10 Hollywood Hits Inspired By Magazine and Newspaper Articles

Some Of These Movies May Surprise You

By Published on .

"Lee Daniels' The Butler" -- a bio pic about Eugene Allen, who served as White House domestic to eight presidents -- hits the big screen this weekend. The movie, which is one of the summer's most highly anticipated, is based on Wil Haygood's 2008 Washington Post profile and subsequent book on Mr. Allen, "The Butler: A Witness To History."

Works of journalism making it to the big screen is hardly a new phenomenon. "Argo," which won this year's Academy Award for Best Picture, was partly adapted from a 2007 Wired magazine article. The film was also a financial success, pulling in $136 million at the U.S. box office, the website Box Office Mojo indicated.

"Argo" is among at least 10 examples of successful adaptations from the pages of magazines or newspapers listed below, according to information pulled from Box Office Mojo. The totals, which are not adjusted for inflation, include domestic box-office sales only.

The Perfect Storm: $182.6 million

Sebastian Junger's "The Storm," which tells the story of six commercial fishermen who died during the Halloween Nor'Easter in 1991, was published in Outside magazine in 1994. It was the basis for Mr. Junger's book "The Perfect Storm," which became the 2000 film starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.

Top Gun: $180 million

The Jerry Bruckheimer-directed blockbuster stormed into theaters in the summer of 1986; it was inspired by Ehud Yonay's article "Top Guns," which appeared in the May 1983 edition of California magazine.

The Fast and the Furious: $144.5 million

Ken Li's 1998 Vibe magazine story "Racer X" inspired the "The Fast and the Furious" in 2001. The movie has since spawned five sequels, the latest of which has pulled in $238 million at the box office.

Argo: $136 million

The original article by Joshuah Bearman, "How The CIA Used A Fake Sci-Fi Flick To Rescue Americans From Tehran," appeared in Wired in 2007. This week, Mr. Bearman co-founded the website Epic, which aims to commission and publish long-form articles that would work well for the big screen.

Live Free Or Die Hard: $134.5 million

Another Wired article, John Carlin's "A Farewell To Arms," was scooped up by Twentieth Century Fox after its publication in 2007, Mr. Carlin explains on his personal website. Several years later, it manifested on the big screen as the fourth installment in the "Die Hard" franchise, starring Bruce Willis.

American Gangster: $130 million

The 2007 movie about drug kingpin Frank Lucas starred Denzel Washington in the lead role. It was based on Mark Jacobson's 2000 New York magazine story, "The Return of Super Fly."

Saturday Night Fever: $94 million

New York's "Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night," a 1976 piece by Nik Cohn, became the iconic "Saturday Night Fever," starring John Travolta. In 1977, it was No. 3 among the year's highest grossing films, behind "Star Wars" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

Dog Day Afternoon: $50 million

In 1972, Life magazine commissioned P.F. Kluge and Thomas Moore to write about a bizarre bank robbery that occurred that year in New York. The robber, John Wojtowicz, said he carried out the heist to pay for a sex-change operation. The story, "The Boys in the Bank," which ran in the September 1972 issue of Life, inspired the 1975 movie "Dog Day Afternoon," starring Al Pacino. It was the fourth highest-grossing movie of the year.

Urban Cowboy: $47 million

The 1980 movie featuring John Travolta tells the story of a down-on-his-luck oil worker who competes in electric-bull riding contest. Inspiration for the movie came from a 1978 Esquire article, "The Ballad of the American Cowboy and America's Search for True Grit," by Aaron Latham.

On The Waterfront: $9.6 million

Falling short of $10 million may seem like a paltry sum these days, but with $9.6 million in box-office sales, "On The Waterfront" was not only a critical hit -- it won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1954 -- but also a commercial success. It was among the year's highest-grossing films. The movie is based on a series in the New York Sun by Malcolm Johnson that won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting in 1949.

Most Popular