Hollywood loves a sure thing, and there’s nothing more sure than a story that’s already sold millions of copies and has a built-in fan base. Whether it’s literary or historical fiction, true crime or young adult, when a novel tops the bestseller list, it usually doesn’t take long for a producer, actor or studio in prospecting to recover the rights. These five recent examples have captivated readers and garnered praise in book form, and now some accomplished filmmakers and huge stars are bringing them to the big screen.
Where the Crawdads Sing is a study in human behavior
Where the Crawdads sing by Delia Owens was a smash hit when it was released in 2018, and it holds the current record for most weeks at number one to The New York Times list of best selling hardcover novels. His popularity only increased when Reese Witherspoon and Barnes and Noble selected him for their book clubs.
In the novel, a young girl named Kya Clarke is slowly left to fend for herself in the swamps of North Carolina, as her family members abandon her one by one. She becomes admirably self-sufficient but borderline wild, which complicates her efforts to fit into society, especially as she attempts to form romantic relationships, how much this character study of human behavior – in especially the abuse – turns into a murder mystery.
Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine is producing the film version, which stars Daisy Edgar-Jones in the lead role. David Strathairn and Garret Dillahunt will also appear. Where the Crawdads sing is set to debut in theaters on July 22, 2022.
Killers of the Flower Moon shines a light on a dark part of American history
David Grann’s 2017 non-fiction work begins with a murder in 1920s Oklahoma and ends with a shocking body count and the creation of the FBI. When oil was discovered under Osage territory and the courts found that indigenous peoples had rights to natural resources, the Osage were on the verge of becoming very wealthy. Tragically, that’s not what happened.
First, convoluted administrative problems delayed the distribution of funds, then people began to disappear. The Moonflower Slayers skyrocketed the bestseller list and received virtually universal acclaim upon release for shining a light on this criminally dark chapter in American history.
The book is adapted by a who’s who of Hollywood heavyweights and former Oscar winners and nominees. The legendary Martin Scorsese is directing with a screenplay by Eric Roth (Forrest Gump and Dunes), and the cast includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Jesse Plemons, Brendan Fraser, Robert DeNiro and newcomer Lily Gladstone. The film is slated to hit theaters and on Apple TV+ sometime in 2022.
Bullet Train is a thriller with a big name cast
Translated into English with the title High-speed trainthe original – called Maria Beetle — is Kōtarō Isaka’s internationally acclaimed thriller released in 2010. The book is an energetic, taut, and surprisingly comedic tale of hijinks and duplicity aboard a fast-moving train. Five different assassins who work for four different bosses are all among the passengers, each there to do bidding for their clients, and things only get more complicated from the first stop. Some work towards the same goal while others cross-purpose, and the plot and characters’ intentions are deliberately never quite clear.
Sandra Bullock will star with Brad Pitt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Zazie Beetz, Masi Oka, Michael Shannon, Logan Lerman, Karen Fukuhara and Bad Bunny, to name just a few of the highlights of this great cast. The film adaptation of High-speed train is due out in theaters on July 15, 2022.
School for Good and Evil is a fantasy adventure for young adults
Soman Chainani The School of Good and Evil, published in 2013, is the first in a series of six beloved young adult novels. Sophie and Agatha are the types of best friends where opposites attract. Sophie is conventionally beautiful, while Agatha is suspected of being a witch. When they are “taken away” from their village to the titular school, they discover that they are destined to become fantasy characters and the school is divided into “good” and “bad” students. To their surprise, Sophie is assigned to the evil school, while Agatha is assigned to the good one. This not only tests their friendship, but also the very concept of their own identity.
Paul Feig is directing and the film stars Sophia Anne Caruso and Sofia Wylie in the lead roles. The impressive supporting cast includes Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Yeoh, Ben Kingsley, Patti Lupone and Rachel Bloom. The School of Good and Evilwhich could become the first of a new film franchise, will arrive on Netflix in 2022.
The Nightingale is a beloved historical fiction novel
This 2015 historical fiction novel by Kristin Hannah stayed on multiple bestseller lists for dozens of weeks and has been translated into 45 languages. Inspired by a True Story, The Nightingale tells the story of two sisters trying to survive the German occupation of France during World War II, each in her own way.
The book is told from the perspective of an unknown narrator some years in the future, but follows the two sisters as their lives diverge from the start of the war to its end. It’s a more sentimental and civil take on well-trodden literary and cinematic territory.
The film version features real-life sisters, Dakota Fanning and Elle Fanning. The Nightingalefrom novel to film was difficult. The pandemic and changes in rights ownership have led to its removal from the release schedule more than once. It’s now scheduled to play in theaters and stream on Netflix in late 2022.
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