Books You Didn’t Know Inspired Blockbuster Movies

Exploring the Stories Behind Hollywood’s Greatest Hits


The silver screen has the ability to change careers, shape the way we think, and redirect culture in a way that nothing else can. It’s immediate, striking, and so easy to follow that it has rapidly overtaken the literary world in many homes around the world. While we don’t want to preach or push you in either direction, there is a lot to be said for diving into the books that inspired movies in ways many of us have forgotten. Take a look, prepare to be surprised, and then see which book you want to read first.

Stephen King wrote The Shawshank Redemption

When King published a collection of short stories in the 80s, he created Andy Dufresne, Red and the warden we all love to hate. In fact, he actually created four different wardens who came and went as Andy appeared to rot away behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit. And then there’s Red — read the original novella and you’ll find out that he actually cut the brakes on his wife’s car as part of a life insurance job. Little did he know that she would be giving a lift to a dear friend and he would be sentenced for double murder.

Diving into the world of Stephen King is a pleasure for any literary fan, and he also has a knack for having his bestsellers turn into blockbusters. The Shawshank Redemption is a rare example of one of his books that didn’t make much noise but then inspired to create perhaps one of the most adored and treasured movies of the last 30 years.

Psycho was created by Robert Bloch

Norman Bates is perhaps the creepiest, most unsettling character in all of 20th century cinema, but it wasn’t the scriptwriters who originally brought him to life. He came from the pen of Robert Bloch a year earlier, complete in all his gory detail.

The way he stares, the way he schemes, and his obsessive nature all roll out in front of you on the page of a novel by the same name. When the world of the big screen stumbled across this stunning novel, they soon saw that they had a readymade character who wasn’t just pure evil — he had a level of depth that is hard to find. Decades later, and numerous remakes and spinoffs since, and he’s a character who still manages to captivate us and make us sit on the edge of our seats.

Forrest Gump was written by Winston Groom

Jenny had a habit of bumping into and crossing paths with Forrest Gump in the most unexpected of ways, so much so that the love interest is something that endured for decades. Groom is the breakout author we all have to thank for this enduring, charming, and truly lovable story. Without his initial spark of inspiration, who is to say that any of us would have ever heard of the man who loved to talk about that box of chocolates.

It’s a great example of how a novel that speaks to the heart and truly means something can be moved onto the big screen without losing its charm and character. Tom Hanks is the main reason for this, of course, but it’s the way the scriptwriters have taken the original book and handled it in such an authentic, compassionate way that really holds the film together. A must-read book for anyone who has fallen in love with Forrest Gump.

Jaws was the work of Peter Benchfield

When Steven Spielberg only had a single movie credit to his name, he was handed a copy of Jaws and the rest was history. His second film took the original work of a truly talented author and turned it into one of the most iconic movies, not just of the 1970s and 80s, but of all time. The theme tune, the dorsal fin, the thrashing in the water — everything combines to create a timeless visual experience that actually has its origins in the written word.

The beauty of finding that one of the world’s most popular movies was originally a page turner is that it gives you a whole new perspective. There will be subtle changes in the story that result from it being adapted to the big screen, changes in emphasis, and additional bits of backstory that were cut from the film so that it ran to time. Diving into the literary version of Jaws will give you an even greater appreciation of one of the most loved movies we’ve ever had the pleasure of watching.

Bruce Willis didn’t create Diehard

Last up, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Bruce Willis himself came up with Diehard, such is the degree to which his role is loved. Go check it out once you get to the bottom of this page and you’ll be able to name the author whose book inspired the movies of Diehard to life.

Did they ever really intend it to be the unofficial Christmas movie every family secretly loves to watch? What are the extra pieces of backstory that had to be cut from the movie? Which parts of the book did Willis clearly study over and over again so he could get his act on point? A quick search online for the original book will allow you to answer all of these questions as you get set to fall in love with the Diehard franchise all over again.

Sometimes having a break from the screens and putting down your phone so you’re not scrolling on social, jumping between Whatsapp group chats, and playing online casino games is the perfect way to embrace mindfulness. Going back to basics, putting your phone in another room, and picking up a book is the ideal way to rest and relax. And you never know, you might just find a whole new way of looking at one or two of your most treasured movies along the way.


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