A memoir of an amazing journey of loss and recovery, Saroo Brierley’s A Long Way Home, (PRH/Viking, 2014, trade paperback, 2015) is headed to the silver screen, starring Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman, and David Wenham. They join a cast of actors well-known in India, including Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Priyanka Bose, and Tannishtha Chatterjee. The inspirational tear-jerker is directed by Garth Davis (Top of the Lake).
In the book, Brierley recounts how he was separated from his family in rural India at age 4, when he climbed aboard a train and was carried over a thousand miles away to a city he did not know. He wound up in an orphanage, was adopted and relocated to Tasmania.
Interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered when the book was published, Brierley describes how he tried to find his way home by studying Google Earth looking for a familiar landscape — a river, a waterfall, and a fountain. He says the moment he finally found his mother “was like a nuclear fusion.”
The tie-in uses the film’s title, Lion, Saroo Brierley (PRH/Berkley; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample).
Below is the recently released trailer, followed by Brierley giving a speech about his journey, and the NPR interview.
The Hollywood Reporter says that Scott Rudin, noted for his many literary adaptations, and Joe Mantello (the theater director behind Wicked) have optioned screen rights. Of course, that is just the first step. Many book titles get optioned without ever making it onto a screen.
Recent literary novels that have followed a similar path include HBO’s adaptation of Olive Kitteridge and Showtime’s Purity.
A Little Life was shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize and The National Book Awards, although it didn’t win either. It did capture readers and critics, becoming, as we noted, a holds superstar and a darling of reviewers. It also made multiple best of the year lists and won the Kirkus Prize.
Fall is on the way, as Entertainment Weekly‘s current double issue reminds us, with its previews of 104 major movie releases through December.
Many of those films, including the one on the cover, had their beginnings as books, some with strong literary credentials, like Ang Lee’s adaptation of the award winning Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk or major best seller status, like The Girl on the Train and The Light Between Oceans.
One of the most heavily anticipated movies, however is based on a lesser-known title,The Queen of Katwe(S&S/Scribner), the biography of an unlikely chess champion, a young girl from a poor family in Uganda. The Disney movie, directed by Mira Nair, is already being touted as a film to break through #OscarsSoWhite.
Just one adaptation opens in the coming week but it will not make much noise, since it opens in a limited number of theaters (also on VOD), which is unfortunate because it received strong reviews when it premiered at this year’s SXSW.
I Am Not a Serial Killer is based on the 2009 thriller of the same title by Dan Wells. The first in a series, it received a starred review from Kirkus, which called it a “gory gem …this deft mix of several genres features a completely believable teenage sociopath (with a heart of gold), dark humor, [and} a riveting mystery.” Other titles in the series received equally strong reviews from both Booklist and Kirkus.
The plot line is reminiscent of another series, Dexter. In this case, the main character is a 15-year-old struggling with the realization that he exhibits the classic personality traits of a serial killer. As he fights his own tendencies, he uses his special knowledge to try to help solve a series of murders happening in his small town.
The movie stars Back to the Future‘s Christopher Lloyd and, as the main character, Max Records (Where the Wild Things Are).
Starring Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, Okes Fergley (Pete’s Dragon), the film also features newcomer Millicent Simmonds, a 13-year-old deaf actress in the role of Rose, who is also deaf.
Selznick is known for his brilliant imagery and creative storytelling and it seems Haynes will bring an equally inventive approach to the story, electing to film sections as a silent movie, matching not only the era in which part of the novel is set, but also the deaf Rose’s silent world. Deadline notes that “this section of the narrative will see an unprecedented number of deaf actors in roles that would normally go to hearing actors.”
The film, produced by Amazon studios, is expected for release sometime next year.
Ted Chiang has won a remarkable number of major science fiction awards. That is even more remarkable when you realize that his output has been relatively small, just 15 short stories, most of them originally published in magazines. A collected edition of some of his short stories, Stories Of Your Life And Others (originally published in 2002 by Macmillan/Tor; re-released by PRH/Vintage in 2016; OverDrive Sample), is called by the publisher “the most awarded collection in history” even though, technically, it’s not the collection that was awarded, but the stories in it.
In a recent interview in Electric Literature, Chiang’s work is described as managing to “capture the human drama behind philosophical questions, in clear and spare prose that seduces with its simplicity.”
That doesn’t sound like the type of science fiction that generally makes it to the big screen (in an interview last year, he dismissed movies like Star Wars as “adventure stories dressed up with lasers.”)
Nevertheless, a $50 million dollar adaptation of the title story from the collection, Story of Your Life is headed to screens this fall, with the title Arrival.
Chiang says that, after he first got the idea to write about a woman trying to communicate with aliens and having her own life profoundly changed as a result, he studied linguistics for four years as preparation.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve, starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker, the movie will arrive in theaters on November 11. The first trailer was just released.
The publication of Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race (HarperCollins/Morrow; HarperLuxe, Sept. 6) by Margot Lee Sheerly is heralded by not just a book trailer, but a full-fledged movie trailer for a major release, coming in January. As a result, the book jumped up Amazon’s sales rankings.
It stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe as a group of African American women who worked at NASA in Langley, Virginia on the mission that sent John Glenn into space in 1962. Also in the cast are Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge and Glen Powell.
Earlier this year, another book on a different group of women in the space program was released, Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars, Nathalia Holt (Hachette/Little, Brown; OverDrive Sample). Also called ‘human computers” like the women in Langley, they worked in the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California in the 1960’s. One of them, Janez Lawson, was African American.
The star of The Book Thief, Sophie Nelisse plays the title role, along with Glenn Close, Kathy Bates and Octavia Spencer. It is scheduled for release on October 7th.
The book was a Newbery Honor winner in 1979, the year after Paterson won the Newbery Medal for Bridge to Terabithia.(also made into a film, which Variety notes, grossed more than $200 million worldwide). In 1981, she won the Newbery again for Jacob I Have Loved.
A new edition (second right, above) was released in hardcover and paperback in January, featuring a burst that reads “Read it Before You See It,”
One of the new movies opening this week is a blast from the past, Ben-Hur.
NY Magazine writes that the book it is based on “was a best seller on release, surpassing Uncle Tom’s Cabin as the most-purchased American book in history, and holding that record for an astounding 56 years (Gone With the Wind unseated it).”
Forbes reviews the re-make, saying “the pitch here is basically 300: Rise of an Empire … with cheaper looking costumes, the same CGI and editing, and Morgan Freeman, whose performance as God in Bruce Almighty and as a divine narrator in so many other things helps subtly sell the godly aspect.”
The biblical epic is executive produced by Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel) and husband Mark Burnett (Shark Tank, The Apprentice). It stars Jack Huston and Morgan Freeman and opens Aug. 19.
War Dogs opens on August 19 and stars Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, Bradley Cooper, Ana de Armas and J. B. Blanc.
As we wrote earlier, it is based on a nonfiction account originally titled Arms and the Dudes. It tells the unlikely story about winning a $300 million US government contract to supply weapons for the war in Afghanistan.
A tie-in came out in late July: War Dogs: The True Story of How Three Stoners From Miami Beach Became the Most Unlikely Gunrunners in History, Guy Lawson (S&S; OverDrive Sample; also in mass market).
Also heading to theaters is Kubo and the Two Strings by Oregon’s stop-motion animation house Laika (the operation behind Coraline and The Boxtrolls).
As we wrote when the preview lit up the Internet, the the fantasy-adventure is set in Japan and features the voices of Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, George Takei and Art Parkinson (Game of Thrones). It debuts in theaters on 8/19/16.
Opening in limited release is A Tale of Love and Darkness, Natalie Portman’s directorial debut (she acts in the film as well). It is based on the memoir of the same name by Israeli author Amos Oz.
Variety calls the film “well-meaning but dreary,” but Esquire headlines it as “the Most Revolutionary Jewish Movie Since Schindler’s List” and goes on to say it “is urgently relevant and unlike anything else.”
There is no tie-in but the book is available in paperback: A Tale of Love and Darkness, Amos Oz, translated by Nicholas de Lange (HMH/Mariner Books).
It might not be the gold medal that Michael Phelps and the American women gymnastics earned last night, but the next Dan Brown film adaptation, Inferno, won its own Olympic competition. On the strength of a trailer played between high profile events, the novel jumped on Amazon, rising from #384 to #6.
Inferno (PRH/Anchor; trade pbk. ISBN 9780804172264; May 6, 2014; RH Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) spent five straight weeks at #1 on the NYT hardcover bestseller list , and an additional 13 weeks in the top five.
Ron Howard again directs, with Tom Hanks starring as Langdon, a Harvard symbologist who cannot seem to stay out of trouble. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything, Rogue One), Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi), Omar Sy (The Intouchables), and Ben Foster (Lone Survivor) also join the cast. David Koepp (Indiana Jones/Crystal Skull, Angels & Demons, Jurassic Park) wrote the screenplay.
Entertainment Weekly provides a concise summary of the action, saying Langdon “attempts to untangle a deadly mystery rooted in history, and this time, he finds himself swept up in a murderous conspiracy and plague tied to Dante Alighieri’s Inferno and the nine circles of hell.”
The first movie was a blockbuster. Angels and Demons followed three years later. Although deemed a success, it did not do as well as its predecessor. Collider points out that the seven-year gap between the last film and the new one raises the question of whether “the audience remains all this time later.” If the book’s movement on Amazon’s rankings is an indicator, the answer to that question is yes.
The movie premieres on October 28, 2016 in the US with an international start date of October 12th.
As we pointed out when the first trailer appeared, several tie-ins arrive in September:
In spite of some pretty damning reviews. the comics-based movie, Suicide Squad had what Deadline characterizes as a “huge” opening this weekend. They credit that success in part to the diverse cast of Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto and Viola Davis.
Opening this week is Pete’s Dragon, the next in the Disney run of remakes of their earlier successes (Jungle Book, Cinderella), creating a new story from the 1977 original. Debuting Aug. 12, it stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence, and Robert Redford.
IndieWire calls it “a warm, wistful, and wholly wonderful remake.” Variety says it is one “of the year’s most delightful moviegoing surprises, a quality family film that rewards young people’s imaginations and reminds us of a time when the term ‘Disney movie; meant something: namely, wholesome entertainment that inspired confidence in parents and reinforced solid American values.”
The Hollywood Reporter disagrees, calling it “dismayingly dull,” while The Guardiansays it “is part ET, part Jungle Book, part Peanuts. It’s sweet and soulful and Spielberg-ish, but with a bitter streak.”
A very different film premieres as well, the Mel Gibson vehicle Blood Father, a “rescue-and-revenge thriller,” as Variety calls it, featuring Gibson as a very, very down-on-his-luck father who takes on all comers to save his daughter. It is based on the 2005 book of the same name by Peter Craig (no tie-in has been released).
The Guardian, calls the film “a muscular and deliriously entertaining B-movie that is sure to play like gangbusters with genre aficionados,” continuing “As comeback projects go, Blood Father is stellar. It’s a wonder Quentin Tarantino, the king of career resurrection, didn’t get to Gibson first.”
Variety agrees, saying it is a “a perfect platform to launch the comeback of Mel Gibson … a way to remind people that Gibson, if given the chance, could juice up a serious movie.” About the film itself, they call it “a grimy little pulp action thriller … a scuzzy-bloody B-movie … way down on the totem pole of respectability.”
Indiewire was less impressed saying “Gibson now solidifies his new stature as a B-movie star, fated to anchor discardable material readymade for the bottom-of-the-barrel VOD treatment.”
On the small screen comes Chesapeake Shores, the Hallmark Channel adaptation of Sherryl Woods’s ten-book series of the same name. The first episodes follow events from The Inn at Eagle Point, Sherryl Woods (HC/MIRA; OverDrive Sample).
As Deadline describes the story, “It centers on the O’Brien clan—a large Irish-American family living on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in a town designed and founded by three O’Brien brothers. The television series focuses on the drama that ensues when the O’Brien family reunites after years apart to face the memories from their past and learn the importance of reconciliation.” It debuts on August 14 and stars Meghan Ory, Jesse Metcalfe, and Diane Ladd.
Several sneak peeks are available on Hallmark’s show site.
On the heels of the announcement that Ottessa Moshfegh’s literary thriller Eileen (PRH/Penguin) is a finalist for the Man Booker Prize, comes the news that screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson has been hired to adapt the novel for producer Scott Rudin.
The two films opening this week could not be more different. One is a beloved, gentle children’s tale and the other is the other is the next DC comic-based film extravaganza.
The Little Prince, after a long stretch of turbulence, is finally landing safely on the small screen.
As we wrote earlier, Paramount decided not to distribute the film on the eve of its March 18th release date, quickly followed by the news that Netflix would provide landing space.
The animated film will now premiere on Aug. 5, both on the streaming service and in some theaters. Below is the newly cut Netflix trailer:
The film features the voices of Jeff Bridges, Mackenzie Foy, Rachel McAdams, James Franco, Marion Cotillard, Benicio del Toro, Paul Giamatti, Paul Rudd, Budd Cort, Ricky Gervais, and Albert Brooks.
It is directed by Mark Osborn (Kung Fu Panda).
Suicide Squad smashes onto the big screen on the 5th as well. As we noted in an earlier Titles to Know post, the film follows the action a super villain strike team who serve as covert agents on specialized black op missions.
It boasts a large ensemble cast including Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood, and Cara Delevingne.
The movie was featured on the cover of the July 15 issue of Entertainment Weekly and more recently dominated Comic-Con, “winning” the online buzz sweepstakes reports Screenrant and Variety (Game of Thrones did the best for small screen hits).
Suicide Squad Vol. 4: The Janus Directive, John Ostrander (PRH/DC Comics) is the next collected edition.
The first star has been announced for the forthcoming Disney adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s 1963 Newbery Award winning novel A Wrinkle in Time and it’s a big one.
Variety reports Oprah Winfrey will play Mrs. Which, one of the three celestial guides who helps the Murry children and Calvin O’Keefe on their quest through time and space to find the Murry’s missing father.
As we noted earlier, Ava DuVernay (Selma) will direct. Jennifer Lee (Frozen) will write the adaptation.
IndieWire reports that DuVernay plans a diverse cast for L’Engle’s novel and Variety notes that Oprah was always going to be one of the three Mrs. W characters (the others are Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who).
The novel got a bit of a boost last night when Chelsea Clinton mentioned it as she introduced her mother during the Democratic National Convention. She also name checked Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo by Kevin Lewis – both are rising on Amazon.