These Authors Hated The Movie Adaptations Of Their Books

It’s no secret that some of the best source material for Hollywood movies is pulled directly from the pages of popular books. Sometimes, the movie adaptation knocks it out of the park, creating instant classics such as Shawshank Redemption. Other times, the movies are so far off base from the original book that the author disowns the work. These authors hated the movies that were created from their best-selling works of fiction.

Mary Poppins Left P.L. Travers In Tears

Donaldson Collection/Getty Images
Donaldson Collection/Getty Images

Pamela Lyndon “P.L.” Travers hated the 1964 adaptation of her popular novel, Mary Poppins. Following the premiere of the film, which was the first time she saw the movie, she approached Walt Disney at the after-party and proclaimed, “Well, the first thing that has to go is the animation sequence.”

Walt Disney allegedly said, “Pamela, that ship has sailed” as he walked past her to receive praise from other people who attended the premiere. Adding insult to injury, Travers was not originally invited to the premiere until she publicly shamed Disney executives into extending her an invite.

A Wrinkle In Time Didn’t Go Over Well With Madeleine L’Engle

A Wrinkle In Time Movie Still
MovieStillsDB / michaella92
MovieStillsDB / michaella92

In 2003, the movie A Wrinkle In Time debuted. The movie, based on Madeleine L’Engle’s work from 1962, received horrendous reviews when it debuted as a two-part mini-series.

After the debut, L’Engle, who was 85-years-old at the time, was asked if she saw the movie and whether it met her expectations. L’Engle responded, “Oh, yes. I expected it to be bad, and it is.” Maybe that movie is cursed, because the 2018 version also scored a measly 42% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Donn Pearce Wasn’t A Fan Of Cool Hand Luke

Paul Newman From Cool Hand Luke
Warner Brothers Film Studios / Getty Images
Warner Brothers Film Studios / Getty Images

Paul Newman helped turn Cool Hand Luke into an instant Hollywood classic, but that doesn’t mean author Donn Pearce was a fan of the movie adaptation of his work. Pearce wrote the book after spending two years in prison while forced to work in a Florida chain gang.

Pearce told the Telegraph, “They did a lousy job and I disliked it intensely.” Speaking directly about Paul Newman’s role, Pearce added, “The guy was so cute looking. He was too scrawny. He wouldn’t have lasted five minutes on the road.” Pearce even co-wrote the Hollywood script. He also took issue with the famous line “What we have here is a failure to communicate,” noting that a prison warden would never use the word “communicate.”

Lois Duncan Didn’t Appreciate Hollywood’s Version Of I Know What You Did Last Summer

I know what you did last summer
MovieStillsDB / HarperSeven
MovieStillsDB / HarperSeven

Novelist Lois Duncan was distanced from the Hollywood film bearing her novel’s name. During a Q&A, she said of the studio’s motives, “They kept me as far away as possible. I think they were afraid of how I might react if I realized what my little masterpiece was going to turn into.” She also called the finished product a “shock.”

Duncan took issue with the film in the opening seconds when the insane fisherman with an ice hook appeared, a character that is not in her book. By the end, she said of the movie, “I was so horrified I couldn’t even open my popcorn.”

Bret Easton Ellis Hated American Psycho

American Psycho
MovieStillsDB / Timothy2
MovieStillsDB / Timothy2

Bret Easton Ellis took issue with the movie adaptation of American Psycho. First, he has said the book is unadaptable because it’s about consciousness, something Ellis doesn’t believe can be filmed. Ellis also said Patrick Bateman’s murders were left ambiguous in the book, leaving readers to determine if they were all just carried out in the character’s head.

Ellis’s second issue is that a female director took the helm, in this case, Mary Harron. Ellis, in a moment of misogyny, said movies are usually better left directed by men. “There’s something about the medium of film itself that I think requires the male gaze.” Oddly, in that same interview, he said two of his favorite movies of the year were directed by women, Fish Tank, and The Runaways.

Anthony Burgess Loved A Clockwork Orange Until He Didn’t

A Clockwork Orange
MovieStillsDB / hilts
MovieStillsDB / hilts

Upon first viewing, Anthony Burgess said of Stanley Kubrick’s adaption of A Clockwork Orange, “This is one of the great books that has been made into a great film.”

Once the movie started to gain negative press for its depiction of violence, Burgess changed his tune and railed against the movie. When he adapted the film for the stage this gem was added, “A man bearded like Stanley Kubrick comes on playing, in exquisite counterpoint, ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ on a trumpet. He is kicked off the stage.”

Stephen King Is Not A Fan Of The Shining

The Shining
MovieStillsDB
MovieStillsDB

Despite excellent reviews and its status as a Hollywood classic, Stephen King has numerous issues with The Shining. First, King said Shelley Duvall’s turn as Wendy was “insulting to women” because it turned her into “basically a scream machine.” King also said Jack Nicholson was just “playing the same motorcycle psycho that he played in all those biker films he did, Hells Angels on Wheels, The Wild Ride, The Rebel Rousers, and Easy Rider.”

King also noted that he wrote a screenplay that Kubrick ignored, instead hiring novelist Diane Johnson to write a screenplay “based on what he [Kubrick] wanted to emphasize. Then he redid it himself. I was really disappointed.”

Charlotte’s Web Was A Gross Violation Of E.B. White’s Personal Vision

Charlotte Web
MovieStillsDB / murraymomo
MovieStillsDB / murraymomo

Hanna-Barbera bought the rights to Charlotte’s Web and turned the beloved children’s book into a cartoon movie that is admired by millions. Not among those millions is E.B. White, who wrote to a friend, “The story is interrupted every few minutes so that somebody can sing a jolly song. I don’t care much for jolly songs. The Blue Hill Fair, which I tried to report faithfully in the book, has become a Disney World, with 76 trombones. But that’s what you get for getting embroiled in Hollywood.”

The movie angered White so much that he refused to ever work with Hollywood again.

Truman Capote Had Several Big Issues With Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Breakfast At Tiffanys
MovieStillsDB
MovieStillsDB

It’s hard to talk about Hollywood classics without bringing up Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but in the mind of author Truman Capote, the novella wasn’t done justice with the Hollywood version. First, Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe in the lead role that ultimately went to Audrey Hepburn. “Paramount double-crossed me in every way and cast Audrey,” Capote said.

In a 1968 Playboy interview, Capote also revealed, “The book was really rather bitter… and Holly Golightly was real—a tough character, not an Audrey Hepburn type at all. The film became a mawkish valentine to New York City and Holly and, as a result, was thin and pretty, whereas it should have been rich and ugly. It bore as much resemblance to my work as the Rockettes do to Ulanova.”

Roald Dahl Took Issue With Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
MovieStillsDB
MovieStillsDB

Roald Dahl wrote the screenplay for Charlie and the Factory and while Dahl said there were “many good things” in the film, he also voiced his distaste for the overall final product. One of Dahl’s biggest issues with the film was “crummy” music. Dahl even tried to cut the song “The Candyman” from the movie before it opened in the United Kingdom.

Dahl called Gene Wilder’s performance “pretentious” and “gay [in the old-fashioned sense of the word] and bouncy.” Dahl was paid a $300,000 writing fee but considered nearly disassociating himself with the film entirely. Dahl admits the movie helped his book sale but it still left him “enormously depressed” with the entire Hollywood movie-making experience.

Ken Kesey Refused To Watch One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Jack Nicholson In 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest'
United Artists/Getty Images
United Artists/Getty Images

Ken Kesey didn’t even watch One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and he was upset with the final product. In all fairness, there was at least one financial dispute that might have contributing to Kesey souring over the movie.

Kesey was also angry that Chief Bromden was replaced as the film’s narrator. It’s one of those rare occasions when a book author is upset at a film that earned five Oscars, including Best Picture.

Michael Ende Tried To Win An Injunction For The NeverEnding Story

The NeverEnding Story
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Michael Ende hated the movie adaptation of The NeverEnding Story so much that he had his name removed from the film. One of Ende’s biggest complaints was that scenes were added that “contradicted the inner logic of the story” and elements were added to make it a fuzzy commercially viable product.

When director Wolfgang Petersen refused to fix Ende’s issues with the film, the author attempted to place an injunction on the production company. In the end, Ende wrote of the experience, “I would never have been able to look myself in the mirror if I lent my name to something like that. I’ve fought to the point of exhaustion. They tried to wear me down with dirty tricks, and I kicked up a fuss—but what good did it do?”

J.D. Salinger Wasn’t A Fan Of My Foolish Heart

My Foolish Heart
MovieStillsDB
MovieStillsDB

My Foolish Heart is based on Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut, which was originally published in The New Yorker. The movie didn’t sit well with author J.D. Salinger and was likely why The Catcher in the Rye was never adapted for the big screen.

The plot for My Foolish Heart was radically changed compared to Salinger’s original work and the film opened to horrible reviews. It was widely known that after the film was released, Salinger outright refused to pick up the phone when Hollywood executives would call.

Rick Riordan Publicly Shared His Disappointment With The Entire Percy Jackson Movie Franchise

Percy Jackson
MovieStillsDB / MagisterYODA
MovieStillsDB / MagisterYODA

Rick Riordan refused to watch the Percy Jackson movies after he read the scripts and realized the writing was awful and not true to his own storytelling. Riordan was so dismayed that he shared a letter he wrote to the creators of the movie, outlining his disappointment with the direction they were taking with the movies.

Riordan was upset that they aged up the characters and relied on horrible scriptwriting to tell the story. On a positive note, Disney+ is re-adapting his work, hopefully with more input from Riordan.

Alan Moore Despises V For Vendetta And From Hell

V For Vendetta
MovieStillsDB
MovieStillsDB

Alan Moore has made it no secret that he believes something is missing when comics are adapted for the big screen. As he explains, “There is something about the quality of comics that makes things possible that you couldn’t do in any other medium.”

When V for Vendetta debuted, he said it was a “Bush-era parable by people too timid to set a political satire in their own country” and when speaking about Johnny Depp’s version of From Hell he said the protagonist was nothing but an “absinthe-swilling dandy.” When you see an Alan Moore adapted comic, just go ahead and assume he hates the movie.

Anne Rice Says Queen Of The Damned Ruined The Franchise

Queen Of The Damned
MovieStillsDB
MovieStillsDB

Anne Rice was shocked when she saw Interview with a Vampire and ended up loving Tom Cruise’s performance. Queen of the Damned, on the other hand, is a sore subject for the famed author. According to Rice, that movie killed her entire vampire franchise and completely disrespected her fanbase.

“It was not based on the books. It was a fiction created by the studio using the names, and there just is no market for that in today’s world,” she said. Leave it to Hollywood to ruin a franchise by abandoning the audience that made the first movie such a massive success.

Clive Cussler’s Issues With Sahara Run Deep

Sahara
MovieStillsDB
MovieStillsDB

Clive Cussler made a name for himself with the tales of Dirk Pitt but 2005’s Sahara, starring Matthew McConaughey and Penélope Cruz, failed to strike a chord with Cussler’s fans and with the author himself.

Cussler sued the film’s producer for $38 million and when he lost the court case he was ordered to pay $13.9 million in legal fees, an order that was overturned in 2010. Cussler demanded nothing but total and absolute control and when he didn’t get it, he attacked the production company. Even without saying it, it’s obvious he hated the final product, which lost about $100 million at the box office.

Richard Matheson Was Not A Fan Of The Last Man On Earth

The Last Man On Earth
Hammer Film Productions
Hammer Film Productions

Before Will Smith appeared in I Am Legend in 2007, there was a version of the film released in 1964. That film, titled, The Last Man On Earth, starred Vincent Price. When the film was released, Matheson said, “I was disappointed… even though they more or less followed my story. I think Vincent Price, whom I love in every one of his pictures that I wrote, was miscast.”

The Omega Man, a version of his book starring Charlton Heston, didn’t bother him because, “The Omega Man was so removed from my book that it didn’t even bother me,” When the Will Smith version was announced, Matheson said, “I don’t know why Hollywood is fascinated by my book when they never care to film it as I wrote it.” Will Smith’s version completely changed the ending of his book because it didn’t play well with test audiences.

Ursula K. Le Guin Says Legend Of Earthsea Whitewashed Her Work

Legend Of Earthsea
MovieStillsDB
MovieStillsDB

Ursula K. Le Guin was furious when the Sci-Fi Channel’s adaptation of her books was released as a miniseries and completely whitewashed the rich tapestry of characters she had created in her beloved series.

Le Guin didn’t hold back any punches. “And just as quickly, race, which had been a crucial element, had been cut out of my stories,” she said. “In the miniseries, Danny Glover is the only man of color among the main characters. A far cry from the Earthsea I envisioned. When I looked over the script, I realized the producers had no understanding of what the books are about and no interest in finding out. All they intended was to use the name Earthsea, and some of the scenes from the books, in a generic McMagic movie with a meaningless plot based on sex and violence.”

Scott Spencer Had Plenty To Say About Endless Love

Endless Love
MovieStillsDB
MovieStillsDB

When Scott Spencer spoke with The Paris Review about Endless Love, he didn’t hold back. “You cringe, you pretend you don’t care, you laugh when they play the bad movie’s theme song at weddings you attend, and you wait for the whole thing to pass.”

And speaking to The Hollywood Reporter about Franco Zeffirelli’s adaptation he said it was “botched—misquoted, as it were,” Spencer added, “I was frankly surprised that something so tepid and conventional could have been fashioned from my slightly unhinged novel about the glorious destructive violence of erotic obsession, but I’d been warned.”