It’s amazing to realize that the popular childrens series, Magic Tree House has never been adapted for the screen. Today it was announced that Lionsgate has acquired film rights to all the books.
Work has already begun on the first in the live-action films which will be based on the 29th book in the series, Christmas in Camelot, (Random House BYR) reports Entertainment Weekly. Author Mary Pope Osborne will executive produce along with her husband, Will.
After becoming a long-running word-of-mouth best seller in 2008, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (Harper) was acquired for adaptation as a movie by Universal in 2009,
Then things slowed down. In 2011, a star was announced (Patrick Dempsey, then in the hot show Grey’s Anatomy). In 2014, Dempsey
moved to a producing role and a director was named.
All of that has changed. Late last month, Disney picked up the rights and the script is in rewrite. The Hollywood Reporter notes, “The good news for Stein fans is that the material may be better suited at Disney, which has a long history of canine pics, ranging from Old Yeller to Beverly Hills Chihuahua.”
Actually, the book’s fans are probably hoping the movie will be unlike either Old Yeller or Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
In other canine movie news, Universal hasn’t given up on dogs. It was also announced that they have hired Lasse Hallström to direct A Dog’s Purpose, based on the bestselling book by W. Bruce Cameron, and have set a release date of Jan, 27, 2017.
The 10-part project premiers Feb. 2, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. as O. J. Simpson, Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran, and Nathan Lane as F. Lee Bailey.
It is based on Jeffrey Toobin’s 1996 book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson. The tie-in edition (Random House; OverDrive Sample) went on sale last September.
The series is getting strong reviews for its intimate, 360 degree take on the crime that kept viewers glued to their TV screens twenty years ago.
Riffing off the popularity of Serial and Netflix’s Making a Murderer, FX’s plans for American Crime Story to re-create other true life stories. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the events of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath will be the subject of a second season.
As we reported earlier, on Feb. 3, ABC will begin airing a miniseries detailing the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme with Richard Dreyfuss playing Madoff and Blythe Danner playing his wife, Ruth.
The show is based on the 2009 book by ABC News’s chief investigative correspondent, Brian Ross, The Madoff Chronicles (Inside the Secret World of Bernie and Ruth) (Kingswell; OverDrive Sample). A tie-in edition came out earlier this month.
Taking aim at the Valentine’s Day crowd (who last year crowded theaters to see Fifty Shades of Grey), Nicholas Sparks’ The Choice hits theaters a bit ahead of the holiday, on Feb. 5.
The film stars Teresa Palmer and Tom Welling and tells the story of two neighbors in a small town who fall in love when one moves next door to the other.
The tie-in came out in late December, The Choice by Nicholas Sparks (Hachette/Grand Central Publishing; Hachette Audio; OverDrive Sample).
The movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith (Quirk Books, 2009), starring Lily James (Cinderella, Downton Abbey) as Elizabeth Bennett, Sam Riley as Mr. Darcy and Bella Heathcote as Elizabeth’s sister opens on Feb. 5th as well.
As we reported, it has been a bit of a rocky road getting the film made but with star Lily James set to return to Downton Abbey in upcoming episodes of the final season (with strong hints that her character, Lady Rose is pregnant) the many shifts in lead actresses ended up with a hot star. Now the producers hope audiences will forget that an earlier mashup adaptation, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, was a major flop.
The Sundance Film Festival’s Closing Night Film premiers tonight, The Fundamentals of Caring, starring Paul Rudd and Selena Gomez.
Acquired by Netflix in advance of the Festival, the movie reflects two major trends in the film business today — book adaptations are big (this one is adapted from Jonathan Evison’s The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving) and streaming services are shelling out big money for them. Also reflecting those trends is another buzzy Park City title, the adaptation of a little-known Jane Austen novella (see our previous story).
On a panel yesterday, Fundamental‘s director Rob Burnett noted that the novel’s subject matter may seem grim. Sorting through several potential books, he joked, “I said I’d like to buy the one where the guy kills his child by mistake and takes care of a guy with muscular dystrophy” but added that he saw something in it that “I thought I could make funny and inspirational.”
On a buying spree at the Sundance Film Festival, Amazon acquired the buzzed-about Love and Friendship, based on an unfinished early novella by Jane Austen. Originally untitled, it was published in 1871, after Austen’s death, as Lady Susan. (available in several editions, including one from Penguin Classics). To make things more confusing, the movie uses the title of a different work by Austen, an early short story.
The movie is directed by Whit Stillman, described in an interview with Vanity Fair last week as “The cult director of contemporary and contemporary-ish Austen-inflected fare” (including Metropolitan and The last Days of Disco). It stars Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny, with Xavier Samuel and Stephen Fry.
Arriving in theaters today is The 5th Wave, based on Rick Yancey’s YA novel and expected to be the first in a franchise (see our earlier story). The upcoming week brings several adaptations for TV as well as for a high-profile movie.
Talk about your anti-hero. On the new debut of FOX’s Lucifer, the bored ruler of Hell comes to L.A., meets a girl, and somehow starts working with the cops.
As we reported earlier, the series is based on a character in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, which was then spun off into the comic Lucifer, written by Mike Carey, both published by DC/Vertigo.
It stars Tom Ellis as Lucifer and premiers Jan. 25.
Also airing on the 25th, this time on the Syfy channel, is The Magicians, based on Lev Grossman’s bestselling novel.
The Syfy channel has already released the first full episode:
As we noted when it aired, reaction was not fully positive.
A tie-in came out in Nov: The Magicians(TV Tie-In Edition) by Lev Grossman (Penguin/Plume).
In movie news, Disney’s big budget disaster/rescue move, The Finest Hours, opens on Jan. 29th.
It is not getting great reviews either. Variety says:
“…perhaps the worst one could say about Craig Gillespie’s film is that, rather than their finest hours, the whole cast and crew all put in a solid shift at the office making the movie, producing a perfectly entertaining, sometimes quite well-crafted disaster drama that nonetheless retreats from the memory almost as soon as the credits roll.”
The Hollywood Reporter bottom lines it with “Too much of this action thriller feels dead in the water,” but goes on to say, “Even so, the film’s promise of thrill-ride spectacle — it’s going out in a variety of 3D formats — should help it ride a strong wave at the box office.”
A tie-in came out in late December: The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue by Michael J. Tougias, Casey Sherman (Pocket Books).
Called one of the “hottest titles” heading to this week’s Sundance Film Festival, rights to The Fundamentals of Caring may be nabbed by Netflix, according to The Hollywood Reporter, with theatrical rights still up for grabs (which can be tricky, since the major theatre chains refuse to book films that will be streamed simultaneously).
Leading the list in best sellers is The Girl on the Train, marking its one-year anniversary on the New York Times Hardcover Fiction Best Seller list this week. At #2, it’s likely to still be on the list when the film arrives on Oct 7th. In animated kids movies, Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The BFG is expected to be a big draw and in literary titles, focus is on Oscar-winng Ang Lee’sBilly Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, based on Ben Fountain’s 2012 National Book Award Finalist.
But one title is missing. The Light Between Oceans, the long-running best seller by M.L. Stedman. Adapted by Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance, starring hot celebrity couple Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander, the film is complete, with the first stills released last month, but there’s still no word on when it will arrive in theaters.
There is hope. IndieWire notes in the article, “The 20 Movies That Need to Be Released in 2016,” thatrumors of a Cannes 2016 debut in May, signal it will arrive on screens “before the end of the year, most likely in the thick of awards season.”
After stealing key scenes in Downton Abbey and wowing small girls in Cinderella, Lily James stars in one of the great epics of all time, Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. She takes up the role along side another familiar PBS face, James Norton from Grantchester.
The two help lead the newest BBC historical drama (in partnership with the US based Weinstein company), which is set to air in the US on January 18th on no less than three channels, A&E, Lifetime, and the History Channel.
Reaction to the sexy, violent, and lush drama has been mixed at best.
“This is proper, proper costume drama at its most lavish and its most dreamily, romantically Russian. This is how you do it, people. This is how you do it. Stop all period dramas being made now because nothing is going to match up to this. Sunday-night TV has been rescued. It’s hard to imagine how the BBC could have done a better job. It makes Downton Abbey look like am dram. It’s tonally perfect, striking exactly the right balance between drama and wit, action and emotion, passion and humour.”
On the other hand, in their preview, Flavorwire says:
“It’s hard to say whether American audiences will take to a literary miniseries comprising six one-and-a-half-hour episodes, but any low ratings won’t be for lack of celebrity or sex or war or incest … it’s Downton Abbey with war scenes, which should be enough to draw and retain an American viewership … Still, based on a single episode, it seems unlikely that this production of War and Peace will reach the heights of the 1966-67 Sergei Bondarchuk version, or the 1956 King Vidor adaptation starring Audrey Hepburn … Anyway, shouldn’t you be reading the book?”
Oddly, War and Peace: Tie-In Edition to Major New BBC Dramatisation, Leo Tolstoy, (BBC Books) is not due to be released until Feb. 23.
Hitting a completely different note, The 5th Wave is coming out on Jan. 22nd.
An alien invasion movie based on the novel by Rick Yancey, it stars Chloë Grace Moretz, Matthew Zuk, and Gabriela Lopez.
After the flurry of releases timed to the awards season cut-off, only one movie based on a book premieres in the upcoming week (The Revenant, which debuted in a very few theaters last month, opens wide today amid buzz for Sunday’s Golden Globes). TV takes up the slack with one movie and a new series.
Opening next Friday, January 15, is 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi based on 13 Hours: The Inside Account Of What Really Happened In Benghazi by Mitchell Zuckoff (Hachette/Twelve trade paperback tie-in; also mass-market). Opening the same weekend that American Sniper did last year, the producers are hoping for similar magic.
The movie revisits an event with heavy political implications, explored by the New York Times although director Michael Bey and the producers, “shared the conviction … that partisan politics should generally be avoided,” focusing instead on “an unabashed celebration of the armed operatives, who were defying orders when they moved to defend the diplomatic compound.”
Based on Cassandra Clare’s YA series, The Mortal Instruments, it airs at 9 p.m. on the Freeform network (formerly ABC Family). A tie-in edition came out in late December, City of Bones: TV Tie-In (S&S/Margaret K. McElderry).
This is not the first time Clare’s book has been adapted. As we reported earlier, it was made into a movie in 2013. After it flopped at the box office, the producers changed their plans of creating a film franchise and turned to TV, with a new cast of actors, all of whom are fairly new to the screen.
Debuting on Monday on the cable channel VH1 is a fictional movie about the origins of hip hop, The Breaks, inspired by the nearly 700-page nonfiction title, The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop. Examining the journey from book to TV movie, Forbes magazine suggests tit may be the beginning of a series. There is no tie-in, however.
Sister station MTV begins its big gamble (the most expensive original production in the network’s history) in trying to attract new audiences on Tuesday, Jan. 5th with the 10-part series Shannara Chronicles.
The L.A. Times notes, “Yes, the network of Real World and Jersey Shore is now channeling Tolkien.” Switching to another comparison, reporter Steve Zeitchik (formerly of Publishers Weekly) adds, “Shannara is a counterpart of sorts to HBO’s Game of Thrones and seeks both to ride that wave and set itself apart from it, though whether it can do both simultaneously is among the more interesting questions of the winter television window.”
“…while Shannara appears like another small screen Lord of the Rings in its marketing, its premise and actual presentation make it much more akin to the likes of Star Wars … From the first scene of its pilot, The Shannara Chronicles sets itself apart from the pack and makes it clear that this is going to be unlike any magical fantasy series we’ve seen before. The ways it does this are vast and supremely accessible to audiences that may not typically find much enjoyment in the genre, and that’s wonderful. Even if the series is nothing more than a gateway drug to the likes of heavier fantasy, it will still go down as one of the first great new shows of 2016 and one of the best new shows of the 2015/2016 television season.”
As we noted earlier, tie-in editions of the first two titles in the book series have been released (although the TV series is actually based on the second volume):
Debuting on Friday is the indie movieLamb, based on a novel of the same title by Bonnie Nadzam (Other Press, 2011). About the friendship of an 11-year-old girl and a 47-year-old man, it was featured at film festivals earlier this year, called “beautiful and troubling” and “dangerously unclassifiable” by Variety and “difficult to market” by the the Hollywood Reporter.Likewise, the book was called “daring and disturbing” (The Telegraph). The movie receives a lackluster C+ in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly; “about as strange as it sounds: a Lolita story almost more unsettling for the lines it doesn’t explicitly cross.”
Nadzam’s next novel Lions, is scheduled for publication in July (Grove Press).
Most of the movies trolling for audiences this holiday weekend have already opened (People offers a guide, complete with appeal factors), but a few debut tomorrow.
The one getting the most media attention is the one that opens inthe fewest theaters. Debuting on just four screens in New York and L..A. to qualify for the Oscars, is Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant, getting attention not only for its star, but for its director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, who won both Best Director and Best Picture last year forBirdman and for the difficulties the cast and crew endured on the film shoot.
It is based on Michael Punke’s debut, his only book to date. Published in 2002, it received little attention, but caught the eye of studios prior to publication and went through several potential directors and stars before landing with Iñárritu.
This should be an exciting time for the author, but as theWashington Post reports in a profile, “as the deputy U.S. trade representative and ambassador to the World Trade Organization in Switzerland, he’s missing out on a lot of the fun” and isn’t even allowed to give interviews.
A tie-in was released earlier, The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punke (Macmillian/Picador; OverDrive Sample). Copies of the original edition of the novel are showing somewhat heavy holds in a few libraries we checked, with some running a 5:1 ratio right now.
The movie expands to many more theaters on January. 8th.
Opening in wide release tomorrow is Concussion starring Will Smith as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a pathologist who uncovers the extent to which brain injuries affect football players. It is based on a 2009 GQ article, that was recently released as a tie-in, Concussion (Movie Tie-in Edition) by Jeanne Marie Laskas (Random House Trade Paperbacks).
People magazine, listis it at #7 of a dozen picks for the week (Revenant is at #1), saying that “Smith effortlessly carries this uneven but revealing drama.” He is also getting Oscar Buzz for Best Actor.
In the film, Smith as Dr. Omalu is warned, “You’re going to war with a corporation that owns a day of the week.” The same could be said of the movie, which the NFL is none too happy about. Hacked Sony emails reveal, according the the New York Times, that the studio “found itself softening some points it might have made against the multibillion-dollar sports enterprise that controls the nation’s most-watched game.”