This year, the box office was dominated by superheroes, animation, a handful of horror movies- but really, 2016 is the year of the superhero movie. However, one low-key genre is also gaining some attention: the books-to-film. Though you could argue book-to-film adaptations span many genres, there are certain key things all great adaptations must have.
The Finest Hours, The Fifth Wave, Me Before You, Allegiant, The Jungle Book, and The BFG, to name a few, are some of the hit-and-miss adaptations this year. However, the coming months seem more promising for the book-to-film category. Most of the upcoming book-to-films in this list already have a strong fanbase, and are almost guaranteed to be hits in both the domestic and international box offices.
This list is tailored to my taste, but I hope you find one of these upcoming book-to-film adaptations to your liking as well!
- Release date: August 18, 2016
- Director: Timur Bekmambetov
- Adapted from: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace
- Goodreads: 4/5
Ben-Hur tells the epic tale of the fictional Jewish prince Judah Ben-Hur, who was accused of attempted assassination by his adopted Roman brother. After enduring years of enslavement, meeting a young Christ, and getting lucky, he trained as a soldier and charioteer and went back to Jerusalem hell-bent on revenge. However, as the book concludes, Ben-Hur's revenge plot turns into a story of compassion and forgiveness.
Director Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Unfriended) is at the helm of this remake, but as the director says, it will be completely different from the 1959 original. Judging from the epic scale of the trailer, this is a historical fiction flick I never knew I wanted!
2. A Tale of Love and Darkness
- Release date: August 19, 2016
- Director: Natalie Portman
- Adapted from: A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz
- Goodreads: 3.8/5m
Yes, you read that right. A Tale of Love and Darkness is Academy-Award winner Natalie Portman's feature directorial debut. It took her eight years to write the script and find funding, and finally her vision for Israeli author Amos Oz's autobiographical novel will see the light of day. It's also the first time we'll see her speak Hebrew on screen; she took considerable efforts to remove traces of her American accent.
Amos Oz chronicles his childhood which took place in the last years of Mandatory Palestine and the early years of independent Israel. A Tale of Love and Darkness speaks to memories that are both beautiful and painful, untimely good-byes, and a new beginning. The film was first screened in 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.
3. The Light Between Oceans
- Release date: September 2, 2016
- Director: Derek Cianfrance
- Adapted from: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
- Goodreads: 4/5
Tom (Fassbender) and Isabel (Vikander), a couple who live in a lighthouse, are barren. Then a miracle happens when a baby washed ashore from a lifeboat. They informally adopt the baby girl, but when the couple return to the mainland, they discover that "there are other people in the world" and keeping the infant "has devastated one of them". Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander's chemistry is undeniable onscreen, and it's beautiful; they have both immersed themselves in their roles, and I can't wait to see their heartfelt and (probably heartbreaking) performances in this adaptation.
4. The 9th Life of Louis Drax
- Release date: September 2, 2016
- Director: Alexandre Aja
- Adapted from: The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen
This film is based on Liz Jensen's 2004 novel of the same name. Louis Drax is a disaster magnet; every year he often lands in trouble, but like a cat, manages to land on his feet. That is, until he falls off a cliff during his ninth birthday picnic. Was it an accident or not? The story is told from the perspective of Louis and Doctor Pascal Dannachet, and because the dual perspective could be tricky onscreen, I'm excited to see how this goes. Also, seeing Louis's creepy bandage "friend" Gustave come to life, I now remember why I had to put this book down and selectively blocked remembering its title; my 12 year-old self couldn't handle such goosebumps.
5. The Girl on the Train
- Release date: September 27, 2016 (Ukraine) ; October 7, 2016 (USA)
- Director: Tate Taylor
- Adapted from: The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
In The Girl on the Train, Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) is a divorced alcoholic who rides the train every day just to conceal from her roommate that she lost her job. The train passes by where she used to live with her husband, and she sees him with his new wife and baby girl. She also becomes obsessed and fantasizes about the "perfect life" of the beautiful young couple who lives near her old house. Until one day she sees something that shutters her fantasy, and the wife goes missing. But since she's a drunkard, no one believes her. The novel is told from the point of view of three women: Rachel, Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), and Megan (Haley Bennett).
One could see why this is being compared to Gone Girl: it has the same elements of marriage, its supposed bliss, and the unstable emotional states of the characters, which is why the crimes happen in the first place. But will it live up to the critically-acclaimed thriller which it is being compared to? We'll soon find out.
6. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
- Release date: March 3, 2016 (Russia); September 30, 2016 (USA)
- Director: Tim Burton
- Adapted from: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
- Goodreads: 3.8/5
There has never been a more perfect match made in film and literature heaven than Tim Burton adapting this peculiar tale for the big screen!
After Jacob Portman (Asa Butterfield)'s grandfather has been murdered by what is apparently a make-believe creature, Jacob travels to Wales to learn more about his deceased grandfather's life. There he found that his grandfather used to live in an orphanage for "peculiar children". Jacob is taken back to the 1940s by a girl he met, and that is where he meets all the other peculiar children under Miss Peregrine (Eva Green)'s care; they are all in a time loop. Jacob, though seemingly normal, is able to to see Hallows - the evil beings who kill the peculiars - and the murderer of his grandfather, who also shares Jacob's peculiarity.
7. Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
- Release date: October 7, 2016
- Director: Steve Carr
- Adapted from: Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson
- Goodreads: 4/5
This is the first in the Middle School series by James Patterson, and truthfully, it's like Diary of A Wimpy Kid only much more complicated, and maybe sad? I can definitely understand Rafe Khatchadorian's struggles as a new kid clashing with a rule-obsessed principal! Although my struggles didn't begin until I entered high school, this movie and its book will resonate with all the little rebels in us!
8. A Monster Calls
- Release date: October 21, 2016
- Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
- Adapted from: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Thirteen year-old Conor O'Malley's mother is undergoing chemotherapy. The boy is bullied at school, and his father and grandmother aren't there much to console him, hence the monster becomes his only friend. Conor wakes up from the same nightmare he has been having for the past few nights. Seven minutes after midnight, a voice calls him from outside his window. It is the yew tree. The monster insists that Conor summoned him, and it will help Conor if the monster tells him three short stories, which afterward, Conor would tell him his own. The monster would meet him every night at 12:07 to tell his stories. The Monster Calls is profound and sad, but it teaches us a lot of important life lessons along the way; there are a lot of ways how we can cope with imminent loss, but ultimately, the only way to truly heal is to gradually accept it.
- Release date: October 13, 2016 (Germany); October 28, 2016 (USA)
- Director: Ron Howard
- Adapted from: Inferno by Dan Brown
Inferno is actually book number four in Dan Brown's Robert Langdon series, preceded by The Lost Symbol. Robert Langdon wakes up in a hospital room in Florence with a head wound, with no memory of the last few days. His last memory is walking on the Harvard campus. One of the doctors attending him, Sienna Brooks, tells him that he suffered from a concussion from being grazed by a bullet. All the weird code-solving will take off from there. Tom Hanks will reprise his role as the Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon as he solves the clues left by transhumanist scientist Bertrand Zobrist, a Dante fanatic. The scientist made a plague, a simple solution to prevent the number one problem our planet is facing: overpopulation. Robert will use the clues from the cylinder found in his jacket with the modified version of Botticelli's Map of Hell to find out where the virus might be hidden.
10. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- Release date: November 17, 2016 (Germany); November 18, 2016 (USA)
- Director: David Yates
- Adapted from: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander (J.K. Rowling)
- Goodreads: 3.9/5
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the start of a new series about the Wizarding World, featuring a shiny new wizard! The events of Fantastic Beasts take place in 1926 and predate Harry's adventures. It's based off one of Harry's school books, written by the magizoologist Newt Scamander. Since that book basically just a book about magical animals, everything we'll see in this movie and its upcoming sequels are basically brand new writings from the author J.K. Rowling herself!
So many books, so many movies! While nothing really beats the experience of reading well-written books, seeing these amazing literary works translated onscreen- especially if they're beautiful and faithful to the source material- can feel as amazing and fulfilling an experience like a good book can! This year really is the year for nerds and geeks; Cheers to more wonderful entertainment in the coming years!
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Which books would you love to see adapted into a movie next? Let me know in the comments!