Novel Adaptations

Alex Cross Matthew Fox

If you needed further proof that making your voice gravely doesn’t make you seem nearly as cool as you think it does, look no further than the trailer for Alex Cross. Tyler Perry – like Karl Urban’s constipated Eastwood in Dredd and Christian “Where are the Drugs?” Bale – forces out a low guttural that makes him sound like he’s doing a hard math problem in his head while recovering from a cold. Of course, it doesn’t help that he seems to be sleepwalking. Fortunately, Matthew Fox looks like he’s gone full-on insane to play a vicious serial killer obsessed with causing pain. Based on the James Patterson novel “Cross,” the trailer shows a bit of promise, but Perry is going to be a hard pill to swallow. Check it out for yourself:

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Whoa. Alright. If Robert Pattinson is trying to break out of his mold, he couldn’t have picked a better project than David Cronenberg‘s Cosmopolis. At least if he was looking for a movie where he gets to pee in a car, he picked well. Based on the book from Don DeLillo, the basic synopsis involves a millionaire rocking his way across Manhattan. From the teaser trailer, it looks like 80s-style Cronenberg with a touch of Jacob’s Ladder. Fair warning. It’s got some large-breasted nudity and some interesting gun violence. If Robert Pattinson was trying to break out of his mold… Check it out for yourself:

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John Carter Mondo Poster

John Carter arrives in theaters today consumed by terrible buzz and reduced expectations, with prognosticators of all stripes predicting a monumental flop for Disney. It’s a 3D, $250m affair that’s tracking worse than the second weekend of The Lorax, they say, and it’s a ridiculously expensive gamble for a first-time live-action director (Andrew Stanton, of Finding Nemo and WALL-E fame). In the press, the narrative has been written: You don’t want to see this movie. And that’s a shame, because it’s actually quite good. It’s sad that we’ve reached a cultural place where a bold, imaginative science-fiction effort like this, a film with beautiful imagery and a well-founded allegiance to gloriously pulpy source material, is so easily dismissed. Not to get all Armond White here, but the contemptible gleeful scorn being heaped on the film by Nikki Finke and others just reemphasizes how little so many people who write about movies actually care about movies. If they gave a damn about, you know, art, they’d have to acknowledge that at the very least this adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s century-old novel “A Princess of Mars” harkens back to the grand mid-century Disney tradition of films like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which took great pleasure in immersive production design. You could take or leave the plot, though I’d mostly take it, but there’s no disputing the fact that Stanton has rendered Mars as a complete universe unto itself, full of zooming spaceships and cluttered, towering cities, a weird and altogether […]

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At one point in its recent development history, The Stand was planning on sending the Harry Potter team of Steve Kloves and David Yates to a cornfield in Colorado to write and direct the incredibly difficult source material. With that team passing on Stephen King‘s novel, Ben Affleck picked it up for a directorial project, and Vulture is reporting that Affleck has hired screenwriter David Kajganich to provide the blueprint. The only problem here is Kajganich’s track record. It’s always difficult to assign blame/credit to writers for a finished film because of the labyrinthine group effort the art demands, but so far his two biggest features have been the flat Invasion (starring Nicole Kidman) and the nasty horror flick Blood Creek. Neither inspires much in the way of optimism for an adaptation that even the most talented writer would struggle to make sense of. According to the report, Warners was impressed with Kajganich’s draft for a feature film version of It and decided that he was fit for crowing King again. What’s more, he’s also the writer of the Pet Sematary remake at Paramount, which means the studio system only knows of one guy who’s interested in writing these things for some reason. The question here is why Affleck would pass off writing duties (although the answer may be that he just doesn’t have the time to deal with a tome of that size). The silver lining, of course, is that Affleck so far has proven himself to be a […]

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Throughout his now lengthy career director Tim Burton has always had an attraction to darkness, to the macabre, to using his unique visual style to bring to life the peculiar. So it doesn’t come as much surprise to hear Deadline Burbank reporting that he’s negotiating to direct a movie about a dilapidated orphanage that once housed strange children with mystical powers. The project is an adaptation of a novel by Ransom Riggs called Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. The book is a mixture of both prose and vintage photography that it uses as illustration, so a peek inside its covers should give a good clue as to how Burton would be approaching this material visually should he end up taking on the project. Well, and a peek at Burton’s past films should be a good indication of how he would approach it visually as well; this guy kind of has a wheelhouse that he stays in. As far as the story goes, the book’s Amazon description says, “ … As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.” So […]

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As all things go in cycles, we’re headed toward the apex of the Stephen-King-Movie-Go-Round. And, yes, I know carousels don’t have apexes because they spin horizontally, but just go with it. Some projects, like The Dark Tower still have a question mark hanging over them, and others, like remakes of Carrie and Pet Sematary, are simply ideas in the minds of executives. Today we can add another project to that pile, and take one out as well. According to /film, the proposed Showtime series adapted from “Under the Dome” is moving forward with Lost writer Brian K. Vaughan sitting down at his typewriter for the program. The story focuses on a town in Maine (surprise!) that’s sealed off from the rest of the world by a mysterious force field. Kind of like a supernaturally powered island. Adding to the prospective pile, Variety is reporting that Palomar Pictures has secured funding for two foreign remakes and an adaptation of King’s “Rose Madder” – the novel about a woman who leaves a dreadfully abusive husband and discovers a painting that she can travel into. The bottom line? Either get ready for a lot of Stephen King or get ready for Stephen King to receive a bunch of checks for movies that never get made.

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Fans of Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” books will remember Haymitch Abernathy as the drunken battle-to-the-death survivor who is chosen to mentor young Katniss Everdeen as she is forced to participate in the same brutal games that Haymitch won. He’s a character who starts off as comically inept, but who darkens, develops, and is revealed to be quite capable in his own way over time. When it was announced that Woody Harrelson had been cast in the role, I opined that he was a perfect choice, seeing as he was an actor who could merge humor with danger and make it seamless. In a recent interview that the actor did with 24 Frames, he talked a little bit about his approach to the character and revealed that he too thinks that he’s the perfect actor to correctly play both the comedy and the drama inherent in this role. Harrelson said, “It was my objective to give the character as much comedy as I could without it seeming not to fit. I tried to take a certain comedic aspect and give a sense, through that, that he’s been through a lot and is anesthetizing himself as a result of that.” I like his use of the word “anesthetizing” there. When we first meet Haymitch we see him through the eyes of Katniss, who sees him as nothing more than a pathetic lout. But he’s a character who has been though quite a bit and survived, so he couldn’t have always been such […]

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It’s starting to become pretty clear that James Franco loves two things: bleak novels with gruff colloquial dialogue and announcing that he’s going to be directing movies. He first started merging his two passions by announcing that he would be taking on the herculean task of adapting William Faulkner’s depressing, action free road tale “As I Lay Dying.” Before we even saw the fruits of that labor, Franco then moved his focus over to a slightly more contemporary author, but one just as concerned with simple plots and homespun prose in Cormac McCarthy. He had big plans to adapt one of McCarthy’s most beloved books, “Blood Meridian,” a sweet tale about a gang of Indian killing scalp hunters. Recently, Franco talked to some folk in Toronto, and it’s looking like plans have changed on the “Blood Meridian” front. According to We Got This Covered, when asked about his planned production of the McCarthy novel, Franco said, “We shot a 20 minute test of it (Blood Meridian) that turned out pretty well… we were gearing up to do the feature but that for various reasons is on hold, but we are going to make a movie based on his (Cormac McCarthy’s) third book ‘Child Of God’.” This is bad news for me because I’ve read “Blood Meridian” and was all set to talk about it intelligently when news started coming out about its production. I haven’t read “Child of God.” so now I’ve got another thing to pile onto my to-do list. Thanks a […]

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If you’re the kind of person who loves the classics and believes they should be left unspoilt, maybe just go get a sandwich or something. Step outside for a moment. Write a letter to a loved one or throw some darts in your garage. Just don’t read this news post. Because according to Variety, Twilight-er Ashley Greene will make the jump to leading lady in Olivia Twisted, a – you got it – modern take on Dickens’s “Oliver Twist.” There will be a few changes, but the nitty gritty is that Olivia will be 1) female (obviously) 2) the leader of a group of criminals in a 3) street turf battle and 4) not a child. This wouldn’t be the first futzing with that the character has seen. It most famously got music to sing along with in Oliver! but fans might simply appreciate that Greene hasn’t been cast as an anthropomorphic orange cat. On the other hand, it’s tough to understand what is exactly Twistian about this adaptation since it changes the character considerably. Oddly enough, the Swedish television mini-series Olivia Twist already saw the main character changed into a young girl (and featured Michael Nyquist from the Dragon Tattoo movies), but Olivia Twisted sounds like something with vodka product tie-ins and Hot Topic t-shirts ready for print. But look on the bright side! I’m sure it will be as subtly clever and politically acute as Dickens intended! Now someone go grab everyone who went out for a sandwich […]

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The Green Hornet was a brief interlude into the mainstream (or as far into it as he could go) for Michel Gondry. The director seems far more at home when working with the fantastical, the sweetly bizarre, and the effects that are done in-camera. Fortunately, he’s got his passport stamped and he’s ready to return to that world. According to Variety, Gondry will be adapting the Boris Vian novel “L’ecume des Jours” for the screen. According to Google Beatbox, that translates to The Foam of Days, but they’ve added another “the” in for good measure. The plot focuses on a man who invents an instrument that plays both for the ears and nose who falls in love with a woman, but after the two are married, they discover a rare medical ailment which demands that she always be surrounded by flowers. As if that weren’t Gondryesque enough, it also tells the story of another couple and their quirky issues. Plus, he’s got a hell of a cast lined up.

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A long time ago, we spoke with renaissance man D.C. Pierson about his novel “The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To.” It’s a thrilling tale about a gawky young high school lad who loves to draw and the friendship he strikes up with an even gawkier high school lad who never sleeps at all ever. Of course, freakish occurrences like that don’t go unnoticed, and soon they are running from dark forces that plan all sorts of terrible things for them. It’s endearing, thrilling, and strange. It’s the kind of novel that seems written by a sophomore in high school if that sophomore could actually write as well as he thinks he can. Fortunately, and finally, it’s being turned into a movie, and they’re keeping it all in the family. Mystery Team director Dan Eckman will be taking the reins on this one alongside producer of all things Derrick Comedy, Meggie McFadden. According to Cinema Blend the pair co-wrote the script for The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To with Pierson. The project doesn’t have financing yet, but Eckman will be reaching out for money quite soon. Hopefully someone will believe in it (financially), because (in several ways) this could be the movie that Gentlemen Broncos desperately wanted to be.

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“Dandelion wine. The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered.” The famous line spoken by the 12-year-old Douglas Spaulding in Ray Bradbury‘s “Dandelion Wine” resonates even more clearly this time of year. The blockbusting has all been done, the fall is coming, and there’s little left to do but clean up the spilled popcorn. We’re heading into the contemplative seasons, and we’re heading there with the promise of an adaptation of Bradbury’s most personal work. According to Deadline Green Town, Phoenix Pictures has optioned the novel and hired Rodion Nahapetov (hand-picked by the 91-year-old Bradbury) to write the script. The story is an almost-plotless look at small town life, the joys and realization of being alive, and just a hint of the fantastic. Dandelion Wine is still a glimmer in the production company’s eye, though. With a writer on board, they’ve got the ball rolling, but with a tentative release date in 2013 or 2014 and no other information, it’s still got many miles to go before it sees a camera. The novel was previously adapted into a Russian TV movie, but this will be the first American theatrical adaptation of the work.

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Any high school student who has ever slogged through Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front has probably hungered for a shiny new film adaptation of the war novel to supplement their dedicated consumption of SparkNotes or CliffsNotes or whatever it is the young people use these days. And now they’re getting one! From the director of Pay It Forward! Mimi Leder (who has, to be fair, also helmed Deep Impact, The Peacemaker, and a mess of gritty TV) will direct a new adaptation of Remarque’s classic novel about the horrors of World War I. Leder will be working from a script by Ian Stokell and Lesley Paterson. The pair’s first feature, The Negotiation, still appears to be in production for a release sometime this year. Remarque, a veteran of WWI himself, shaped his novel around the fictional story of German soldier Paul Bäumer. The novel charts Paul from bright-eyed schoolboy to hardened solider, changes that come thanks to the hell of war, which Remarque depicts unflinchingly. It’s bloody and dirty and sad and traumatizing. In short, it’s a big bummer.

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You know what former MI6 operative writes ridiculously great spy thrillers? John Le Carré. Did you know his real name is David John Moore Cornwell? Can you see why he’d change it to sound more spy-like? Of course you do. His seminal novel “The Spy Who Came In From the Cold” allowed him to start writing full time, stands as an icon of the genre, and was adapted into a wickedly good film starring Richard Burton. Now, another one of the author’s books will see the big screen. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Anton Corbijn will live a bit longer in the world of secretive killers by directing A Most Wanted Man with a script from Edge of Darkness writer Andrew Bovell. Corbijn last directed George Clooney in The American, but unless Clooney can become a convincing Chechian Muslim man, it’s unlikely that he’ll star here. The story follows said Chechian Muslim, named Issa, who illegally enters Hamburg with a mysterious mission and falls under the eye of the German intelligence service. This pairing is fantastic, because even though there will be similarities in tone compared to other Corbijn films, the story sounds like something completely different. With one foot in the wheelhouse and another outside of it, he sounds like the perfect choice for the job. The book has received healthy praise since its publication in 2008, and you can watch a trailer for it here:

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There’s a ton of Oscar caliber piled high on Labor Day – the adaptation of the Joyce Maynard novel. Its plot asks the high concept question of what you’d do if you were approached by a mean-mugging, bleeding man while out shopping with your young teenager. The correct answer is, “run,” but the answer that divorcee Adele gives is, “offer him a ride in my car!” Bad life decision. Great set up for a thriller. Jason Reitman is directing, and EW is reporting that Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin have both signed on to star as Adele and the mean-mugging escaped convict respectively. Feel free to count the Oscar nominations and wins for yourself. The wins should be easy. With Young Adult already in production, Reitman is definitely exploring the concept of divorce seriously, but it’s also nice to see him branch out into a new genre. This stark thriller will make an interesting double feature with Juno. Winslet is no stranger to characters living in broken homes, and Brolin could let his mustache show up to set and garner another Oscar nomination. The point? This casting is insanely great and promises to continue Reitman’s winning streak. It will start filming next year in New England.

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Hollywood is a lot like a four year old in that it can be very prone to something my grandmother called “monkey see, monkey do.” What that means, essentially, is that any behavior you see exhibited, you’re likely to then mindlessly mimic. It also implies that you’re as stupid as a monkey. Or at least that’s how I used to take it. When Avatar made more money than the gross national product of some of our greatest nations by coming out in 3D and jacking up ticket prices, suddenly every film that was hitting theaters started coming out in 3D and jacking up ticket prices. It only makes sense, then, that since the Harry Potter franchise was able to double dip ticket sales by turning the last book in the series into two movies, that future book to film franchises would soon be doing the same. And they have been; we’ve got Peter Jackson turning The Hobbit into two films, we’ve got whoever makes the Twilight movies turning whatever the last Twilight movie is called into two films. And now, we’ve got word that the last book in Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy “Mockingjay” will be turned into two films. Or, at least, those three books will somehow be stretched out into four movies. When the trend started with Harry Potter I got what was happening. “Deathly Hollows” was a big book with a lot of story, and it made sense that the process of adapting it would be easier […]

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It’s my personal suggestion that you read and re-read that headline because even though I wrote it, I’m still re-reading it, rubbing my eyes like a kid who just found a $20 bill on the sidewalk (aka infinite money), and trying to figure out if it’s real. Michael Winterbottom, the man who directed 24 Hour Party People, the man who directed 9 Songs, the man who apparently loves movies with numbers in the title – is going to be teaming with Jack Black for a comedy. That’s insane. And wonderful. According to Variety, Winterbottom will be directing Bailout, an adaptation of Jess Walter’s “The Financial Lives of the Poets,” which tells the story of a man who finds himself without a job, but with a wife that’s cheating on him and a father who is fast approaching senility. His luck turns when he comes face to face with an interesting (and illegal) business opportunity, and hilarity ensues. There seems to be a trend of down-on-their-luck figures being celebrated (the latest being Will Ferrell in Everything Must Go), but there’s been mixed success. Maybe people aren’t too keen on watching recession-hit characters during the recession. Maybe they should bring back Charlie Chaplin. However, this project sounds far too weird not to be great. Winterbottom is a diverse talent that can do dark drama and sharp comedy with equal skill, and it’s refreshing to see Black take on something that’s on the other side of the world from Gulliver’s Travels. I haven’t […]

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It’s never clear how an actor turned director will fair on the other side of the camera, but Sissy Spacek has to have learned a few things during her outstanding career. According to 24 Frames, Spacek will soon make that transition when she directs Sweet Tea. The script was written by Blood Diamond scribe C. Gaby Mitchell, and it based off of a novel by Julia Oliver called “Goodbye to the Buttermilk Sky.” According to the publisher, the 1994 novel “portrays a young wife’s increasingly dangerous infidelity with cinematic precision and palpable suspense. Soon, with only her housekeeper as a confidant, Callie breaks society’s rules about race and class as well as her marriage vows. The result is a chain of events that will lead to tragedy and a woman’s stunning decision about love, passion, and the future of her life.” It’s always encouraging when a printer throws in the word “cinematic” to describe a book about to be turned into a movie. The story also has an element of the supernatural, which is most likely part and parcel with the magical realism of the Southern tradition. Plus, there’s something great about seeing Spacek tackle a southern story that takes place during the Depression. Hopefully she’ll be able to translate her talents to the opposite end of the lens. Also, hopefully no one pours a bucket of pig’s blood on her when she’s about to call “Action!”

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Early yesterday, the LA Times blog released quotes from Atlas Shrugged Part 1 writer/producer John Aglialoro which indicated that he was throwing in the towel on making Part 2 and Part 3. The reason, of course, was that the film just didn’t make its money back. Aglialoro spent a reported $10m of his own cash on the production, and a second week drop off hurt the independent flick considerably. The movie has currently only made $3.2m at the box office. It started with an impressive per screen average, but as with other films which zero in on an audience, everyone who wanted to see the movie saw it opening weekend. The numbers dropped, and an expansion was scrapped. Aglialoro very specifically blames critics and what he believes is a collective “fear of Ayn Rand” amongst them for the movie’s failings. So much for personal responsibility. However, it’s his ire and hatred of the critical response that has caused an about-face. Aglialoro now claims that, while he was once defeated, he now stands ready to proceed with making Atlas Shrugged Part 2 and Part 3. Like all misunderstood artists, he should.

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as OhDaeSu2039 and CatsandDogsLvng2Gether in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the duo try to avoid the pitfalls of bad novel adaptations by exploring some of the best. How do you take a work by one and turn it into a work by thousands? How do you appease fans while introducing a new audience to the story? Does it always involve whale genitalia? What are the rules of making a great film adaptation of a book?

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