Every year, many books go through an epic migration, abandoning the snug quietness of library and bookstore shelves for the glitz and glamour of the cinema screen.
This movement is often accompanied by a metamorphosis; after all, what suffices in a warm and comfortable literary setting can be unsuitable for the fast-paced, extreme climates of the cinematic world.
It’s adapt or die: Many books shed excess characters, events, or even whole plotlines to survive. Others, on the other hand, gain additions to their stories, sometimes changing so much that, like a caterpillar morphing into a butterfly, they are completely different from how they first started.
And some tragically pick up an imperfection or unfortunate mutation on the way, eventually perishing from poor casting, executive meddling, or having Michael Bay as a director.
It’s certainly an incredible journey, and one that’s not always worth the risk. Book and movie fans are both notoriously finicky, and sometimes, no matter how much effort you put in, it’s impossible to successfully adapt a book for the screen. Nevertheless, that has never stopped Hollywood from trying: when a movie is adapted well, after all, the results are magical.
Here are some major book to movie adaptations that have been scheduled for 2017. (All dates are for international releases and could change.)
A Dog’s Purpose
Synopsis: It’s not just cats who have nine lives: Bailey (Gad) is a dog who is reincarnated as a different dog every time he dies. He learns the meaning of his life through the many owners he bonds with over the course of five decades.
Our thoughts: As we’ve seen from movies such as Hachiko and Marley And Me, films with dogs tend to be massive, massive tearjerkers. Bring a tissue box (or three) along with you to the cinema!
Fifty Shades Darker
Synopsis: Poor tortured Anastasia Steele (Johnson) tries to move on from her relationship with Christian Grey (Dornan), a businessman with a taste for violent love. While Christian convinces her to give him a second chance, echoes of his past threaten to tear them apart.
Our thoughts: The first movie, Fifty Shades Of Grey was banned in cinemas here, so we probably won’t be getting this one either. Those who do watch it, though, can probably expect lots of lip-biting and unrealistic BDSM set to glorious classical music. (BDSM, by the way, stands for bondage and discipline, sadism and masochism – sex kinks, basically.)
Synopsis: After a terrible tragedy involving his daughter, a man receives what he believes is a letter from God, telling him to return to the shack where the incident occurred. There, he encounters a mysterious trio that will change his life.
Our thoughts: Films that centre on faith and religion always tend to tug on the heartstrings, and we can’t Shack the feeling that this will be no exception.
The Zookeeper’s Wife
Synopsis: Based on the true story of Warsaw Zoo keepers couple Jan and Antonina Zabinski, who saved many human and animal lives in Poland during World War II by hiding them in animal cages.
Our thoughts: Chastain is a great actress – she was great in Zero Dark Thirty, The Help, and The Martian – and she’ll probably blow everyone away in this drama. And it’ll be nice to see McElhatton, who most people know as Roose Bolton from Game Of Thrones, once again – he left that epic TV show far too soon!
Synopsis: Auggie Pullman (Tremblay) is a young boy born with a facial deformity. With the help of his mother, Isabel (Roberts), and his father, Nate (Wilson), he tries to fit in at a new school and show everyone that he is just an ordinary kid.
Our thoughts: No, this has nothing to do with a superhero in a patriotic swimsuit (that’s Wonder Woman!). This family film does look promising: the cast looks great, and it’s being directed by Stephen Chbosky, the author of The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (1999, which he then adapted and directed for the big screen very successfully in 2012). We Wonder if the movie can live up to the book – which was, by the way, nominated for the prestigious Carnegie Medal.
Synopsis: Tech worker Mae Holland (Watson) lands a job at a powerful tech company called the Circle, where she becomes involved with a mysterious man.
Our thoughts: The novel has been compared to influential dystopian science fiction classics such as George Orwell’s 1984 (1949) and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932). We hope Watson’s character can successfully square off with the villains at the Circle – and that it will live up to Huxley and Orwell standards, though that’s going to be tough.
Synopsis: Madeline Whittier is half-Japanese, half-black and suffers from severe combined immunodeficiency and therefore cannot leave her house. She ends up befriending Olly, the son of a family that moves in next door.
Our thoughts: If you’re wondering where you’ve heard the name Amandla Stenberg before: she was Rue in The Hunger Games! And here she is again, playing someone who strikes up an unlikely friendship in very difficult circumstances again. Let’s hope her fate in this film is better than her character’s in The Hunger Games.
Synopsis: This 3D-animated movie sees two mischievous kids hypnotizing their mean principal and turning him into their comic book creation, the brave and briefs-wearing Captain Underpants!
Our thoughts: The villain is a character called Prof Pippy Pee-Pee Poopypants (Kroll). I think nothing more needs to be said.
My Cousin Rachel
Synopsis: Set in 19th century England, this tale is about a young Englishman who plots revenge against his cousin, believing that she murdered his guardian. But things become complicated as he finds himself falling for her charms.
Our thoughts: This is the second film to be made from Du Maurier’s book; the first was made in 1952 with power pairing Richard Burton and Olivia de Havilland. Yeah, cousin loving is a bit iffy, but I guess it was a thing at the time?
The Dark Tower
Synopsis: Jake Chambers (Taylor) is an 11-year-old adventure seeker who discovers another dimension called Mid-World. He encounters its lone frontiersman knight Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) who is on a quest to reach the “Dark Tower”.
Our thoughts: Interestingly, this movie is not going to be a typical adaptation – it’s being called a “quasi-sequel” to the book series. King’s books in this series are delightfully loopy, and we hope the movie captures the same spirit.
It does have McConaughey playing a vicious, ageless sorcerer, which will definitely be worth a watch!
Synopsis: When children begin to disappear in the small American town of Derry, a group of young friends is faced with their biggest fears when they square off against an ancient evil: the terrifying clown called Pennywise (Skarsgard).
Our thoughts: Horrors! The original It miniseries (1990) with Tim Curry as Pennywise put the unholy fear of clowns into a lot of people.
And now they are bringing it back? WHY?
Frankly, we’re not sure if Skarsgard can pull off a performance as iconic as Curry’s, who probably still stars in a lot of people’s nightmares today. Here’s hoping he commits to his role and doesn’t just clown around!
Murder On The Orient Express
Synopsis: Renowned Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) investigates the murder of a wealthy American travelling on the Orient Express, the most famous train in the world.
Our thoughts: First off: wow, what a cast! Apart from the names mentioned above, the film also features Judi Dench, Josh Gad, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe and Michelle Pfieffer. That’s a whole galaxy of stars! Apart from starring, Branagh also directs, and we’re very interested to see what he can do with this classic whodunit.
Fantasy, science fiction, crime, horror and tragedy await!
Quite a number of books are making the leap onto the small screen as well this year. And don’t forget, this year will also have new seasons beginning for Game Of Thrones, The Leftovers, The Magicians and The Expanse, among others, which were all based on books. We will be quite spoilt for choice! (Note that release dates are subject to change.)
The Handmaid’s Tale
The series is the story of Offred (Elizabeth Moss), who is a handmaid, a member of a class of women kept for reproductive purposes in an era of declining births due to sterility from pollution and sexually transmitted diseases.
Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) is an ex-convict who meets a mysterious stranger, Mr Wednesday (Ian McShane). The two go on a trip across America, gathering the old gods of mythology to prepare for a war against the new gods of today.
The crew of a Royal Naval expedition searching for the Arctic’s treacherous North-West Passage discovers a monstrous predator instead. Stars Jared Harris, Ciaran Hinds and Edward Ashley.
Cormoran Strike (Tom Burke), a war veteran turned private detective, operates out of a small office in London’s Denmark Street. Though wounded both psychologically and physically, Strike solves baffling cases with the help of his assistant Robin (Holliday Grainger).