5 BLOCKBUSTER MOVIES
You May Not Have Known Were Books First
Summer movie season is here and the theaters will be well stocked with action-packed adventures, sci-fi spectacles and other films made to prove the old saying that bigger is better. This is the time of year for escapism and razzle-dazzle. Leave the serious subject matter and literary adaptations for Oscar season, right? Well, sort of. To be sure, summer is a time for larger-than-life blockbusters that go down easy with a bucket of buttered popcorn. But many "popcorn movies" once lived only on the shelves of bookstores and libraries, and in the imaginations of readers.
With this year's re-release in 3-D, Jurassic Park made another fortune at the box office to go along with the one it earned when first released 20 years ago. With two sequels and another on the way, it's clear that people aren't tired of seeing dinosaurs rampaging at the local multiplex. The world of Jurassic Park is so cinematic that people forget it was first a best seller by Michael Crichton. The author also co-wrote the screenplay for Steven Spielberg's film and he was no stranger to crossovers between books and movies. Crichton wrote many novels adapted for the screen, including The Andromeda Strain, Congo, Disclosure and Twister. He was also a filmmaker in his own right, writing and directing Westworld, Coma, and Looker among other movies. As if all this wasn't enough, Crichton (a former medical student) created the long-running TV series, ER.
Reading About Rambo
With The Expendables and The Expendables 2 proving that aging action stars still have some box office juice, it's worth noting that one of the signature roles of Sylvester Stallone's career had literary roots. Nope, not Rocky. That was an original screenplay by Sly himself. But the avenging veteran Rambo first appeared in the novel First Blood by David Morrell. Published in 1972, the book made it to the silver screen a decade later and has spawned 3 sequels so far, plus a short-lived animated series.
Bruce Willis had cameo roles in both Expendables movies and has done pretty well with action fare himself since the worldwide success of Die Hard in 1988. With four sequels to date, Die Hard has become an iconic macho movie -- hardly the stuff of bookworms. Yet it was in print where the thrills began, in a 1979 novel called Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp. The book itself was a sequel to The Detective, published 13 years earlier. And that book was made into a film starring Frank Sinatra in 1968, so Thorp clearly had a way with creating fictional tough guys ready for the Hollywood treatment.
Few movie franchises have been as durable as the Planet of the Apes. The groundbreaking 1968 original led to four direct sequels, a live action TV series, an animated TV series, Tim Burton's 2001 big screen remake, and most recently, the smash hit prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes. With Dawn of the Planet of the Apes due in 2014, the movie monkeys seem ready to keep swinging well into the future. But it all began with a French novel by Pierre Bouelle published in 1963. Bouelle also wrote The Bridge Over the River Kwai, which was adapted for the screen with the Academy Award-winning 1957 war epic.
Night Of The Reading Dead
From popular "zom coms" like Warm Bodies and Zombieland to the devoted following for TV's The Walking Dead, it's clear that zombies remain the monsters of choice these days. So an epic zombie movie like this summer's World War Z is perfect for audiences hungry for more creatures hungry for human flesh to fill their casual dinnerware. Before Brad Pitt took his place as the hero of this post-apocalyptic saga, however, the story was told in a top-selling horror novel by Max Brooks. The author is the son of legendary comic Mel Brooks (The Producers, Blazing Saddles), but don't assume there is a scary/funny divide between the Brooks generations. Aside from making one of the most popular horror spoofs of all time with Young Frankenstein, the elder Brooks' production company also backed the grisly 1986 version of The Fly.