the handmaid's tale
A scene from the TV adaptation of Canadian author Margaret Atwood's bestselling novel, The Handmaid's Tale. Image Credit: IMDB

Some stories are so riveting, they can’t be left within the pages of a book.

Click start to play today’s Crossword, where you can name films that have been based on popular books and plays.

Book-to-film adaptations appealed to early filmmakers as a source of cultural respectability. Since the first movies in the West were shown at recreational venues like circus fairgrounds, associating the movie with literature was thought to give the film greater artistic status. And it was also a foolproof way to have a ready source of narrative material that already moved audiences and had success, even if through the printed medium.

In fact, that assurance holds true even today. According to a study commissioned by the UK’s Publishers Association and produced by UK-based microeconomics consultancy Frontier Economics, in 2018, researchers found that the movie adaptations of books grossed 44 per cent more at the British box office and a full 53 per cent more worldwide than those based on original screenplays. It’s probably why so many production houses in film and television like to adapt books to film.

Some of the earliest film adaptations come from George Méliès, a French illusionist, actor and film director who pioneered many movie-making techniques. In 1899, he released two adaptations: Cinderella, based on the Brothers Grimm fairytale, and King John, which is the first known film to be based on the works of Shakespeare.

The first film adaptation of British author Arthur Conan Doyles’ Sherlock Holmes character was the 1900 movie Sherlock Holmes Baffled, directed by American cinematographer Arthur Marvin – it is also considered to be the first detective movie and it ran for only 30 seconds! Méliès’s 1902 science-fiction feature, A Trip to the Moon was one of the earliest sci-fi films, and was loosely based on two popular novels of the time: Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon and H. G. Wells’ The First Men on the Moon.

Since then, hundreds of plays and books have made their way to cinema screens, for better or for worse.

Do you prefer to read the book or watch its film version? Play today’s Crossword and let us know at