Some of the most popular films out there have been adapted from comic strips, storybooks, video games, and the like. For instance, the Marvel Cinematic Universe would have been impossible without the sheer wealth of comics that inspired it. On the other hand, franchises like Star Wars began with the films and later expanded into comics, television shows, novelizations, and so on.
In this list, we'll focus on some of the most expensive literary adaptations of all time. While names such as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings are not a surprise, keep your eye out for a few unexpected names as well.
10 The Polar Express - $165 Million
This 2004 film starring Tom Hanks was based on a children's novel by Chris Van Allsburg, published in 1985. It follows the adventures of a young boy who embarks on a train ride on Christmas Eve and travels all the way to the North Pole, along with other kids, to meet Santa Claus.
Using live action motion capture animation, the film was pretty expensive for its time. It also made it to the Guinness World Records as the first all-digital capture film.
9 The Golden Compass - $180 Million
The Golden Compass was based on Philip Pullman's Northern Lights- the first novel in his fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials. Set in a parallel universe, where people's souls are incarnated in the form of daemons or animal companions, the film follows the adventures of Lyra Silvertongue, as she travels all the way to the freezing North, in search of her missing childhood friend, Roger.
The film had quite the stellar cast, with both Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig playing crucial roles, and Dakota Blue Richards portraying the protagonist. Yet the film wasn't much of a success and Pullman's book has now been adapted to a television series.
8 Oz: The Great And Powerful - $217 Million
This one has James Franco take on the role of the wonderful wizard of Oz. It is loosely based on Frank L. Baum's much-loved children's novel along with his other works, and functions as a sort of prequel to the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Set in the same universe as the latter works, the film provides a sort of backstory for the wizard, as it tries to explain how he got whisked away from Earth, his relationship with the different witches and how he sets up a new life in Oz.
7 The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy - $230 Million
Peter Jackson cinematically brought to life not just Tolkien's magnum opus, but Middle Earth itself. Over the course of three beautifully-shot films, we followed the journey of Frodo and Sam, all the way to Mount Doom, in order to destroy the One Ring and prevent Sauron from regaining his power, even as we saw Aragorn, the Ranger reclaim his throne in Minas Tirith.
With multiple narratives and numerous characters, the fantasy trilogy paved the way for more complex big-budget shows such as Game of Thrones and even the later Hobbit films.
6 John Carter - $263.7 Million
John Carter is an American sci-fi film based on the book A Princess Of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, which was part of his Barsoom series of novels. Burroughs who's also associated with Tarzan, created the character of John Carter, a veteran of the American Civil War, who is suddenly transport into Mars.
Although the film was praised for its visuals, it was criticized for its plot and characterization and didn't do well at the box office.
5 The Twilight Saga - $385 Million
With five films in tow, the Twilight Saga narrates the turbulent love affair between the human girl Bella and Edward, an immortal vampire. It launched the careers of Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, bringing them worldwide acclaim.
In fact the final film, Breaking Dawn was split into two and released within one year apart from each other.
4 The Hunger Games - $495 Million
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins was an immensely popular dystopian YA trilogy, whereas a group of teenagers were randomly chosen from different districts and made to fight and face each other, till only one survived. Dark, gritty and very engaging, the series focused on Katniss Everdeen, who was portrayed on screen by none other than Jennifer Lawrence.
And even after four films, if the fans felt that they didn't get enough of the series, well there's a treat for them next year, with a prequel of sorts set to be released by the author.
3 The Chronicles Of Narnia Series - $560 Million
The Chronicles of Narnia are a series of seven fantasy novels written by C.S. Lewis, some of which have been adapted into films. The second book in the series, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe was the first to be adapted and was a huge success. This was followed by Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which despite all its magic, failed to capture the brilliance of the first film.
There are talks of the rest of the series being adapted for Netflix and we have to wait and see if that ever happens.
2 The Hobbit Trilogy - $623 Million
Inspired by the stupendous success of the Lord of the Rings films, Peter Jackson decided to return to Middle Earth, this time to bring to life Tolkien's first children's book, The Hobbit to screen.
However he planned this in the form of a trilogy as well. So in addition to the book, he also looked at some of Tolkien's other in-universe material as well as introduced some wholly new characters. While being criticized for being long drawn-out, it had enough grandeur and CGI to keep us entertained.
1 Harry Potter Series - $1.2 Billion
Of course, the Harry Potter series needs no introduction. It catapulted J.K. Rowling, a struggling single mother into instant stardom, and the eight films further popularized the books. While the latter films were directed all by David Yates, the first few films had different directors, giving each film a very unique tone and feel.
In fact, the franchise is still on-going, thanks to Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, which further deepens the world-building. And we still have three more films to look forward to, in that regard.