literary adaptations

Gary Ross shocked the world by directing one of the year’s most wildly successful films, The Hunger Games, and then opting out of coming back and making its sequel. What could he possibly have to do that’s more important than making another bajillion dollars by directing Jennifer Lawrence shooting arrows at people? So far, we’re not exactly sure. He’s become attached to a biopic about the life of famed magician Houdini, but there’s no concrete word whether or not that’s actually going to be his next job. And now another possibility has popped up. THR is reporting that the director is currently in talks to helm an adaptation of the children’s novel “Peter and the Starcatchers” over at Disney. The book, which was written by Dave Berry and Ridley Pearson and has already been adapted into a successful (it won five Tonys!) stage production, is a Peter Pan prequel that tells the story of Peter and a girl named Molly going off on an adventure that involves the keeping of a trunk filled with magical starstuff out of the clutches of the evil pirate Black Stache (so called because of his back mustache, who knows what he’d be called if he got his own boat and had his hand replaced by a hook…). A screenwriter by the name of Jesse Wigutow is said to be penning the adaptation.

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Kevin Durand and Robert Maillet

After the success of Twilight and The Hunger Games, film executives all over Hollywood are presumably falling all over themselves trying to find the next series of young adult novels that could become a film series cash cow. Smart money has to be on the upcoming adaptations of Cassandra Clare’s ‘Mortal Instruments’ series of books, the first of which is called ‘City of Bones.’ They’ve got everything a young adult series needs: a protagonist with a vague destiny, supernatural shenanigans, monsters to be killed, a love triangle involving a bad boy and a nice guy; everything. Two of the main roles for the ‘City of Bones’ adaptation (just called The Mortal Instruments) have been filled for a while. Director Harald Zwart (The Karate Kid) has cast Mirror Mirror star Lily Collins as the protagonist, Clary Fray, a girl who finds that she has ties to a race of mystical demon hunters called Shadowhunters, and Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace Wayland, the troubled and mysterious Shadowhunter who Clary develops a crush on. And now things seem to finally be picking up on the casting front, because Variety has a report that Zwart has started the process of filling the film’s villain roles.

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Craig Gillespie’s career as a director has been an interesting one so far. He made the Ryan Gosling-starring indie drama Lars and the Real Girl, which was gutsy, unique, and acclaimed enough that you would think it would have been his first shot fired in a quick and easy takeover of the indie film world. But that’s not the story at all. Lars and the Real Girl wasn’t Gillespie’s debut film that we’re all eagerly awaiting a followup to, it was his second film, and it’s sandwiched in between the mainstream and pretty mediocre fare Mr. Woodcock and Fright Night (you know, the remake). What’s with the strange disparity? And what direction can we expect Gillespie’s career to take in the future? A new report from Variety might give us something of an idea. Apparently the director is in talks to bring to the screen a Black List script (the yearly list of best unproduced screenplays) called Flamingo Thief. Penned by You, Me, and Dupree writer Michael LeSieur and adapted from a novel by Susan Trott, Flamingo Thief tells the story of a lawyer who becomes unhinged after being left by his wife, so he copes by stealing pink flamingo statues out of people’s yards. Despite the fact that his calendar is filled for the immediate future due to his commitments to Anchorman 2 and Three Mississippi, Will Ferrell is attached to star as said litigious thief.

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Fans of Suzanne Collins’ whimsical child murder novel, “The Hunger Games,” will tell you that one of the big differences between her book and its eventual film adaptation was that the role of the deadly games’ designer, Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley), was dramatically increased for the screen. In the book we see the events of the games from solely the protagonist’s perspective, so the deadly obstacles that are put in her path always come as a surprise. But in the film, we see Bentley’s character setting everything up and reacting to the ways the players handle his tricks and traps. It made the position of the Gamemaker seem far more important than it ever had before. Seeing as Bentley’s character had fallen out of favor with the powers that be by the end of The Hunger Games, its sequel, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, is going to have to find a new puppet master. And given the newfound importance of the role in the story’s movie universe, as well as the fact that the second Gamemaker is a more important character than the first in the source material, Catching Fire’s director, Francis Lawrence, will seemingly have to find a big name actor to step into the role. There isn’t need to worry though, reports are he’s already made an important move toward doing just that.

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If you haven’t yet seen Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos’ 2009 film Dogtooth, run out and do that as soon as possible. It’s an absolute essential when it comes to the most interesting and experimental examples of storytelling that have come out over the last ten years, and it’s probably one of the most unlikely and effective horror films of all time. Well, check it out if you have a stomach for the horrible and strange…probably you should run far away from this post if you don’t. Still here? That must mean that you’re a fan of the off-putting and mind-effing, or even a supporter of Lanthimos’ work already. Rejoice, for I have some news that you’re going to be happy to hear. While doing an interview with Indiewire to promote his upcoming release, Alps, Lanthimos dropped the huge news that he currently has three possible English-language films currently in development, and though he wasn’t keen on dishing out any details, he did cough up a little teaser about each.

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Most of us are going to have to wait until next year to read Australian author Max Barry’s next novel “Lexicon,” but one man who got an advanced copy is Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn. Deadline Broken Hill reports that Barry’s agents sent a copy of the book to the director, and he gave it pretty much the most glowing review possible by coughing up enough of his own money to option its movie rights. Barry’s books are generally thrillers that satirize marketing and big business, and according to Deadline’s description of “Lexicon,” it seems to be sticking to those themes. Apparently it takes place in an alternate reality where words are powerful weapons. In this world there’s a secret cabal of people who have been using the power of language to manipulate the public into submission and promote their own positions since the beginning of time. The wrinkle in the story comes when a young member of the secret organization breaks one of their primary rules and falls in love. As we all know, love ruins everything.

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Director Tomas Alfredson first caught Hollywood’s attention due to the worldwide success of his Swedish language horror film Let The Right One In. And he inched even closer to global notoriety by making Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with the UK based company Studio Canal and a bevy of Britain’s top acting talent. One would think that whatever the director is doing next would be a much-hyped affair, but mum has been the word up until this point as to what Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor follow-up is going to be. Some news out of Sweden might soon put an end to everyone’s speculations, however. Apparently Alfredson has acquired the rights to Astrid Lindgren’s novel “The Brothers Lionheart,” with the intentions of turning it into a feature film. Lindgren, who many people know as the author of the Pippi Longstocking books, first published “The Brothers Lionheart” back in 1973. It’s a fantastical tale about a couple of brothers named Jonatan and Karl who end up having adventures in a adventure-ridden afterlife realm called Nangiyala. Despite the fact that it deals with death and illness and is generally pitch black material as far as a children’s story goes, “The Brothers Lionheart” has been successful all over the world, and has even already spawned a 1977 Swedish film that was directed by Olle Helbom.

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Author Jonathan Tropper’s 2009 novel, “This is Where I Leave You,” is all set to become a feature film over at Warner Bros., and the production is getting the cast to prove it. The book, which details a down-on-his-luck man’s week of insanity as he’s forced to live in the same house with his estranged mother and siblings for seven days, has been adapted into a screenplay by Tropper himself, and is set to be directed by Rock of Ages director Adam Shankman. The main character, Judd, has a wife who has just cheated on him with his boss, a boss who has just slept with his wife, a mother who has just lost a husband, and three neurotic siblings that he must spend a week with, due to his dying father’s last request. Needless to say, this one is going to be an ensemble piece, and Shankman has just kicked the casting process off with a bang. Deadline New Rochelle reports that Jason Bateman has signed on to play the lead role, Zac Efron and Leslie Mann have come on as two of his siblings, and Goldie Hawn is set to act for the first time since 2002’s girl power dramedy The Banger Sisters as the family’s matriarch. If you’re keeping track, that means that there’s still one sibling, a wife, and a boss that’s left to be cast, so before everything is all said and done this movie could become even more star-studded.

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Confederacy of Dunces

John Kennedy Toole never got to see his lone novel, “A Confederacy of Dunces,” get published, as it was only ever made public eleven years after his death. And names like John Belushi, John Candy, and Chris Farley never got the chance to play the novel’s main character, Ignatius Reilly, as they all passed away before the various adaptations they were proposed to be parts of ever came together. At this point, it probably wouldn’t be much of a stretch to call any possibility of this beloved novel ever becoming a movie doomed. It appears as though its valve has closed. Or not. Vulture has news that the Confederacy of Dunces adaptation, which has been trying to get off the ground since 1982, is once again looking like it might be a go. And this time the talents involved in its resurrection are all so appealing that you might not even make yourself sick with worry that Toole’s wildly entertaining but constantly meandering story—which details a corpulent, over-educated, and outdated curmudgeon’s traversing of the exotic world of 60s era New Orleans—is completely unadaptable as a film.

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Jay and Mark Duplass cut their teeth in the film world writing and directing weird, super-indie movies like The Puffy Chair and Baghead, and have only more recently started tipping their toes ever so slightly into the mainstream with works like Cyrus and Jeff, Who Lives at Home. So it comes as a bit of a surprise that Deadline Metairie is reporting the brothers have taken a job writing a film for Todd Phillips, king of the mainstream comedy. Especially since the brothers are famous for writing loose scripts that are heavy on improvisational acting, and this particular job requires that they adapt a novel. Let’s back up a bit. Back in February it was announced that Todd Phillips had renewed his first look agreement with Warner Bros., and there were a number of projects mentioned that he might be developing for the studio. One of them was called Mule, and was an adaptation of a Tony D’Souza novel of the same name. Amazon describes D’Souza’s book by saying: “James and Kate are golden children of the late twentieth century, flush with opportunity. But an economic downturn and an unexpected pregnancy send them searching for a way to make do. A friend in California’s Siskiyou County grows prime-grade marijuana; if James transports just one load from Cali to Florida, he’ll pull down enough cash to survive for months. And so begins the life of a mule.”

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Director John Hillcoat’s (The Road) upcoming project tells the tale of a family of Depression-era bootleggers coming under the scrutiny of a crooked and cutthroat authority. It’s adapted from a Matt Bondurant novel called “The Wettest County in the World,” it was once being referred to as The Wettest County, and for some reason it’s now called Lawless – but a movie with this cast by any other name would be just as badass. The film’s first theatrical trailer has hit the net today, thanks to Yahoo! Movies, and for the first time we’re getting a glimpse of just how much fun it is to see all of these actors working together; which is a whole lot of fun indeed. First off, you’ve got Shia LaBeouf, Jason Clarke, and Tom Hardy playing the Bondurant Boys, the bootlegging trio of brothers who are, at least in some way, based off the author of the source material’s real family history. Then you’ve got Gary Oldman playing the big-time crook they’re working for, Guy Pearce playing the corrupt authority figure brought in to make sure they’re either getting shut down or giving the government their required cut of the profits, Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska playing a couple of ladies they become romantically entangled with, and a whole host of grizzled-looking character actors filling out the rest of the cast of backwoods Virginia hillbillies.

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George Clooney may have earned a Best Actor nomination for his work in last year’s The Descendants, but the truly eye-opening performance in that film came not from the king of Hollywood, but from the little known actress playing his teenage daughter. Simply put, Shailene Woodley was the bee’s knees in that film. Her work fleshed out a role that would have played like a cliché of teenage rebellion in most other hands, and she’s going to have quite a few opportunities coming her way in the upcoming year. It’s newsworthy, then, that Variety has word on what her next job is going to be. According to the trade, the actress is attached to star in Smashed (which was reviewed by Allison Loring here) director James Ponsoldt’s next film, which is an adaptation of the Tim Tharp novel “The Spectacular Now.”

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Back in 2003 Disney had a brainstorm: “What if we started to make movies based on our most popular theme park rides?” The results were The Haunted Mansion, a movie that wasn’t good enough for anybody to really remember, but not bad enough to sink the proposition outright, and The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, a movie that was so successful it pretty much guaranteed we hadn’t reached the end of the movies based on theme park rides experiment. And heck, these days we’re basing big budget summer releases on board games, so getting a movie about something as kinetic and visual as a theme park ride almost sounds refreshing. That’s why Disney is going back to the well once again, by taking a crack at Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. For those not in the know, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is one of the first rides that debuted at Disneyland, all the way back in 1955. It straps riders into a little car that moves along a track through a building full of animatronic craziness that’s all based off of the Disney film adaptation of the classic children’s novel “The Wind in the Willows.” First published in 1908, author Kenneth Grahame’s story follows a frustrated mole as he journeys through the countryside. His travels bring him in contact with an eclectic cast of characters, not the least of which is a rich and indulgent Toad who has developed an obsession with traveling by motor car.

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Mark Wahlberg

The list of top name actors who have made their bones starring in adaptations of John Grisham thrillers is long and mighty. Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, Matt Damon, even Sir Matthew MaConaughey; they’ve all seen gigantic career bumps after playing a lawyer or something like it in a work that started off as a taut, thrilling book Grisham wrote about lawyers doing lawyery things. Once upon a time movies like The Firm, The Pelican Brief, and A Time to Kill were guaranteed hits at the box office, and their paperback counterparts were ubiquitous in airport lounges.

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City of God director Fernando Meirelles is just off the publicity tour for his latest film, 360, and already he’s looking to get work started on his next project, Nemesis, which is an adaptation of the Peter Evans book “Nemesis: The True Story of Aristotle Onassis, Jackie O, and the Love Triangle That Brought Down the Kennedys.” As you would probably expect from that title, Nemesis is set to be a drama focusing on the famous Kennedy family, or more specifically, the rivalry between Aristotle Onassis and Bobby Kennedy. At one point Kennedy investigated the magnate’s business practices and ended up getting him barred from trading in the United States, and the book goes as far as to assert that the conflict between the two escalated to the point where Onassis ended up financing Kennedy’s assassination. That’s heavy stuff involving some very iconic figures, so Meirelles is going to have to put together a pretty amazing cast in order to do the material justice. And, to that end, he’s taken to Twitter in order to stir up some interest from one of the best actors working today. This morning Meirelles tweeted the following, “Fazendo elenco de Nemesis. Que tal Fassbender para fazer o Bobby Kennedy?” I know what you’re thinking…those words look like gibberish. Well, it turns out Meirelles speaks this whole other language that isn’t even English. Luckily, through the magic of Google technology, we’re now able to translate that what he was tweeting roughly reads, “Making cast of […]

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Fans of writer Matthew F. Jones have a lot to celebrate. His novel “A Single Shot” is about to be turned into a big screen thriller, and the names attached are enough to make even the most hardened film cynic squeal with glee. Deadline Charlottesville reports that production has now begun on the adaptation, which is under the direction of David M. Rosenthal (Janie Jones) and stars a cast that includes names like Sam Rockwell, William H. Macy, Jeffrey Wright, Joe Anderson, Jason Isaacs, Kelly Riley, Ophelia Lovibond, and Melissa Leo. Jeez, Mr. Rosenthal, you had me at Sam Rockwell. But for those not sold just at the sight of all those talented names listed together, take a look at the Amazon plot synopsis of Jones’s novel:

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Andrew Ferguson’s book “Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course In Getting His Kid Into College” details the painstaking, nerve-racking process of sending a kid off to college in this modern world of fierce competition and neurotic paranoia. There are how-to books, prep courses, meetings with counselors, financial aid applications, campus tours, application essays, and who knows how many other things that need to be taken care of. Ferguson’s book details the story of an obsessive dad who is going to every length to make sure his kid gets in the best school, and the bonding that occurs between father and son as they collectively lose their minds. Sounds like it could make for a funny movie, no? Well, New Line seems to think so, as they’ve optioned the book and are producing it alongside Gary Sanchez Productions as a starring vehicle for Will Ferrell. Playing the dad of a college-aged kid is a bit of a new role for Ferrell to be in, as we’re more used to watching him do things like go back to school himself in comedies like Old School, but his dramatic work in things like Stranger Than Fiction and Everything Must Go points to the fact that he should be able to handle portraying the dramatic weight of parenthood while simultaneously maintaining an appropriate level of hilarity. It seems like the next logical question to ask is, which young actor would be most believable as Will Ferrell’s son? [Deadline Bloomington]

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Though he went to great lengths to become cool in Project X, it looks like actor Thomas Mann is right back to being a dork. But that’s okay, because unlike Project X, his new endeavor, King Dork, actually sounds like it has a chance to be funny and entertaining. According to a report from Variety, King Dork was the first project that Gary Sanchez Productions bought when it was formed by Adam McKay and Will Ferrell back in 2006. Adapted from a Frank Portman novel of the same name, D.V. DeVincentis’ (High Fidelity) script tells the story of a couple of late 80s-era outsiders who bond over a love of classic rock and form a friendship that helps get them through high school. Mann is in talks to play the lead kid, and It’s Kind of a Funny Story star Keir Gilchrist his friend. Parks and Recreations’ Nick Offerman is in negotiations to play the Mann character’s stepdad; and if everybody ends up signing on they will all be directed by Gary Sanchez vet Matt Piedmont (Casa de mi Padre).

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Over time, Mark Twain’s characters Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn have proven to be two of the most enduring in the entire history of American literature. And by enduring, I mean that they keep getting dug back up for new adaptations and interpretations. Though it was largely agreed by all that Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Brad Renfro had finally given us the quintessential versions of the rapscallions with Disney’s 1995 film, Tom and Huck, Paramount has decided that it isn’t too late for them to get into the game themselves. To that end they’ve picked up a spec script written by Andrew Burg that goes by the name of…Huck and Tom. There isn’t much creativity going on out there with these Mark Twain adaptations is there? Snarkiness aside, Paramount’s new vision of the trouble-making duo does sound like it’s going to be taking the traditional Huck and Tom story in a new direction. Said to be a darker imagining of the material similar in tone to Snow White and the Huntsman, Huck and Tom will follow the titular characters not in their youth, as is usually the case, but instead it will give us a glimpse into their adult lives. And it’s also said to be throwing some supernatural stuff our way. Given recent trends, that probably means we’ve got a 50/50 chance that they’re either going to be fighting vampires or zombies. If Paramount throws in a female character for a love triangle then they’ll really have something that […]

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A quick search of the site archives tells me that we haven’t done much reporting on the upcoming movie Switch yet, and that’s kind of a shame because it’s an interesting project for a number of reasons. The biggest and most obvious of these reasons is that it’s an adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel, and a sort-of prequel to Jackie Brown. What does that mean exactly? It means that this story features some of the earlier shenanigans of the Louis and Ordell characters that Robert De Niro and Samuel L. Jackson played in the Quentin Tarantino adaptation of Leonard’s “Rum Punch,” which became Jackie Brown. I said this was a sort-of prequel to Jackie Brown though, so don’t expect to see Tarantino or either of those actors back. This is a completely new take on Leonard’s material involving completely new people. But, the good news is that all of these new people kind of rule, too.

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