7 Books That May Never Become Movies

by Julia Seales

I'm a big believer in the idea that the book is always better than the movie. Yet, I still love a great book-to-movie adaptation. When it comes down to it, books and movies are just extremely different mediums for a story, and it’s completely possible to enjoy both in their own right. If you fell in love with characters and a plot and entire world on the page, why wouldn’t you want to see it on the screen?

Of course, there are the usual book-lover’s complaints: that wasn’t in the book! I pictured it differently! They changed everything for no reason! And yes, it’s frustrating when a movie doesn’t match your high expectations. But when a movie does succeed, it’s an excellent remedy for a book hangover: once you finish the last chapter, you can see the movie and relive the magic all over again.

With so many book-to-movie adaptations coming out this year, it would be easy to assume that eventually every book will come to the big screen (or maybe even become a television series). However, there are some books that are off-limits to Hollywood. There are different reasons why each one hasn’t come to a theater near you and probably won't any time soon: here are some books that may never become movies, and the reasons why.


'A Confederacy Of Dunces' by John Kennedy Toole

There have been numerous, storied attempt to adapt A Confederacy of Dunces for the screen. John Belushi was cast as Ignatius in 1982, but he passed away before the project could begin. John Candy and Chris Farley were also considered for the role, but they also passed away. Will Ferrell was tapped to star in an adaptation, but production was halted for unknown reasons. Then Hurricane Katrina affected the potential of filming in Louisiana, the book's setting. To this day the film adaptation of A Confederacy of Dunces is still non-existent, and the book came out in 1980.

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'One Hundred Years Of Solitude' by Gabriel García Márquez

According to Harvey Weinstein, García Márquez was willing to grant him and Giuseppe Tornatore the rights to One Hundred Years of Solitude, so long as they were to "film the entire book, but only release one chapter—two minutes long—each year, for one hundred years.” That didn't happen, and Márquez didn't grant the rights.

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'The Secret History' by Donna Tartt

Alan J. Pakula optioned The Secret History shortly after its publication, but the project never took off. Eventually Gwyneth Paltrow was set to develop the film version, but the project once again fell through. Donna Tartt now refuses to sell the rights to this modern classic, though a film adaptation of her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Goldfinch is reportedly in the works.

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'House Of Leaves' by Mark Z. Danielewski

The unconventional storytelling and abundant footnotes in House of Leaves make it clear that this is a book meant to be a book, not a film.

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'The Mezzanine' by Nicholson Baker

The Mezzanine is another book clearly meant to be just that — a book. All you would see in a film adaptation is a man going up an escalator, but the book (which also uses plenty of footnotes) is a stream-of-consciousness glance at the inside of the protagonist's mind.

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'At The Mountains Of Madness' by H.P. Lovecraft

Guillermo del Toro has worked for years to adapt Lovecraft's novella At the Mountains of Madness for film, but due to disputes about ratings, changes to the ending, and the similar storyline of Prometheus, the project has yet to be realized.

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'The Catcher In The Rye' by J.D. Salinger

Salinger famously refused to sell the rights to The Catcher in the Rye, and it's clear why: the strength of the novel is in Holden's first-person narration. Salinger said in a letter that "he can’t legitimately be separated from his own first-person technique," and that "it would take someone with X to bring it off, and no very young man even if he has X quite knows what to do with it. And, I might add, I don’t think any director can tell him."

So for now, the only place you'll catch Holden is on the page.

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