Books are the second-most popular source for movies; the first is remakes of other movies. If you’re a reader of books, you might recognize these. If you’re not, you might remember your friends who've complained. The common theme here is that bad endings get turned into good endings, and that means more sequels. It’s Hollywood, people. Books might not be big business anymore, but the movies based on them sure are.
1. Planet of the Apes: Spoiler alert: They don’t find the Statue of Liberty buried up to her neck in the sand. That was the brainchild of Rod Serling. The original version is about space travelers who find a “ship in a bottle” story about humans who land on a planet of intelligent apes. The book has its own twist ending that we won’t spoil, but the short version is that it has more in common with the Planet of the Apes starring Marky Mark.
2. Forrest Gump: An entry in the “too dark for the silver screen” files here. The original Forrest is far more ambiguous and not quite the savant sage that his screen counterpart is. He doesn’t get the girl, he meets an already legless Lieutenant Dan in the hospital and he even has a stint working for NASA thanks to his superior mathematical abilities. The novel version of Forrest is also fond of curse words so if you are, too, give it a read.
3. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?: The book is called Who Censored Roger Rabbit? and it is definitely not for children. The character names are the same. That’s about it. The drawings aren’t animated; they’re still comic strip characters who communicate with word balloons. Unlike the characters in the film, the comic strip characters in the novel are pretty easy to kill—including Roger himself, whose self-created doppelgänger plays a big role in the novel.
4. First Blood: In the David Morrell novel First Blood, Rambo (who has no first name) kills a number of the police and Guardsmen pursuing him. In the film? Well, his actual body count is zero. If you don’t believe us, watch it again. Originally, the film was to end in the same way as the novel, with the death of the not-yet-titular character. However, test audiences hated it, wanting to see John Rambo (this time with a first name) coming out strong and going on to fight again… three more times.
5. Fever Pitch: The book isn’t about the Red Sox. It’s not even about baseball. It’s about a soccer fan (that’s what we call “football” in countries with flags on the moon) who is obsessed with Arsenal during their winning season. Fun fact about the Farrelly Brothers film you might have seen: The script had to be rewritten several times during filming because the Sox won their first World Series in 86 years that year. A more true-to-the-novel version appeared in 1997.
6. Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Breakfast at Tiffany’s doesn’t have any romance between Paul and Holly. It doesn’t really have any romance at all. The primary male character is gay. Holly leaves New York when her cat doesn’t return. In short, it’s a lot more like a book than a movie and the whole gay thing was a little too hot for TV in the ’60s. Truman Capote wasn’t a fan of the film and regularly complained about it to anyone who would listen.
7. Starship Troopers: This one might be further afield than anything else on the list. Starship Troopers is a book by Robert A. Heinlein about humans fighting a bug army in a world where you earn citizenship through combat. Other than that, there’s nothing else in common, really. Though the film, directed by Paul Verhooven (who never read the book, calling it “depressing” and “boring”) has a number of cute winks at Heinlein fans, like militant Mormons. Fun fact: The novel features the first appearances of both space marines and “mecha” troops.
8. World War Z: World War Z the novel is written in the style of a documentary. Several people remember the war against the zombies, known as “Zack.” The film was a pretty conventional zombie action flick that’s easily forgettable. The book… well, it’s a little more interesting, but all the characters seem to talk the same. It might be the only book ever written with a strong and compelling audiobook that’s light years ahead of the written source material.
9. Most James Bond Movies: After a certain point, James Bond novels didn’t have much more in common with their film versions than the name. Even the character himself is quite different. The film Bond is suave and even a bit sunny. The literary version is much more desultory, especially after the death of his wife. His drinking in the books isn’t cute or charming—it’s a problem and the sign of a death wish. Check our list of real life James Bonds and men who turned down the chance to play 007 for more on this.