Movie studios are always after great source material to adapt, and it’s not all comic books, board games, and rides at Disneyland. Books can provide some of the best inspirations for films of all genres, from gruesome horror to weighty Oscar bait. And there are quite a few movies based on books coming your way in 2019 and beyond.
Here’s a round-up of the book-to-film adaptations on the horizon. Better get reading so you can annoy your friends by telling them “it’s not as good as the book.”
The Art of Racing in the Rain
Kevin Costner stars as a dog (ok, the voice of one) in this comedy-drama from Simon Curtis who made My Week with Marilyn and Woman in Gold. In it old woofer Enzo recalls memories and lessons he learned from his time with his racing driver owner Denny (Milo Ventimiglia). It’s based on the novel by Garth Stein and marks the first Fox movie to be officially marketed by Disney on its site post-acquisition.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark based on the book series by Alvin Schwartz was once going to be a Guillermo del Toro vehicle. Del Toro’s still had a hand in the screenplay but directing fell to Troll Hunter helmer André Øvredal. It’s a period piece, set in 1968, which sees a group of kids in small-town America gather to read a (mildly) terrifying book written by the daughter of a wealthy family who one day mysteriously vanished. Expect Stranger Things vibes with the ‘80s swapped for the ‘60s.
Joel Kinnaman stars in this adaptation of Anders Roslund’s crime novel which sees an ex-con deliberately get himself sent back to prison so he can go undercover and infiltrate a gang of organized criminals. Expect tense ticking clock thrills as he struggles to complete his mission before he’s exposed as a mole. Rosamund Pike and Clive Owen co-star.
Based on the book The Spy Who Tried to Stop A War: Katharine Gun and the Secret Plot to Sanction the Iraq Invasion by Marcia Mitchell, this thriller based on a true story stars Keira Knightley as Katherine Gunn, a whistleblower who exposed a spy plot which was designed to push the UN Security Council into sanctioning the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Gavin Hood, who made Eye in the Sky, directs, while Matthew Goode, Ralph Fiennes, and Rhys Ifans also star.
It Chapter Two
The second part of Andy Muschietti’s Stephen King adaptation of It sees the adult Losers’ Club return to Derry, Maine to face the ultimate terror once again, 27 years after they first faced the monster known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Adult Losers include Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, and Bill Hader, while Bill Skarsgard returns as the red-nosed menace. The first movie was a critical success and made a boat-load of money and we expect more thrills and chills from the hotly anticipated sequel.
Based on Donna Tartt’s bestseller of the same name, The Goldfinch follows a young teenager who survives a terrorist attack that killed his mother and ends up embroiled in the world of art forgery (the title refers to a picture he pinches from the art gallery where the attack occurs). Ansel Elgort stars opposite Nicole Kidman and Sarah Paulson, while John Crowley, who made Brooklyn, is on director duties.
Taika Waititi’s signed on to direct Thor 4 after doing such a cracking job with Thor: Ragnarok, but before that, we’ll get his next directorial outing, Jojo Rabbit, based on the novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens. It follows a 10-year-old boy in Nazi Germany who is recruited to join a Hitler Youth camp and discovers his mom (played by Scarlett Johansson) has been hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic. It’s a war drama, but in typical Taika style, it’ll have a strong vein of humor. Waititi himself also stars as the boy’s imaginary best friend, Adolf Hitler.
Edward Norton plays a detective with Tourette’s Syndrome trying to solve the murder of his friend and mentor in this crime thriller (which Norton also directed) that could be a possible Oscar contender. The book, published in 1999, is by Jonathan Lethem and won several literary awards. Bruce Willis co-stars along with Willem Dafoe and Leslie Mann.
Stephen King’s long-awaited sequel to The Shining focuses on an adult Danny Torrance, who’s now a recovering alcoholic working in a hospice. He’s retained his powers and connects with a young girl named Abra, who is in grave danger. The Haunting of Hill House’s Mike Flanagan directs and he’s said Doctor Sleep is an adaptation of King’s book but set in the world of Kubrick’s The Shining (which King famously hates). Ewan McGregor plays Danny (now Dan), with Rebecca Ferguson as the sinister Rose the Hat.
Ladybird director Greta Gerwig has chosen an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic, Little Women, for her follow-up feature and it’s packed with amazing talent. Midsommar’s Florence Pugh plays Amy, Emma Watson is Meg, Saoirse Ronan is Jo, while Laura Dern and Meryl Streep play Marmee and Aunt March. It’s a coming-of-age tale set in the aftermath of the Civil War, and with the pedigree of the cast and the material, Gerwig could well be cruising for her second Oscar nom – two for two would be pretty impressive stuff.
The Woman in the Window
There have been all sorts of buzz around this “grip-lit” thriller since the novel’s publication in January 2018, in part because of an article in The New Yorker about the author A.J. Finn’s slightly odd (understatement) behavior.
But that shouldn’t overshadow the adaptation, which is packed with talent. Amy Adams stars as Anna Fox, an agoraphobic woman who witnesses a violent crime in her neighbor’s house when she’s spying on them, Rear Window style. The supporting cast includes Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, and Julianne Moore; it’s directed by Joe Wright who’s got good form with literary adaptations, including Pride and Prejudice and Atonement.
A funny and painful study of female friendship based on the novel by Emma Jane Unsworth (she wrote the screenplay too), Animals sees Holliday Granger and Alia Shawkat play codependent friends whose relationship is forced to change when Granger’s character gets engaged to a teetotaler. The plot has echoes of Bridesmaids and Trainwreckbut early reviews from Sundance suggest this indie offering is a bit edgier and unusual.
A Million Little Pieces
James Frey’s moving bestseller was the subject of controversy when the author was forced to publicly admit that the book, which was initially presented as a memoir, was actually a work of fiction. Nonetheless, the story could still make great material for a movie adaptation, which focuses on a drug-addicted writer who checks himself in for grueling rehab. Sam Taylor-Johnson, who made Nowhere Boy, directs and her husband Aaron Taylor-Johnson stars as the fictionalized version of Frey.