Why movies based on books are usually not a positive surprise?

In this post I want to talk about movies based on books which (by my opinion) usually almost never don’t satisfy my expectations.

Did you ever notice that sometimes you read some really amazing book and after a while, you find out that there is a movie taped by this book… You watched the movie then and here we go, what was the impression about it?

I don’t know how is for you but I was just never fully satisfied and I`m not one of the heavy movie critics. Many times when I speak with friends or fellow workers about this topic, they mostly confirm my opinion.

When I realized that I`m not the only one with this opinion I tried to discover what are the reasons for these thoughts.


The imagination is I think the most important reason that you treat the book on other way than movie. When you are reading a book, in your subconscious you imagine things which are written. By my opinion that`s one of the most impressive things of reading books.

When you watch the movie based on book you usually imagine things in different way. Even if the characters and actors are all right with their role and the story has good interpretation, the things are just different as when you were reading this book.

My example is the book Snowman by Jo Nesbo, the movie was good rated but for me the book was much better.

Bad interpretation of story

This is also one important reason or better to say problem. Sometimes the movies based on books just don’t follow the story as it is. They add some things and happenings into story or what is more common, they exclude some things out from the story.

Of course, we all know what the result is, the movie seems different from the book and we don’t like it. I had such feeling for a movie which was taped by the book The Dark Tower by Stephen King.

Bad character adaptation

Another thing in movie which is a guarantee to ruin the impression of a book we already read. In the book story there are usually good described characters of people that you can get a strong impression of them.

In the movie sometimes the actors just don’t play the role of characters from book as they should. There can also be a problem in the wrong decision of director of movie who chooses the actors. The example of that was for me the movie taped by the book The Hitchhiker`s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Mistakes by director of a movie

Sometimes for all which is wrong at the movie is the director`s fault. From story, to actors, everything seems failed compared with the book of course. If you don’t compare movie with a book, it can be completely all right.

Example for all mentioned is the movie based on book The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson. I got the feeling that through the whole movie there are so many details missing and it was a bit disturbing to watch it having in mind the book story which was much better.


After all I can say that there are good books and there are good movies. But by my opinion these two thing are better to have it separately, I get much better impression then.

What are your experiences about the movies based on books? Do you think it is important which thing you do first, read a book or watch a movie?

I need to admit that I never watched a movie based on book before I read that book. If I watched such movie then I usually didn’t read the book later, probably I wouldn’t be impressed but maybe I`m wrong. I should try it one day and make my own opinion.

Image credits: Pixabay.com



  1. I will agree with movies based on the book will always leave you high and dry I think the reason is they skip some details that made that book great.so when they starts skipping some details on the books the movies just become another movie without any surprises and one more thing i don’t see how 1000 pages can be turned into 2hrs movie it won’t work.

    • Good opinion and you are right, thank you for taking your time and leaving a comment.

  2. Awesome Lucas, while reading your post I felt like I’m reading my own mind. I don’t know why film industry doesn’t understand this simple logic! Reading books is a lot better, it sparks imagination, sharpens our brain and has very positive impact on our IQ.

    So far I’ve watched 2 movies after reading their respective books, and both time I was disappointed. However, there’s a Indian movie called Baahubali, they released the movie first, maintained the suspense for almost a year, then released it’s another part. And, when movie becomes block buster hit. They released a book! It becomes a national best seller as well!! 

    I do advocate this idea of movie first and book next, but of course, it also depends on the genre! 

    Thanks a lot for sharing this awesome post. Glad to read it all. 

    • Hey, interesting opinion. I never heard for that Indian movie but I need to check out, it should be great! Thank you for taking your time and leaving a comment.

  3. This is so true.

    A movie which comes to mind is Harry Porter by J.K Rowlings.

    I read the books after watching the movie and I was still more impressed by the book.

    I, later on, tried to watch the movie to help me really bring the characters to life but I ended up feeling really disappointed because there were so many scenes I was looking forward to seeing which were left out of the movie.

    I understand not everything can fit in the movie, it’s not easy meeting up to the standard already set by the writer’s captivating words but this doesn’t stop me from feeling disappointed.

    I still love watching movies after reading the books though, the characters being brought to life is my greatest wish when reading a book and I say better something than nothing.

    • Hi, I agree with you, Harry Potter is a simmilar case, you get better impression as of a movie. Thank you for taking your time and leaving a comment.

  4. Tons of value to be found on this post on Why movies based on books are usually not a positive surprise.

    This is a great and simple to follow guide. You laid it all out clearly and showed series of examples that helped emphasize your various points. This guide will be very useful for me because I’m a screenplay writer. This is so common because of bad interpretation of the story. The best option is to watch the movie, screenplay then write out the story.

    • Very nice to hear opinion of someone who is a screenplay writer 🙂 Thank you for taking your time to read my post and for leaving a comment.

  5. Hey, this is very true. Sometimes a mere mentioning of the movie name reminds you the whole story line. An example is that movie ALICE  IN WONDERLAND. Whereas in some case this may not be true a totally different storyline may be employed for the same title. 

    something  like Tom Cruise  ALICE IN WONDERLAND. some of these movies nonetheless losses a bit of element of surprise one way or the other.

    • I appreciate to hear your opinion and your example of a movie which is not good if you compare with the book. Thank you for taking your time to read my post.

  6. As an ardent Harry Potter fan, I must say most of the movies based on the book were really negative surprises. After reading Percy Jackson as well, seeing the movie was a real let down. I can cut them some slack though, it’s usually difficult to fit a lengthy book into a few hours of screenplay. Moreover, it would be really difficult for the producers to sync with the descriptions we all have in our imaginations. 

    In my opinion, books should be left as books. They really don’t have to ruin it for us all!

    • I`m glad to hear your opinion. Thank you for your comment and for taking your time to read my post.

  7. I guess that makes two of us. I have never read the book after I watched the movie adaptation first. Alot of my friends tells me that the Ready Player One book was so rich with detail and had so much more 80’s references that what the actual movie depicted.

    I personally believe that the movie is also from the director’s viewpoint,and I think that when we all read a book, we each have our own vision of the stories, the characters, etc, that it’s a tough job for the director to satisfy all the folks who have read the book.

    Next time, I will try reading the book first before I watch the movie.Any good recommendations on what I can start with?



    • I appreciate to hear your opinion and I agree with you with the fact that each one of us has specific view on a book which we read.
      My recommendations are: The Snowman (Jo Nesbo), The Dark Tower (Stephen King) and The Davinci Code (Dan Brown), I hope it`s enough for the start 😉

      Thank you for taking your time to read my post.

  8. I couldn’t agree more with you movies based on books are usually not a positive surprise my own example is Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. I read the book and I watched the movie too but I enjoyed the book than the movies. Like you pointed out the actors are perfect and the plot is great but I didn’t enjoyed it because the pictures painted in my mind are not what was acted! Unfortunately I paid for the movie in a theater!  Like you,  I don’t like watching a movie based on book after reading the book. I generally Love reading and watching because I love the pictures I painted when reading.

    thank ls for sharing. I will love to read more about books on this page.

    • I`m glad to hear you opinion and your example of a disliked movie based on book. I also watched the Jurassic Park but I didn`t read the book.

      Thank you very much for taking your time and leave a comment.

  9. You are absolutely right…. I have never read a book and then watched a movie adaption of the same book and felt it was a positive surprise. And sometimes, the movie misses a lot of the story line that made the book as interesting as it is. And I usually put the bulk of the blame on the directors. What I don’t understand though,is if they were trying to make a distinction between the movie and the book purposely or they just couldn’t translate what they have read onto the screen. This has made me not to like reading a book that is based on a movie before I watch the movie because it would be a show spoiler.

    • I`m glad that you agree with me. You exposed very interesting view with mentioning distinction between a book and a movie, maybe directors of a movie sometimes really want to do this.

      Thank you for taking your time to read my post and to leave a comment.

  10. I completely agree with you thoughts,that movies inspired by a famous book just simply can’t fill up the expectations. Some movies I have watched like (these are our local movies that you might  haven’t herd about )  like “Chader Pahar”, “Devdash” and a tv serial “Debi Chowdhurani” are based on the legendary books of our Indian literature has like completely presented a new made up story. Like you have said bad character adaptation, mistakes by director of a movie story and bad interpretation of story. Which is really annoying. Reading those main book is way better then watching those (3rd class) movie which were inspired form those particular books.

    My cordial thanks to you for sharing the article and reminding me that fact.


    Badhan Biswas.      

    • Nice to hear your opinion. I didn`t hear for those Indian movies but it would be interesting to search for them on the internet if they are in english.

      Thank you for taking your time and leaving a comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *