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10 Of The Worst Book-Adaptation Movies, Ranked According To Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes ranks the worst book to screen adaptations of all time, including The Dark Tower, A Wrinkle In Time, All The Kings Men and more.

Movie adaptations of books have been used over the years as a way to bring renowned stories to life on the big screen for all to see. These adaptations attract everyone from die-hard fans of the source material to people who have never even heard of the story before.

RELATED: 10 Classic Pieces of Literature With The Most Cinematic Adaptations

Unfortunately, the issue many of these adaptations face is condensing their book's large source of material to fit an equally interesting and well-paced movie structure. Some adaptations, such as Harry Pottersucceed with flying colors and please their fan base. Others, however, do not live up to the standard set by the book they draw from, so let's take a look at 10 of the worst book-adaptation movies ever made, ranked by Rotten Tomatoes.


10 The Hobbit (2012) 64%

Although The Hobbit received a relatively good critical response to its first chapter, to say that it deviated from the J.R.R Tolkein fantasy novel would be an understatement. The Hobbit, as a book, was the perfect balance of adventure and story, making for a tale that proved to not be overly long but very entertaining.

In a very peculiar choice, Warner Brothers decided to split the 310-page novel into a three-part trilogy, adding an overstuffed amount of different characters and plot lines that drastically shifted it away from the book's simplicity. These choices left a sour taste that hasn't aged well in the mouths of many long-term Tolkein fans that hold the book close to their hearts.

9 Twilight  (2008) 49%

Twilight is the first chapter in the Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer, a collection of books that follows the human-vampire love story between Bella and Edward, along with many other relationships. The first theatrical entry of the renowned series set a low bar for the remaining four chapters, trading the romantic magic that Meyer crafted for a poorly scripted mash of cringe-worthy scenes that made for more comedic material rather than serious cinema.

The remaining entries of the series followed the initial formula of Twilight, which led to a similarily poor critical response, in turn. From Twilight, many fans found the portrayals of their beloved characters to be both shallow and misguided, leaving the movie itself and the rest of the series to be a failure, overall.

8 The Great Gatsby (2013) 48%

Written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gastby is another love-story novel that has been highly celebrated as one of the greatest novels ever written, so naturally, a movie adaptation would be in the cards for most studios. Unfortunately, the book has now seen four adaptations made in its name, the most recent of which came in 2013.

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Similar to its predecessors, the 2013 film received unwelcoming reviews from many, especially the book lovers. Despite attaching Leonardo Dicaprio and Tobey Maguire, the film carried very little in the way of weight, sacrificing the heart of the book for big-screen cinematic flare.

7 A Wrinkle In Time (2018) 42%

Much like some of the other books on this list, A Wrinkle In Time was a novel tailored towards young adult readers. It was an epic quest following a girl on an intergalactic search for her missing father, and the novel itself explored deep themes of love and the constant fight between good and evil.

Most of these important pieces of the novel were washed away in the movie, as it prioritized its CGI budget at the expense of the source material's soul.

6 Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2013) 42%

Being the first entry in the young adult series by Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief was incredibly successful when it hit the shelves. It tailored to its younger audience perfectly by mixing mythological tales with teenage adventures, making every young boy and girl desire to be a demigod themselves.

Unsurprisingly, the famous series was adapted into films that shot for a similar success with younger audiences, but in terms of blatantly ignoring source material, The Lightning Thief wins. Instead of adhering to the plot of each book in the series individually, the writers elected to cram different parts of entries all into one, stuffing the plot with action that ignored the story and ruined key pieces of the future films to come. The Lightning Theif scared most major fans into sticking with what felt right, which was the books.

5 The Giver (2014) 35%

The Giver is yet another movie adaptation that elected to ignore the intricate concepts that made its original source so good. The 2014 film was the first on-screen version that had been made of the 1993 novel by Lois Lowry. The Giver was a widely read young adult novel that dealt with a strange dystopian world and often gave rise to the question of what uniqueness meant to an individual.

RELATED: Top 10 Netflix Original Book-To-Series Adaptations, According To Rotten Tomatoes

The novel itself was a moving and emotional journey, but the film feels hollow, and the sci-fi twists included for only visual pleasure deteriorate its presentation that much more.

4 The Dark Tower (2017) 16%

From the genius mind of Stephen King, The Dark Tower series is a captivating collection of novels that indulges in fantasy and horror to provide an entertaining read. If you have not read the books before, its movie adaptation will almost assuredly turn you away from the series altogether.

The main issue with this film came from the boldness of attempting to fit such a large volume of information into one singular movie, which led it to be painstakingly thin in terms of its meaning and plot structure. Even with the help of Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, The Dark Tower did poorly by its source, leaving out the majority of what made the series so great. However, given Stephen King's plethora of novels, there will almost assuredly be a better adaptation of his work soon.

3 Eragon (2006) 16%

Much like entry above, Eragon will likely go down as one of the worst-done movie adaptations of the 2000s. Based on the first entry of The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, Eragon came on the heels of a fantasy rush that included the likes of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, and it had the potential to capture the hearts of a generation if done correctly.

However, instead of the well-thought-out movies the other franchises received, Eragon was left in the dust. The plot was completely altered, and any magic of the world in the novels was deserted, leaving only the shell of what could have been an incredibly successful franchise remained.

2 The Scarlet Letter (1995) 13%

The Scarlet Letter is a novel that explored the severity of adultery and the public shaming that went hand in hand with it. It is a deeply emotional novel that deals heavily in pain, guilt, and revenge.

RELATED: 10 Best American Literature Adaptations Ranked (According To IMDb)

Although its 1995 adaptation is said to embody a different story, in terms of encapsulating the meaning of its source, it completely failed. Instead, it presented an overwhelming amount of steamy romance without any real story to support it, which left it flat and uninspiring to many of its fans.

1 All The Kings Men (2006) 12%

All The Kings' Men by Robert Warren Penn is another book that consistently finds itself among the lists of greatest books of all time, and in 1949 the first of its on-screen adaptations was produced, managing to score a 95% on the Tomatometer.

Despite the critical success of the first adaptation, Sony felt the need to reproduce the story in another form, which managed to miss its original material mark entirely. With a clear absence of any of the political depth or humanity the book was built upon, it failed miserably as a faithful representation of a great book.

NEXT: The 5 Best (& 5 Worst) 2010s Horror Movies

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