Literary Hub

The Living Authors with the Most Film Adaptations

It seems as though every other day there’s an announcement of a new forthcoming film adaptation of a beloved (or just new) novel—after all, where else would great films come from? It’s a huge deal to have your novel adapted for the big screen, but some authors probably don’t even notice it anymore. There are plenty of writers whose works have been made into many, many films—William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Arthur Conan Doyle being the high rollers that immediately spring to mind. But with contemporary—read, living—authors, the field is a little slimmer. So I wondered—which living authors have had the most films adapted from their work (so far)? I wondered, I searched, and then I made this infographic. (Click to enlarge.)

Some notes on methodology: first of all, this information doesn’t exist in any organized place (until now), so I had to search film adaptations author by author. If I’ve missed someone, this is why. In fact, I’m sure I’ve missed someone, but all research has to stop somewhere. Next, I wasn’t picky about source material: movies adapted from novels, short stories, and novellas all count, though original screenplays written by novelists do not. I didn’t count sequels of films not themselves based on an original work—so The Mangler counts, but not The Mangler 2 or The Mangler Reborn. (I’m also not counting anthology films in which not all of the segments are adaptations, though this is only an issue for Stephen King, who doesn’t need any more of a lead.) On the other hand, single works that have been adapted twice (or split into two films) do get counted twice.

Here’s a big one: I’ve only counted films that were theatrically released—so no made-for-TV movies. This changes the data a lot—for instance, Danielle Steel has more than 20 TV movie adaptations to her name (and only one theatrical release, in Australia)—but I think this way is more faithful to what we mean when we talk about film adaptations.

You had to clear five “actual” films to get on my list, which is a pretty high bar. Anne Rice doesn’t cut it. James Patterson doesn’t either. I’ve counted films slated as 2017 releases where appropriate, but nothing only announced or “in production,” because the movie business is unreliable and projects crash and burn all the time. Finally, for my sanity, I’ve only counted films based on books written in English.



Stephen King: 34

Carrie (1976)
The Shining (1980)
Cujo (1983)
The Dead Zone (1983)
Christine (1983)
Children of the Corn (1984)
Firestarter (1984)
Silver Bullet (1985)
Maximum Overdrive (1986)
Stand By Me (1986)
The Running Man (1987)
Pet Sematary (1989)
Graveyard Shift (1990)
Misery (1990)
The Dark Half (1993)
Needful Things (1991)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Dolores Claiborne (1995)
The Mangler (1995)
Thinner (1996)
The Night Flier (1997)
Apt Pupil (1998)
The Green Mile (1999)
Hearts in Atlantis (2001)
Dreamcatcher (2003)
Secret Window (2004)
Riding the Bullet (2004)
1408 (2007)
The Mist (2007)
Mercy (2014)
A Good Marriage (2014)
Cell (2016)
The Dark Tower (2017)
IT (2017)

Nicholas Sparks: 11

Message in a Bottle (1999)
A Walk to Remember (2002)
The Notebook (2004)
Nights in Rodanthe (2008)
Dear John (2010)
The Last Song (2010)
The Lucky One (2012)
Safe Haven (2013)
The Best of Me (2014)
The Longest Ride (2015)
The Choice (2016)

John le Carré: 10

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965)
The Deadly Affair (1966)
The Looking Glass War (1970)
The Little Drummer Girl (1984)
The Russia House (1990)
The Tailor of Panama (2001)
The Constant Gardener (2005)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
A Most Wanted Man (2014)
Our Kind of Traitor (2016)

Ian McEwan: 10

Schmetterlinge (Germany) (1988)
The Comfort of Strangers (Italy/UK) (1990)
The Cement Garden (UK) (1993)
Conversation with a Cupboard Man (Poland) (1993)
The Innocent (1993)
First Love, Last Rites (1997)
Enduring Love (UK) (2004)
Atonement (UK) (2007)
The Children Act (2017)
On Chesil Beach (UK) (2017)

John Grisham: 9

The Firm (1993)
The Pelican Brief (1993)
The Client (1994)
A Time to Kill (1996)
The Chamber (1996)
The Rainmaker (1997)
The Gingerbread Man (1998) *Based on an unpublished manuscript
Runaway Jury (2003)
Christmas with the Kranks (2004)

J.K. Rowling: 9

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) *”Inspired by” the book Rowling wrote as Newt Scamander

Dean Koontz: 8

Demon Seed (1977)
The Passengers (France) (1977)
Watchers (1988)
Whispers (Canada) (1990)
Servants of Twilight (1991)
Hideaway (1995)
Phantoms (1998)
Odd Thomas (2013)

Clive Barker: 8

Rawhead Rex (UK) (1986)
Hellraiser (UK) (1987)
Nightbreed (1990)
Candyman (1992)
Lord of Illusions (1995)
The Midnight Meat Train (2008)
Book of Blood (UK) (2009)
Dread (UK) (2009)

Philip Roth: 8

Battle of Blood Island (1960)
Goodbye, Columbus (1969)
Portnoy’s Complaint (1972)
The Human Stain (2003)
Elegy (2008)
The Humbling (2014)
Indignation (2016)
American Pastoral (2016)

Nick Hornby: 7

Fever Pitch (UK) (1997)
High Fidelity (2000)
About a Boy (2002)
Fever Pitch (2005)
Born a Star? (Italy) (2012)
A Long Way Down (2014)
Slam (Italy) (2016)

William Goldman: 7

Soldier in the Rain (1963)
No Way to Treat a Lady (1968)
Marathon Man (1976)
Magic (1978)
Heat (1986)
The Princess Bride (1987)
Wild Card (2015)

Thomas Harris: 6

Black Sunday (1997)
Manhunter (1986)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Hannibal (2001)
Red Dragon (2002)
Hannibal Rising (2007)

Stephenie Meyer: 6

Twilight (2008)
The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (2011)
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (2012)
The Host (2013)

Larry McMurtry: 6

Hud (1963)
The Last Picture Show (1971)
Lovin’ Molly (1974)
Terms of Endearment (1983)
Texasville (1990)
The Evening Star (1996)

Originally published in Literary Hub.

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