Books have been a significant inspiration at the movies since the earliest days of the cinema. We’re never less than thrilled (if, perhaps, trepidatious) when we learn our favorite novel is being adapted into a film, because when it all comes together in just the right way, it’s glorious, breathing a second life into a beloved book. Here are some major books coming to the big screen in 2017.
A Dog’s Purpose, by W. Bruce Cameron (January 27)
Just a glance at the cover of this book will get the tears flowing, but that’s dog stuff for ya. W. Bruce Cameron’s beloved 2010 bestseller follows Toby the dog (the first of several names he answers to), who experiences life over the course of several reincarnations. Each time, he comes a little closer to discovering his true purpose. The book is sweet and inspiring, but bring tissues to the theater. Lots of tissues.
Fifty Shades Darker, by E.L. James (February 10)
Why not start the filmgoing year off with a little bit of light kink? Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan return as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey for the adaptation of the second book in E.L. James’ naughty (no judgments) trilogy. In Darker, Ana and Christian resume the relationship that ended so abruptly in the previous entry, this time under Ana’s rules. The final entry, Fifty Shades Freed, arrives in 2018.
Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver (March 3)
Zoey Deutch stars in the adaption of Lauren Oliver’s 2010 contemporary YA with a speculative twist. It follows Sam Kingston, a 17-year-old who is killed in a car accident only to wake up the next day with another chance to live her last day on earth right. This happens again and again, with each new day moving Sam closer to figuring out what she’s supposed to do. It’s a dramatic take on Groundhog Day for a new generation.
The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes (March 10)
Good reviews already abound for this adaption of Julian Barnes’ award-winning 2011 novel (the film has been screened on the festival circuit). An appropriately tony cast has been assembled to tell the story of a love triangle that cascades through decades, as seen through the eyes of retired loner Tony Webster (Jim Broadbent). Charlotte Rampling, Dame Harriet Walter, Emily Mortimer, and Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery round out an impressive slate of actors.
Ghost in the Shell (March 31)
Manga/anime megafranchise GITS is finally making its way to live action, following the 1995 animated feature that brought the story of public-security agency Section 9 to a broad audience. It’s an action story that digs deep into themes relating to individuality in a technological world, ideas that are more relevant than ever—if the new movie goes there. The casting of Scarlett Johansson as the protagonist of the Tokyo-set story has already generated some controversy, so we’ll see.
Wonder, by R.J. Palacio (April 7)
R.J. Palacio was inspired to write her 2012 children’s novel of the same name by a real-life incident. Encountering a girl with a facial birth defect, Palacio’s attempts to prevent her son from reacting negatively wound up creating a much more awkward set of circumstances. The book and film tell the story of Auggie Pullman, a young man who has spent years in and out of hospitals and is now going to school for the first time. Julia Roberts heads up the cast.
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The Lost City of Z, by David Grann (April 21)
In 1925, explorer Percy Fawcett went missing in the Amazon along with his son while searching for a fabled lost city. His doomed quest inspired dozens of other explorers, many of whom also disappeared while searching for Fawcett himself. David Grann wrote his 2009 nonfiction book after having undertaken his own expedition, uncovering new evidence of the explorer and his lost city. Charlie Hunnam stars in the adaptation.
The Circle, by Dave Eggers (April 28)
Eggers’ 2013 book brought Brave New World into the 2010s with the story of Mae Holland (Emma Watson), a young woman who gets a dream job at The Circle, an internet company bringing all of your online activity together in one place, under one single identity. The suspenseful, satirical novel tackles heady themes of privacy and the utility of memory in an online world (so, relevant). The movie boasts an impressive cast of favorites: Watson, John Boyega, Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan, Patton Oswalt, Glenne Headly…oh, and Tom Hanks. Could be one of the year’s prestige pictures.
The Dinner, by Herman Koch (May 5)
English speakers are finally getting their own adaption of Herman Koch’s 2009 novel (there are already Dutch and Italian versions). The bleakly comic story is centered around the titular meal, during which Paul Lohman (an unreliable narrator in the book, played in the film by Richard Gere) and his wife converse with his politician brother about how to handle a violent crime committed by their sons, one they know about but that hasn’t yet been made public.
My Cousin Rachel, by Daphne du Maurier (July 14)
The works of Daphne du Maurier have been a reliable source of cinematic inspiration for decades (Rebecca, The Birds, Don’t Look Now), and this 1951 novel has itself been the subject of a couple of adaptions. My Cousin Rachel is very much in the mold of Rebecca: a romantic mystery set on a grand estate along the Cornish coast. A young man falls in love with his cousin while encountering evidence that her motives may be less than pure.
Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon (May 19)
Nicola Yoon’s touching 2015 debut novel is about 18-year-old Madeline, confined to her home for her entire life as a result of an immune disorder. She lives with her mother, but otherwise inhabits a world entirely bounded by the walls of her house. Until a new family moves in next door, and she begins an online friendship with the son, Olly, that develops into a long-distance romance from the next house over.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (July 21)
Prolific director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Lucy) is directing his passion project: an adaption of the French science fiction comics series Valérian and Laureline, by Pierre Christin. On the surface, it’s about a couple of time-and-space-traveling agents in the 28th century who protect Earth and guard against temporal paradoxes. A little deeper down, the series can be deeply political. We’ll see how much of that comes across onscreen. If nothing else, it looks pretty.
The Dark Tower, by Stephen King (July 28)
Intriguingly, it appears that the long-rumored, long-desired adaption of Stephen King’s fantasy/western/horror/sci-fi series won’t be an adaptation at all. The first film set in the world of King’s gunslinging knight Roland Deschain is actually a sequel to the book series, following 11-year-old Jake Chambers as he follows a mystery that leads him to Mid-World, and to an encounter with Roland himself (played by Idris Elba). We’ve met Jake in the books, but it sounds as though the goal is to provide a new story for fans and an entry point into King’s elaborate fictional universe. It’ll be a neat trip if it works. Scuttlebutt is that the film might be followed up by a prequel TV series in the next couple of years, making King’s magnum opus into a true multimedia franchise (there are graphic novels, as well).
It, by Stephen King (September 8)
Stephen King’s 1986 novel about a group of friends who band together to fight a murderous interdimensional being has already been the subject of one indelible adaption: the 1990 TV miniseries starring Tim Curry as the killer’s preferred form, Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Along with the book, that one made an entire generation afraid of circus makeup, so it’ll be interesting to see what this new adaption brings to the table.
The Mountain Between Us, by Charles Martin (October 20)
Idris Elba and Kate Winslet star in this romance-cum-disaster story based on author Charles Martin’s 2011 bestseller. He’s a doctor on the way to perform a scheduled surgery, and she’s a writer going to her own wedding. A rushed charter flight ends in chaos when the plane crashes into the wilderness of northern Utah, forcing the two strangers to face weather, isolation, and injuries together.
Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie (November 22)
The story has been adapted any number of times for film and television, but Agatha Christie’s (maybe) most famous novel (with the second most famous twist) always makes for cracking good viewing. Kenneth Branagh directs this version and stars as persnickety Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot, leading an appropriately all-star cast of suspects. Sounds like it’ll be a bloody good way to kick off the holiday season.