13 Book-to-Screen Titles To Look for in 2018

A Wrinkle in Time, The Hate U Give, Paddington, and more are coming to a theater near you in the new year.
With Wonder, 13 Reasons Why, and Wonderstruck making significant showings in 2017, the new year will bring even more screen adaptations of beloved children's and YA books. The new year kicks off almost immediately with the sequel to 2014’s breezy and buoyant Paddington, based on the antics of writer Michael Bond’s perplexed Peruvian bear cub. Though the furball was a convincing creation of CGI animation (voiced by Ben Whishaw), the orphaned cub exuded a gentle soulfulness, along with Bond’s droll sensibility. Paddington 2 (not scoring points for originality) reunites director Paul King and actors Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, and Julie Waters, with Hugh Grant now cast as the villain. It was released in the UK in November, and according to the reviews there, the movie brings the first film’s theme of inclusivity to the era of Brexit, and—bibliophile alert—there was special praise for an animated sequence/tribute to pop-up books. Originally, the new movie was to be released by the Weinstein Company. Post–Harvey Weinstein scandal, Warner Bros. will instead release the family film in the United States on January 12. Though multiplexes are littered with franchises that failed takeoff (“The Mortal Instruments,” “Book of Ember”), the upcoming year will be a test to see if there is still life in the sci-fi dystopian adventures yet. For example, the once-popular and over-elongated film series based on Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” trilogy has petered out with little fanfare, with the fourth and final installment left unmade. Instead, Lionsgate studio announced in early December that the saga would become a Starz TV series—without Shailene Woodley or any of the stars, who have passed on the project. Though the movies had an A-list cast—Woodley, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet, Miles Teller, Ashley Judd—the adaptations came off as B movies, with an overemphasis on action. However, James Dashner’s action-packed “Maze Trilogy” has made it across the finish line. The saga’s closer, Maze Runner: The Death Cure, will open on January 26. Though there has been more than a two-year gap between the new film and the last installment, The Scorch Trials, the producers aren’t stringing along the audience. Unlike “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games,” it wasn’t split into two parts. After his recent kid lit foray, The BFG, Steven Spielberg, no less, ventures into YA sci-fi action-adventure in Ready Player One, based on Ernest Cline’s 2011 adult title with teen appeal. Abounding with video game imagery and 1980s pop cultural references, it includes a stellar cast—Tye Sheridan (X-Men: Apocalypse), Ben Mendelsohn, and Mark Rylance—and the director will team up once again with his ace cinematographer Janusz Kamiński (most recently in upcoming The Post). In this film set in 2045 Columbus, OH, Wade Watts (Sheridan) is among those trying to save the Oasis, a virtual reality universe, and find an Easter egg; the reward: half a trillion dollars. [“For techies, gamers and ‘80’s fans, this story may gain cult status and have the staying power of Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game,” according to SLJ’s 10/11 review.] It opens on March 30. The genre may also get a boost with the arrival next December of British author Philip Reeve’s steampunk and postapocalyptic world-building in Mortal Engines. The 2001 novel (published in the United States in 2003) spawned a series and will be adapted by Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens, part of the screenwriting team behind the recent trilogy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Making his feature directorial debut, Christian Rivers has been a longtime collaborator with Jackson, most recently as a second unit director for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Reeve’s London-set society of Municipal Darwinism will arrive in theaters on December 14. Scheduled to arrive earlier in the year on September 14, The Darkest Minds centers on teenager Ruby Daly, an escapee from a detention camp for kids with special powers. [“While this story is full of action, it is also given depth by the difficult choices that Ruby faces. There are some fairly disturbing events and images (torture, rape, blood splattering, etc.). This book is a natural for dystopia fans,” according to the SLJ 03/13 review of Alexandra Bracken’s book.] It stars Mandy Moore, Gwendoline Christie, and Amandla Stenberg as Ruby and is directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Kung Fu Panda 2 and 3). Stenberg may be the go-to YA film star of the moment, considering the success of this year’s Everything, Everything, based on Nicola Yoon’s novel. She will also play the central character, Starr, in The Hate U Give, whose best friend is shot and killed by police. George Tillman Jr. (Notorious) directs the script by Tina Mabrey (TV’s Queen Sugar) and Audrey Wells (director/writer of Under the Tuscan Sun), based on Angie Thomas’s debut novel (a 2017 SLJ Best Book). The Hate U Give was filmed this fall, and its release date hasn’t yet been announced. Regina Hall, Common, Issa Rae, and Anthony Mackie are also in the ensemble. Incidentally, Yoon’s sophomore novel, The Sun Is Also a Star, is currently in development for its big screen treatment. Stenberg, again, is attached to star, with a script by Tracy Oliver, scriptwriter for the rollicking Girls Trip; no director has been confirmed. Of course, it’s a matter of debate regarding what is the most anticipated page-to-screen effort, but chances are that director Ava DuVernay’s version of Madeleine L’Engle’s Newbery Medal–winning A Wrinkle in Time would top the list. Currently, it holds the title as the highest budgeted film directed by a female filmmaker (at a cost of around $100 million). Along with The Hate U Give and many other films, it is an example of inclusive casting: Oprah Winfrey as Mrs. Which, Reese Witherspoon (Mrs. Whatsit), and Mindy Kaling (Mrs. Who). Teen actor Storm Reid leads the cast as Meg Murray; Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Chris Pine play her parents. It will open everywhere on March 9. The most successful page-to-screen transfer this last year, both critically and at the box office, has been writer/director Stephen Chbosky’s take on R.J. Palacio’s Wonder. Its success in North America and internationally (it has been the number one movie in Australia, two weekends in a row) may pave the way for more offerings for an underserved moviegoing audience: middle graders. It may also spark a trend toward adapting realistic fiction, as the days of paranormal romances recede in the rearview mirror. As if to answer a demand, there are several film based on character-oriented kid lit novels coming down the pipeline. The movie version of emily m. danforth’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which takes on conversion therapy, will make its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this January. Its director, Iranian American Desiree Akhavan, made a splash at the festival in 2014 with the hapless twentysomething comedy Appropriate Behavior. In her new film, teenager Cameron (Chloë Grace Moretz) is sent to a “de-gaying” camp in 1990s Montana by her conservative relatives after her parents’ deaths, and the narrative becomes one about survival. [“This finely crafted, sophisticated coming-of-age novel is multilayered, finessing such issues as loss, first love, and friendship. An excellent read for both teens and adults,” from SLJ’s 3/12 review.] The cast also includes Jane Fonda. TV showrunner Greg Berlanti (Arrow and Dawson’s Creek, among many programs) directs novelist Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which will now go by the title of Love, Simon. It will star Nick Robinson (the love interest in Everything, Everything) as the closeted high school junior blackmailed into acting as an erstwhile matchmaker. Katherine Langford (of Netflix’s controversial take on 13 Reasons Why) will costar as Simon’s best friend, Leah. [“Rife with realistic, high school relationships and drama, with a laugh or two at every turn, this is a coming-of-age, coming-out, and defying-the-odds story with which many teens will identify”: SLJ’s 1/15 review.] The movie will be “coming out,” as its poster declares, on March 16. In what has the makings of a stellar, classy teaming, director Richard Linklater will bring Maria Semple’s crossover adult title, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, to theaters on May 11. Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett will head the cast, joined by Kristen Wiig, Billy Crudup, and Judy Greer. Fifteen-year-old Bee searches for her reclusive mother (Blanchett), who vanished before a family trip to Antarctica, and unlocks her mother’s past. [“Even though she mostly addresses adult concerns, Semple’s humor and humanity-filled storytelling will appeal to young adult readers, too”: SLJ’s 10/12 review of the Adult Books 4 Teens title.] For a change of tone in comparison to many of the titles listed above, Jenny Han’s YA lighthearted romancer To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (an SLJ Best Book of 2014) was filmed last summer, with a cast led by actress Lana Condor as Lara Jean, whose stash of unsent love letters somehow find their way to her former (or are they?) crushes. Susan Johnson, who recently brought author Caren Lissner’s 2003 YA novel Carrie Pilby to the screen, directs. Centered as much on the antics of heart as on Lara Jean’s Korean American family, the movie is among the upcoming films reflecting a wide range of teens. The release date has not yet been announced. Actor and author Chris Colfer (TV’s Glee) will join this selective group of writers-turned-auteurs when he adapts and directs The Wishing Spell, based on his first book, which launched his “Land of Stories” series. Twins Alex and Conner Bailey are trapped in a storybook with the likes of the Evil Queen from “Snow White,” and they need to find the eight scattered ingredients for a wish-granting spell in order to return home. The film is not yet in production; no release date has yet been announced. See Kent Turner and Shelley Diaz chat about more upcoming screen adaptations on SLJ TV
Comments

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Posted : Dec 20, 2017 01:18


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