16 Surprising Movies You Didn’t Know Were Books First

It’s always a debate about which did it better, the movie or the book. Usually you’re set on one or the other, yet if you are specifically attached to a book it’s always stressful watching the movie adaptation. While plenty of films are based on books, some films we all know and love may surprise you…

16. The Spectacular Now (Based on The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp)

You’ve probably seen the film The Spectacular Now, starring Divergent heartthrobs Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller. But did you know this unconventional bad-boy meets nice-girl film was a book first? A story of the same name was published by author Tim Tharp in 2013, and it’s definitely a must-read. The coming-of-age novel is told from Sutter’s perspective (Miles Teller), a sexy, witty and hilarious bad-boy whose entire philosophy changes during his senior year when he meets Aimee (Shailene Woodley), your not-so-average nice girl. The story is relatable, hilarious and eye-opening, perfect for some beach-reading.

15. Mean Girls (Based on Queen Bees & Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman)

It’s no question that we could spend hours quoting this movie. Comedian Tina Fey wrote the iconic script to the film that has become a staple in today’s pop culture, and we’re #blessed for that. But do you know where she got her inspiration from? Fey wrote the script to Mean Girls after reading a self-help book titled Queen Bees & Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman. There’s a reason why those cliques were so realistic! The book is meant to help parents who are having trouble with their teenage daughters, because that’s so not fetch.

14. How To Lose A Guy in 10 Days (Based on How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days: The Universal Don’ts of Dating by Michele Alexander and Jeannie Long)

We could probably watch this movie every single day. Kate Hudson is hot, Matthew McConaughey is hot, and watching her annoy the shit out of him is just too funny. However, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is actually another film based off a self-help book! The original idea comes from the book How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days: The Universal Don’ts of Dating by Michele Alexander and Jeannie Long. This hilarious self-help book puts some humor into the flaws of your dating schemes, helping you realize why your relationships might not be going so well. The book discusses ideas that were tackled in the film, including calling a guy your boyfriend right away. With this book, you can put an end to your dating woes and land the significant other of your dreams!

13. Legally Blonde (Based on Legally Blonde by Amanda Brown)

It may be surprising to know that Elle Woods was originally Elle Wood! And she wasn’t kicking ass in law school and solving murder cases on the big screen – she was doing so in between pages. That’s right. Our favorite Harvard Law School blondie actually originated from a book by the same name by Amanda Brown – and she was actually a Stanford Law School blondie! What we’re saying is, yes, you can root for Elle both on your television and while reading a book. The original was published in 2001, the same year that Reese Witherspoon hit the big screen as Elle Woods.

12. Pitch Perfect (Based on Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory by Mickey Rapkin)

Aca-scuse me? Pitch Perfect was a book first? Surprising, we know, but true! Pitch Perfect is actually based off a novel titled: Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory by Mickey Rapkin. Rapkin is a journalist who followed a season of college a capella, covering everything from vocals and performing to the groupies, partying and rivalries. While we all rooted for The Barden Bellas in the film and enjoyed the parties and rivalries, wouldn’t it be interesting to read about the real world of college a capella too?

11. Forrest Gump (Based on Forrest Gump by Winston Groom)

Yes! Another highly-quotable, classic film was a book before anything else. Forrest Gump the novel was written by Winston Groom, who tells the story of the same lovable and dumb Forrest Gump we all know. It’s funny to note, however, that Forrest is described 5 IQ points smarter in the film! We’ll never let go of Tom Hanks’s incredible performance, but we’re certainly intrigued by the book that inspired the film. Run to your nearest bookstore to experience the story in its original glory.

10. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Based on Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A True Story by Cameron Crowe)

Does this book cover blast you to the past? Cameron Crowe was only 22 when he wrote Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A True Story. The book chronicles his experiences going undercover as a high-school senior in a California public school. The movie was released a year later in 1982, setting the foundation for everything we love about retro teen movies: sex, drugs, and partying. The movie is a must-watch, so we can only assume the book is a must-read. You couldn’t pay us a million bucks to go back to high school! (Make it two million and then we’ll talk.)

9. Freaky Friday (Based on Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers)

Freaky Friday was a staple of our childhood, TBH. So just imagine our surprise when we realized that this, too, was a book first! The OG novel of the same name was written by author Mary Rodgers in 1972 as a children’s novel. The premise is the same, featuring a mother-teenage daughter duo at odds who switch bodies after a fight. Although the book doesn’t include a killer guitar solo at the Battle of the Bands and magic fortune cookies, it’s still worth a shot! The book did inspire a total of three film adaptions, after all.

8. He’s Just Not That Into You (Based on He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo)

Surprise! It’s another romance film based on a self-help book. Once you think about it though, it kind of make sense. Relationship self-help books are full of scenarios that would make the perfect plotline for a movie! He’s Just Not That Into is both the title of the movie and the book, the book authored by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. Both offer neat concepts, with the movie showing several different story arcs with women reading or misreading behaviors. The book poses the statement that maybe “he’s just not that into you.” Basically, it’s calling out women for over analyzing the behaviors of their love interests when in reality, they just aren’t interested in being with you. FYI: You’re probably the rule, not the exception.

7. Clueless (Based on Emma by Jane Austen)

As if! It turns out that Clueless is based on a classic from the 19th century. Hear us out! This film is actually a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s novel Emma. Cher, played by Alicia Silverstone, was adapted from the main character Emma Woodhouse. Whether you prefer 19th century England or 20th century Beverly Hills, it’s interesting to catch the similarities between the two! If you read and watch closely, you can actually tell which characters in the book inspired the ones in the movie.

6. Cruel Intentions (Based on The Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos)

Cruel Intentions was easily one of the most risqué teen dramas of the 90s. Cocaine in a cross pendant, sex with virgins, borderline “incest” between step-siblings… the whole shebang. However, before we got Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe, we apparently had The Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. The French novel features 18th century French aristrocrats, while the film gave us wealthy and bratty teens in New York City. Both sound absolutely scandalous.

5. The DUFF (Based on The DUFF: [Designated Ugly Fat Friend] by Kody Keplinger)

The DUFF is a more recent film, but it may be surprising to some that there was a book that came before it. It may be especially surprising to know that the author was only 17 years old when she wrote it! The DUFF, with DUFF standing for “Designated Ugly Fat Friend” was written by author Kody Keplinger and released in 2011, with the film premiering four years later and featuring Bella Thorne. Both tell the story of a girl enjoying her senior year with a loyal group of friends. That is until the “man-slut” of her school calls her the DUFF among her group. How rude! Not unlike other teen dramas of this era, a romance begins to bloom, and… we’ll let you read/watch the rest!

4. The Parent Trap (Based on Lottie and Lisa by Erich Kästner)

Whether you prefer the original version or the Lindsay Lohan version (we vote for Lindsay), I think we can all agree that The Parent Trap is a unique story. However, the film didn’t become that way all on its own! The original tale originates from the book Lottie and Lisa, written by Erich Kästner. Just as the film follows, the story features two young girls who meet at a summer camp and discover they share the same parents. The two scheme up the ultimate plan, and decide to switch places and live each other’s lives.

3. Friday Night Lights (Based on Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H. G. Bissinger)

Friday Night Lights is a classic film, especially for high school football fans. In an economically depressed town like Odessa, Texas, the one thing that does give them hope is The Permian High Panthers. At least, that’s how the film goes! It draws the same idea from the original inspiration, Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H. G. Bissinger. In the novel, the Permian Panthers of Odessa are described as the “winningest high-school football team in Texas history.” And although the town is at odds over different social and cultural issues, the football team’s success brings everyone together and helps them believe that dreams really can come true.

2. Mrs. Doubtfire (Based on Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine)

Mrs. Doubtfire may be one of the last films you’d think is based off a book, but it’s true! The story originates from the young adult novel Madame Doubtfire (how fancy!), written by Anne Fine. Fortunately for fans of the film, it follows the book quite closely. However, in the film, the dad dresses as the nanny and has the whole family fooled. In the novel, Madame Doubtfire is recognized by the two oldest children right away, only left to fool the younger sister and the mother. He just wanted some more time with his kids after a messy divorce!

1. The Help (Based on The Help by Kathryn Stockett)

If you didn’t realize that the film The Help is based off a book, then you’re in for a real treat! The book and the film are equally as magnificent. Written by Kathryn Stockett, the book version of The Help tells the story of three seemingly different women who team up together to write a tell-all book about working as a black maid in the South. The story is beautiful, wise, and necessary, and with a stellar cast including Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, the film certainly does the book justice.

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