What novels can we expect as possible film adaptations? Find out here.
Novels have always provided fertile ground for films. A well-written novel provides more than enough substance and nuance for talented screenwriters and directors in which to sink their teeth. 2014 alone offered dozens of novel-to-movie adaptations, ranging from children’s stories (Alexander and the Unnecessarily Long Title), to sexy, tense mysteries (Gone Girl), to the next flock of teen-drama cultural phenomenon (the continued Hunger Games series and Divergent trilogy).
The continued adaptations of worthy, and arguably unworthy, novels will continue – here’s a few predictions of those that we’ll see in the next few years:
The First Law Trilogy
In a world where HBO’s Game of Thrones can command massive audiences and inspire watercooler moments that boggle the uninitiated – “Did you see what Khaleesi did last night?!” “Khaleesi? It’s Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons, you philistine!” - viewers are ripe for some more hardcore, adult fantasy. Filmmakers looking for the next Game of Thrones need look no further than Joe Abercrombie’s stylish, brutal, and well, if you excuse the overused term, epic The First Law trilogy. Written like a medieval Tarantino flick with no fear of going full fantasy, The First Law offers characters far beyond the traditional fantasy tropes – an introspective and kind barbarian type? A wizard that casts tact and wisdom aside in exchange for being a complete and total badass? A crippled war hero turned sadistic torturer – THAT IS ARGUABLY ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS? Yes, The First Law is awesome, and will translate wonderfully to the screen.
2014’s Gone Girl received no lack of praise from The Sleuth, and although Fincher’s directing and Reznor’s soundtrack certainly made Gone Girl the film it became, they had some pretty damn incredible source material. With dialogue and plot beats taken verbatim from Gillian Flynn’s novel, the film was destined for success from the start. Lucky for us movie lovers, we have two more Flynn novels to be adapted to film. Her first, Sharp Objects, with some razor wit and wonderfully broken characters, has the potential to scratch that dirty mystery itch that Gone Girl has left us with. Rumor has it it’s currently being adapted to TV – a sort of female driven True Detective, but this viewer would still love to see a feature.
This one is an inevitability. Plunged deep into the vein of fans of Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, another story of a waifish woman and an abusive, but misunderstood (!) dude – the After series is primed to be the next vapid cultural phenomenon. Admittedly, I haven’t read these ones, and therefore won’t comment further, but mark my words – this is the next one.
Ready Player One
Self-indulgent, overly referential, saccharine and pandering, Ready Player One is the worst book that any geek will have no choice but to love. Despite its flaws, the novel absolutely adores its reader and its source material, and offers an insanely fun look at a dystopic future and the video game that keeps its citizens going. If Adam Sandler’s upcoming Pixels doesn’t cause a cultural revolution in which gamers rise up and destroy Hollywood, they might be hungry for a film that actually cares about video games – which would be perfect timing for Ready Player One.
House of Leaves
The only book to grace this list that probably should never see a film release, House of Leaves is a one-of-a-kind novel that toys with traditional storytelling in ways that can only be described as maniacal. Told through three separate forms of narration – a first-person direct-to-reader tale, an unfinished non-fiction manuscript complete with fictional sources and hundreds of footnotes, and the description of the events of a documentary about a house that is larger on the inside than it is on the outside. To say more about the story would constitute spoilers, but suffice to say that the tale is eerie and unexpected, and unlike anything you’ve ever read. A film version could succeed if it focused entirely on recreating the aforementioned documentary, The Navidson Record, but to do so would certainly undermine some of the overall brilliance of the narrative. Whether this one sees a cinematic release or not, if you are interested in horror or unique storytelling – check this one out.
Ever since David Fincher’s Fight Club hit the screen, fans of author Chuck Palahniuk have been waiting for a big screen adaptation of Invisible Monsters. Palahniuk’s name often pops up when it comes to movie adaptations, but often the dark subject matter coinciding with real world tragic events proves to be problematic. Palahniuk’s second novel Survivor was in pre-production before being dropped after the events of 9/11. The postmodern satire of Invisible Monsters is edgy, but with the ever changing acceptance of society, now might finally be the right time to give this book the big screen treatment. The beginning would be perfect, like an herbal shampoo commercial. Bride Evie Cottrell is walking down a burning staircase of mahogany stained red oak. Her once beautiful blond hair is singed off and her tailor-made one-of-a-kind wedding dress has burnt away to the hoopskirt wire. In her hands she carries a recently fired shotgun. At the bottom of the stairs lays the Princess Brandy Alexander, bleeding to death through a bullet hole in her amazing suit jacket that perfectly matches her hobble skirt.
Give me vanity.
Give me satire.
Give me a movie...
City Of Thieves
In 2008 Game of Thrones series creator David Benioff wrote the book City of Thieves. While known more for his screenplays, Benioff captivating WWII coming of age story would need little change to adapt to film. With a well balanced mix of comedy and tragedy, City of Thieves follows two Russian prisoners who have been given a unique and improbable ultimatum of freedom. In war torn Leningrad, the two must find a dozen eggs for a Soviet Colonel to use for his daughter's wedding cake. Find the eggs and they will be granted their freedom, fail and they will be executed. Thieves is a roller coaster of emotions that often focuses on the gruesome rarely spoken of details of WWII, yet before the story becomes too depressing, Benioff’s well-timed comedy is there to lighten the mood. The ping ponging use of humor in the eyes of devastation would easily translate to screen and resonate well with audiences. Benioff first book, 25th Hour, was adapted for film in 2002.
The Last Man
Given the recent resurgence in science fiction tales of dystopian post-apocalyptic futures, notably with Mad Max: Fury Road and to a lesser degree The Hunger Games, it’s somewhat surprising that the moviemaking machines of Hollywood haven’t yet set their sights on Frankenstein author Mary Shelley’s 1826 novel The Last Man. Loosely autobiographical of the author’s circle, notably her late husband Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, The Last Man tells the story of England in the year 2100 ravaged by war, subsequent plagues ending all of humanity and a black sun. Much like the mid-60s nuclear apocalypse thriller The Day the Earth Caught Fire, it’s a story concerning an ensemble set of characters living in a world that is slowly destroying itself. Where Frankenstein tapped into Faustian overreaching, The Last Man in contrast deals heavily with ineffectual medical advances which arrive far too late to thwart the plague. It’s also a study of how the elite utopian society will inevitably crumble within due to classical human fallacies. With the science fiction story of a desolate war torn landscape full of death and destruction has been told countless times, it’s surprising just how prescient The Last Man was in being among the first to foresee the apocalypse with unforgiving bleakness. Even more surprising is that modern cinema hasn’t yet attempted to bring this ensemble tale to the big screen. With the recent modern adaptations of such British classic novels as Far from the Madding Crowd hitting the silver screen, evidently there’s still room for both the classics and the science fiction rendition of Hell on Earth. Frankenstein itself has been adapted into film countless times with many, many deviations from the source. The time has come for inarguably the first tale of the end being nigh through the eyes of a lone figure to have its due on the silver screen.
-Patrick B. McDonald
-Lee L. Lind
-Lee L. Lind