July 25, 2014

Who’s behind the books of the world’s top-grossing films? The answer won’t surprise you.


Movie magic via Shutterstock.

Movie magic via Shutterstock.

Lisa Campbell of The Bookseller reported yesterday that “UK books power world’s top-grossing films.” In it, she reveals that 40% of the highest-grossing films since 2001 were adaptions of novels by British writers.

What a nice headline! It’s meant to prove the UK hasn’t lost its touch, even if the Man Booker long list was blighted with five American authors this year. (Read Zeljka Marosevic‘s thoughts on that here. Alex Shephard‘s more American perspective is here.)

Now, give us a quick guess what titles you think those 40% of worldwide blockbusters are based upon.

…You’re right! Eight out of twenty are:

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

The rest of each series isn’t far behind. That means JK Rowling‘s books are behind 25% of the top twenty highest-grossing films, and 15% are written by J. R. R. Tolkien.

Hot on their heels are Shrek 2 and Shrek the Third (really? It was called “the Third”?). The Chronicles of Narnia and the Twilight Saga squeak in in the top thirty.

The Booker may be a sore subject, but claiming to be the world leader in novels-turned-to-film seems like a bit of a stretch, no? (Maybe they’re still sore about getting fourth place in Quiddich the World Cup and had to think up a new point of pride, fast.)


Kirsten Reach is an editor at Melville House.