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It's become a trend for book adaptations, especially the last in a series, to be split into multiple movies: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows parts 1 and 2, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay parts 1 and 2, the three The Hobbit movies, etc.

What was the first film adaptation of a book to be split into multiple movies?

Criteria:

  • It must be a single book adapted into at least two movies.
  • It needs to recognizably follow the complete plot of the book. (For instance, I wouldn't count Starship Troopers 1, 2, and 3 because they don't really have anything to do with the book).
  • Multiple stories in an anthology having separate adaptations don't count, although one story in an anthology being broken into multiple movies would.
  • The films don't have to have been filmed back to back, but subsequent films should be telling more of the story from the same book and intended to be in continuity with each other.
  • When in doubt, the spirit of the question is something along the lines of the movies mentioned earlier in this question.
  • 1
    One I can think of is The Neverending Story (1984) and The Nevererending Story II: The Next Chapter (1990), which comprise the first and second halves of the book respectively (although the second movie does add some elements, it recognizably follows much of the plot from the novel, e.g. Bastion losing his memories, the stuff with Xayide). I wonder if there are older ones though. – Thunderforge Nov 21 '16 at 4:57
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The earliest I have come across is The Tiger of Eschnapur (1938) or Der Tiger von Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb or Das indische Grabmal (1938) both based on a book Das Indische Grabmal (1918) by the German writer Thea von Harbou.

Also the film has been shot later again as two series: Tiger of Bengal (1959) or Der Tiger von Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb (1959) or Das indische Grabmal. Both versions of the book are one story shot in two movies and follow the complete plot. The later version was shot in back-to-back.

The reason for making two movies in 1959 according to Wiki:

"Released in 1921, the original version of Das Indische Grabmal had a running time of 3 1⁄2 hours. For the remake, Lang divided the story into two parts that each run about 100 minutes, a length modern audiences can more easily accept."

  • 2
    Damn, that's a good pull. I was going to suggest "The Three Musketeers" (1973) followed by "The Four Musketeers" (1974). – Jason K Nov 21 '16 at 16:23

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