Based on a True Story
The just released Dallas Buyers Club is based on a true story first published in the August 9, 1992 Sunday magazine section of the Dallas Morning News. The story "Buying Time" by Bill Minotaglio is about Ron Woodroof who diagnosed in 1985 as HIV positive, tracks down drugs not available in the USA and starts a buyers club to sell them. Mr. Woodroof died only a month after the story was published.
Also released this year Lee Daniels' The Butler was first published as a front page article in the November 7, 2008 Washington Post. The story "A Butler Well Served by this Election" was written by Wil Haygood and later expanded into the book The Butler: A Witness to History.
Here are some more popular films inspired by magazine and newspaper stories.
- Argo - Last year's award winning film was based on a story by Josh Bearman in the May 2007 issue of Wired magazine. The story "The Great Escape: How the CIA Used a Fake Science Fiction Film to Sneak Six Americans Out of Revolutionary Iran" was accompanied by some wonderful illustrations by Tim Burgart.
- The quirky 2011 film Bernie staring Jack Black was adapted from the January 1998 Texas Monthly article "Midnight in the Garden of East Texas" by Skip Hollandsworth about Bernie Tiede the assistant director of a funeral home in Carthage, Texas who murdered 81 year old Marjorie Nugent.
- American Gangster - This 2007 film about drug kingpin Frank Lucas starring Denzel Washington was based on the August 14, 2000 New York Magazine story "The Return of Superfly".
- Into the Wild - Also released in 2007 this film was adapted from Jon Krakauer's 1996 book of the same name which was an expansion of his January 1993 Outside magazine story "Death of an Innocent." There was a second article "I Now Walk into the Wild" by Chip Brown in the February 8, 1993 New Yorker.
- The Fast and the Furious (2001) was inspired by Ken Li's May 1998 Vibe magazine story "Racer X'.
- The Perfect Storm - This 2000 film was based on "The Storm" by Sebastian Junger first published in the October 1994 issue of Outside magazine and in 1997 expanded into the book The Perfect Storm.
- The 1998 film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas starring Johnny Depp was first published as a two part story in the November 11 and November 25, 1971 issues of Rolling Stone. Written by Raoul Duke (Hunter Thompson's alter ego) with illustrations by graphic artist Ralph Steadman.
- The Killing Fields - This 1984 film was based on the January 20, 1980 New York Times Magazine story "The Death and Life of Dith Pran" by Syndney Schanberg. Mr. Schanberg was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the fall of Cambodia to the Khmer Rouge in 1975.
- Urban Cowboy - Released in 1980 this John Travolta film was inspired by a September 1978 Esquire magazine article by Aaron Latham - "Ballad of the Urban Cowboy and America's Search for True Grit"
- Saturday Night Fever - Released in 1977 this film originated as an article in the June 7, 1976 issue of New York Magazine - "Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night" - by Nik Cohn illustrated with paintings by James McMullan.
- Dog Day Afternoon (1975) - In 1972 Life magazine commissioned P. F. Kluge and Thomas Moore to write about a strange bank robbery in New York. The story "Boys in the Bank" was published in the September 22, 1972 issue of Life.
- The 1954 film On the Waterfront directed by Elia Kazan was loosely based on a series of articles in the New York Sun -"Crimes on the Waterfront"- by Malcolm Johnson. The 1949 series won that year's Pulitzer Prize for local reporting.