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Wait – this movie was a book?

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It’s fairly common when you see a movie to notice the tagline – Based on the bestselling novel! But there are a lot of well-known movies out there that are based on books that we don’t have a clue about. For example…

Die Hard – This one tops every list on the internet ever about ‘Movies that you didn’t know were books!’ and yet I still wasn’t aware that it was based on a book. Nothing Lasts Forever is the second book in Roderick Thorp’s Joe Leland series but they changed the main character’s name to John McClane for the movie. The first book in the series, The Detective, was also made into a movie in 1966 and starred Frank Sinatra.

101 Dalmatians – In 1956, Dodie Smith published her novel The One Hundred and One Dalmatians, which was also published as a serial in Women’s Day. In the beginning of 1961 Disney made it into an animated movie and it went on to become their most popular movie of the decade.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – This 2005 film is widely regarded as the turning point for Robert Downey Jr’s comeback but this would not have been possible without the novel that (very loosely) inspired the film. Written in 1953 by Brett Halliday, Bodies Are Where You Find Them has a plot so wildly different to the movie that it feels like a stretch to say that the film was based on the book but according to the film’s writers and producers, it was which qualifies it to make this list.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit – When first presented with the idea of Toon characters in real life as a book, I found it hard to comprehend. Even harder to comprehend is that the 1981 book, Who Censored Roger Rabbit by Gary Wolf is a dark, gritty, murder mystery that is not at all family friendly. Even the cover of the book is enough to inspire nightmares and it’s no wonder that it took over 40 drafts of the script to create the PG-13 rated film (though it’s likely that if it were made today, the classification would be much higher. Gotta love the 80’s…)

Pitch Perfect – I was shocked to learn that the 2012 film was based on a book and even more so to discover that it’s based on a non-fiction book. Meaning, the movie is inspired by real life events. Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory by Mickey Rapkin is the 2008 book that follows a season of the annual International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. It has all the drama, close calls, and triumphs of the movie but has the added zing of being about real life singers.