Bond Beats Brontë: Who’s the Most Adapted Author in Cinema?

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
March 11 2011 10:12 AM

Bond Beats Brontë: Who’s the Most Adapted Author in Cinema?

Yesterday in Slate ,Jessica Winter asked, " Why are there so many movieadaptations of Jane Eyre ?" Meanwhile, one of last week'smajor releases was The Adjustment Bureau ,yet another film based on the stories of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick(earlier adaptations include Blade Runner , Minority Report , A Scanner Darkly and TotalRecall ). This got me wondering: Who are Hollywood's favorite authors?

There's no easy way to establish a definitive answer. Does one count filmsbased on a character, but not a storyline? Can one count Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet and not Gnomeoand Juliet ?

For today, I've settled for a method that's admittedly imprecise: Counting thenumber of titles that the IMDb credits to a given writer. Television series, made-for-TVmovies, and even video games occasionally figure into these lists, so the resultsare broader than I would have liked. Also, since the IMDb doesn't itself rankwriters, I had to settle for taking my own list of likely contenders andsearching for them in the database one-by-one.

What are the surprises? After Shakespeare (the leader by a mile with 831titles) comes not Brontë (35) or Philip K. Dick (21), but Anton Chekhov (320).Hemingway (56) gets destroyed by Stephen King (127). Dr. Seuss ties Franz Kafkaat 70, Joseph Conrad ties Sophocles at 62, and Homer ties Raymond Chandler at34. Emily Brontë edges out her sister, Charlotte, by one title.

It seems there's no one way to win Hollywood's favor.Short story writers (Poe, O. Henry) and playwrights (Shakespeare, Molière, Wilde)fare at least as well as novelists (Dickens, Hugo). Prestige doesn'tnecessarily help, either: Writers of such genre fare as science fiction (HPLovecraft, HG Wells), mysteries (Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie) and fairy tales(Hans Christian Anderson, the Brothers Grimm) often surpass the literary greats.Finally, sometimes penning just one timeless story is enough to become aperennial Tinseltown favorite: Nearly every one of Cervantes' 101 credits is for anadaption of Don Quixote .

Here are the top 25 authors I've found so far, along with the number of"writer" credits they're given by the IMDb:

1. William Shakespeare (831)
2. Anton Chekhov (320)
3. Charles Dickens (300)
4.Edgar Allan Poe (240)
5.Robert Louis Stevenson (225)
6. Arthur Conan Doyle (220)
7. Hans Christian Andersen (217)
8.The Brothers Grimm (212)
9.Molière (208)
10.O. Henry (201)
11.Oscar Wilde (181)
12.Victor Hugo (150)
13. Jules Verne (143)
14. Stephen King (127)
15. Agatha Christie (126)
16. L. Frank Baum (124)
17.Mark Twain (121)
18.Cervantes (101)
19. H.P. Lovecraft (99)
20. J.M. Barrie (93)
21. Ian Fleming (88)
22. H.G. Wells (85)
23.Rudyard Kipling (78)
24. Tennessee Williams (74)
25. Stan Lee (73)

Who did I miss? Postyour findings in the comments, and we might collect them in a future post.

/blogs/browbeat/2011/03/11/bond_beats_bront_who_s_the_most_adapted_author_in_cinema/jcr:content/body/slate_image
Advertisement

Follow   Brow Beat on Twitter . For more   culture coverage, like   Slate   Culture   on Facebook.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 11:40 AM The U.S. Has Spent $7 Billion Fighting the War on Drugs in Afghanistan. It Hasn’t Worked. 
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Right of Free Speech
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 21 2014 12:05 PM Same-Sex Couples at Home With Themselves in 1980s America
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 21 2014 4:14 PM Planet Money Uncovers One Surprising Reason the Internet Is Sexist
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AMWe Need More Ben BradleesHis relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PMDriving in CirclesThe autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
Culturebox
Oct. 20 2014 3:22 PMNow Is the Time to InventThe legacy (and the return) of Sleater-Kinney, which was once the best rock band in America.