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5 Failed Literary Adaptations That Absolutely Deserve A Second Movie

If you thought launching a successful book series was a hard enough feat to achieve in life, just wait until Hollywood comes a-knockin’ to purchase the film rights. Your book baby is going to go through a series of writers who may or may not understand the nuance of the text you’ve crafted, and you’ll either have the next Maze Runner or Hunger Games on your hands, or you’ll have one of the movies on this list we’re about to unveil.

Though to be fair, exactly one of these movies is on this list for that reason. In other cases, the audience doesn’t latch on as they should, which leads to a lack of monetary reward and incentive to keep going. In either case, we’d like to present the following five films that failed at the box office, despite source material that deserves to be revisited at a theater near you.


The Golden Compass

While The Golden Compass was far from a proper adaptation of the first book in Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, it was unique enough to convey the original world in which it existed. With two more adventures right behind it - The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass - the adventure becomes more intriguing, and branches between the world of Lyra Belacqua and our own world. Whether the series is rebooted, or chooses to continue from the first film’s ending with a new cast, is up for debate - but the world of Lyra and The Golden Compass more than deserve another bite at the apple.


Master And Commander: Far Side Of The World

While the seafaring epic didn’t draw the sort of crowds that Elf would during the fall of 2003, Master And Commander: Far Side Of The World was still a profitable film at the box office. On top of the business end being secure, the Russell Crowe / Paul Bettany starring film was a strong action adventure, mixed with an historical drama aspect that made the film feel both cultured and pulse pounding. With 20 finished novels published , and one unfinished book also on shelves, there’s plenty of room for Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin to sail again.


John Carter

Rumor has it that every time you mention John Carter, a Disney executive grows a grey hair. Well, they’re doing to have a lot more to count in the mirror by time they go to bed, as we’re about to make yet another case for a good adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ bedrock series of stories. Though the rights have reverted to the estate of the late author’s descendants, we’re really hoping that they don’t make too much of a departure from Andrew Stanton’s 2012 rendition. At the very least, they should consider re-hiring Taylor Kitsch for the gig, as he deserves another chance to bring the character to life.


Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events

While Netflix is reimagining the popular series of children’s books for their release platform, we can’t help but remember the 2004 film starring Jim Carrey, a very young Emily Browning, and a slew of colorful supporting cameos. The madcap antics of Carrey’s Count Olaf, balanced with the genuinely interesting and warm storyline of the Baudelaire children and their revolving roster of guardians, made Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events one of the only legitimately entertaining films Nickelodeon Studios has released. Leave the books to Netflix, and give us a new film, penned by Snicket of course, covering the children a decade into their futures.


The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

And here we have it: the king of all divisive literary adaptations. For our money though, the film adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy - which was co-written by Douglas Adams himself - was well worth the journey. The only real fault that could be attributed to this film is that it didn’t go weird enough, but when your film is being produced for a more family friendly audience, you’re only allowed to go so far. Even at the "safe" lengths the 2005 film went to, the source material still shone through as an excellent theatrical experience. The fact that no one has tried to produce The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe is the ultimate crime.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.