My favorite time to go to the movies is in the fall and winter, when it's so cozy to sit in a dark movie theater and watch a story unfold. Now that it's September, I thought I'd preview some of the biggest book-inspired fall movies, from blockbusters, to foreign films, to indie flicks that you may have to wait and catch on Netflix, depending on where you live. There's a lot to look forward to . . .
Based on: Cross by James Patterson (2006)
Release: October 19
In a nutshell: Morgan Freeman may have played Patterson's D.C. detective-psychologist in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider, but Tyler Perry is Alex Cross in the latest adaptation.
Based on: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1877)
Release: November 16
In a nutshell: Keira Knightley and Jude Law star in the newest adaptation of Tolstoy's classic. Director Joe Wright is no stranger to literary adaptations (or working with Knightly); he directed Pride & Prejudice and Atonement.
Based on: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (2004)
Release: October 26
In a nutshell: It's hard to imagine a film version of Mitchell's novel, described in BookPage as "a tour de force." Our reviewer wrote, "The novel crosses continents and decades with six completely distinct but equally entrancing narrative voices." However, the movie—with a large cast that includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant and many others—received a long standing ovation at its Toronto Film Festival premier. Could it be an Oscar contender?
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Based on: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937)
Release: December 14
In a nutshell: Were you sad when Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings series concluded? Never fear—his upcoming adaptation of The Hobbit is only part one of three! Martin Freeman stars as Bilbo Baggins.
Based on: One Shot by Lee Child (2005)
Release: December 21
In a nutshell: Tom Cruise plays Lee Child's iconic character—a military-investigator-turned-drifter. Word on the street is that Reacher fans have mixed feelings about this casting, especially because Child's hero is 6'5!
Based on: Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (1862) . . . and a little musical you may have seen on Broadway.
Release: December 14
In a nutshell: What is there to say about Les Mis? This musical drama stars Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert. The all-star cast also includes Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter.
Life of Pi
Based on: Life of Pi by Yann Martel (2001)
Release: November 21
In a nutshell: Yann Martel's beloved allegory/adventure tale comes to life in 3D, as directed by Ang Lee. I know I'm not the only one who can't wait to see Pi Patel and a Bengal tiger face off on a lifeboat.
On the Road
Based on: On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1957)
Release: December 21
In a nutshell: It's a right of passage to read On the Road as a teenager; who among us hasn't scrawled the famous "the only people for me are the mad ones" quote in a notebook while plotting an escape from high school? But will the movie adaptation—which stars Twilight alum Kristen Stewart—live up to expectations? Early reviews have been mixed, although Garrett Hedlund as Dean Moriarty is rumored to be a highlight.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Based on: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (1999)
Release: September 20
In a nutshell: Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller star in an adaptation of Stephen Chbosky's well-loved coming-of-age story. Chbosky also directs.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 2:
Based on: Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (2008)
Release: November 16
In a nutshell: Director Bill Condon completes the blockbuster movie adaptation of the Twilight saga. Most readers will fall strongly into one of two camps: You wouldn't be paid to see this movie, or you will have a heart attack if you don't see it on opening day!
British author and Nobel Laureate Patrick White's 1973 novel The Eye of the Storm is now a movie of the same title, directed by Australian director Fred Schepisi. About a dying matriarch, the film is now in limited release.
Brad Pitt stars in an adaptation of Cogan's Trade by George V. Higgins, a crime novel published in 1974. Called Killing Them Softly, the movie is about a heist that takes place during a mob-protected poker game. It hits theaters on October 19.
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in an adaptation of David O. Russell's The Silver Linings Playbook, which will be released on November 21. The story is about a hapless man who is released from a mental institution then tries to win back his wife.
Peter Cameron's novel Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You gets the big-screen treatment in a film of the same name. Though it stars big names like Marcia Gay Harden and Lucy Liu, the movie—a coming of age story compared to The Catcher in the Rye—will have a limited release in October.
British filmmaker Andrea Arnold adapts Emily Brontë's beloved Wuthering Heights. Released in the UK a year ago, The Guardian called Heathcliff as played by James Howson "a puzzle, a tornado of resentment whirling destructively across the bleak and intimidating landscape." Look for it in the U.S. in October (limited release).
Whew! That's a lot of book-inspired movies for one season, huh? Which are you most excited about? Are any of these movie releases inspiring you to read the book first?
As lovers of UK programming know, despite the lack of a language barrier it can take an unconscionably long time for British shows to wash up on American shores—if they ever do. Still, ever since blogging about the Crimson Petal and the White adaptation last year, I have kept an eye out for a US air date.
Just when I'd lost hope it'd ever happen—the miniseries was shown in the UK in April 2011, for heaven's sake!—Encore announced they had picked up the series and will be showing the first episode tonight at 8 p.m. as part of their "Big Miniseries Showcase," which will also include adaptations of Moby Dick and Shogun. Check out a trailer below. I'm really curious to see Chris O'Dowd in a non-comic role.
Related in BookPage: Our interview with Michel Faber about The Crimson Petal and the White.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel has sold more than seven million copies worldwide. No doubt the Booker Prize-winning novel about a boy named Pi stranded on a lifeboat—with a Bengal tiger!—has moved countless readers. (President Obama famously called the novel "an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling.")
On November 21, you can see Ang Lee's film adaptation of the novel—in 3D. Today, 20th Century Fox debuted the trailer:
What do you think? I have to say that I am so excited. Though it was thrilling to imagine a 16-year-old boy stranded on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean—alone with a 450-pound tiger—it is quite something to see the scenario in color, on the screen. This looks like a book adaptation that may actually leave viewers breathless.
But people can't stop talking about it, particularly guessing casting on the RP1 Facebook page (Jesse Eisenberg? Ellen Page? Robert Downey Jr.?) and speculating about how the movie will move between actual and virtual reality.
Cline recently talked a bit about the movie here:
"It has the kind of, uh, Inception level of visual creativity that you can go with. That's why I'm really excited for the director to get hired. We're still in the very early stages, but once the director comes on board and brings, like, whatever their visual, you know, whatever their vision is to the OASIS, I'm really excited what's going to happen."
Since being nominated for an Academy Award at the age of 20, Jennifer Lawrence hasn't lacked for work offers. She landed the Hunger Games trilogy and the role of Mystique in the latest X-Men installment; now she's hard at work on Serena, based on Ron Rash's 2008 novel of the same name. (read our review) Though the film shares the same Appalachian setting as The Hunger Games, production has started in Prague, where the below shot of Lawrence and her co-star Bradley Cooper, were taken.
Cooper plays Serena's husband, George Pemberton, a wealthy lumber baron. The two return to their rural North Carolina town as newlyweds, but he soon realizes his beautiful bride has a ruthless side. As our reviewer put it, "the Pembertons do not shy away from violence. Instead, they embrace it and use it to their advantage at every turn."
Should be interesting to see Lawrence play the bad girl instead of the hero. Are you looking forward to seeing Serena on the big screen?
Despite having a channel name that must be abhorrent to readers everywhere, the Syfy network has scooped up the rights to a few lesser-known titles from best-selling authors Stephen King and Charlaine Harris.
Harris' Harper Connelly series, featuring a tough female protagonist, has been optioned for a paranormal drama series called "Grave Sight." After being struck by lightning, Harper can "hear" the final thoughts of dead people, which lead her to their bones. A writer from "Law & Order: SVU" has been drafted to write the pilot. No fairies or vamps here; other than Harper's psychic talents, this four-book series is grounded in gritty realism. Harper and her stepbrother/business partner, Tolliver, both had drug-addict parents, and Harper lives in hope (and fear) of learning something about the fate of her older sister Cameron, who went missing years earlier.
Meanwhile, the channel has also optioned Stephen King's The Eyes of the Dragon for a "movie or miniseries," according to EW. This is one of the few King books that could be parent-approved—King began it as a bedtime story for his daughter Naomi and named one of the main characters after her. (Think a step up from the Narnia series, with a dash of The Princess Bride.) As EW notes, the "Game of Thrones" era is the perfect time to bring a story set in a fairy-tale kingdom, featuring an evil magician who threatens a weak king and his two very different sons, to the small screen.
The 84th Annual Academy Awards are on Sunday, and since six out of nine of the Best Picture nominees are based on books . . . I thought we'd do a little book-to-film celebrating!
Keep scrolling for trailers of all nine Best Picture nominees, along with corresponding book tie-in information (when applicable). Which movie are you pulling for? What movie-based-on-a-book got snubbed? (Ahem, We Need to Talk About Kevin.)
Baesd on The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings
EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE
Based on Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
Based on The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS
THE TREE OF LIFE
Based on War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
We told you this morning that Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts is #10 on our Best Books of 2011 list, but now I have another exciting tidbit to share. The Hollywood Reporter has, well, reported that Universal has optioned the rights to Larson's riveting nonfiction book about the first year of Nazi rule, with Tom Hanks to produce (and possibly star).
BookPage interviewed Larson for our May issue. Here's a sampling from the conversation, about the author's research for the book:
“When you get immersed in this era there’s something so repulsive about it that it can really drag you down,” Larson explains. “No one really studies the very first year of Hitler’s rule. This is about the first dark warnings on the horizon.
“What I found was that when you’re writing a book like this, in territory that has been pretty heavily mined in other ways, you have to read the basics. And there are a lot of basics to read. You just have to read and read and read. That’s what starts to infect you,” he says. “It’s the accumulation of these little bits and pieces of horror. It began to drag me down. And you feel this immense frustration: Why didn’t anybody do anything?”
Though Larson, author of The Devil in the White City, Thunderstruck and Isaac’s Storm, has never had a book be turned into a movie—faithful blog readers will know that The Devil in the White City is under development with Leonardo DiCaprio set to star.
By the way, though I'm sure many authors dream of having their books turned into blockbusters and finding themselves on "best of the year" lists, Larson has another distinction. On a downtown walk over the weekend, I stopped by the Legislative Plaza (home of the Southern Festival of Books) to see what was going on with Occupy Nashville. The "People's Library" was stocked with a good number of volumes, mostly old paperbacks. However, I spied one protester deeply engrossed in a hardcover: a copy of In the Garden of Beasts.
What 2011 books would you like to see made into movies?
Reactions were mixed when we posted that Katherine Heigl was taking on the role of Stephanie Plum, but the reaction of Plum's creator, Janet Evanovich, was unequivocal. "[I]t was everything I could have wanted and more. I was almost in tears when the movie ended. I was so relieved," she told USA Today. Check out Heigl and Evanovich in the clip below—the two actually became fast friends after their first phone conversation.
One for the Money opens January 27. Will you see it?
Just in case any readers missed the big reveal on Good Morning America today, here is the official Hunger Games trailer!
Ever since I read The Hunger Games and heard it was being turned into a movie, I've thought that it's one thing to read about teenagers massacring each other—and another thing to see it unfold on a 50-foot tall screen. (Although now that I think about it, I'm not sure which is worse. It's pretty horrifying to have those images come alive in your imagination.)
If you've wondered about the look in Katniss's eyes when she hears Prim's name called during the Reaping, or when she talks to Gale . . . wonder no more, and watch the trailer now.
The movie hits theaters on March 23. Who's excited? (And who's worried that she will have to watch half the movie with covered eyes?)