*THIS IS A GUEST POST. The opinions expressed are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect my own.
Movies have such an outsize influence on popular culture that many people are unaware that many hit films started out as books.
As an author, I wince a little every time I hear someone raving about some brilliant new Hollywood blockbuster or arthouse film without realizing that the story originated as a novel. (“Oh, they made a book out of the movie?”)
So let the word go forth that the following books will be made into movies in the next year – and not the other way around. Several of these would have hit the big screen but are finding their way to Netflix and other streaming services in a year when the global pandemic continues to play havoc with theater attendance.
10 top movie adaptations
- French Exit
An aging Manhattan socialite (Michelle Pfeiffer) living on what’s left of her inheritance moves to a small apartment in Paris with her son Malcolm (Lucas Hedges) and black cat, which also happens to be her reincarnated husband. The film is based on Parick deWitt’s 2018 comedic novel French Exit. Some have called it “a tragedy of manners,” with an Oscar-worthy Peiffer spooning out literary dialogue and Hedges taking it all in as the money runs out.
In limited distribution in theaters Feb. 12, 2021.
- Without Remorse
Without Remorse, the military thriller by the late Tom Clancy, is being adapted into a movie starring Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther and, it bears mentioning, People’s Sexiest Man Alive of 2020) and Luke Mitchell (Blindspot). It’s the story of a former Navy SEAL turned CIA operative who seeks revenge after his girlfriend is killed by a drug lord.
Originally scheduled for a Feb. 26 theatrical release, COVID has forced the studio’s hand and the film will now debut on Amazon Prime Video later in 2021.
Dune, Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel, remains one of the most beloved sci-fi stories of all time, and now it’s one of the year’s most anticipated films. Dune takes place in the far future, on an inhospitable planet, where the young protagonist Paul is sent to live and to safeguard the most vital element in the galaxy. Given the breadth of the material, filmmaker Denis Villeneuve is planning to direct a two-part film series and a companion TV show on HBO called Dune: The Sisterhood. Timothée Chalamet (Homeland, Royal Pains, Lady Bird, Little Women), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible films) and Zendaya (Euphoria) star.
The Warner Brothers film will hit theaters and be released on HBO Max the same day on Oct. 21, 2021.
- The Nightingale
The second of Kristin Hannah’s heartfelt novels to be adapted in 2021 (her Firefly Lane debuted on Netflix on Feb. 3), The Nightingale is the story of two sisters in France during World War II and their struggle to resist the German occupation. Fans of historical fiction have been clamoring for this adaptation to hit the screen since the book’s release in 2015. Real life sisters Elle and Dakota Fanning play sisters Isabelle and Vianne Rossignol. Melanie Laurent directs.
In theaters Dec. 22, 2021.
- The Woman in the Window
Every generation needs its take on Hitchcock’s Rear Window, and A.J. Finn delivered nicely with The Woman in the Window. Throw in some twists on The Girl on the Train and The Woman in Cabin 10, and you’ve got yourself a psychological thriller for our paranoid times. The story follows Dr. Anna Fox (played by Amy Adams), an agoraphobic woman living alone in New York who begins to spy on her new neighbors, only to witness a disorienting act of violence. Julianne Moore (The Hunger Games) also stars. The film has been in production since 2019 but Netflix finally snapped it up and will release it this year.
No date set for release on Netflix.
Joyce Carol Oates’s Blonde, a fictionalized recounting of the inner life of Marilyn Monroe, sets out to answer the question: Who was Marilyn … really? Beyond the pop culture headlines and her high-profile love affairs, what stirred the girl’s heart? Ana de Armas (The Night Clerk, Blade Runner 2049) will play Marilyn Monroe. Adrien Brody (The Pianist) and Bobby Cannavale (Mr. Robot, Homecoming) will also star. Like The Woman in the Window, this film was set for theatrical release but is now heading to Netflix.
No date set for release on Netflix.
- The Last Letter From Your Lover
The Last Letter From Your Lover was the 2008 romance novel by Jojo Moyes about a hidden affair — and the journalist who learns of it 40 years later. The love story is told across two generations, one centered in the 1960s, when a young woman wakes up with amnesia and comes across an unsigned letter imploring her to leave her husband. The second timeline takes us to 2003 when the journalist finds the same enigmatic letter and becomes obsessed by the story.
I know. Cool, right?
This Netflix movie stars Felicity Jones (Rogue One, The Theory of Everything), Shailene Woodley (Big Little Lies, Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars) and Joe Alwyn. Augustine Frizzell (Euphoria) directs.
No date set for the release on Netflix.
- Nightmare Alley
Nightmare Alley by William Lindsey Gresham is a 1946 horror novel with a noir feel. It tells the story of a manipulative young carny who hooks up with a female psychiatrist who turns out to be even more dangerous than he is. Our bet is that the film will lean more toward psychological trauma or the fantastical than straight-on horror, with director Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water, Pan’s Labyrinth) at the helm. Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and Paul Anderson (The Revenant) star.
In theaters Dec. 3, 2021.
You’ll be forgiven if you haven’t heard of Passing by Nella Larsen. This classic of the Harlem Renaissance first came out in 1929. The story centers on the reunion of women who were two childhood friends. One of them is passing herself off as white, which her white husband doesn’t realize. Her lie becomes the catalyst for tragic events that threaten both of their carefully constructed realities.
The Loop actress Rebecca Hall, making her debut behind the camera, directs Tessa Thompson (Westworld), Ruth Negga (Agents of SHIELD), Alexander Skarsgård (Big Little Lies) and Bill Camp (The Queen’s Gambit).
Passing bowed at the online Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 30 but no date has been set for wider theatrical release.
Andy Weir’s novel The Martian was born for the big screen, and it won the Golden Globe for best picture and best actor (Matt Damon). What to do for an encore? His follow-on science thriller Artemis offers a fresh twist on the genre: It’s a heist story set on the moon. The lead character is a porter and part-time smuggler who accepts a questionable job but winds up involved in a much bigger crime. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller will direct.
No date set for the theatrical release.
What about you? Which book-to-movie adaptations are you looking forward to this year?
About the author:
J.D. Lasica is a thriller author, former newspaper features and book editor and Editor in Chief of BingeBooks, a new site for book discovery created by a team of bestselling authors.