If you don't think you're really a fan of plays, because you much prefer the movies, the following might make you think again: Some of Hollywood’s most revered movies had their roots on the stage somewhere in the world. In fact, plays as inspiration for Hollywood films predate the recent surge of new Broadway musicals being adapted from movies. Of course, when adapting a play for the big screen, some major changes are required to accommodate the wider audience, more varied scene and the bigger budget, so the film adaptation is very rarely faithful to more literary experience of the play as it is on stage.
Many of the more noteworthy film adaptations have A-list Hollywood actors starring in the much-coveted roles; actors eager to immortalize a playwright's genius on the big screen to touch a bigger audience. Take the 1957 and 1996 film adaptations of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”. The play, often read as an allegory for McCarthyism in the United States, was a major literary and on-stage hit. Just as favourite books are so commonly adapted, if a play has an important message then Hollywood is one of the premiere places to adapt that story for the masses.
Of course one of the most famous playwrights of all time, whose work has been brought to the screen hundreds of time in varyingly faithful renderings, is William Shakespeare. For the purposes of showcasing work that has been written in the 20th and 21st century, the Bard will be left out of our list - though we've made a list of the most popular Shakespearean film adaptations all it own.
The following are 10 huge Hollywood blockbusters that were conceived by the pen of a lone talented playwright.
10 Proof (2005) - $7,535,331
9 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966) - $29 Million
8 Frost/Nixon (2008) - $18,622,031
7 Doubt (2008) - $33,446,470
6 Closer (2004) - $33,987,757
5 August: Osage County (2013) - $37,523,772
A dark comedy play written by Tracy Letts, August: Osage County took the theatre world by storm when it first premiered in Chicago at the Steppenwolf Theatre in 2007 and had a Broadway debut later in the same year. In 2008, the play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The show closed in 2009 after 18 previews and 649 performances. The play had its international debut in 2008 in London and also went on tour in 2009. The recent film adaptation was highly anticipated, with play-to-film veteran stars such as Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts involved; the film led to Academy Award nominations for both female stars.
4 Amadeus (1984) - $51,973,029
3 Steel Magnolias (1989) - $83,759,091
2 Driving Miss Daisy (1989) - $106,593,296
1 A Few Good Men (1992) - $141,340,178
Sorkin earned his BFA in musical theatre and tried to make it big as an actor, but unfortunately, that plan wasn't as successful as he hoped so he became a playwright. A Few Good Men was Sorkin’s second play; he was inspired when his sister Deborah told him she had to go to Guantanamo Bay to defend a group of Marines for a hazing case. Sorkin wrote the play on cocktail napkins while bartending at the Palace Theatre and then typed up the notes on an old Macintosh. After the opening on Broadway, Sorkin wrote the screenplay for what would be the final film version that most audiences know and love.
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