman Capote's 1958 novella of the same name. Despite being a critical and commercial success, Capote was none-too-pleased with the casting of Hepburn. He had envisioned Marilyn Monroe in the part of Holly Golightly, and heavily advocated for her casting. Monroe initially took the role, but her drama coach, Lee Strasgberg, told her playing a call-girl would not be a good image for her so she dropped out.

Hepburn was ultimately cast, and she received both a Golden Globe and Academy Award nomination for her performance. Though the actress remained a professional while on set and during production, she was very self-conscious when Capote came to set. Her insecurities took a toll on her overall health and added more stress, yet despite all this Hepburn delivered an iconic performance.


5. Loved: Dodie Smith (101 Dalmatians)

Disney's classic 1961 animated film 101 Dalmatians was based on the 1956 Dodie Smith novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians, and featured the voice talent of Rod Taylor, Cate Bauer and Betty Lou Gerson. The film owes its success due to the correspondence between Walt Disney and author Dodie Smith; the duo had continuously written to each other upon the book's release. Disney loved the premise so much he bought the rights in 1957, much to Smith's delight.

The author had been secretly hoping her book would become a Disney adaption and her wish was ultimately granted. Disney assigned Billy Peet to write the screen adaption story, and when Peet sent Smith some of the character drawings, she wrote back saying he had improved her story and the designs looked better than the illustrations in her book. The author also felt particularly connected to the character of Pongo in the film adaption.

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6. Loathed: Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange)

A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 dystopian crime film directed by Stanley Kubrick and is based on Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel of the same name. It stars Malcolm McDowell as the charismatic, antisocial delinquent Alex DeLarge and upon its release faced a polarizing response from critics and audiences alike. Burgess sold the film rights to the book in 1962 for $500, and initially The Rolling Stones were going to star with Mick Jagger as the lead. When that fell through, Kubrick came on and chose McDowell.

Despite loving Malcolm McDowell and Michael Bates' performances and the music used in the film, Burgess worried the film was so brilliant it might be dangerous. The author was concerned that the adaption lacked the novel's redemptive final act, an issue he blamed on the American publisher and not Kubrick. Despite initially sharing a collaborative and good relationship, Burgess and Kubrick had a falling out after the director made the author solely defend the film from accusations of glorifying violence.


7. Loved: Stephen King (Stand By Me)

The 1986 coming-of-age film Stand By Me was directed by Rob Reiner, and is based on the 1982 Stephen King novella The Body. River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, Cory Feldman and Jerry O'Connell star in the adaption, and the film was nominated for an Academy Award and two Golden Globe Awards. After Rob Reiner screened Stand By Me for King at the Beverly Hilton, he noticed King was visibly shaking and wasn't speaking. The author left the room and upon his return, the tearful King gave him a hug and said the movie was the best adaption of his work he had ever seen.

In honor of the film's 25th anniversary, King stated that he considered the movie to be the first successful translation to film of any of his works. Rob Reiner also considers Stand By Me to be the best film he has ever made, so it appears the feelings are mutual for the pair.


8. Loathed: Winston Groom (Forrest Gump)

The enormously successful and critically acclaimed 1994 comedy-drama Forrest Gump stars Tom Hanks at the titular character, and was directed by Robert Zemeckis. The film is based on the Winston Groom 1986 novel of the same name, though the adaption differs substantially from the novel. Despite being a box office hit and winning six Academy Awards, author Groom was not happy. The Baltimore Sun reported Groom of saying, "Don't never let nobody make a movie of your life's story."

The anger could have stemmed from the fact that Groom did not receive the pay-day he was promised. Groom was paid $350,000 for the screenplay rights and was contracted for 3% share of the film's net profits. However, despite earning more than $683 million, Paramount and film producers did not pay him the percentage, using Hollywood accounting to posit that the blockbuster lost money. The dispute was later resolved and Groom was satisfied with their reports, and was given a seven-figure contract with Paramount for a sequel that was ultimately never made.


9. Loved: Robert Bloch (Psycho)

The beloved 1960 classic Alfred Hitchcock horror film Psycho is arguably one of the director's most famous works and is a beloved slasher film. Based on the 1959 Robert Bloch novel of the same name, the film was both a critical and financial success. Though he had little involvement with the movie adaption, the author was "delighted" by Hitchcock's version and appreciated how close the movie was to the book.

The author also liked that Hitchcock decided to age down Norman Bates, from a middle-aged Bates to a younger one. Bloch thought that a middle-aged Bates would be too obvious a villain. Of the film adaption, Bloch once said, "It was about 90% from my book... the characters, the setting, various devices, all came from the book, right down to the last line."


10. Loathed: E.B. White (Charlotte's Web)

The classic 1973 animated musical film Charlotte's Web was directed by Charles A. Nichols and Iwao Takamoto, and featured the voice cast of Debbie Reynolds, Paul Lynde and Henry Gibson. The film was adapted from the 1952 children's book of the same name, by E.B. White. Despite assisting in creating and helping keep parts of the story, E.B. White disliked the musical nature of the film version. White himself wrote of the film, "The story is interrupted every few minutes so that somebody can sing a jolly song. I don't care much for jolly songs...But that's what you get for getting embroiled in Hollywood."

White had previously turned down an offer from Disney to turn the book into a film adaption. It is said that the author would have preferred the music of Mozart in the animated adaption, as opposed to music of the Sherman Brothers.


11. Loved: Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club)

In a rarity among authors and film adaptions, Chuck Palahniuk is one of few authors who believes the film version of his book is better than the original. Based on his 1996 novel, Fight Club features the talent of Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter and was directed by David Fincher. Chuck Palahniuk believed the film streamlined the book's plot and made thematic connections he himself missed.

It is safe to say that Palahniuk was extremely pleased and proud of the adaption, despite it initially underperforming and garnering polarizing reactions. However, the book and film have since gone on to become cult classics. According to Palahniuk, "There is a line about 'fathers setting up franchises with other families,' and I never thought about connecting that with the fact that Fight Club was being franchised and the movie made that connection. I was just beating myself in the head for not having made that connection myself."


12. Loathed: Agatha Christie (Various Works)

Agatha Christie is a legendary murder-mystery writer known for her detective novels, particularly focusing on detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. More than 30 feature films are based on her work, and have been adapted into for radio, television, film, video games and graphic novels. Despite such an interest and love for her creations, Christie loathed the various adaptions of her books and plays. The distaste stems from one singular factor: they were too soft.

Christie prided herself in the dark undertones of her work, and as she is often coined the "Queen of Mystery" it makes sense she would be upset by lightening of her works. The author was very vocal about her dismay with adaptions, and was even reportedly denied access to a screening of The ABC Murders. She was also disgusted by various portrayals of Hercule Poirot.

Works Cited

18 Authors Who Loved The Movie Adaptations Of Their Books. (2021, May 26).

Gass, Z. (2019, October 5). 5 Authors Who Loved Their Screen Adaptations (And 5 Who Loathed Them). ScreenRant.

Walter-Warner, H. (2017, March 8). 10 Authors Who Hated the Movie Adaptation of Their Work.

© 2021 Rachel M Johnson

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