Fiction Novel with the most screen / theatre adaptations made from it?
January 23, 2012 9:59 AM   Subscribe

Excluding the Bible (which depending on your point of view is not a fictional tome) what book has (to date) had the most screen / theatre adaptations made from it?

I think it's probably Mary Shelly's Frankenstein (aka The Modern Prometheus), or one of the Jane Austen stories, or perhaps Dracula, but I don't know where to confirm my suspicions.

So MeFites, what do you think is the most adapted for screen/ theatre fiction book?
posted by Faintdreams to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My immediate guess was Hamlet.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:04 AM on January 23, 2012

Historia Regum Britanniae by Geoffrey of Monmouth stands at the top of a cultural tree with a vast amount of adaptations, and is mostly fiction.
posted by Jehan at 10:08 AM on January 23, 2012

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and A Christmas Carol come to mind.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:10 AM on January 23, 2012

Does Hamlet count as a book?

I might lean toward A Christmas Carol. Wikipedia states at least 28 film adaptations have been made:
posted by smallerdemon at 10:10 AM on January 23, 2012

There have also been lots and lots of takes on Robin Hood.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:11 AM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

My guess is probably a collection of folk tales or mythology, assuming you count the entire collection as a single book, rather than each individual story.

It would also depend on how strictly you interpreted interpretation. Do all movies that use a human created in a lab from parts count for Frankenstein, or only those that are actually fairly closely following the plot or using the name count?
posted by jacquilynne at 10:13 AM on January 23, 2012

Keep in mind it may not be English language, or even Western. Consider Anna Karenina (13 movies, 3 ballets, 2 musicals, 3 TV serials, and 10 operas.)
posted by endless_forms at 10:14 AM on January 23, 2012

Cinderella, or maybe Dracula
posted by gregglind at 10:14 AM on January 23, 2012

It might depend on how you define an adaptation. Would anything with Dracula as a character be a Dracula adaptation? Is The Matrix an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland?
posted by specialagentwebb at 10:14 AM on January 23, 2012

Sherlock Holmes always gets quoted as the "most portrayed character in film," which I think comes from Guinness (see here, on their terrible website). I don't know if you'd count that, since "Sherlock Holmes" is a collection of stories rather than a novel, and at least half of the Sherlock Holmes movies are original plots rather than adaptations.
posted by theodolite at 10:15 AM on January 23, 2012

How many adaptations have there been of Le Morte d'Arthur?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:17 AM on January 23, 2012

Macbeth? That lengthy list doesn't even include theatrical adaptations and the opera.
posted by Currer Belfry at 10:24 AM on January 23, 2012

Peter Pan (just a guess)
posted by cda at 10:26 AM on January 23, 2012

Probably the Bhagavad Gita
posted by teabag at 10:29 AM on January 23, 2012

My equally unconfirmed guesses were Robin Hood, if the story counts, and Le Belle et la Bete (Beauty and the Beast) if you count movies in French
posted by Blasdelb at 11:03 AM on January 23, 2012

thats La Belle et la Bete
posted by Blasdelb at 11:04 AM on January 23, 2012

Does a legend count? Because there's always Faust.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:11 AM on January 23, 2012

Romeo and Juliet, surely.
posted by nicebookrack at 11:14 AM on January 23, 2012

Once again depending on whether you define "book" broadly enough to include plays, Wikipedia suggests Romeo and Juliet.
posted by TedW at 11:14 AM on January 23, 2012

The Iliad and the Odyssey, betcha. (Or count it as two if you prefer.)

Half of modern fiction is just a mashup of Homer's original screenplays.
posted by spitbull at 11:58 AM on January 23, 2012

I was also going to say The Odyssey, if only because you can argue without too much of a stretch that it influences an entire genre of stories, many of which have film adaptations.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:00 PM on January 23, 2012

西游记, Journey to the West, has got to be up there.

There's an English list here but it is not comprehensive. There are literally dozens of Beijing opera adaptations alone, never mind TV, movies, cartoons, and a few Western theatrical adaptations.
posted by zjacreman at 12:06 PM on January 23, 2012

In the nineteenth century, plays based (often very liberally based) on Uncle Tom's Cabin were massively popular.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 1:09 PM on January 23, 2012

One thing that might be worth considering is the serial films produced during the mid-1900s, which to a certain extent filled the place served by television today. For example, the Wikipedia page on Charlie Chan says the character was featured in some four dozen movies.

There were a LOT of these, most of which you've probably never heard of but were evidently pretty well-known at the time.

Then again, this probably doesn't meet your criteria of films based on a single book.
posted by Alaska Jack at 1:47 PM on January 23, 2012

Pride & Prejudice, maybe? Sooooo many iterations.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 6:42 PM on January 23, 2012

According to this site, Jane Eyre has been adapted for the screen over thirty times.
posted by book 'em dano at 8:33 PM on January 23, 2012

It occurs to me that Don Quixote has been adapted a lot of times.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:54 PM on January 25, 2012

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