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Most Americans have NO CLUE these Hollywood hits were originally books

Recent survey reveals it's not a Christmas movie unless there are Christmas-related characters or takes place during the season.

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Shocked young woman holding blank cover open book while relaxing on a couch at home
(Photo by Shift Drive via Shutterstock)

Seven in 10 Americans don’t know that “Die Hard” and “Mean Girls” are based on books, new research suggests.

In a recent survey of 2,000 Americans, 63% said they’re more likely to see a movie if they know it’s based on a successful book.

The same percentage of respondents also noted they read more than usual during the holidays. 

While the average person reads 4.5 hours a week, they’ll add around six more hours when the festivities roll around.

Most (72%) said it helps them relax during a stressful time of year, while 67% cited an increase in their free time as a reason they read more.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of ThriftBooks, the survey also looked at people’s thoughts on movie adaptations, as well as holiday novels on the big screen.

More than half will usually watch a movie first, then read the book it was based on to compare.

Regardless of what order they engage with the material, most (67%) agreed the book is usually better, with more men than women sharing this sentiment (73% vs. 65%). 

Recent survey revelas it's not a Christmas movie unless there are Christmas-related characters or takes place during the season.

Respondents’ rationale included the presence of more details in the book (69%) and the movie’s misalignment with their imagined version of the story (57%).

Interestingly, when asked to choose their favorite book-to-screen authors, more men than women named Nicholas Sparks (32% vs. 25%).

While movie adaptations often deviate from the source material, people are OK with a 23% digression before it becomes a nuisance.

The changes that bother them the most are characters who don't match physical descriptions from the book (52%) or have different personalities (51%), as well as a different setting or time period (43%) — more so than different accents (28%) or a different ending (27%).

Another element that can be bothersome? Historical inaccuracies, which people tend to notice more so in movies (59%) than in books (38%).

Yet three-fifths believe these diversions don’t matter if they help to create the best story.

“It’s interesting to see that whether or not a story closely corresponds with reality isn’t always the primary factor that makes it enjoyable,” said a ThriftBooks spokesperson. “People may also be more likely to consider a story worthwhile if it’s been adapted into multiple formats over the years.”

Respondents also settled the age-old question of what counts as a “Christmas movie,” defining it as any film that features Christmas-related characters (i.e. Santa Claus) (58%) or takes place during this time (55%).

While “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (41%) topped the list of unconventional yuletide flicks, more than a quarter (26%) said they consider “Die Hard” to be a Christmas movie. That’s more than those who think “Trading Places” (20%) and “You’ve Got Mail” (14%) count as such.

“Our survey found that the characters and setting play a key role in determining how people define holiday films, more than whether they’re shown during this time,” the spokesperson added. “At the same time, those who prefer nontraditional Christmas movies have different preferences, from fantasy and action to comedy and romance.” 


  • “In Westerns, where there is modern technology in the background.”
  • “​​Most of ‘The Godfather’ series and the HBO one [‘Sopranos’] on the mafia.”
  • “In the series ‘The Tudors,’ the character of Henry VIII was a short, skinny person, and not the very large person Henry VIII actually was.”
  • “Movies based on the Alamo or Custer's Last Stand.”
  • “[In] ‘Shakespeare in Love’ (1998), the characters drink out of modern beer glasses and the Queen attends a play publicly; any plays she would have seen would have been performed in her own court.”
  • “The depiction of the Vietnam War draft in ‘Across The Universe.’”
  • “The way the ‘70s are portrayed as far as clothes and city points of interest.”
  • “The changes in Freddy Mercury’s life for the movie [‘Bohemian Rhapsody’].”

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