Leave It Alone: 10 Books That Should Not Have Been Made Into Movies!

January 7, 2013  |  
Source: Warner Bros

When will these movie producers learn? Not every amazing book will become an amazing movie. Some books are just filled with way too much literary genius to be accurately portrayed in a film. Even the books that aren’t literary genius still can be difficult to portray in movie. So why do these film producers even bother? Well, they always seem to think that theirs will be different. Instead, it ends up failing just like the many movie adaptations before it. In these cases, the situation was no different. Here are some movie adaptations that failed to impress not only those who read the books, but probably those who did not even read the books.

Source: Touchstone Pictures

Beloved(1998)

Oprah Winfrey loved this award winning book so much, that she not only decided produce the 1998 film version, but she decided to star in it as well. Some critics believed that Oprah should have left the book alone and the box office seemed to reflect the same opinion. It was a box office failure that grossed only $22 million despite its $80 million dollar budget. Oprah then admitted that the movie’s failure drove her into a deep depression. Millions of loss dollars later, and a depressed Oprah show exactly why this movie adaptation should not have been made.

Source: Cinecom Pictures

Native Son(1986)

***Sigh*** …another movie that starred Oprah that should not have been made. Is the problem Oprah? Or does she just have a tendency to take on these extraordinary books that are difficult to portray on screen? It’s probably the latter…either way, the award winning book failed to impress in its movie adaptation with critics claiming it did not accurately portray communists themes and homicidal behavior.

Source: Warner Bros Pictures

Steel(1997)

Shaquille O’Neal the actor? Seriously, whoever thought it would be a good idea to hire Shaquille O’Neal, as an actor should have been fired. Regardless of how they adapted the comic book series to the version, this movie was doomed to fail the moment they casted Shaq as the lead.

Source: Lionsgate

For Colored Girls(2010)

A Tyler Perry adaption of this 1977 book by Ntozake Shange seemed like a bad idea from the start, and it turned out to be just that…a bad idea. This piece of work is what some considered one of history’s most important literary works for black women, but Tyler Perry’s crude writing style failed to evoke some of the same emotions brought about in the books.

Source: Warner Bros.

Catwoman(2004)

You would think any movie with Halle Berry would be somewhat of a success…not Catwoman. It was a complete critical failure. One of the many complaints was that the film did not allow the audience to get a real feel for Catwoman’s transition. Add the terrible plot line and bad script to it, and you’ve now got a movie that appeared on Roger Ebert’s list of most hated films. Naturally, it still did well at the box office because all Batman movies typically do well at the box office. Too bad most fans probably wanted their money back by the end of it…

Source: Harpo Films

Their Eyes Were Watching God(2005)

Hmmm…Oprah sure does love to be a part of movies dealing with racial themes. This one produced in 2005, by Oprah based on Zora Neale Hurston’s 1937 novel. It was a straight to TV movie featuring Halle Berry and Michael Ealy. Both Berry and Ealy did a great job portraying their characters but it was the actual script that seemed to be a problem for members of the black community. Specifically, the movie seemed to focus too much on love and sexuality as opposed to the main character’s journey to find her identity.

Source: Cinergi Pictures

The Scarlet Letter(1995)

From a stripper to a maiden? Seriously, how was the audience supposed to take Demi Moore seriously after seeing her unclothed in Striptease not too long before this film? Not only did her acting get negative reviews, but also the movie only grossed only 10.3 million even though it had a 50 million dollar budget.

Source: Hilltop Productions

Black Like Me(1964)

In theory this probably seemed like a great idea…a white man living the life of a black man to understand the hardships of African American people in the 1950s and 1960s. Sounds like an interesting educational experience to read about, but unfortunately it was not as intriguing to watch on the big screen. Why? because the make-up artists used black face to portray it.

Source: Frisco Productions Limited

Blackenstein(1973)

The cheesy name of this one should speak for itself…Blackenstein? What on earth were the producers thinking? Sure it seemed like a good idea after the success of Blacula and many blaxploitation films, but it definitely turned out to bad idea based on profit alone. Add this to the terrible dialog, poor make-up and a slow plot line, and you have another book, Mary Shelley’s original “Frankenstein,” that should not have been made into a movie.

Source: Columbia Pictures

The Da Vinci Code(2006)

Despite being a huge box office success, the film is considered to be a failure by most critics. One of the biggest criticisms was that the movie omitted and softened some of major viewpoints in the novel. Overall the plot just didn’t do the book justice and it was a waste of some of the acting talent in the film (Tom Hanks and Ian McKellen). The failure wasn’t really a surprise though, considering that the film had already received negative reviews from the Cannes Film festival alone before it was released in theaters.

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  • Shawna K

    Beloved was an awesome movie dude what the hell ya’ll talking about!!!!

  • bigdawgman

    I didn’t know they made Black Like Me into a movie. Wonder if they would do a re-make?

  • Guest

    With the exception of Tom Hanks, the reality is more that the people who starred in these movies were just as big of a problem as the movies themselves. Most of these movies starred barely talented actors/actresses, couple that with bad writing and the final product should not have seen the light of day. I love Ms. Oprah, but she has always (with the exception “The Color Purple”) made some horrible choices when it comes to what movies she starred in and produced. It seems the more ignorant and illiterate the characters the more she wanted it made. There are so many inspirational stories about black people overcoming and succeeding against the odds that could have been told. She seems to always want to tell the ones that slap the dignity and pride right out of our mouths!!! Don’t even get me started on Ms. Tyler Perry!!! God who does he think he’s fooling!!!!!!!!When I watched the scene with him arguing with his wife in “Why did I Get Married” I nearly puked because it was so AWFUL!!!!!!

  • rzakia

    Good list. Now you guys should do a to 10 list for the best book to movie adaptations. I know I can’t wait for the new Great Gatsby to come out. That was one of my favorite books in high school.

    • A good example would be “To Kill A Mockingbird.” I read the book && saw the movie at a very young age (I think it was my 6th grade Talented Development class), && I must say that [even though I enjoyed the book a tad bit more] the movie was quite good.

  • LiiSH

    For Colored Girls was a pretty good movie considering 1) Tyler Perry’s inability to accurately develop characters 2) The transition from fragmented choreopoem to structured film plot. What works on a stage or in a book may be hard to translate into a film (Especially such a nonlinear story). The crazy thing is, all of the negative feedback the movie received seemed to be based off elements that made the play what is was. (Melodrama, fragmented) He didn’t add too much (he did tweak some things for cinematic purposes). Maybe some people were not familiar with the stage performance.

  • Their eyes were watching God and Beloved in my opinion are good movies.

    • Shawna K

      I agree with Helen!!!!!! Beloved was an awesome amazing film. Really….Its education man….any knowledge is good knowledge

  • Zettai

    Shoot, I wanted my money back after watching Catwoman on cable. Horrible!

  • autumnbreeze

    I agree with everything except For Colored Girls… that was an amazing movie.

  • lisa

    i liked for coloured girls

  • IllyPhilly

    They tell you to pick your ten favorite scenes from the book and make screenplay from there. It’s all on the scriptwriter. I agree with most on this list.