Movies You Didn't Know Were Based on Magazine Articles

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Movies Based on Magazine ArticlesJames Devaney - Getty Images

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Despite comics, novels, and even video games often serving as the basis for some great films, others we love have been plucked right from the glossy pages of a magazine. With fact becoming stranger than fiction with increasing frequency, it comes as no surprise that stories from renowned publications like Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone magazine have been mined for some of Hollywood’s most compelling narratives. So next time you catch yourself leafing through the latest edition of your favorite mag, remember you might just be looking at Hollywood’s next blockbuster.

The Bling Ring (2013)

Based on a 2010 Vanity Fair article titled “The Suspects Wore Louboutins” by journalist Nancy Jo Sales, The Bling Ring follows the criminal activity of a real-life gang of juveniles who became infamous for their propensity to rob the homes of wealthy celebrities like Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, and Paris Hilton in and around the Los Angeles area. Starring Emma Watson, Taissa Farmiga, and Israel Broussard, The Bling Ring first entered development under director Sofia Coppola in December 2011, a little over a year and a half after Sales published her story. Coppola’s friend and longtime collaborator Kirsten Dunst made a brief appearance as herself alongside socialite Paris Hilton, a real victim of the Bling Ring’s robberies. Watson’s performance in particular received critical praise, many of whom commended her comedic timing and pursuit of a role markedly different from her well-known portrayal of Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films.

premiere of a24's the bling ring red carpet
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Hustlers (2019)

The crime comedy starring Jennifer Lopez was based on a 2015 article from New York Magazine titled, “The Hustlers at Scores” about a group of exotic dancers orchestrating a scheme to defraud their wealthy clientele. Also starring Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, and Lizzo in supporting roles, Hustlers development was announced in early 2016 with Lorene Scafaria attached as the director. The film was a huge commercial and critical success, with much praise given to Jennifer Lopez’s performance as the dancers' conniving ring leader Romano. Jessica Pressler, author of the New York magazine article that inspired the film, later penned an article about the bourgeois con artist Anna Sorkin that was adapted into the Netflix series Inventing Anna starring Julia Garner.

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War Dogs (2016)

Directed by Todd Phillips, War Dogs is a black comedy based on a 2011 Rolling Stone article by Guy Lawson about a pair of American arms dealers named Efraim Diveorli and David Packouz. Starring Jonah Hill as Diveroli and Miles Teller as Packouz, the film follows the pair as they’re awarded increasingly lucrative military contracts from the U.S. Army through their company AEY Inc. Much of the events in the film are either heavily dramatized or exaggerated, which in part led to the real Diveroli filing a lawsuit against Warner Brothers and members of the production to block the film's release. Diveroli’s suit contended the film’s premise was lifted from the self-published memoir he’d written in prison with mortgage fraudster and author Matthew Cox.

premiere of warner bros pictures war dogs
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Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas (1998)

Based on Hunter S. Thompson’s famed roman á clef of the same name (which originally appeared as a serial in Rolling Stone), Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas stars Johnny Depp as a semi-fictionalized version of Thompson, and Benicio Del Toro as Dr. Gonzo, Duke’s traveling companion, who was based on Thompson’s friend Oscar Zeta Acosta, an attorney and activist who disappeared in 1974. The film follows Duke and Gonzo on their journey to Las Vegas where the pair's initial journalistic intentions are sidetracked by their extensive use of illicit psychoactive substances. Directed by Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam, the film divided critics and was considered a commercial failure, only grossing $13.7 million at the box office against a $18 million budget.

benicio del toro and johnny depp in 'fear and loathing in las vegas'
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Almost Famous (2000)

Written and directed by filmmaker and journalist Cameron Crowe, the film follows a young journalist played by Patrick Fugit as he tours with the fictitious rock band Stillwater while writing a cover story about the group for Rolling Stone magazine. Set in the early 1970s, the film is a semi-autobiographical journey, based on Crowe’s own experiences as a teenage journalist for Rolling Stone where he interviewed artists like Neil Young, David Bowie, and Bob Dylan. Despite the film struggling to attain commercial success, it received widespread critical acclaim, winning the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and a Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media. Almost Famous is now remembered as one of the greatest films of the 2000s, and was adapted into a Broadway musical in late 2022.

almost famous broadway premiere
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The Fast and the Furious (2001)

This 2001 action film was based on an article titled “Racer X” that appeared in the May 1998 edition of Vibe magazine. Written by Ken Li, the article chronicles the high-stakes underground street racing community in New York City. Starring Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Jordana Brewster, and Michelle Rodriguez, the film sparked the genesis of the massive and beloved F&F media franchise. Paul Walker, who played Brian O'Connor, the primary protagonist alongside Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto, starred in seven of the franchise’s ten films before tragically passing away in a car accident in 2013, leading to numerous script rewrites and production workarounds using Walker’s brother Caleb and Cody as stand-ins for the late actor to finish the series' seventh film.

vin diesel and paul walker in the fast and the furious
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Argo (2012)

Directed by and starring Ben Affleck, Argo is a 2012 historical thriller following the rescue operation of six American diplomats who evaded capture and hid in the Canadian Embassy after a group of militant students overtook the United States Embassy in Tehran, Iran. Known as the “Canadian Caper”, CIA operative Tony Mendez crafts a plan for the diplomats to pose as members of the crew for an upcoming science fiction movie, Argo, scouting locations for their production. Based on Mendez’s 1999 memoir and a 2007 Wired article by Joshuah Bearman, Argo received widespread critical acclaim and won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing alongside grossing more than $230 million at the worldwide box office.

argo washington dc premiere
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Coyote Ugly (2000)

Based on a 1997 GQ article by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, the film follows Violet Sanford, an aspiring musician who takes a job at the titular tavern after moving to New York City, leaving behind her small New Jersey hometown. Starring Piper Perabo, John Goodman, Melanie Lynskey, and Tyra Banks, the camp romantic comedy was a commercial success but derided by critics upon release for its crude depictions and subject matter. The film also launched the real Coyote Ugly Saloon to fame, leading the bar’s founder, Lilian Lovell, to open multiple locations across the country. Star Tyra Banks has been working for years to get a sequel to the beloved rom-com off the ground, but development reportedly came to a standstill in 2023.

members of the cast of the new movie coyote ugly which is to open august 2000 clockwi
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