Bestselling author Gillian Flynn is a unique position – while she’s only penned three novels in her relatively short career (and, man, are all three of those novels damn good), all three of her books are currently in active movie development. Flynn could knock off her novel-writing career now and still be way ahead the curb, but let’s hope she doesn’t. If there’s anything both books and movies need right now, it’s truly thrilling works that rest on the shoulders of extremely complicated leading ladies.
The three upcoming Flynn adaptations – Dark Places, Sharp Objects, and Gone Girl — are all coming to us from very different talent teams and studios, but there are plenty of common threads between each novel to make them just a wee bit confusing to readers and watchers (I’ve often gone searching for the Flynn book “Dark Objects” on the Internet, obviously to no avail). So what’s the difference between Gone Girl and Dark Places and Sharp Objects? We’ll tell you.
If you’ve so far avoided the current Flynn-splosion, you’ve probably still been subject to news about the Gone Girl adaptation. After all, David Fincher is directing it and Ben Affleck is set to star alongside Rosamund Pike, making Flynn’s latest book her most high profile film adaptation. A smidge tamer than her previous two works, it’s not surprising that Gone Girl is poised to be the most mainstream Flynn film.
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris
Director: David Fincher
Screenwriter: Gillian Flynn
Plot: Amy Dunne (Pike) and Nick Dunne (Affleck) were the golden couple of their chic Manhattan circle, until personal and professional troubles moved them back to Nick’s tiny hometown of North Carthage, Missouri. Smothered by small town life and a serious lack of glamour, Amy begins changing (or does she?) while Nick starts up a neighborhood bar with his twin sister Margo and dabbles in some majorly extracurricular activities. When Amy goes missing (on the pair’s fifth wedding anniversary, no less), a whole mess of evidence (a ravaged house, blood, an incriminating diary of Amy’s) implicates Nick in his wife’s disappearance (and probable murder). Told via switching narratives (between Amy and Nick) and a shifting timeline, “Gone Girl” reveals some major secrets as it winds on. Don’t let anyone spoil it for you.
Release date: Sometime in 2015
Book release date: June 2012
Flynn’s not kidding about the darkness here – even though all three of her books are twisty and troubled, there’s a particular gruesomeness at the heart of “Dark Places” that sets it apart. After all, not every book features a maimed leading lady and a serial killer-obsessed “Kill Club.”
Cast: Charlize Theron (Amy Adams was originally on for the role), Nicholas Hoult, Chloe Grace Moretz, Andrea Roth
Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Screenwriter: Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Producers: Exclusive Media
Plot: If Gone Girl will center on a media obsessed with perceived wife-killers (and you better believe it will), Dark Places will turn its eye to the aftermath of a similar media obsession, and the regular people who hold on to it. Libby Day (Theron) is the only survivor of a gruesome home invasion that left her maimed and her two sisters and mother dead. Even worse, her beloved older brother is in jail for the crime, pinned for the deed by both Libby and a small town taken with the idea that he was dabbling in Satanism at the time of the murders. After “the Kill Club,” a ragtag group who believe in her brother’s innocence, contacts Libby she bilks them for some cash in order to re-investigate the crime on her own. She doesn’t like what she finds. Much like “Gone Girl,” “Dark Places” messes around with both point of view and timeline in order to show a complex and twisted final picture.
Release date: September 1, 2014
Book release date: May 2009
Flynn’s first novel isn’t “perfect” – it doesn’t actually resolve itself until the very end, after everything has seemingly been tied up with a big, satisfying bow – a strange hitch in book form that might actually translate quite well on the big screen. Too bad then that Sharp Objects seems to be the most stalled of the Flynn films.
Screenwriter: Gillian Flynn
Producers: Alliance, Blumhouse
Plot: If Amy Dunne is unhinged and Libby Day is crazed, Camille Preaker is just genuinely bonkers. While “Sharp Objects” came first, it would be easy to cannibalize pieces of both “Gone Girl” and “Dark Places” to make up a Frankenstein’s monster version of “Sharp Objects.” This is, weirdly, a great thing. Reporter Camille hasn’t been back to her small town in years – and for a good reason, her entire family is nuts and Camille is already psychologically unwell – but after two little girls show up dead there, a still-recovering-from-a-psych-ward-stay Camille goes in to investigate. That was probably a mistake. Sure, Amy and Libby have secrets to spare, but there’s something uniquely engaging about Camille and her hidden truths.
Release date: TBD
Book release date: September 2006