This year, read your movies first

  • Books
  • Monday, 22 Feb 2016

It's very important to read books. How else will you know what movies they are going to make next?

Kidding aside, though, The Harry Potter prequel! The Girl On The Train! And eight more bestselling books that will be appearing on the big screen this year., we are living in a golden age of literary adaptations; today, it’s not unusual for a book’s movie rights to be sold even before the book itself is released.

While we’ve had some great adaptations over the decades that have even overshadowed their source material – The Godfather and The Shining come to mind – it’s the surge of interest in young adult (YA) fiction in the last couple of decades that seems to be powering the book-to-movie trend.

Some of these adaptations have become cultural phenomena, like the Harry Potter movies based on J.K. Rowlings’ books and, to an extent, The Hunger Games films based on the Suzanne Collins trilogy. And, of course, Peter Jackson’s film version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings trilogy stands head and shoulders above most adaptations since 2001 (though we wouldn’t call the source material YA fiction).

But there have, of course, also been many cringe-worthy big screen massacres of good books. The clunky The Dark Is Rising movie did great disservice to Susan Cooper’s excellent series, and The Golden Compass, based on the first book in Philip Pullman’s incredible His Dark Materials series, did so badly on screen that they left the other books alone (though there’s an upcoming BBC TV miniseries, it seems).

So you can understand that we are sometimes in two minds when we hear about books that will be filmed....

Here are 10 books made into films that will be released throughout this year. There’s everything from literary-horror mashups and young adult fantasy blockbusters to epic adventures and heart-warming romance on the list. Tell us what you think about the casting and whether these adaptations will conquer the big screen or sink miserably at (Note that release dates could change.)

str2_ttbookmovies_terencetoh_allegiantposterAllegiant Part 1

Author: Veronica Roth

Release date: March 18

Director: Robert Schwentke (Red, Divergent, Insurgent)

Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller

Synopsis: In Tris Prior’s dystopian world, every 16-year-old has to choose a “faction” to belong to so society is neat and orderly. In this last part of the trilogy, all that’s broken down and Tris and her friend Four have to escape the wall enclosing their beleaguered city to find a peaceful solution for the threatening chaos.

Thoughts: So, after Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows II and Mockingjay II, it seems to have become en vogue for filmmakers to split the last book their movie is based on into two parts. While the first movie, Divergent, was surprisingly enjoyable, the sequel, Insurgent, was a bit of a mess, so we hope this third chapter can redeem the saga.

A lot of ... shall we say unexpected things happen in this last book, which has divided fans, so it will be interesting to see how the movie turns out. Let’s hope director Robert Schwentke is Dauntless and Erudite enough to make an enjoyable film.

str2_ttbookmovies_terencetoh_junglebookposterThe Jungle Book

Author: Rudyard Kipling

Release date: April 15

Director: Jon Favreau (the Iron Man movies, Chef)

Cast: Neel Sethi (Mowgli), Bill Murray (voicing Baloo), Ben Kingsley (voicing Bagheera), Idris Elba (voicing Shere Khan)

Synopsis: Mowgli, the “man cub”, is raised in the jungles of India by a pack of wolves and makes friends like Bagheera the panther and Baloo the bear. But he also has to learn to survive the dangers of the wild and threats like scary tiger Shere Khan.

Thoughts: Kipling’s collection of stories was given the Disney treatment in 1967, complete with catchy songs (Bare Necessities!); as with many Disney films, it took great liberties with the original material but has come to define the work. This new movie is a live-action remake of that animated film and has a STELLAR voice cast. Idris Elba as Shere Khan? Christopher Walken as King Louie the orang utan? And Scarlett Johansson as Kaa the python? (She’s welcome to wrap herself around us any day!).

But here’s hoping the movie’s storyline and effects live up to its cast and that it turns out to be a wild adventure instead of a beastly adaptation.

str2_ttbookmovies_terencetoh_mebeforeyoucoverMe Before You

Author: Jojo Moyes

Release date: June 3

Director: Thea Sharrock

Cast: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Matthew Lewis

Synopsis: Will Traynor had lived life to fullest before a motorcycle accident made him a quadriplegic. Louisa Clark, on the other hand, hasn’t even moved out of her parents’ house much less travelled beyond her little village. When she’s hired as the depressed and suicidal Will’s carer, little does she know how much she will change his life – and how much he will affect hers.

Thoughts: Daenerys Targaryen (Game Of Thrones), Finnick Odair (The Hunger Games) and Neville Longbottom (the Harry Potter movies) all in a movie together! It’s a fantasy lover’s wet dream. This is a love story, though, albeit not your typical one.

We’re not sure how good this movie will be, or how much money it will make. But we are certain of one thing: it will cause more tears than an explosion on an onion plantation. Don’t forget to take lots of tissue along to the cinema.

str2_ttbookmovies_terencetoh_bfgposterThe BFG

Author: Roald Dahl

Release date: July 1

Director: Steven Spielberg (too many blockbusters to mention)

Cast: Ruby Barnhill, Mark Rylance, Penelope Wilton

Synopsis: Young orphan girl Sophie makes friends with the BFG (Big Friendly Giant), the only giant who doesn’t eat children. The two set out on an adventure to capture the evil, man-eating giants who have been invading the human world.

Thoughts: One of the great Roald Dahl’s many bestselling children’s books – arguably up there as a favourite with Matilda and James And The Giant Peach – made into a film by the Walt Disney Co that is directed by Steven Spielberg ... OK, that certainly sounds promising.

This Dahl tale is filled with whimsy, adventure and heart, and if done well, could well be a classic. We’re particularly looking forward to seeing how the movie portrays the story’s nasty giants.

str2_ttbookmovies_terencetoh_girlontraincoverThe Girl On The Train

Author: Paula Hawkins

Release date: Oct 7

Director: Tate Taylor (Winter’s Bone, The Help)

Cast: Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Luke Evans

Synopsis: Each day, Rachel Watson takes the train to work, and on the way, passes the home of what she calls the “perfect couple”, young, beautiful and seemingly in love. But one day, Rachel sees something that calls that perfection into question. And then the woman goes missing, and Rachel begins to wonder if she should get involved. And whether she can trust her unreliable, alcohol-soaked memory of what she saw.

Thoughts: Well, it didn’t take long for them to turn this bestselling 2015 book into a movie, did it? Probably because even before it was released, comparisons were being drawn with Gillian Flynn’s 2012 megaseller, Gone Girl. We’re a bit wary about this movie, though, if only because we’re not sure if it will live up to the hype. And they’ve moved the setting from the book’s Britain to the United States in the movie – that’s always a cause for concern.

Also, Gone Girl the movie, which came out just last year, is a lot to live up to, having been pretty well received. Let’s hope Girl On A Train is an exciting ride and not, well, a train wreck.


Author: Dan Brown

Release date: Oct 14

Director: Ron Howard (another one with too many mega movies to list)

Cast: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Ben Foster

Synopsis: Robert Langdon, the Indiana Jones of symbology, is drawn into a harrowing world centred on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces, Dante’s Inferno.

Thoughts: Are Dan Brown movies still a thing? Seriously? Like Lucifer flung from heaven, the quality of Brown’s books have plummeted sharply after The Da Vinci Code. Expect a few action scenes, eccentric killers from ancient conspiracies, and Hanks delivering history lectures while sporting a ridiculous hairstyle. Surely he deserves better than this? And why did Hollywood skip making a movie of The Lost Symbol, the book that immediately followed The Da Vinci Code?

 str2_ttbookmovies_terencetoh_monstercallscoverA Monster Calls

Author: Patrick Ness

Release date: Oct 14

Director: Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage, The Impossible)

Cast: Lewis MacDougall, Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver

Synopsis: A young boy escapes into a fantasy world of monsters and fairytales as a way to cope with his mother’s illness and bullies at school.

Thoughts: Wow, a lot of book movies in October.... Is it just us, or does this sound a little like Bridge To Terabithia? We’re expecting a moving coming-of-age tale, with monsters as metaphors for more pressing issues.

Ness’s book has been widely acclaimed, and with the author himself writing the screenplay, we should be getting a faithful adaptation if nothing else. And its Liam Neeson as the Monster of the title! There’s a Taken joke in there somewhere.

str2_ttbookmovies_terencetoh_fantasticbeastsposterFantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

Author: J.K. Rowling

Release date: Nov 18

Director: David Yates (four of the eight Harry Potter movies)

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Colin Farrell

Synopsis: Newt Scamander arrives at the Magical Congress of the United States of America for a meeting with an important official. He carries a magically expandable briefcase housing a number of dangerous magical creatures. When they escape, the American wizarding authorities go after Newt, which threatens the already fragile state of magical and non-magical relations.

Thoughts: So, it’s a prequel to Harry Potter! Set in America! Where people without magic are called “No-Maj”! (What?) J.K. Rowling is a master storyteller, and her cinematic return to the Harry Potter universe does sound exciting. The movie apparently features a fanatical society dedicated to eradicating wizardkind, which sounds like an awesome plotline.

Harry may not be in it, but let’s hope this movie will charm and bewitch just as the others did. Ah, who are we kidding, it’s going to make more gold than there is in Gringotts.

 str2_ttbookmovies_terencetoh_letitsnowcoverLet It Snow

Author: John Green, Maureen Johnson & Lauren Myracle

Release date: Dec 9

Director(s): Unannounced

Cast: Unannounced

Synopsis: Three YA fiction authors tell three stories about three different teenagers as they separately experience a huge snowstorm in an American town during the Christmas season. We haven’t read it but the blurb on the back says these three interconnected tales feature “humour, romance and holiday kisses”.

Thoughts: This is an unusual book to choose to adapt – not your usual dystopian world or single-protagonist YA fiction. Not sure about the other two authors (what we know: Time magazine named Johnson one of the top 140 people to follow on Twitter and Myracle’s TTYL series of YA books once topped the American Library Association’s most challenged titles), but Green is a huge name in the young adult fiction market – The Fault In Our Stars, Will Grayson Will Grayson – so teens are bound to go watch this in droves.

Very little information about this film has been released, but we hope it’s cast perfectly so that there will be no fault in its stars (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

Author: Ransom Riggs

Release date: Dec 25

Director: Tim Burton (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands)

Cast: Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, Terence Stamp

Synopsis: After his grandfather’s murder, apparently by a make-believe creature, 16-year-old Jacob Portman goes to Wales to learn more about his grandfather’s life. He discovers that the man had lived in a now-derelict orphanage for “peculiar children” who had special powers.

Thoughts: First, what a cast! Aside from the delectable Ms Green, Rupert Everett, Judi Dench and Samuel L. Jackson all make appearances too. And while director Tim Burton might not be as well-regarded as he used to be (Alice In Wonderland 1 and 2 – enough said), he always makes visually striking films. The book, with its rather creepy found photos scattered throughout, was rather enjoyable, so there is a lot to look forward to in a film adaptation.

The only thing we fear is the movie’s very “seen before” feel and timing. Big fantasy adventure with magical creatures? Fantastic Beasts would have come out just month before. School for people with magic powers? X-Men Apocalypse is also coming out in 2016. And this movie is coming out just nine days after Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ... let’s hope Miss Peregrine’s scrappy orphans muster enough magic to rise above these obstacles.

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