Stories I read before I knew they were going to be filmed.

by Quornhog | created - 03 Aug 2012 | updated - 08 Nov 2012 | Public

There's nothing like a film adaptation to boost sales of a book. However, here is a selection of books and short stories which I read long before a film or TV version was announced.

I've ordered the list by date of film/TV release. I was going to order it by date of publication of the original story, but that would require more research than my slothful tendencies would allow.

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1. The Hobbit (1977 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 90 min | Animation, Adventure, Family

6.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A homebody hobbit in Middle Earth gets talked into joining a quest with a group of dwarves to recover their treasure from a dragon.

Directors: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr. | Stars: Orson Bean, John Huston, Brother Theodore, Cyril Ritchard

Votes: 10,794

I started reading "The Hobbit" in 1973, but I don't remember finishing it.

2. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1981)

152 min | Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi

8.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Arthur Dent and his friend Ford Prefect escape the destruction of Earth only to face incredible trials, tribulations and adventures in space and time.

Stars: Simon Jones, David Dixon, Peter Jones, Sandra Dickinson

Votes: 8,783

All my friends bought/borrowed/stole this book as soon as it was published. Some of us even read it.

3. 2010 (1984)

PG | 116 min | Adventure, Mystery, Sci-Fi

6.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A joint U.S.-Soviet expedition is sent to Jupiter to learn what happened to the Discovery.

Director: Peter Hyams | Stars: Roy Scheider, John Lithgow, Helen Mirren, Bob Balaban

Votes: 44,464 | Gross: $40.20M

Still waiting for the other two.

4. Enemy Mine (1985)

PG-13 | 108 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

6.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A soldier from Earth crashlands on an alien world after sustaining battle damage. Eventually, he encounters another survivor, but from the enemy species he was fighting. They band together ... See full summary »

Director: Wolfgang Petersen | Stars: Dennis Quaid, Louis Gossett Jr., Brion James, Richard Marcus

Votes: 37,453 | Gross: $4.27M

I read Barry B. Longyear's short story when it was first published (in "Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine") in 1979.

5. The Twilight Zone (1985–1989)

TV-PG | 45 min | Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Mystery

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A collection of tales which range from comic to tragic, but often have a wicked sense of humor and an unexpected twist.

Stars: Robin Ward, Charles Aidman, Richard Mulligan, William Atherton

Votes: 7,345

This series adapted a number of stories which I had already read including Arthur C. Clarke's short story, "The Star". Shame that TZ gave it a schmaltzy ending.

6. Pet Sematary (1989)

R | 103 min | Horror, Thriller

6.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
38 Metascore

Behind a young family's home in Maine is a terrible secret that holds the power of life after death. When tragedy strikes, the threat of that power soon becomes undeniable.

Director: Mary Lambert | Stars: Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, Fred Gwynne, Brad Greenquist

Votes: 72,667 | Gross: $57.47M

It was recommended to me. That's my only excuse for reading it.

7. A Shock to the System (1990)

R | 88 min | Comedy, Crime, Thriller

6.7
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

When you think you're at the top of the corporate ladder and then discover they have managed to pull that ladder away, sometimes you have to take it upon yourself to 'level' the playing ... See full summary »

Director: Jan Egleson | Stars: Michael Caine, Elizabeth McGovern, Peter Riegert, Swoosie Kurtz

Votes: 3,416 | Gross: $3.42M

My main interest in Simon Brett's work is his "Charles Paris" stories. However, this was quite an enjoyable novel.

8. Misery (1990)

R | 107 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
75 Metascore

After a famous author is rescued from a car crash by a fan of his novels, he comes to realize that the care he is receiving is only the beginning of a nightmare of captivity and abuse.

Director: Rob Reiner | Stars: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth, Frances Sternhagen

Votes: 151,685 | Gross: $61.28M

I read "Misery" soon after it was published. A film hadn't been announced then, but I guess it was only a matter of time...

BTW this is my idea of a real horror story. No ghosts, vampires or werewolves; just one human being inflicting suffering upon another.

9. Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less (1990 TV Movie)

120 min | Drama

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Four victims of a stock swindle meet and plot to get their money back from the crooked financier responsible. Each man, an Oxford professor, a Harley Street physician, an art dealer and a ... See full summary »

Director: Clive Donner | Stars: Ed Begley Jr., François-Eric Gendron, Brian Protheroe, Nicholas Jones

Votes: 107

I never saw the TV serial, but the novel was more entertaining than Archer's detractors would have you believe.

10. Chimera (1991– )

60 min | Horror

6.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A journalist investigates the death of his girl friend at a fertility clinic where she worked and uncovers a plot to create a new breed of human based on crossing the genetics of a man and ... See full summary »

Stars: John Lynch, Christine Kavanagh, Kenneth Cranham, Gary Mavers

Votes: 188

I used to know Steve Gallagher (vaguely) so made a point of reading his stuff. Until I didn't know him any more.

11. Schindler's List (1993)

R | 195 min | Biography, Drama, History

8.9
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
93 Metascore

In German-occupied Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazi Germans.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Caroline Goodall

Votes: 986,417 | Gross: $96.07M

I read "Schindler's Ark" soon after it was published. I seem to recall that I wasn't interested in the subject matter so much as the controversy over the book being awarded the Booker prize, which is for fiction.

12. Trapped in Space (1995 TV Movie)

PG-13 | 87 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

4.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  

After an accident during a routine trip to Venus, a spaceship has only enough oxygen left for three people... out of five on board.

Director: Arthur Allan Seidelman | Stars: Jack Wagner, Jack Coleman, Craig Wasson, Sigrid Thornton

Votes: 388

Based on Arthur C. Clarke's short story, "Breaking Strain".

13. Contact (1997)

PG | 150 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

7.4
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
62 Metascore

Dr. Ellie Arroway, after years of searching, finds conclusive radio proof of extraterrestrial intelligence, sending plans for a mysterious machine.

Director: Robert Zemeckis | Stars: Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt

Votes: 222,538 | Gross: $100.92M

I read this in the 1980's and reread it a few weeks ago (in July 2012). Not a bad read, and I love the idea of a message being encoded in...but why should I spoil the surprise?

14. Starship Troopers (1997)

R | 129 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

7.2
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
51 Metascore

Humans in a fascistic, militaristic future do battle with giant alien bugs in a fight for survival.

Director: Paul Verhoeven | Stars: Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Dina Meyer, Jake Busey

Votes: 239,114 | Gross: $54.81M

I read this in the 1980's. I preferred "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress", which itself would make a great film or serial (or "mini-series" for American audiences).

15. The Postman (1997)

R | 177 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

6.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  
29 Metascore

A nameless drifter dons a postman's uniform and bag of mail as he begins a quest to inspire hope to the survivors living in post-apocalyptic America.

Director: Kevin Costner | Stars: Kevin Costner, Will Patton, Larenz Tate, Olivia Williams

Votes: 60,961 | Gross: $17.63M

I don't care what people say about this film; I enjoyed the novel.

16. From the Earth to the Moon (1998)

TV-14 | 60 min | Action, Drama, History

8.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  

Dramatized portrayal of the Apollo manned space program.

Stars: Tom Hanks, Nick Searcy, Lane Smith, David Andrews

Votes: 8,886

Based, in part, on Andrew Chaikin's book "A Man On The Moon". Excellent reading, and I'm so pleased to own the 3-volume, photo-illustrated hardback edition.

And I've owned 4 copies of the TV series. (Off-air VHS, commercial VHS, Region 1 DVD, Region 2 DVD. Roll on the BluRay edition...)

17. Bicentennial Man (1999)

PG | 132 min | Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi

6.8
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
42 Metascore

An android endeavors to become human as he gradually acquires emotions.

Director: Chris Columbus | Stars: Robin Williams, Embeth Davidtz, Sam Neill, Oliver Platt

Votes: 96,843 | Gross: $58.22M

The story was as mawkish as the film.

18. Nightfall (2000 Video)

82 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

3.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 3.1/10 X  

When a distant planet's six suns slowly disappear, the population is overwhelmed with fear and superstition.

Director: Gwyneth Gibby | Stars: Jennifer Burns, Winsome Brown, Joseph Hodge, David Carradine

Votes: 401

Based on the Isaac Asimov story.

19. Fungus the Bogeyman (2004– )

150 min | Comedy, Family, Fantasy

5.6
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Fungus (Mak Wilson) is a working class bogeyman who comes to the surface of Rutland to scare DryCleaners. However Fungus soon begins to question his purpose in life when his son Mould ... See full summary »

Stars: Martin Clunes, Fay Ripley, Clare Thomas, Fiona Hogan

Votes: 252

IIRC the TV series tells a completely different story from the book.

20. The Constant Gardener (2005)

R | 129 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
82 Metascore

A widower is determined to get to the bottom of a potentially explosive secret involving his wife's murder, big business, and corporate corruption.

Director: Fernando Meirelles | Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Danny Huston, Hubert Koundé

Votes: 119,694 | Gross: $33.58M

A choice from my book-reading circle. It might have been chosen because it was being filmed (but I didn't know that).

21. Sahara (2005)

PG-13 | 124 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

6.0
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  
41 Metascore

Master explorer Dirk Pitt goes on the adventure of a lifetime of seeking out a lost Civil War battleship known as the "Ship of Death" in the deserts of West Africa while helping a WHO doctor being hounded by a ruthless dictator.

Director: Breck Eisner | Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Penélope Cruz, Steve Zahn, William H. Macy

Votes: 82,811 | Gross: $68.67M

A colleague introduced me to Cussler's work. I don't know whether to thank him or to curse him.

22. Fast Food Nation (2006)

R | 116 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

6.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
64 Metascore

An ensemble piece examining the health risks involved in the fast food industry and its environmental and social consequences as well.

Director: Richard Linklater | Stars: Greg Kinnear, Bruce Willis, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Wilmer Valderrama

Votes: 21,935 | Gross: $1.00M

One of my choices for the book-reading circle. I doubt if it changed anybody's eating habits (and I was already a vegetarian anyway).

23. Doctor Who (2005– )
Episode: Human Nature (2007)

TV-PG | 45 min | Adventure, Drama, Family

9.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9/10 X  

In 1913, Martha watches in jealousy from afar as The Doctor learns what it is to be human and to fall in love with the local school nurse, Joan Redfern.

Director: Charlie Palmer | Stars: David Tennant, Freema Agyeman, Jessica Hynes, Rebekah Staton

Votes: 5,002

The novel was written by Paul Cornell and published by Virgin Books in 1995 (long before most people had heard of David Tennant).

24. Masters of Science Fiction (2007– )

42 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

6.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A series adapting science fiction stories by well-known authors into sixty-minute episodes, introduced by renowned physicist Stephen Hawking. Stories filmed, included those of science ... See full summary »

Stars: Stephen Hawking, Jason Diablo, James Cromwell, Kimberly Elise

Votes: 1,914

One of the epsisodes of this series was an adaption of Robert Sheckley's short story, "Watchbird". I read this in 1980 (or thenabouts).

25. The Golden Compass (2007)

PG-13 | 113 min | Adventure, Family, Fantasy

6.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
51 Metascore

In a parallel universe, young Lyra Belacqua journeys to the far North to save her best friend and other kidnapped children from terrible experiments by a mysterious organization.

Director: Chris Weitz | Stars: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Dakota Blue Richards, Ben Walker

Votes: 159,956 | Gross: $70.11M

Ignore the bigots and film the sequels.

26. The Lovely Bones (2009)

PG-13 | 135 min | Drama, Fantasy, Thriller

6.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
42 Metascore

Centers on a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family - and her killer - from purgatory. She must weigh her desire for vengeance against her desire for her family to heal.

Director: Peter Jackson | Stars: Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg, Saoirse Ronan, Susan Sarandon

Votes: 136,285 | Gross: $43.82M

Another choice from my book-reading circle.

27. The Time Traveler's Wife (2009)

PG-13 | 107 min | Drama, Fantasy, Romance

7.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
47 Metascore

A Chicago librarian has a gene that causes him to involuntarily time travel, creating complications in his marriage.

Director: Robert Schwentke | Stars: Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, Ron Livingston, Michelle Nolden

Votes: 125,415 | Gross: $63.41M

Another one from the book-reading circle.

Back in the 1970's I read a much more innovative short story along similair lines. In this story, a man and women weren't travelling in time in the usual sense, but were experiencing their lives in a non-linear fashion and out-of-sync with each other. I wish I could remember the title of the story.

28. Watchmen (2009)

R | 162 min | Action, Drama, Mystery

7.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
56 Metascore

In 1985 where former superheroes exist, the murder of a colleague sends active vigilante Rorschach into his own sprawling investigation, uncovering something that could completely change the course of history as we know it.

Director: Zack Snyder | Stars: Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino, Malin Akerman

Votes: 426,861 | Gross: $107.51M

I borrowed the graphic novel from a colleague. (Actually, I don't think he gave me a choice.)

29. On the Road (2012)

R | 124 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance

6.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
56 Metascore

Young writer Sal Paradise has his life shaken by the arrival of free-spirited Dean Moriarty and his girl, Marylou. As they travel across the country, they encounter a mix of people who each impact their journey indelibly.

Director: Walter Salles | Stars: Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams

Votes: 36,175 | Gross: $0.72M

It must be over twenty years since I read this. Whenever I think I can recall bits of it I wonder if I'm getting confused with "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". Man.

30. The Outer Limits (1995–2002)

TV-PG | 44 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

7.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A modern revival of the classic science fiction horror anthology show The Outer Limits (1963). Episodes often have twist-endings and involve aliens. Sometimes, a story from one episode continues in a later episode.

Stars: Alex Diakun, Eric Schneider, Garvin Cross, Larry Musser

Votes: 9,589

Adapted Larry Niven's "Inconstant Moon".

31. A Sound of Thunder (2005)

PG-13 | 101 min | Action, Adventure, Horror

4.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.2/10 X  
24 Metascore

When a scientist sent back to the prehistoric era strays off the path he causes a chain of events that alters history in disastrous ways.

Director: Peter Hyams | Stars: Edward Burns, Ben Kingsley, Catherine McCormack, Armin Rohde

Votes: 17,394 | Gross: $1.89M

When I was at school the English teachers seemed to hate SF. It must have really honked them off when this story appeared in the textbooks.

32. Beyond Apollo

Sci-Fi, Thriller | Announced

The first two-man mission to Venus is aborted in mid-flight and abruptly returns back to Earth. When rescue crews go to retrieve the space capsule, they make a startling discovery: The ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Grodner

Filming New Wave SF is a dodgy idea. It'll be interesting to see how this turns out. (I'm writing this in October 2012 and I read Barry Malzberg's novel about 30 years ago.)

33. After Henry (1988–1992)

30 min | Comedy

7.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Sarah France is the 42-year-old widow of a GP, Henry. She lives in an often volatile family situation with her mother, Eleanor Prescott, and her daughter, eighteen-year-old Clare France, ... See full summary »

Stars: Prunella Scales, Janine Wood, Jonathan Newth, Joan Sanderson

Votes: 90

Started life as a radio series, then adapted as a novel, then filmed for TV. (Just like HHGG.) I'm pretty sure that I read the book before the TV series came along.