As the money-making machine that is Hollywood scrounges around for its next big blockbuster, it’s no wonder the studios turn their hopeful eyes to the pages of books or comics.
The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, the Marvel movies – some of the biggest franchises in history have been adaptations. They bring with them hordes of devoted fans ready to see how their heroes shape up on the big screen. On top of that, sometimes buying the rights of a book can create enough excitement that sales of that go up, which in turn boosts a film’s hype, until something that was meant to be a small, indie flick (such as Twilight), turns into an enormous financial success.
Sometimes the film adaptations can even take the basis of a book and turn it into something far more remarkable. Silver Linings Playbook is a prime example of this – it fleshed out characters and twisted the story into a clever romantic comedy about mental illness. Then you have something like American Sniper, which stirred so much debate that it would seem most of the US saw it, with the adaptation of Chris Kyle’s book raking in US$344 million in the States alone.
Now I’m not going to suggest you read Fifty Shades of Grey, Insurgent, or another drippy Nicholas Sparks novel. I’m not going to recommend any of these books that I struggled to read myself, just because they have been made into movies.
But here are eight upcoming adaptation of books that I think look particularly intriguing. FYI Mockingjay – Part Two is a given, hence why it’s not on the list.
Child 44 by tom rob smith
Tom Hardy often chooses complex character roles and it looks like his part in this adaptation of Tom Rob Smith’s acclaimed thriller is no exception. Set in Soviet Russia, Hardy plays disgraced MGB Agent Leo Demidov, who investigates a series of gruesome child murders. Gary Oldman and Noomi Rapace also star, while Daniel Espinose (who helmed Safe House and Easy Money) is in the director’s chair. It’s the first novel in a trilogy, so if it does well, don’t be surprised to hear of more in the pipeline.
The Jungle Book by rudyard kipling
The beloved classic, which Disney turned into a catchy animated romp in 1967 is getting a live-action makeover (with CGI animals) – something which the Mouse House seems to be doing with all its iconic flicks. This one is being directed by Jon Favreau, aka the guy who directed Iron Man and really helped get that little thing called the Marvel universe off the ground. With Scarlett Johansson providing her husky tones to the slithery serpent Kaa, the loveable Bill Murray voicing the loveable Baloo and Christopher Walken monkeying around as King Louie, on paper it’s sounding pretty spectacular.
The Martian by Andy Weir
Did you like Gravity? Well, this could be the next big survival-driven space flick, with Matt Damon starring as an astronaut who becomes stranded on Mars, after his crew believe he dies in a dust storm. Directed by the man who made space claustrophobic way back in 1979 with Alien – Ridley Scott – it also boasts a jaw-dropping cast. Aside from Damon, there’s Jessica Chastain (fresh off that other high-concept space movie Interstellar),Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Kate Mara, Donald Glover and Sean Bean. History would tell us the last cast-members’ character won’t be around long, but you never know.
frankenstein (aka Victor Frankenstein) by mary shelley
James McAvoy might star as the titular character, but in this twist on the classic horror novel, the story focuses on his young assistant Igor, played by Daniel Radcliffe. Told through his perspective, it focuses on Igor’s dark backstory, his friendship with medical student Viktor Von Frankenstein and, of course, how they created the ‘monster’ Frankenstein. It’s a different take to what we’ve seen – let’s just hope it’s better executed than last year’s dismal, I, Frankenstein.
In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel philbrick
Based on a true story, Aussie Chris Hemsworth, Ben Whishaw and Cillian Murphy star in this adaptation of the award-winning nonfiction book about an eighty-foot sperm whale which attacked the whaleship Essex and left its crew stranded at sea with limited supplies. If it sounds familiar, it probably is – it was the incident that inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Hemsworth re-teams with his Rush director Ron Howard to bring it to life and with the release date recently being pushed back to December – aka near awards season – it could mean the studio expects big things from this ocean epic.
The Price of Salt (aka carol) by patricia highsmith
Patricia Highsmith’s novels have proved something of a goldmine for filmmakers, although the results have been largely hit and miss. There is, of course, Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (1951) and The Talented Mr Ripley on the high end of the scale, while last year Two Faces of January took an ambitious stab at the material, but was a bit undercooked. This adaptation of Highsmith’s 1952 novel stars Aussie Cate Blanchett as a suburban housewife who has a love affair with a young woman (played by Rooney Mara) who’s stuck in a department store job she hates. Directed by Todd Haynes, who helmed Far From Heaven and Safe, this is ticking all the boxes for a compelling drama so far.
Truth and Duty (aka truth) by mary mapes
Cate Blanchett is certainly keeping busy, with this political drama also in the works. Filmed in Sydney last year, it stars Blanchett as former CBS television producer Mary Mapes, who penned her memoir after she and news anchor Dan Rather (played by Robert Redford) were fired for reporting that George W. Bush evaded serving in the Vietnam War. The film takes place during Rather’s final days at the network, in the lead-up to him broadcasting the damaging report. It’s the directorial debut for James Vanderbilt, who wrote the screenplay and penned movies such as The Amazing Spider-Man and White House Down. With a strong cast (also including Elisabeth Moss and Topher Grace) and intriguing story, this definitely shows a lot of potential.
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
After the success of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, it’s no surprise to see another of her chilling novels getting repackaged for the big screen. This one stars Charlize Theron as a woman who survived the brutal killing of her family as a child, but is being forced to face the events of that day again by a secret society who want to find out what really happened. Also starring Nicholas Hoult, Chloe Grace Moretz and Christina Hendricks this thriller is sure to shock and surprise.