Bestsellers to blockbusters

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
April 12, 2012, 3:16 PM GMT+0

Film adaptations of books: which is generally better? 72% Britons say book; 56% prefer to read book before seeing film

Book or film, which is better? It's the refrain always heard whenever a well-known tome is adapted for the silver screen – but our poll has found that almost three quarters of Britons generally think 'the book' is better than 'the film' ‒ and the majority feels that strictly speaking, it's better to read the book before seeing the movie.

  • 72% of Britons feel that, generally speaking, when a book is made into a film, the book is better
  • Compared to 10% who say that the film is generally better than the book
  • 56% say that with book-to-film adaptations, they prefer to read the book before seeing the film, compared to 19% who think it's better to see the film before reading the book (although one in five states no preference either way)

Women and older people prefer books

Women are slightly more likely than men to say that books are better than their cinematic counterparts (77% say this compared to 66% of men) while younger people are also noticeably more likely than older generations to prefer a film adaptation over the book (18% of 18 to 24 year olds say films are generally better, compared to just 6% of people over 60).

Hollywood's big reading list

Many of Hollywood's most well-known films, trilogies and sagas actually started life as books – including horror favourites Silence of the Lambs and Carrie; gangster classic The Godfather; wartime perennial Apocalypse Now; 'Don't talk about it' Fight Club; cacao-flavoured French success Chocolat and single-girl smash Bridget Jones's Diary.

In even more recent years we've had movie versions of controversial cowboy story Brokeback Mountain, tense drama Atonement, Anne Hathaway's much-debated turn in bestseller One Day, and several imaginings of Stieg Larsson's bestselling The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Need we even mention cinematic juggernauts The Lord of the Rings, Twilight or Harry Potter (pictured)?

Upcoming adaptations for 2012

This year looks to be no exception to the books-to-movies run – we've already seen twisted thriller The Hunger Games fill cinemas, and adaptations of Anna Karenina, Life of Pi, Great Gatsby, and much-anticipated Tolkien's The Hobbit are among the best-known stories set for release later this year.

So what better time than now to start on that pile of books you've been meaning to get through? Unless, that is, you fancy a trip to the cinema instead…

See the survey details and full results here