2013 saw the world of film bring us adaptations of everything from 12 Years A Slave to The Wolf of Wall Street to The Mortal Instruments. Some succeeded more than others but the search goes on in Hollywood for the next story to take to the big screen. 2014 looks to have a similar mixture of popular fiction and obscure reads with a few classics and non-fiction ones thrown in. We’ve selected a mere fraction of said adaptations to keep an eye on in the coming months
1. Divergent (Dir: Neil Burger)
Veronica Roth’s recent conclusion to her dystopian trilogy may have divided the fanbase but Summit are betting big on the $80m film adaptation, starring Oscar winner Kate Winslet and woman of the moment Shailene Woodley. In a time where The Hunger Games became a bona fide box office phenomenon, the studio are testing the waters with a similarly action filled tale of government gone wrong with added girl power. The sequel’s already in the works but that’s no guarantee of a second movie actually seeing the light of day if the box office returns aren’t there.
2. The Fault in Our Stars (Dir: Josh Boone)
That book by that guy who’s quite popular is arguably YA’s best chance at so-called ‘serious’ movie success. The indie sensibilities of the novel combined with the varied cast (Shailene Woodley yet again), die-hard fanbase and gender/age crossover appeal is a deadly combination. While the poster’s tagline caused some unease, nothing has slowed the juggernaut down. Will it succeed or will John Green end up being the Nicholas Sparks of YA movies? Then again, Sparks’ movies make bank.
3. Far From the Madding Crowd (Dir: Thomas Vinterberg)
Thomas Vinterberg, formerly of the experimental Dogme movement and now an Oscar nominated power player, doesn’t go for fluffy subject matter. His first film after The Hunt is an adaptation of the always cheery Thomas Hardy novel, starring Carey Mulligan in a role she was possibly born to play. David Nicholls is on screenplay duties, his second bash at Hardy after his BBC take on Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
4. Inherent Vice (Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson)
One can say many things about Paul Thomas Anderson but he can’t be criticised for a lack of ambition. Following The Master, his next project dares to go where no film-maker has gone before; the work of Thomas Pynchon. While Inherent Vice is generally considered one of his lighter efforts (Anderson himself described it as essentially being a Cheech & Chong story, one with a plot he has yet to figure out), the tale of a drug addled PI in the 70s is sure to be one of the more interesting releases of the year, if only for Joaquin Phoenix’s facial hair. The ensemble piece also features Josh Brolin, Martin Short, Reese Witherspoon, Joanna Newson and Mrs PTA, Maya Rudolph.
5. Under the Skin (Dir: Jonathan Glazer)
The debut novel of Michel Faber (The Crimson Petal and the White) is not your standard science-fiction story, although the plot has all the markers of one. The darkly satirical tale of an alien sent to Scotland by an extra-terrestrial corporation to prey on unwitting humans becomes Jonathan Glazer’s third feature film, his first in a decade since Birth. Scarlett Johansson stars as the titular alien and the film has received mostly strong reviews from its time on the festival circuit (although The Independent declared it to be “laughably bad”). The film receives a wider release in March & April on both sides of the Atlantic.
6. Wild (Dir: Jean-Marc Vallée)
When Oprah restarted the juggernaut that is her book club, she proved once again that her power knows no bounds. The first book to receive the daytime chat legend’s seal of approval upon its revival was Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of her 1100 mile hike across the Pacific West Trail. Imagine Eat Pray Love, another Oprah approved memoir, only without the rampant white privilege. Reese Witherspoon’s production company optioned the rights and the Oscar winner cast herself in the role of Cheryl. Sure to be popular with the lucrative older women demographic (see Hollywood, they exist!) Director Vallée is coming hot off the success of indie hit Dallas Buyers Club and the screenplay comes courtesy of the author and Nick Hornby, a man who knows a thing or two about adapting memoirs for the screen.
7. Gone Girl (Dir: David Fincher)
One of the undisputed champions of the best-seller charts in recent years, Gillian Flynn’s thriller will come to the big screen courtesy of David Fincher and producer Reese Witherspoon (a soon to be power player in the industry?), starring the underrated Rosamund Pike and the new Batman Ben Affleck (and now, I’m not over that yet). The recent Entertainment Weekly cover was suitably sexy-creepy, but most of the buzz around the project has come from the news that Flynn has changed the ending rather dramatically from the source material, dividing opinion amongst the fanbase. Only time will tell if it was the right decision.
8. Dark Places (Dir: Gilles Paquet-Brenner)
2014 is definitely Gillian Flynn’s year. Her second novel will premiere a month before Gone Girl with a lower profile but a no less starry cast, from Charlize Theron to Chloe Moretz and Christina Hendricks. Centred on the sole survivor of a small town massacre who testifies against her own brother, Dark Places may not come with the buzz of its younger and more popular sibling but with Flynn’s trademark unflinching character work and refusal to lighten up the darkness, the potential is strong for a sleeper hit.
9. The Giver (Dir: Phillip Noyce)
Before The Hunger Games, there was Lois Lowry’s dystopian YA classic. The Newbery Medal winner comes to the big screen Australian director Phillip Noyce, with producer Jeff Bridges also starring as the eponymous Giver. The ensemble is one of the more eclectic of the year, ranging from Your Queen Meryl Streep to the only reason to keep watching True Blood Alexander Skarsgard to… ahem… Taylor Swift. The Weinsteins are producing the film. Between this and Vampire Academy, we at Bibliodaze think the infamous duo scent dollar bills coming from the YA wagon.
10. The Winter’s Tale (Dir: Akiva Goldsman)
No, not the Shakespeare play. Written and directed by Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman (the “genius” behind Batman and Robin – stay cool!), this is a supernatural drama involving multiple time periods, gangsters, white horses, an alternate New York and tuberculosis. So if nothing else, this passion project promises to be a little off the beaten track in comparison to the rest of this year’s Valentine’s Day releases. Starring a selection of pretty people (Colin Farrell, Will Smith, Matthew Bomer, Jennifer Connelly and legendary Eva Marie Saint), expect divided reviews, gorgeous cinematography and a terrible Irish accent from Russell Crowe.
11. Unbroken (Dir: Angelina Jolie)
Angelina Jolie didn’t exactly take the easy route with her directorial debut The Land of Milk and Honey, a love story set during the Serb-Croat war (filmed in two languages). While that film didn’t set the box office alight, it did display her immense creative potential, and left critics suitably intrigued by her next choice, based on another true story of the Olympian turned prisoner of war (adapted from the book by Laura Hillenbrand). The Coen Brothers, who know a thing or two about making movies and have done rewrites on the script, have said Jolie has a tough task ahead of her. The exact word they used was ‘motherfucker’. When the Coens are in awe of your ambition, that’s a signal of good things to come.
12. Cymbeline (Dir: William Almereyda)
The Shakespearean romance is one of the Bard’s lesser read and performed plays, which makes it ripe for an adaptation. We can’t say we expected said adaptation to be set in the modern day and focus on a biker gang. Some modern re-imaginings of the great Shakespeare’s work have been wildly successful (Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet), some have been indie darlings (My Own Private Idaho, Gus Van Sant’s loose take on Henry IV), and some have crashed and burned (Othello set in a high school?). Only time will tell with this adaptation, starring Ethan Hawke, Anton Yelchin and Dakota “Anastasia Steele” Johnson. Here’s hoping Dakota can get at least one decent adaptation under her belt.
13. In Secret (Dir: Charlie Stratton)
It’s never a good sign when the studio decides to drastically change the title of the film from its original name. In Secret is, in reality, an adaptation of Therese Raquin, the classic Emile Zola novel. Having toured the festival circuit to little buzz, the “erotic thriller” (as it’s described on Wikipedia. Panic) stars Elizabeth Olsen, Jessica Lange in fine hammy mode and Tom Felton with a hairstyle that rivals his former co-star Daniel Radcliffe’s in Frankenstein. In the book, Therese is mixed race. Olsen is decidedly not. Sadly, this is not the only example of literary adaptation white-washing this year.
14. The Hobbit: There And Back Again (Dir: Peter Jackson)
It finally comes to an end, unless Peter Jackson gets a few more ideas. What else is there to say? Have a photo of Richard Armitage and Lee Pace.
15. Edge of Tomorrow (Dir: Doug Liman)
We’re not sure about you, dear readers, but when we at Bibliodaze think of adaptations of Japanese work (originally titled All You Need Is Kill) with Japanese characters, we think of Japanese actors, not Tom Cruise. Alas, Hollywood thinks differently, so Doug Liman’s science-fiction epic will start off the Summer blockbuster season, with a screenplay that features no less than eight writer’s credits (including, rather oddly, Jez Butterworth). We at Bibliodaze originally thought the trailer was some sort of extended cut of Cruise’s last film, Oblivion, which probably says more about us than the film itself. Still, in an industry where Keanu Reeves is about as Asian as they like to get, it’s disappointing to see such a huge budget shoved at a non-Western work totally gutted of all that made it non-Western.
16. Before I Go To Sleep (Dir: Rown Joffe)
SJ Watson’s sleeper hit, about a woman with anterograde amnesia, has the perfect balance of crime, thriller and psychological character study. Sir Ridley Scott clearly believes in the source material enough to have optioned it for a film. Nicole Kidman and Colin firth reteam for the third time (following The Railway Man – another literary adaptation – and preceding the film below), along with British favourites Mark Strong and Anne-Marie Duff.
17. Paddington (Dir: Paul King)
The childhood classic comes to the big screen with Nicole Kidman and the new Doctor, Peter Capaldi. Adapting a well-loved character for the big screen with an equally big budget is no mean feat. Transferring that charm and oft-imitated whimsy to a visual medium several decades after its debut presents a number of risks. Stuart Little’s film managed to pull it off pretty strongly, all things considered, but the shadow of terrible flops looms overhead. Paul King proves to be a left-field choice for director, best known for his work on cult British comedy The Mighty Boosh (the Crack Fox as Paddington? Nightmare fuel). If nothing else, we’ll get Mr Darcy himself, Colin Firth, voicing the Peruvian marmalade fanatic.
I missed out tons, I know. What ones are you most excited for?