It’s amazing how many fantasy books have been made into movies.
Most movie-goers are familiar with the popular big screen productions like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones. But if you’re a real fantasy lover, you probably know of dozens more. And I’m sure you have your favorites.
I imagine you also have your own opinions about which films did the book justice and which ones failed miserably. Most of the comments I hear from readers who also love movies is, “The book was so much better!”
I’m curious, are there any fantasy movies adapted from the novel that you liked better than the book? Have you heard anyone honestly say, “The movie was much better!”?
There are many lists of fantasy books made into movies on the web. I’ve gathered some of my personal favorites in the list below. I’m not saying these are the best or that this is an exhaustive list. Or that my list is better than yours. But hopefully you’ll get an idea for the kind of stories that inspire me. And maybe you’ll find something new to read or watch.
Fantasy Books to Movies – Popular
The Lord of the Rings
When I first heard that this classic was being brought to life under the skillful hand of Peter Jackson and his team, I could not wait. Years later, when the box set became available, the hefty investment was a no-brainer for me.
While I love the trilogy in book form, I have to admit that these days I would prefer to watch the films…with one caveat. There are some characters and scenes missing in the films (e.g. Tom Bombadil) that may not advance the plot but are fun to read. It will be interesting to see if Tom shows up in the upcoming Amazon series.
It wasn’t until about the fourth film (or maybe it was shortly after The Deathly Hallows was published) that I decided to read the complete series. The story improved with each book, and by the time I finished the last page I realized why the series is so popular.
I have read the books only once, although I look forward to reading them again. But I have re-watched the films at least a few times. Does that mean I like the movies more? Not more, but perhaps equally. The main difference for me comes when the end draws near. In the final installment, I think the films fall short of the powerful story J.K. Rowling crafted. I’ll say no more. If you’ve watched The Deathly Hallows but have not read the book, you’re missing out on a much better ending.
And I suggest starting with book one and reading through all seven to get the full thematic impact.
Game of Thrones
Whether you love the books, prefer the film series, love them both, or can’t be bothered with the hype, there’s no denying the popularity of this modern epic fantasy series by George R.R. Martin.
Fantasy Books to Movies – Lesser Known
Howl’s Moving Castle
As the eldest daughter, Sophie Hatter is destined to a simple, obscure life of making hats for the family business. One day, the Witch of the Waste comes into the shop and curses Sophie, transforming her body into that of an old woman. Thus begins Sophie’s quest to break the curse and discover a new life beyond the hat shop.
Many people who’ve read Diana Wynne Jones’ novel (or the sequels) have also seen Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film. Because a single film is too short for this epic story, the differences make comparison difficult. As a result, most people find aspects of both the novel and the film that they love.
The Princess Bride
What?! There’s a book? Inconceivable!
I had to include this because it’s one of those classic tales that often gets better reviews for the movie than the book. But it’s true: there was once a classic novel.
Granted, this Neil Gaiman classic is more like a modern fairy tale than fantasy, but it’s one of my personal favorites. The hero’s quest, the love story, adventure, evil enemies, and more make this a classic.
But I’m still looking forward to seeing the movie…. I think I’ll add it to my Christmas wish list.
Fantasy Books to Movies – In the Works
Now that the Game of Thrones film series is complete, studios are rushing to find the next fantasy series to keep fans happy. From what I can see, there will be plenty to keep you glued to your screens. Here are a few that could be very good if done properly.
The Wheel of Time
Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy classic is officially in the works. It will air as a live-action TV series on Amazon Prime. But, it could be a while. The first cast reading was September 2019. Details here.
The person who introduced me to Patrick Rothfuss’ Name of the Wind told me, “This book helped me fall in love with fantasy again.” I still remember sitting by a campfire reading the initial chapters.
It’s been a long journey for fans awaiting the final installment in the trilogy (apparently titled The Doors of Stone). And now we have rumors of a movie version and a TV series. Recent reports on the film adaptation of Kingkiller Chronicle make it seem like a “maybe someday.”
The Chronicles of Narnia
In 2018, Netflix acquired the rights to this classic book series. Before that, Disney had attempted 3 movie versions, but they didn’t do so well. Let’s hope Netflix has a better plan because there really are some good stories in this series.
Fantasy Books to Movies – My Wish List
The Riyria Chronicles
This series by Michael J. Sullivan is one of those rare self-published successes. The tales of assassin Royce Melborn and former soldier Hadrian Blackwater are exciting adventures that gradually introduce the reader to an incredible new world. The fast-paced action and the well-written dialogue between the unexpected friends keeps the narrative flowing from start to finish.
This is a series that is easy for me to visualize as I read. I would not be surprised if one of the streaming giants picks this up for a multi-season series.
The Graveyard Book
Disney currently holds the film rights to this charming Neil Gaiman tale. Apparently, they’re “excited about” the project, but there are no reports of production. Let’s go, Pixar!
There are many stories of children carried away into fantastical worlds. But what happens when they return? According to author Seanan McGuire, they have the opportunity to attend Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.
This series seems perfectly suited for a TV series, and Syfy seems to agree: they’ve optioned the rights to the series.
So, there you have it. A few popular fantasy books made into movies, a few lesser known fantasy books made into movies, a few fantasy books now in film production, and a few I would like to see turned into movies.
What are your favorite fantasy books made into movies? What fantasy book would you like to see made into a movie?