What Best-Selling Book Has Hollywood Not Adapted?

Slate's Culture Blog
July 14 2009 12:15 PM

What Best-Selling Book Has Hollywood Not Adapted?

As the latest Harry Potter movie comes rumbling into theaters tomorrow, I wonder: What major best-selling book has Hollywood somehow  not  adapted? Let's go to the Internet for a debatable  list of best-selling books . The first five are the Bible, Quotations from Chairman Mao , the Quran, Xinhua Zidian (a Chinese dictionary), and the Book of Mormon. (I, for one, would love to see the Book of Mormon adapted by Steven Soderbergh and starring Brad Pitt as the prophet Moroni.) J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone  lands at No. 6 with 107 million copies sold. Next is Agatha Christie's, And Then There Were None (multiple adaptations, including two TV shows under its original, scandalous title ), then Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, then another Potter, then The Da Vinci Code , then yet another Potter.

The 12th book on the list is The Catcher in the Rye , with claims of 60 million copies sold. The latest rumor, circa 2006, had Terence Malick working on an adaptation. But even if a Catcher movie were somehow allowed to be made, today's teens may not care. Jennifer Schuessler wrote a great piece recently in the New York Times about how many of them don't like the book . On the list of best-sellers, Catcher is followed by three more Potters, Ben Hur , Heidi (adapted into a beloved Shirley Temple movie), The Alchemist , Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care , The Little Prince , and, at 21, The Mark of Zorro . Of these, only The Alchemist and Dr. Spock have yet to be filmed, though Harvey Weinstein is developing the former, and if Blink  can be adapted into a thriller, surely a screenwriter can get a decent romcom out of Spock's manual.

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The end of the list invites a further question: What classic book should be adapted but has not been? The Faerie Queene anyone?

 
 

Michael Agger is an editor at The New Yorker. Follow him on Twitter.