8 Blockbuster Movies with Book Series Followings

The Hollywood studios have always been obsessed with books and IP. It is their bread and butter. They often buy the rights to a book before it is even published to ensure that they are the first ones to adapt it into a movie.

They also invest in intellectual property, which is the story, characters, and world created by the author of a book. Hollywood studios will often buy these rights for future movies or TV shows. Sometimes they will also produce merchandising for these franchises as well.

There are truly only a handful of blockbuster movies based on a series of books that have been produced and released theatrically over the last few decades. The Following is a list of blockbuster movies that have been made from a book series already steeped in literary acclaim and arrive packaged with hordes of fanatical readers.

Harry Potter (7 Books in Series)

The Harry Potter series has been a worldwide phenomenon that has touched the lives of many. It is one of the most successful book and movie series in history with more than 450 million copies sold and translated into 73 languages. The books were written by J.K Rowling, who developed an interest in writing at the age of six and wrote the early books while on welfare.

The Harry Potter movies have been a worldwide success because the story is so universal and relatable to everyone on some level. With themes like good vs evil, love, loss, friendship, family, courage and more it touches on something that everyone can relate to in some way or another.

In addition, the likable young cast of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, along with a venerable cast of British thespians, made it a resounding success because it was able to translate the novel’s emotional and creative power into visual, heartfelt characters. The movies were able to stay true to the book while still being entertaining and staying within the time constraints of a movie.

There are 7 books in the original Harry Potter series, the first published in 1997 and the final book released in 2007. Author JK Rowlings conceived the series as treatise on love and death and chronicled Harry’s embrace of wizardry as a form of his evolving maturity to face death. Pretty dark stuff for a series of books aimed for young children.

Harry Potter’s popularity has only increased due to its continued required reading for young children along with a new series of prequel movies that have been released (Fantastic Beasts). and the now much older cast also reunited for a special to commemorate its 20th anniversary and reminisce about their experiences growing up while making the film series.

Lord of the Rings (3 Books in Series)

JRR Tolkien was a college professor and academic when he wrote the fantasy series Lord of the Rings in his spare time. First published as The Fellowship of the Ring in 1954, the book series was split into three 3 tomes, followed by the Two Towers and the final Return of the King published in 1955.

An animated version of the Fellowship of the Rings was released in 1978 but it hardly made an impact with audiences. It wasn’t until Kiwi filmmaker Peter Jackson decided to film all 3 books back to back that high ambition elevated the fantasy genre into the stratosphere.

The rousing success and popularity of Jackson’s trilogy propelled the studio New Line into the black with billion dollar revenues globally from the franchise. It culminated with the final film, Return of the King, winning 11 Oscars in 2004, including Best Picture and Best Director for Jackson.

Most recently, Amazon has purchased the film rights from the Tolkien estate to produce a global television event with its new series set to debut on the streaming services in late 2022.

Hunger Games (3 Books in Series)

The Hunger Games is a series of novels written by Suzanne Collins and later adapted into movies. The first novel, Hunger Games, was published on September 14, 2008. The book is set in the future and tells the story of Katniss Everdeen who takes part in a televised event known as “The Hunger Games” where contestants must fight to the death until there’s only one left. The book was successful, with more than 100 million copies sold worldwide. The final book in the series, Mockingjay hit the book shelves in 2010.

The first movie adaptation of The Hunger Games premiered on March 23rd 2012 and was released worldwide on March 23rd 2012. It was directed by Gary Ross and starred Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen along with cast that included Liam Hemsworth and Woody Harrelson.

The Hunger Games movies were extraordinarily popular because they had a relatable story line in the dystopian sci-fi genre with complex young characters who faced difficult challenges. It also shot Lawrence to stardom as one of Hollywood’s leading young actresses.

A prequel book was published in 2020 and talks about turning it into a movie have stalled.

Twilight (9 Books in Series)

The Twilight movie series was a huge success, and it’s no surprise why. The 9 novels in the series were written by Stephenie Meyer and they were hugely popular among young adults. There are many reasons why the movies were so successful, but the main one is that they stayed true to the story of the novel, partly because of Meyer’s involvement in the casting process and story decisions.

Besides being just a series of vampire movies, the success of the Twilight movies can be attributed to its strong female protagonist, Bella Swan, and her love story with Edward Cullen. It also tapped into the teen romance genre which has been popular for decades now.

As one of the most successful franchises in recent movie history, the first movie was released in 2008 and grossed over $392 million worldwide. The Twilight Saga has since grossed over $3.3 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film franchise based on a book series.

Dune (6 Books in Series)

Published in 1965, Dune is a science fiction novel written by Frank Herbert and it is set in the very far future. It follows Paul Atreides as he becomes Emperor of the universe after defeating his father’s enemy, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.

David Lynch’s lackluster 1984 film adaptation of Dune was much maligned after Lynch was embarrased enough to distance himself from the final movie. After that disappointment, no studio would touch another cinematic version although the rights floated among several studios.

In 2021, director Denis Viilueneve brought out the epic treatment on his dream version of Dune. Featuring a stellar cast led Timothee Chalemet as Paul, the movie version was thoroughly successful with audiences and critics alike, despite being released during the pandemic. It conveyed the book’s powerful messages of power and succession to the viewers with mystical storytelling and stark filmmaking.

The next movie due in 2023, will continue and conclude the second half of the book. In all, there are 6 books in the Dune series and if the next movie is successful, this will end up being a powerful movie franchise for studio Warner Bros.

Jurassic Park (2 Books in Series)

Jurassic Park is a 1990 techno thriller novel by author Michael Crichton, and the basis for the blockbuster movie, directed by Steven Spielberg. The novel explores what would happen if scientists were able to recreate dinosaurs from DNA found in fossilized mosquitoes that had been preserved in amber. They create an island theme park with cloned dinosaurs, but things go horribly wrong when an employee who knows about the dinosaur DNA sabotages their system, allowing them to escape and terrorize the guests.

The book became an instant bestseller and was on the New York Times Best Seller list for nearly two years, which is unheard of for books of this genre.

By the time Spielberg released his summer blockbuster, the success of Jurassic Park can be attributed to the fact that it was one of the first movies to have computer-generated imagery (CGI). The CGI looked so realistic that people were convinced that they were watching real dinosaurs instead of computer graphics.

It spawned a sequel, The Lost World, also written by Crichton and directed by Spielberg. The Jurassic Park movie series have been very profitable for its studio, Universal, that it revived the franchise in the last decade with a new cast led by Chris Pratt.

Jason Bourne (3 Books in Series)

Jason Bourne is a fictional character that was created by author Robert Ludlum in the 1980s. He has appeared in many books, video games, and movies. The first novel of the series was published in 1980 with the title “The Bourne Identity.” The book was adapted into a movie starring Matt Damon in 2002. The movie received strong reviews but was successful at the box office grossing over $227 million worldwide on a $60 million budget.

The next two movies that followed blew up the franchise in a huge way, upping the stakes and its action sequences. Along with Bond and the Mission Impossible series, it was clearly a trend setter with its fighting sequences and global city hopping.

The Bourne movies were popular because they were well-written and often had gripping plots. They also appealed to the masses because they were intrigued by the mystery of Bourne’s amnesiac character. Damon’s appeal in playing Bourne made him come back to reprise his role in a later Bourne movie. There’s a strong chance this character will be revived in another iteration of a movie franchise in the future or a television series.

Jack Ryan (15 Books in Series)

Jack Ryan is a character created by Tom Clancy in several novels. He is a formidable CIA analyst and an ex-Marine officer. Ryan was introduced to the world in Clancy’s 1984 novel “The Hunt for Red October”. In 1990, the book was adapted into a film starring Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan. In the novel, Ryan is a senior CIA analyst who stumbles upon a Russian military coup by reading about it in the newspaper, but ends up caught in the middle of it himself.

Since then, Ryan has been has played by several actors, most famously by Harrison Ford in 2 movies and later by Ben Affleck and Chris Pine. The most recent actor to play the character is John Krasinski. He played the role in the TV series, “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan”.

Clancy’s novels are often military thrillers with high-level intelligence and political intrigue. The latest TV adaptation follows this trend and brings in some new elements that make it more exciting than previous adaptations, specifically framing its plots in new global geopolitical hot spots.

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