Blame it on the Super Bowl, but last week’s new movies failed to perform, with Variety reporting that both The Choice and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies did not do well at the box office.
There are more hopes for Deadpool. opening today even though it’s not your normal superhero movie. Entertainment Weekly lauds it for having “the balls to mess with the formula and have some naughty, hard-R fun. It’s a superhero film for the wise-asses shooting spitballs in the back of the school bus.”
An alternative history about a man traveling through time to prevent the assassination of JFK, it has big names attached, produced by J.J. Abrams (The Force Awakens, Lost) and starring James Franco the time traveler. However, Entertainment Weekly gives it a lowly C+.
Today. we will learn if Pride and Prejudice and Zombies adapted from the book by Seth Grahame-Smith (Quirk Books, 2009), overturns the box office curse that afflicted its predecessor, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. On the other hand, it’s a safe bet that the Nicholas Sparks’ adaptation The Choice will open well and continue into Valentine’s Day weekend.
Two adaptations open next week:
How to Be Single is a rom-com (with a stress on the com) that traces the fates of a group of singles on the dating scene in NYC. It stars Rebel Wilson, Dakota Johnson, Leslie Mann, Dan Stevens, Alison Brie, and Damon Wayans Jr.
Squeezed in among the celebrities, sports figures and musicians on yesterday’s late night talk shows were two authors.
Stephen Colbert mixed it up with Michael Eric Dyson, author of The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; OverDrive Sample), stirring up the audience as well.
Seth Meyers featured novelist Alexander Chee, but the exchange didn’t give much of a feel for his new book The Queen of the Night (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Blackstone Audio). It is getting wide review coverage, however, as we noted earlier.
In the second part of the interview, he talked about how he inadvertently started Amtrak’s “Writers in Residence” program:
First up is Harvard professor and TED Talk hit, Amy Cuddy, set to appear tonight. She is the author of the bestselling Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges (Hachette/Little, Brown; OverDrive Sample). Her book has been featured on the cover of the NYT Book Review and was a People magazine “Book of the Week.” Skeptics will enjoy a recent Slate article that calls Cuddy’s work an “example of scientific overreach.”
On Wednesday night Michael Eric Dyson has his turn with Colbert. His newest book (out tomorrow) is The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; OverDrive Sample), in which he explores how President Obama has navigated and responded to issues of race over the last eight years, taking a largely critical stance.
Also on the schedule are several actors promoting FX’s upcoming American Crime Story series on O.J. Simpson, including John Travolta and Courtney B. Vance tonight and David Schwimmer tomorrow. The show debuts tomorrow night and is based onJ effrey Toobin’s 1996 book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson. A tie-in edition (Random House) was released in September..
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.
Michael Pollan’s 2013 book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation (Penguin; OverDrive Sample) is about to become a Netflix series.
Set to air on February 19th, the four-episode adaptation offers viewers a mix of culinary travelogue, anthropology lessons and sessions in Pollan’s home kitchen.
Based around elemental cooking methods, the globe-spanning series will focus on fire, water, air, and earth. Eater, one of the leading culinary websites, reports:
“In the ‘Fire’ episode, Pollan will delve into the cross-cultural tradition of barbecue by looking at fire-roasts of monitor lizards in Western Australia and visiting with a barbecue pitmaster; in the ‘Water’ episode, he’ll take lessons from kitchens in India and cover the issues surrounding processed foods. An episode titled ‘Air’ explores the science of bread-making and gluten, while the final episode, ‘Earth,’ looks at how fermentation preserves raw foods.”
“Personalities and places featured in Cooked include … a Connecticut Benedictine nun and microbiologist who makes traditional French cheese; Peruvian brewers who use human saliva to ferment a traditional beverage; and an ancient Moroccan granary powered by rivers.”
Alex Gibney (Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief) is the executive producer of the series. Eater reports a different filmmaker is in charge of each episode.
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).
The holiday season marks an end and a beginning for Downton Abbey.
In Great Britain, the beloved series is coming to a close with the final episode airing on Christmas Day.
Season six began there on Sept. 20th, marked by this tearjerker of a preview:
To jolly-up viewers, the show offered a holiday spoof created as a fundraiser for the U.K. charity Text Santa:
(Last year’s effort featured George Clooney, see it here).
In the U.S., all things Downton are just getting started. Season six begins on PBS Sunday, Jan. 3 at 9 p.m.
PBS offers American viewers a decidedly more upbeat preview than the U.K. version:
For those who cannot wait to find out what’s happened to the huge cast, there is plenty of coverage of Downton events to date in the London papers, such as this summary in the Daily Mail. as well as the book, Downton Abbey – A Celebration: The Official Companion to All Six Seasons by Jessica Fellowes, (Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press. 11/10/15).
Debuting in theaters today is a new version of Macbeth, with Michael Fassbender as Shakespeare’s troubled king and Marion Cotillard (Inception) as his wife, Lady Macbeth. The Guardian calls a “noir-thriller soaked with operatic verve.” People magazine lists it as a pick of the week, “this gruntingly powerful version tells the tale with… coiled fury.” Entertainment Weekly lauds Fassbender’s acting, but ultimately gives it a B grade, because “the rest of the movie isn’t nearly as interested in playing as many nuanced notes as its star.”
There is no specific tie-in edition (image above is of the poster).
There is no tie-in to turn to because George RR Martin has not yet completed the sixth in the book series, Winds of Winter, although he recently dropped hints about what to expect. In the past, he declared it was his goal was to finish it before the HBO series begins. That window is now getting shorter.
The first trailer for new season of Outlander on STARZ was just released.
Based on the second novel in the book series, Dragonfly In Amber (PRH/Delacorte, 1992; Recorded Books; OverDrive Sample), it follows Jamie and Claire as they escape to France and try to stop the Jacobite rising. This moves the action from the Scottish Highlands to upper-class life in France.
Once again, it spans multiple time periods and also introduces new characters, including Jamie and Claire’s adult daughter Brianna, Fergus, Jamie’s spy and one-day-adopted son, and a young Lord John Grey.
Season two is slated to air some time this spring.
Tie-ins (Season 2 Cover Art to Come):
Dragonfly in Amber(Starz Tie-in Edition) , Diana Gabaldon
PRH/Delta, March 8, 2016