At the domestic box office over the weekend, the adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts is doing well enough in its third week to expect that the franchise will continue through the planned four more films. The screenplay is now #2 on the USA Today after two weeks.
A single adaptation opens this weekend, All We Had, the indie film that marks the directorial debut of Katie Holmes. She stars as well as a hard-luck mother besieged by difficulties. The film also features Stefania Owen, Luke Wilson, Richard Kind, Mark Consuelos, Judy Greer, and Eve Lindley.
Reviews are not strong but some are more complimentary than others. The Guardian is the most receptive, giving it three stars and saying “A stellar, brazen performance by the Dawson’s Creek actor and her strong cast keep this film, about the bond between a wayward mother and daughter, afloat.”
Variety was not as kind, writing “Katie Holmes makes an undistinguished helming debut with All We Had, a middlebrow drama with no pretensions but also no depth.”
The film will open on Dec. 9 in both theaters and on demand. There is no tie-in.
William P. Young’s 2007 self-published inspirational blockbuster, The Shack, (later picked up by Hachette/Grand Central; Blackstone Audio; OverDrive Sample) has had a long road to the silver screen. We first wrote about the movie deal in 2013 when Summit Entertainment acquired the film rights.
The film stars Sam Worthington (Avatar), as a father who has lost is faith in the face of unspeakable tragedy. Octavia Spencer (The Help) plays God. Grammy winner Tim McGraw stars as well, alongside Radha Mitchell.
The film will debut on March 3, 2017.
Tie-ins have already been released. The Shack, Wm. Paul Young (Hachette/Windblown Media; also in mass market).
The force behind The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film adaptations is bringing another UK import to the big screen, the SF series by Philip Reeve known as Predator Cities. The first book is Mortal Engines (Scholastic; OverDrive Sample) and as of now, that will be the name of the new Peter Jackson film (note, in the US the series is called the Hungry City Chronicles).
The first novel, published in 2003, opens the dystopian series in which cities on caterpillar tracks move about in search of other cities to attack in a quest for a dwindling amount of resources caused by a devastating global war. It features a 15-year-old orphan named Tom Natsworthy who is flung off the moving city of London along with Hester Shaw, another orphan. The pair finds themselves lost in the wasteland of the ruined landscape hunted by a cyborg.
It was a ALA Notable Children’s Book and made SLJ‘s best books list and YALSA Best Books for Young Adult list. In their starred review, PW wrote “Like the moving cities it depicts, Reeve’s debut novel is a staggering feat of engineering, a brilliant construction that offers new wonders at every turn.”
The film is set to open on Dec. 14, 2018. According to Variety, “That week of December has brought good fortune to Jackson: All six Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies staked out the same pre-Christmas week date.”
One surprising winner of the political season has been the under-the-radar Science Fiction writer, Ted Chiang. Well known to the SF fan-base but not a household name, Chiang has won an impressive number of major science fiction awards even though he has written just 15 short stories, most of them originally published in magazines.
By far his most famous, “Story of Your Life,” is the basis for the film Arrival, a movie that got a huge boost as viewers sought escape after the election.
Now the collection that includes that story, Stories Of Your Life And Others (originally published in 2002 by Macmillan/Tor; re-released by PRH/Vintage in 2016; Tantor Audio; OverDrive Sample) is rising on Amazon, just outside the top 100 bestsellers. It is also racking up large hold ratios. Counting both the original publication and the tie-in edition, some libraries are showing holds as high as 7:1.
“In Chiang’s hands, SF really is the ‘literature of ideas’ it is often held to be, and the genre’s traditional ‘sense of wonder’ is paramount. But though one reads Stories of Your Life with a kind of thematic nostalgia for classic philosophical SF such as that of Asimov and Theodore Sturgeon, the collection never feels dated. Partly this is because the ‘wonder; of these stories is a modern, melancholy transcendence, not the naive 50s dreams of the genre’s golden age. More important, the collection is united by a humane intelligence that speaks very directly to the reader, and makes us experience each story with immediacy and Chiang’s calm passion.”
NPR featured Chiang on All Things Considered, reporting that three more of his stories have been optioned for adaptations. The show also quotes Chiang as saying, “Fiction writing is very hard for me and I’m a very slow writer … I don’t get that many ideas for stories … And I like to take my time when I do get an idea for a story.” “Which means,” says NPR, “that readers get to take their time, too — to chew on Chiang’s craft and carefulness.”
Director Martin Scorsese has adapted a book he has “reread countless times,” one that has given him “a kind of sustenance” that he has “found in only a very few works of art.”
The novel is Shusaku Endo’s Silence: With an Introduction by Martin Scorsese (Peter Owen Publishers, Dec. 1; trade paperback, Macmillan/Picador Modern Classics), first published in 1966 and winner of the Tanizaki Prize, one of Japan’s highest literary honors.
Entertainment Weekly writes that the film is about “a Portuguese Jesuit priest who is persecuted along with other Christians in 17th-century Japan … the hardship inflicted upon them [the priest and two others], and especially on their fellow Christians, puts their faith to the test.” It stars Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, and Adam Driver.
In addition to the quotes above, Scorsese also writes in his introduction to the tie-in, that the priest in the novel, played by Neeson, “begins on the path of Christ and … ends replaying the role of Christianity’s greatest villain, Judas.” Endo “looks at the problem of Judas more directly than any other artist I know. He understood that, in order for Christianity to live, to adapt itself to other cultures and historical moments, it needs not just the figure of Christ but the figure of Judas as well.”
At a press conference in May, held to promote the first look at the film, Scorsese told reporters that he’d been trying to adapt the book for over 25 years and that “The subject matter presented by Shusaku Endo was in my life since I was very, very young … I was very much involved in religion, I was raised in a strong Catholic family. … Further reflection is how [we] want to lead our life in the Christian faith … so ultimately this book drew my attention when it was given to me in 1988.”
Silence will open Dec. 23 in a limited Oscar-qualifying run before opening in wide release in January.
Martin Sheen stars as Matthew Cuthbert, part of the family who cares for the central character Anne Shirley, played by Ella Ballentine.
Shot in Canada, the Canadian Global News says this rendition is “a more modern take on the story, with darker, edgier moments that take it out of the past and into the present … [even as] Montgomery’s own granddaughter, Kate MacDonald Butler, serves as an executive producer on the project, and has given the remake her blessing.”
Variety is not charmed, writing “Though the characters are somewhat recognizable and the adventures faintly ring a bell, the 90-minute made-for-TV movie truncates the plot, flattens the characters, and fumbles through the small-town sentiment that the book’s author, Lucy Maud Montgomery, excelled at … a dull film and a mediocre adaptation.”
Opening on Nov. 25th is Lion 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 story is directed by Garth Davis (Top of the Lake).
As we have previously written, it is based on a memoir of an amazing journey of loss and recovery originally titled A Long Way Home, Saroo Brierley (PRH/Viking, 2014, trade paperback, 2015). 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 and was adopted and relocated to Tasmania. As an adult, using Google maps, he searches for his lost family.
The film debuts in the Friday after Thanksgiving time slot, not just prime time to attract families looking for entertainment but also good timing for awards. Vanity Fair reports the film is “Already on Awards-Season Short Lists.”
Variety is not sold, writing “Lion seems awfully brazen advertising its deux ex machina right there in its logline, and though the human story is what makes it so compelling, “advertising” remains the operative word. Next up: How Siri helped you find your car keys.”
“one of her generation’s leading social activists, especially regarding race, representation and gender identity. As a result, she’s earned some high-profile admirers. Among them: Gloria Steinem, who sat for a one-on-one interview with Stenberg for Teen Vogue, and Beyoncé …
The adaptation of Lauren Oliver’s debut YA novel, Before I Fall, (HarperCollins, 2010) is scheduled for released on March 3, 2017. The first trailer has just been released.
Directed by Ry Russo-Young (Nobody Walks), the film stars Zoey Deutch (Vampire Academy), Halston Sage (Goosebumps), Logan Miller (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse) and Jennifer Beals (Flashdance, The L Word).
About a girl who dies in a car crash, but then gets to relive the last day of her life seven times, the book was a best seller.
It stars Jessica Chastain who wrote in an essay in The Hollywood Reporter‘s special “Women in Entertainment” issue, that although women make up only 20% of the crew of The Zookeeper’s Wife, that’s “way more” than any film she’s ever worked on. As a result, she said, “You don’t feel a hierarchy; you don’t have anyone feeling like they are being left out or bullied or humiliated.”
A trade paperback tie-in will be released in February
The final trailer for Ben Affleck’s adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s Live by Night (Harper/ Morrow; Harperluxe; HarperAudio) has been released. The movie opens in an Oscar-qualifying limited run on December 25th, followed by a nationwide release on January 13, 2017.
In addition to directing and writing the screenplay, Affleck stars with Zoe Saldana, Sienna Miller, Chris Cooper, Brendan Gleeson, Chris Messina and Elle Fanning. It’s Affleck’s first time in the director’s chair since his award-winning Argo.
The novel follows the rise of an Irish-American Boston gangster, Joe Coughlan, during the Prohibition era. Prophetically, Entertainment Weekly, called Live by Night a“ripping, movie-ready yarn that jumps from a Boston prison to Tampa speakeasies to a Cuban tobacco farm.” The book won Lehane an Edgar for Best Novel. In his acceptance speech, he thanked librarians for offering “a light in the darkness for the kids from the wrong side of the tracks.”
Live by Night follows The Given Day, which was the author’s first departure into historical crime. A third book in the series, World Gone By, was published last year.
The tie-in is set for Dec. 7, in mass market and trade paperback (HarperCollins/Morrow). It will contain a preview chapter of Lehane’s forthcoming novel Since We Fell (HarperCollins/Ecco; May 16, 2017).
Hollywood is celebrating “the Trump bump.” Revenues at the box office over the weekend were as much as 50% higher than expectations, attributed to people seeking escapism after the election. The Hollywood Reporter quotes one analyst saying, “Two hours of moviegoing is like a massive, immersive group therapy session.” Arrival, the adaptation of the short story by Ted Chiang, “Story of Your Life,” about a linguist (Amy Adams) trying to communicate with aliens, is cited as a particularly strong example (the author Chiang was featured in a story Friday on NPR’s “All Things Considered”).
J.K. Rowling writes the screenplay and the film is directed by David Yates, who was responsible for 4 of the 7 original Potter films. Eddie Redmayne stars as magician Newt Scamander, and is joined by Ezra Miller, Colin Farrell, and Katherine Waterston.
Reviews are in, and are mixed. The Guardian glows, calling it “a glorious fantasy-romance adventure … a rich, baroque, intricately detailed entertainment … a terrifically good-natured, unpretentious and irresistibly buoyant film” and says it features “a lovely performance from Eddie Redmayne who is a pretty fantastic beast himself.”
The film Nocturnal Animals opens in limited release on Nov. 18, to be followed by wide distribution on Dec. 9.
The psychological thriller is written and directed by fashion designer and filmmaker Tom Ford (A Single Man) and is based on the 1993 novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright. The ensemble cast features Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher, Armie Hammer, Laura Linney, Andrea Riseborough, and Michael Sheen.
The last of the feature adaptations debuting on the 18th is A Street Cat Named Bob. Directed by Roger Spottiswoode, it stars Bob the cat along with Luke Treadaway, Ruta Gedmintas, Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey), and Anthony Head.
The story, a true-life tale, follows the fate of a homeless man who adopts a street cat, and in so doing, turns his life around.
Variety says “It’s not the best film you’ll see this holiday season, but this soft, agreeable adaptation of the man-and-his-cat bestseller has its charms.” The Guardian writes “Bob’s weapons-grade cuteness is almost enough to power this slight but warm-hearted film.”
On the small screen, Hallmark has another of its holiday TV movies, A December Bride. It is based on the story of the same name by Denise Hunter about a couple involved in a fake engagement. It stars Daniel Lissing and Jessica Lowndes.
There is no tie-in edition, but the novella is collected in Winter Brides: A Year of Weddings Novella Collection (Zondervan, 2014; Zondervan Audio; OverDrive Sample).
The newest big screen spin-off of Chris Van Allsburg’s Caldecott-winning Jumanji (HMH, 1981) is getting a December 22, 2017 release date, delayed six months from the original date, timed to position the film for family holiday viewing. Originally the film had been scheduled for the summer of 2017.
“This new movie will NOT be a remake or reboot of the original. It will be a CONTINUATION of the awesome JUMANJI adventure 20 years later. As a producer on this movie and someone who loves the original, you have my word we’ll honor the legend of ‘Alan Parrish’ and properly introduce a whole new generation to the fun and crazy JUMANJI universe that so many of us loved and grew up on”
Digital Spy says Bravestone is “an explorer and one of the avatars” within the game. In addition to Johnson, the film also stars Jack Black, Karen Gillan, and Kevin Hart.
Variety reports the shuffle in release date also impacts the adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, now moved from Feb. 2017 to the summer slot of Jumanji.
The one drawing the most attention is from ground-breaking director Ang Lee (Life of Pi, Brokeback Mountain, both of which won him Best Director Oscars). It is adapted from the 2012 debut novel by Ben Fountain, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and a finalist for the National Book Awards, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.
Not only did Lee challenge himself by choosing as his source a novel many considered unfilmable, but, says Entertainment Weekly he “decided to push the boundaries of technical prowess,” by dramatically increasing the number of frames shot and employing a higher 3D resolution.
Variety writes the advances have “the potential to be a revolutionary … It opens the door to a new way for movies to be shot, a new way for them to look and feel, a new way for them to be experienced.”
However, writes Entertainment Weekly, “reactions have been mixed, with some calling the technology a distraction.” Lee responds that he is not surprised by the criticism in an interview with USA Today, saying, it’s “a lot to absorb; it’s not a universally pleasing movie. If it doesn’t split [the critics], there’s something wrong with it.”
Starring newcomer Joe Alwyn, Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin and Chris Tucker, the film opens in New York and Los Angeles this weekend, and expands nationwide on Nov. 18.
Arrival is an SF film starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg and Tzi Ma. It is directed by Denis Villeneuve and based on the short story by Ted Chiang “Story of Your Life” about a linguist (Adams) trying to communicate with aliens.
Reviews are strong thus far. The Verge calls it “a soulful sci-fi instant classic” and “one of the best films of the year.” io9 headlines their review with a “Masterpiece You Won’t Stop Thinking About” and continues “Arrival is the kind of science fiction film we dream of. It’s got big stars, a bigger concept, and the longer it goes, the more it demands of its audience. The pacing is methodical, the story captivating, and filmmaking beautiful. You rarely have a clue where it’s going—but once it gets there, you won’t be able to get it out of your head.”
The Guardian calls it “a dangerous delight … turn off the lights and let the horror begin. Paul Verhoeven’s new film, Elle, is an outrageous black comedy, volatile and deadly … utterly gripping and endlessly disturbing.”