Arts & Entertainment

Movies Based on Books Take in Much, Much More Money at the Box Office

The small screen shows a similar pattern
IMAGE New Line Cinema

Films based on books might have the intolerable disadvantage of people smugly claiming "the book is so much better," but they also result in a huge boost at the box office.

According to new research from the Publishers Association, films based on books take 53% more worldwide than original screenplays.

The report's findings showed that films based originally on literary sources “tend to have substantially higher grosses” than those based on original scripts.

Using data from the British Film Institute (BFI), the BBC, UK Theater and Nielsen BookScan the report found that 43% of the top 20 box office-grossing films in the UK between 2007 and 2016 were based on books, with a further 9% based on comic books.

“In short, published material is the basis of 52% of top UK films in the last 10 years, and accounts for an even higher share of revenue from these leading performers, at 61% of UK box office gross and 65% of worldwide gross," the report reads.


Television was similarly influenced by books, with 14 of 35 of the top series produced in the UK between January and September 2017 being pulled from the pages of bestsellers.

It also found that theatre shows based on books, “tend to run for a longer period of time, with the top four longest running productions in London’s West End based on literary sources”, pointing to the continual success of Michael Morpurgo's Warhorse in particular.

No doubt we'll be seeing an even bigger deluge of adaptations on our big screens, and even more reasons to give up on that novel you've been ignoring for months.

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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