Archive for the ‘Books & Movies’ Category

DIVERGENT; Review Proof?

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Divergent   Divergent MTI

The early trade reviews of the film adaptation of Veronica Roth’s Divergent have not offered a warm welcome. The consumer reviews began pouring in yesterday and the story is the same. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the film now has just a 38% positive rating (and even some of those “positive” reviews damn with faint praise; “Hey, we gotta kill time between Hunger Games installments somehow. Why not Divergent?” The Dallas Morning Herald).

Box office predictors, like Ray Subers of Box Office Mojo, tell USA Today, “Divergent won’t be the next Hunger Games, but it could be the next Twilight.”

If it succeeds at the box office, the secret will not only lie in the movie’s heavy marketing, but in an element acknowledged in even the most rotten reviews; the chemistry between the two leads. As People magazine (which gives it 3 of 4 stars) puts it, while Divergent “isn’t as emotionally engaging as Games, its leads could give Katniss and Peeta serious chemistry lessons … The slow burn between these two is the best thing about the film.”

Reminder: the male lead, Theo James, played the Turkish ambassador on Downton Abbey, the man who successfully melted Lady Mary’s frosty exterior (and paid dearly for it).

There is one straight out rave review, however. The Washington Post‘s Michael O’Sullivan says “director Neil Burger (Limitless) has crafted a popcorn flick that’s leaner, more propulsive and more satisfying than the bestseller that inspired it …  [The] Screenwriters … have even come up with an ending that more cleverly utilizes the story’s teenage heroine Tris (Shailene Woodley) without changing the outcome.”

The film is already a raging success by one indicator. All three of the books in the trilogy occupy the top spots on USA Today‘s best seller list.

THE GIVER, The Trailer

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Dystopia is everywhere! On the eve of Friday’s release of Divergent, we’ve seen the trailer for The Maze Runner and now comes a trailer for a movie based on the godmother of the genre, Lois Lowry’s The Giver.

Entertainment Weekly offers a “deep dive” into the 1.5 minute trailer, saying it is not a faithful adaptation of the book.

It seems a significant number of people want to read the book in advance; it rose to #20, from #212, on Amazon’s sale rankings.

The movie is scheduled to arrive in theaters on August 15, just one month before The Maze Runner. Then it’s back to Hunger Games, with Mockingjay, Part 1 on Nov. 21.

Tie-ins (no covers yet):

The Giver Movie Tie-In Edition
Lois Lowry
HMH; July 1, 2014
Hardback, $17.99
9780544430785, 0544430786
Trade paperback, $9.99
9780544340688, 054434068X

Audio tie-in
The Giver Movie Tie-In Edition
Lois Lowry, Ron Rifkin
Listening Library, July 8, 2014
CD-Audio; $29.95
9780553397109, 0553397109


Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Just as Divergent is about to hit theaters, the trailer for the adaptation of another first title in a dystopian series, The Maze Runner, appears.

Based on the novel by James Dashner, the movie, directed by Wes Ball, opens on Sept 19.

Entertainment Weekly says the  two-minute trailer offers fans a “treasure trove of clues to dissect.” and gives author Dashner himself the opportunity to do a “deep dive” into it.

The tie-in has been announced (no cover yet)

The Maze Runner
James Dashner
RH/Delacorte On Sale Date: August 5, 2014
Trade paperback;  9780385385206, 038538520X
$9.99 USD / $10.99 CAD

Harlan Coben Movie Deals

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Missing You   Six Years   Tell No One

So far, only one film has been made of  Harlan Coben’s best selling novels, the 2006 French film, Ne le dis à personne, and it was not released to U.S. theaters (several libraries own the DVD). [UPDATE: We stand corrected. As one of the comments points out, the film was shown in 112 U.S. theaters].That seems odd, since, as the Washington Post characterizes  the writer, he is the “master” of a film-worthy type of story, “a life suddenly unraveling, the past summoned back into a swiftly shifting present, secrets peeling back to reveal more secrets.”

Hollywood seems to have caught on. Three of Coban’s books now in various stages of development.

His latest thriller, one of his many standalones, Missing You, (RH/Dutton; Brilliance Audio; Thorndike) releasing today, was just picked up for adaptation by Warner Bros., according to Deadline.

The plot involves an internet dating site. Booklist says, “Coben never met a technological device he couldn’t turn into a riveting plot element … Coben’s meticulous plotting and his incorporation of the technology are first-rate. His characterization and dialogue? Not so much.”

In the pipeline are two other standalones. One is an English-language version of Tell No One, currently being scripted at Universal. The second, Six Years, published last year, is being produced at Paramount, with Hugh Jackman set to star.

DIVERGENT: Early Reviews Not Promising

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Divergent Movie CompanionMuch speculation has gone in to whether the film adaptation of Divergent, which opens on Friday, will be the next Hunger Games, or will fizzle like The Mortal Instruments.

The trade reviews have just arrived and  they’re not promising.

The Hollywood Reporter – “… director Neil Burger struggles to fuse philosophy, awkward romance and brutal action. Even with star Shailene Woodley delivering the requisite toughness and magnetism, the clunky result is almost unrelentingly grim.”

Thompson on Hollywood — “… feels like a set-up for [the sequels], with an unconscionable amount of exposition and introduction. This is part of Divergent’s major problem: It’s not really a high-concept movie, and is trying to be one, hence its fuzzy impulses and skewed logic.”

The Wrap – the headline says it all — “A Little Hunger Games, a Little Harry Potter, a Lot of Dull.”

Variety — “Even though it stretches to nearly two-and-a-half hours and concludes with an extended gun battle, by the time Divergent ends, it still seems to be in the process of clearing its throat … Fans of the books will turn out for what should be a very profitable opening weekend, but with future installments already on the release calendar, the film’s B.O. tea leaves will surely be read with care.”

As to those tea leaves, Forbes says the message is clear and none of the above matters:

Forbes – “Divergent is, barring fan revolt, critic proof. And thanks to its reasonable budget, it’s almost word-of-mouth proof … The work was done in the marketing department, with Lionsgate securing the hype and mainstream attention that guaranteed that Divergent didn’t suffer the same fate as Beautiful Creatures or The Mortal Instruments … we’ve got the next big young-adult literary adaptation franchise on our hands.”

TFIOS, The Paperback

Friday, March 14th, 2014

After more than two years on best seller lists, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars is coming out in paperback.

You can thank the movie. A tie-in trade paperback is being published in early April, as well as one with a version of the original hardcover art.

Any bets on whether, as with The Great Gatsby, consumers will prefer the original cover over the tie-in?

The movie arrives in theaters on June 6. The two stars, Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, will first be seen together in the movie adaptation of Divergent, debuting in theaters next Friday.

Fault in Our Stars, MTI

The Fault in Our Stars (Movie Tie-in)
John Green
April 8, 2014
9780147513731, 0147513731
Trade paperback
$12.99 USD / $14.99 CAD




The Fault in Our Stars
John Green
April 8, 2014
9780142424179, 014242417X
Trade paperback
$12.99 USD / $14.99 CAD


Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

The U.K. trailer for Half Of A Yellow Sun has just been released, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave). As yet, it has not been scheduled for release in the U.S.

When it premiered at the Toronto International Film festival, Variety damned it with faint praise, calling it an “attractive adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s bestseller … a diverting but surface-level saga that, true to its title, feels less than whole.”

The novel it is based on, Half Of A Yellow Sun, (RH/Knopf, 2006), fared much better with the critics. It won the Women’s Prize for Fiction (then called the Orange Prize) and the author was selected as one of the best writers under 40 by The New Yorker.

In a live interview in the Huffington Post last week, Adichie says her most recent novel, Americanah, (Knopf, 2013), is quite different from her earlier works, calling it her “middle finger” book, the one in which she does not “follow the rules.” It was just released in paperback and in audio (Recorded Books). UPDATE, 3/13/14: The book has won the NBCC prize for fiction


Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

The GoldfinchThe producers behind The Hunger Games announced that they have acquired the option to adapt Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, possibly as a TV mini-series. According to The Wrap, the producers are currently looking for a director and no stars have been named.

The novel, Tartt’s third, was named as one of the best books of the year by multiple sources and is on the NYT Hardcover Fiction Best Seller at #3 after 19 weeks.

Says producer Nina Jacobson: “We’ve been thinking we are more likely to make a limited series for TV. There’s so much scope to the book. At the same time, a film-maker could come in with a perspective that changes our mind.”

RAILWAY MAN Finally Gets U.S. Release Date

Friday, March 7th, 2014

The log jam of book adaptations featuring Nicole Kidman is beginning to break up.

9780393334982_300Of the several awaiting release, the first to hit theaters, Railway Man, just announced for April 11, may not be the one that people are most looking forward to. Reviews have been mixed (it has already appeared in the U.K.), with The Hollywood Reporter calling it “plodding” but The Independent saying co-star “Colin Firth gives one of his best performaces in this muted but very touching adaptation.”

The 1996 memoir fared better with reviewers. Firth himself says he is “overwhelmed by the story” of British POW Eric Lomax, who, during WW II, was forced into hard labor in Thailand by the Japanese on what was called the “Death Railway.”  His book is still in print in trade paperback, (Norton). UPDATE: We just got word from Norton that a tie-in is due to be released shortly; ISBN 978-0393344073. Thanks, Golda!

In December, Kidman appears as an evil taxidermist, again co-starring with Colin Firth, in the family movie, Paddington.

We’re still waiting to hear about the release of another adaptation co-starring Kidman and Firth, Before I Go to Sleep, about an amnesiac facing the terrifying prospect that she cannot trust those around her. Based on the domestic thriller by S.J. Watson, it is completed and has the potential of going head-to-head with the adaptation of another title in that genre, Gone Girl, coming October 3.

Also awaiting a U.S. release date, but this time not co-starring Firth, is a bio-pic about Princess Grace, based on Grace of Monaco by Jeffrey Robinson (Perseus/Da Capo; Audio, Dreamscape). Originally announced for a March release date and then inexplicably pulled, Grace of Monaco will open the Cannes film festival in May. A new trailer was just released, but no word on a theatrical release.

Also in the works is an adaptation of Kevin Wilson’s quirky The Family Fang, (HarperCollins/Ecco, 2011), which Kidman is producing and plans to star in. Jason Bateman (star of the cult TV show, Arrested Development) has signed to direct as well as co-star and has said he will begin working on it after he finishes directing another adaptation, This Is Where I Leave You, based on the book by Jonathan Tropper. Refreshingly, the latter has a release date of Sept. 12.

Paddington Finds a Trailer Home

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

The first official teaser trailer for the movie Paddington arrived via Yahoo yesterday. The actual movie is a ways off — it debuts on December 12.

Colin Firth is the voice of the animated bear. Playing live-action characters, Mrs. and Mrs. Brown, are Hugh Bonneville (known to Americans primarily as Lord Grantham in Downton Abbey), and Sally Hawkins, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Blue Jasmine. Nicole Kidman plays the evil taxidermist, bent on adding the bear to her collection. The producer is David Heyman, who, as the trailer proclaims, was the producer of the Harry Potter series  The company handling the special effects, Framestone, won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects for Gravity.

PaddingtonThe Paddington Bear series began in 1958 with A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond. It will be reissued in July by HarperCollins with illustrations by R.W. Alley (Peggy Fortnum illustrated the original books) and the shortened movie title of simply Paddington. The movie tie-in arrives on Nov. 4.

Baby Gap is also featuring tie-ins in the form of a clothing line.

Official Movie Site:

The trailer shows the UK’s Nov 28 release date; the movie opens here on Dec. 12

STILL ALICE Begins Shooting

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Still AliceThe film adaptation of Lisa Genova’s 2008 best seller, Still Alice, (S&S/Gallery) began filming in New York City today (in Harlem, to be more exact), as planned, even though the cast may have wished to be somewhere warmer.

The celebrity sites are all over the stars as they report for duty. The Daily Mail Online snapped Julianne Moore, who plays the lead, Alice, as well as Alec Baldwin who plays her husband, John.  E! Online photographs Kristen Stewart, who plays Alice’s younger daughter Lydia, while Gossip Center reveals Kate Bosworth’s new hair color for her role as Alice’s older daughter, Anna.


Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Veronica MarsThe cult favorite, Veronica Mars TV series, starring Kristen Bell as a teenage sleuth, was canceled after its third season in 2007. Since then, creator Rob Thomas has not allowed the property to die. Through a Kickstarter campaign, (the most successful one to date), he raised the funds for a movie version. He also signed with RH/Vintage for two books based on the character (he has written several novels, including the 1996 YA title Rats Saw God).

The movie debuts on March 14 (see trailer below) and the first book, Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line, which features the 28-year-old Mars after the events of the movie, arrives on March 25. It is currently at #29 and rising on Amazon sales rankings.

To catch up on the story, link here.

Also on the horizon is a collection of essays in the Wiley-Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series, coming in May, Veronica Mars and Philosophy: Investigating the Mysteries of Life (Which is a Bitch Until You Die), edited by George A. Dunn.

Oscar’s Favorite Books

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Just one movie adapted from a book won in the top six Oscar categories, but it won big. 12 Years a Slave was named Best Picture and Lupita Nyong’o, Best Supporting Actress. It also won for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Director McQueen’s speech included a shout-out to the woman who made sure Solomon Northup’s story wasn’t forgotten; “I’d like to thank this amazing historian, Sue Eakin … she gave her life’s work to preserving Solomon’s book.”  Eaken is no longer alive, but her son, Frank, was a guest of the director at the film’s premiere. He also produced an audio of the book narrated by  Louis Gossett Jr. (Blackstone).

McQueen spoke about the book on last week’s CBS Sunday Morning:

The only other adaptation to win awards was The Great Gatsby, which won for both Best Costume and Best Production Design.

Darlene Love, one of the subjects of 20 Feet From Stardom, received a standing ovation after she sang her acceptance for Best Documentary. Love’s 1998 autobiography, My Name Is Love: The Darlene Love Story, (re-released in trade paperback last year by HarperCollins/Morrow), has been acquired by OWN for a television movie.

The EarlyWord Oscars

Friday, February 28th, 2014

The Academy Awards, (aka, the “Newbery/Caldecotts of the film business” ), will be announced on Sunday.

With so many book adaptations in the running, rather than join the predictions game, we’ve decided to create our own EarlyWord Awards.

Movie That Created A Classic  12 Years a Slave 

12 Years a SlaveDirector Steve McQueen exaggerates when he claims  the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup that his movie is based on was “lost for 150 years.” McQueen, who is nominated for Best Director, owes a debt to a 12-year-old girl, Sue Eakin, who came across an old copy of it in the 1930′s and made it her life’s work to bring it back into print. Since it was republished in 1968 through LSU Press, it has been released in several editions and has continued in print due to college adoptions. The movie has brought unprecedented awareness, however, and the book is now also being picked up by high schools.

Movie That Made a Bestseller of A Classic The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby, 1925  The Great Gatsby

This could also be called the movie that made publishers rethink tie-ins, since the sales of copies with the original cover outstripped those that feature the movie art.

Not only did director Baz Luhrman’s movie, which is nominated only for Best Costume and Best Production Design, put F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel onto best seller lists (which, to Fitzgerald’s vast disappointment, didn’t happen in his own day), it even inspired Stephen Colbert to go all Oprah and begin his own book club, which included a discussion led by Jennifer Egan.

That magic did not happen for other classics made into movies this year. William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying (movie by James Franco) and Henry James’s What Maisie Knew (movie starring Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgård and Steve Coogan) did not lead to best seller status for those books.

Movie That Brought A Book To The U.S. For The First Time – Philomena

51oSRzF+TBL   Philomena

Directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen), this movie is up for an Oscar for Best Picture. It is also nominated for Best Actress for star Judi Dench who plays Philomena Lee, an Irish woman forced as a teenager to give her child up for adoption. Originally published in the U.K. in 2010 as The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, it was published for the first time in the U.S. this year as a trade paperback tie-in, titled Philomena: A Mother, Her Son, and a Fifty-Year Search  (Penguin), with a foreword by Dench.

And, a special award for:

Most Bookish Actress Jennifer Lawrence

From Winter’s Bone, based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell, for which she was nominated in 2011 as Best Actress, to the as-yet-unreleased Serena, based on the novel by Ron Rash, Lawrence has appeared in many book adaptations.

This year, she is nominated for Best Supporting Actress for American Hustle, based on the nonfiction title, The Sting Man: Inside Abscam by Robert W. Greene. The movie is sure to win at least one award, since it is nominated in every major category (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Actress, as well as Best Supporting Actress).

On to the real Oscars and may the best books win.


Thursday, February 27th, 2014

1301Cover-EWWith the Oscars  coming on Sunday, you’d expect this week’s  issue of Entertainment Weekly to be all about that event.

But that was so last week. The new cover story declares that all eyes are now on Divergent, opening 3/21, to see if it will follow in the footsteps of Hunger Games, or will bite the dust like Beautiful Creatures (and Mortal Instruments and Vampire Academy).

If book sales are any indicator, it will be an enormous hit. All three titles in Veronica Roth’s YA series have been in the top ten on USA Today‘s best-selling books list for weeks. This week they are all in the top five.

The fall brings two more YA dystopian novel adaptations. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, of course, arrives in theaters on Nov. 21 and is pre-ordained hit.

There’s been far less buzz about the second, The Maze Runner, based on the book by James Dashner. Originally scheduled for Valentine’s Day, it was then moved to September 19. Beyond a few set photos, there’s been little to feed fan anticipation. All of this makes one movie site more than a little worried about its future.