Netflix’s ‘Bird Box’ Movie Is Based on a Book: Here’s How the Two Are Different

Sandra Bullock's character hides her eyes
Bird Box by Netflix | Netflix via YouTube

The most recent Netflix original movie, Bird Box, is based on a book published by Josh Malerman in 2014. Creating movies from books is no trend, although it does seem to have seen a spike. Consider the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings movies, for example.

It should also come as no surprise the movie differed from the book in some aspects. Although many avid book lovers become disappointed when the movies don’t follow the books to a T, there is a good reason for creative alterations. Books have a lot more time to delve into tiny details. Movies typically have but a few hours to tell the story, so things which may prove insignificant to the overall story plot sometimes need to be sacrificed.

So how did the Netflix movie Bird Box stray from the book? Here are just a few of the differences we (and others) have noticed.

The mass suicides are slower and more of a rumor in the book

In the movie, the mass suicides that denote an ominous presence in the world are very sudden. The news spreads like wildfire that there is a crisis, and panic then ensues.

In the book, however, it happens much differently. The mass suicides start in Canada and the upper regions of Michigan. From there, they slowly trickle their way southwards until it eventually becomes apparent that something is wrong. Also, these suicides begin as rumors and not national broadcasts.

‘Bird Box’ location

The book has the main storyline beginning in Detroit, Michigan. The movie, however, takes place in California instead.

Sister’s name and death

Nearly everything about Malorie’s sister was changed during the film adaptation. In the book, Malorie’s sister is named Shannon. She commits suicide after the two of them barricade themselves inside their home for days. In the movie, Malorie’s sister is named Jessica and commits suicide in a car accident while driving her sister home from an OBGYN appointment.

Malorie’s pregnancy circumstances

In the book, Malorie (played by Sandra Bullock) is painted in a slightly different light when it comes to her pregnancy. It says that she became pregnant after a one night stand and was never able to contact the father.

The movie took a few artistic liberties to alter the way the audience viewed the main character, however. It hints that Malorie’s boyfriend is the father of her child, and the fact he recently moved out is why Malorie appears so upset at the beginning of the movie.

Tom’s part is minimized

In the movie, the character of Tom plays a rather small part. He’s the leader of a survivor group who Malorie takes an immediate liking to. He then dies when Malorie is giving birth.

Tom plays a much more significant part in the book, however. Instead of dying while Malorie is giving birth, Tom lives with her for five years and helps her to raise the two children. Also, in the book, the kids are named only ‘boy’ and ‘girl,’ because Malorie finds names insignificant in their dystopian world. Tom eventually dies when they come into contact with another survivor group who has been infected.

The big ending

The book has a darker ending than the movie, which is more fairytale-esque. In the book, Malorie and the children arrive at the “last safe place on earth,” which is a school for the blind. The blind can’t be affected by seeing the things which are wreaking havoc on earth. When she arrives there, she finds many have gouged their eyes out to cause permanent blindness, and she worries the children will be forced to do the same thing.

In the movie, the ending is much brighter. They arrive at the school for the blind and live happily ever after.