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July 22, 2014

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Page to Screen: Summer Reading Blockbusters, Dystopian Teen Lit, and Childhood Classics

gatsby Page to Screen: Summer Reading Blockbusters, Dystopian Teen Lit, and Childhood ClassicsAs reviews for Baz Lurhmann’s whirlwind adaptation (PG) of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby come roaring in, movie fans can start setting their sights on future film versions of some of their favorite books. Opening on May 10 in time for the summer blockbuster season, the latest interpretation of the American classic stars Leonardo DiCaprio (Jay Gatsby), Carey Mulligan (Daisy Buchanan), and Tobey Maguire (Nick Carraway), and gives purists and first-time fans food for fodder. But that’s not the only page-to-screen adaptation we’re watching for.

In this latest installment of our roundup of new book-based releases, you’ll find updates on already touted future movies as well as news of recent titles that have been optioned for future projects.

Coming Soon

The following adaptations, in order of release date, will be debuting in movie theaters in the coming weeks and months.

Following the success of the Academy Award-winning animated short The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, William Joyce’s picture book, The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs (HarperCollins, 1996), will make its way to the big screen as a longer animated film entitled Epic (PG). Directed by Chris Wedge, and featuring the voices of Josh Hutcherson (Nod), Amanda Seyfried (Mary Katherine), Colin Farrell (Ronin), Jason Sudeikis (Bomba), and Beyoncé Knowles (Queen Tara), it’s coming to theaters on May 24.

Queen of teen lit Judy Blume’s 1981 young adult classic Tiger Eyes is finally getting a  theatrical debut; the big screen and video-on-demand releases are set for June 7. Directed by Blume’s son Lawrence, the film was given the green light for a film adaptation after more than 30 years in print. It chronicles the story of Davey (played by Willa Holland) a young girl attempting to cope with the sudden death of her father. Amy Jo Johnson (Gwen Wexler) and Tatanka Means (Wolf – Martin Ortiz) also lead the cast.

mortalinstruments Page to Screen: Summer Reading Blockbusters, Dystopian Teen Lit, and Childhood ClassicsBased on Tim Tharp’s 2008 National Book Award YA finalist (Knopf, 2007), The Spectacular Now is making the rounds a several independent film circuits, including the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Directed by Alexandre Aja and showcasing the rising teen stars Miles Teller (Sutter) and Shailene Woodley (Amy), it will have a limited release this summer starting August 2.

Logan Lerman returns to his demigod roots on August 7 in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, the sequel to Percy Jackson: Lightning Thief, both based on Rick Riordan’s bestselling series. Much of the cast has returned, including Brandon T. Jackson (Grover Underwood) and Alexandra Daddario  (Annabeth Chase). Some new characters to watch for are Douglas Smith as Tyson, Percy’s half-brother, and Leven Rambin as Clarisse La Rue, the daughter of Ares.

Forget about vampires and werewolves—on August 23, the Nephilim (or super-powered half-angels) will take over in The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, the adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s bestselling series (S & S). Lily Collins portrays Clary Fray, a New York City teen who is thrown in the middle of a secret world of demons when her mother (Lena Headey) is attacked by one. Then she meets Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower), who is the key to understanding who (or what) she really is.

catchingfire Page to Screen: Summer Reading Blockbusters, Dystopian Teen Lit, and Childhood ClassicsNo list would be complete without including the next chapter of the “Hunger Games” phenomenon. Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss), Josh Hutcherson (Peeta), and (Liam Hemsworth) Gale reprise their roles in the action-packed Catching Fire on November 22. Joining the love triangle is a new cast of characters and the talented actors that will portray them, including Jena Malone (Johanna Mason), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Plutarch Heavensbee), and Amanda Plummer (Wiress).

In the Pipeline

Below are several book-to-movie adaptations scheduled to hit theaters next year, for which fans are already anxiously waiting.

The Maze Runner (Delacorte, 2009) by James Dashner is set for a February 14, 2014, release date; the film will be directed by Wes Bell from a screenplay by Noah Oppenheim (redrafted by Grant Myers and T.S. Nowlin), for 20th Century Fox. Leading the cast will be Dylan O’Brien; with Will Poulter (Gally) and Kaya Scodelario (Teresa) also on board to star.

Divergent (HarperCollins, 2011) by Veronica Roth will be released on March 21, 2014, directed by Neil Burger from a screenplay by Evan Daugherty. The star-studded cast began filming April 8 in Chicago, where the futuristic story is set. Getting a “Hunger Games” treatment, the up-and-coming Shailene Woodley (Tris Prior) plays the lead, and she will be surrounded by industry veterans, including Kate Winslet (Jeanine Matthews), Theo James (Four), Jai Courtney (Eric), Ashley Judd (Natalie Prior), Tony Goldwyn (Andrew Prior), Mekhi Phifer (Max), Maggie Q (Tori),  and Zoë Kravitz (Christina).

Classics, At Last

Below are a few book-to-movie adaptations that fans have been awaiting for a long, long time.

Alexander and the Terrible Page to Screen: Summer Reading Blockbusters, Dystopian Teen Lit, and Childhood ClassicsDisney’s live-action movie based on Judith Viorst’s 1972 well-known picture book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (S & S) is making tiny steps closer to the screen. Miguel Arteta is set to direct, and Lisa Cholodenko and Rob Lieber are writing the screenplay. Steve Carrell and Jennifer Garner are set to take on the roles of Alexander’s parents.

Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved A Wrinkle in Time (Farrar, 1962) is to finally be made into a feature film with a script written by Jeff Stockwell, who penned the screen adaptation of A Bridge to Terabithia for Disney in 2007. Disney currently has the rights to the book and is working on the new version with Bedrock, which had negotiated rights to the property from the L’Engle estate.

And while Jane Austen’s first published novel has been remade again and again, a new iteration might be making it to the big screen that is quite different than its predecessors. Panorama will produce, finance, and rep foreign sales for a film adaptation of the bestselling mash-up novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Quirk, 2009) by Seth Grahame-Smith. David O. Russell has written the screenplay but is not officially attached yet as director. Several producers and directors have been linked to the project in the past few years, with Natalie Portman reportedly cast in the lead. However, many of principals have left the project, and Lily Collins announced recently that she will be starring.

Building Buzz

fault in our stars Page to Screen: Summer Reading Blockbusters, Dystopian Teen Lit, and Childhood ClassicsSeveral more adaptations have been announced in recenty, although firm details about those projects are continuing to unfold.

John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton, 2012) will be produced by Fox 2000 and directed by Josh Boone from a screenplay by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. It will star Shailene Woodley (Hazel), yet the role of Augustus “Gus” Waters has not yet been cast. Currently it’s one of the most sought after roles in Hollywood, with many young male actors vying and testing for the part. Some of those actors in the running are Brenton Thwaites, Nat Wolff, Nick Robinson, Noah Silver, and Ansel Elgort. Rumored to be in the running: Logan Lerman and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Stay tuned!

Made official only yesterday, Lionsgate has hired Jack Thorne to adapt R.J. Palacio’s bestselling and award-winning Wonder (Knopf, 2012). David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman are producing for Mandeville Films.

Stephanie Sanditz is writing the screenplay for a film adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s “The Infernal Devices” (S & S)  for Constantin Film.

Piers Ashworth is writing the screenplay based on Kristin Cashore’s Graceling (Harcourt, 2008) for Reliance Entertainment & Kintop Pictures. The film version will be produced by Deepak Nayar, Tabrez Noorani and Leigh Ann Burton.

Director Mikael Håfström has signed on to direct an adaptation of Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams’s Tunnels (Scholastic/Chicken House, 2007) for Relativity Media. The screenplay is being written by Andrew Lobel, Joel Bergvall, and Simon Sandquist.

Producer David Heyman is eyeing an adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone (Holt, 2012).

CBS Films is pursuing film versions of Marie Lu’s Legend and Prodigy (Putnam), with Jonathan Levine attached as director.

Stuart Beattie is writing a screenplay of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Little, Brown, 2011) for producers Joe Roth and Palek Patel at Universal Pictures.

Michael Scott is writing the screenplay to adapt his own book The Alchemyst (Random, 2008) for producers Mario Andreacchio, Konstantin Thoeren, Stefan Brunner, and Scott and Barry Krost at AMPCO Films. Eric Bress was previously attached as director, but has reportedly dropped out of the project.

Annie Sage’s Septimus Heap: Magyk (HarperCollins, 2004) is getting a screenplay written by Peter Craig for producers Karen Rosenfelt and Angie Sage at Warner Bros. David Frankel is set to direct.

knifeneverlettinggo Page to Screen: Summer Reading Blockbusters, Dystopian Teen Lit, and Childhood ClassicsDirector Rob Letterman has signed on for an adaptation of R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps (Scholastic) from producer Neal H. Moritz, for Sony Pictures and Scholastic Entertainment.

Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman will take on Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking: The Knife of Never Letting Go (Candlewick, 2008) for Doug Davison at Lionsgate.

Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron (Dial, 2010) has been newly optioned by AMBER Entertainments, replacing its previous agreement with Fox that had Taylor Lautner attached to star.

Producers Tobey Maguire and Graham King are looking to bring Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave (Putnam, 2013) to the screen through GK Films.

Producers David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith are bringing Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races (Scholastic, 2011) to the big screen with Warner Bros.

Director Tim Burton will be adapting Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Quirk, 2011) from a screenplay by Jane Goldman.

Warner Brothers, Heyday Films, and Benderspink will be collaborating on Dan Krokos’s The Planet Thieves (Tor, 2013). Producers Pouya Shahbazian and David Heyman are reportedly attached.

Meanwhile, on the Small Screen

Film producers aren’t the only ones mining the bookshelf for great ideas. Production is already underway for such popular series as Lauren Oliver’s Delirium (HarperCollins) and The Selection (HarperCollins, 2012) by Kiera Cass. The re-vamped pilot of Cass’s work is cross between The Bachelorette and the “Hunger Games” series; the now older cast stars Yael Grobglas (America Singer), Michael Malarkey (Prince Maxon), Celia Massingham (Celeste), and Lucien Laviscount (Aspen Leger). The CW drama is being written by Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain, and directed by Alex Graves.

girl of the moment Page to Screen: Summer Reading Blockbusters, Dystopian Teen Lit, and Childhood ClassicsShonda Rhimes, creator of ABC television shows Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal, is producing a version of Debra Driza’s sci-fi thriller MILA 2.0 (HarperCollins, 2013). Dave DiGilio will write the drama project, with Betsy Beers also producing.

FilmColony has acquired Lizabeth Zindel’s Girl of the Moment (Viking, 2007), hoping to adapt the YA novel as a half-hour comedy series. Development executive Melanie Donkers will produce, with Richard N. Gladstein and Zindel signed on as writers.


As-Yet Unpublished

Several film adaptations are reportedly in the works for as-yet unpublished works.

Acquired in a major literary auction, Cristin Terrill’s debut novel All Our Yesterdays, set to be published by Disney-Hyperion this September, has already been optioned by Global Produce and Gold Circle Entertainment. Brian Miller has been tapped to adapt Terrill’s novel for film. The book is “set in the near-future when a young woman must travel back in time to kill her first love before he destroys her present-day world,” according to the publisher.

Columbia Pictures has preemptively acquired the rights to Arwen Elys Dayton’s YA novel Seeker (Delacorte, 2015), with the Mark Gordon Company attached to produce the film adaptation. Producers include Hannah Minghella and Michele Wolkoff, with Rachel O’Connor and Eric Fineman. The futuristic trilogy will focus on Quin Kincaid “who has been put through years of brutal training for what she thinks is the noble purpose of becoming a revered ‘Seeker.’ Only when it’s too late does she discover she will be using her new found knowledge and training to become an assassin,” according to the publisher.

Slated for publication in 2014 by Penguin, the first title in Sally Green’s new series of books will be adapted for the screen by producer Karen Rosenfelt for Fox. Half Bad launches the series about two factions of witches that are locked in an eternal battle between evil and good.

This article was featured in School Library Journal's Extra Helping enewsletter. Subscribe today to have more articles like this delivered to your inbox for free.

Shelley Diaz About Shelley Diaz

Shelley M. Diaz (sdiaz@mediasourceinc.com) is Senior Editor of School Library Journal's Reviews. She recently received her MLIS in Public Librarianship with a Certificate in Children’s & YA Services from Queens College, and can be found on Twitter @sdiaz101.

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