9 movie adaptations that the authors hated

Emma Dibdin
Photo credit: Warner Bros

From Digital Spy

Artemis Fowl is the latest movie adaptation of a popular book series and the reviews have not been kind, to say the least.

However, for now, Artemis Fowl can count itself lucky as author Eoin Colfer seems to be supportive of the movie, even though it made some significant changes to his original book.

"There were many other changes such as gender switches, plot twists, and backstory which I am one hundred percent behind," he told Polygon.

Related: How to watch Artemis Fowl for FREE on Disney+

But it's far from a guarantee that an author will like what a movie studio has made out of their work.

So we've taken a look back over the years to find the nine authors who absolutely hated the adaptations of their books.

1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Photo credit: Herbert Dorfman/Corbis via Getty Images

Author Ken Kesey was involved at the early scripting stages of Cuckoo's Nest, but he pulled out over reported "creative differences" with director Milos Foreman.

His biggest problem with Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman's script was that it shifted the viewpoint away from Chief Bromden (whose questionable state of mind is central to the book) to Nicholson's Randle McMurphy.

Kesey never saw the finished film, and as legend has it even changed the channel to avoid it when it was on TV.

2. Watchmen

Photo credit: Warner Bros.

True: any Alan Moore adaptation is automatically an adaptation disowned by its original author.

As with V for Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and From Hell, the Northampton writer always requests his name to be removed from the credits – convinced it is impossible to make movies out of his original comics.

But Zack Snyder's 2009 bombastic and actually-faithful version of Watchmen was the worst: Moore claims certain devious tactics by executives at DC Comics "made me curse this wretched film and everything connected with it".

Wonder what he makes of the Watchmen TV show...

3. The Shining

Photo credit: Warner Bros

Stanley Kubrick's adaptation plays very, very fast and loose with Stephen King's 1977 novel, swapping out several plot elements, including the ending, and approaching Jack Torrance's violent breakdown as a psychological tragedy rather than a supernatural one.

King could never overcome the differences, dismissing it as "a film by a man who thinks too much and feels too little; and that's why, for all its virtuoso effects, it never gets you by the throat and hangs on the way real horror should."

King even went so far as to write and produce his own vastly inferior adaptation, pointedly titled Stephen King's The Shining, which aired on ABC in 1997 before being widely forgotten.

But to King's credit, he's far from precious about his work being adapted: he has described both Brian De Palma's Carrie and Frank Darabont's The Mist as having improved on his original novels.

And he seemed to actually like The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep too.

4. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Photo credit: 20th Century Studios

Rick Riordan expressed his thoughts on the two movies of his books on Twitter.

First, Riordan joked that Disney+ should "censor the entire thing" when a viewer observed that The Lightning Thief had been censored, with the author suggesting it should just be "two hours of blank screen".

And then he added: "Well, to you guys, it's a couple hours entertainment. To me, it's my life's work going through a meat grinder when I pleaded with them not to do it."

Fortunately for Riordan, he's more involved in the planned Percy Jackson rebooted TV series and hopes for a "faithful, full on-screen adaptation" of his books. Let's hope he's not disappointed again.

5. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Photo credit: Wolper Pictures / The Quaker Oats Company - Paramount

Roald Dahl was so furious about the heavy rewrites on this 1971 adaptation – which he originally scripted himself – that he famously wrote into his will that the sequel could never be adapted.

And that's why we've never seen a movie version of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.

One of Dahl's big problems was with the casting of Gene Wilder, so God only knows what he'd have made of Johnny Depp's famously Michael Jackson-inflected performance in the 2005 remake...

6. Mary Poppins

Photo credit: Silver Screen Collection - Getty Images

An author-filmmaker dispute so legendary that they made an entire movie about it.

Author PL Travers bitterly regretted signing over the rights to her Mary Poppins series to Disney, and loathed just about every aspect of the undisputed classic movie it became from the suffragettes to the songs to the animated sequences.

While many of the authors on this list never even brought themselves to watch the films in question, Travers went to the world premiere of Mary Poppins, and reportedly wept through the whole thing in sheer horror.

7. The Birds

Photo credit: Universal

In fairness, Alfred Hitchcock's chilling avian horror was only ever loosely based on Daphne Du Maurier's short story by the same name.

Hitchcock told his screenwriter Evan Hunter to develop a more complex and character-rich plot based around Du Maurier's concept of unexplained bird attacks, and shifted the action away from Cornwall to California.

Du Maurier appreciated none of these changes.

8. American Psycho

Photo credit: Lionsgate

Bret Easton Ellis's issues with the Christian Bale-starring adaptation of his novel are two-fold.

One: "That book is unadaptable because it's about consciousness, and you can't really shoot that sensibility."

Two: Its director, Mary Harron is female. "The best art is made under not an indifference to, but a neutrality [toward] the kind of emotionalism that I think can be a trap for women directors," Ellis once told Movieline.

Because if there's one problem with American Psycho, it is pretty obviously an overabundance of feminine emotionalism.

9. Breakfast at Tiffany's

Photo credit: CBS Photo Archive - Getty Images

Truman Capote wrote the role of flighty, fragile gal-about-town Holly Golightly with a very specific actress in mind, and it was not Audrey Hepburn.

He wanted Marilyn Monroe for the role, and took the studio's decision to cast Hepburn as a personal affront, calling the finished product "the most miscast film I've ever seen – it made me want to throw up".

In fairness to Capote, the movie does gloss over the novel's dark and ambiguous elements in favour of glossy, poster-friendly glamour. Plus, in the portrayal of Mr Yunioshi, some pretty startling racism.

But worse? It tacks on a happy ending where Holly gets both the guy and the cat.

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