Some people hate it when their favourite book gets picked up by Hollywood. Not us, we love seeing our most cherished novels brought to life – apart from when those numpties behind a camera (or in front of it) cock it up of course.
But let’s give the creative types in Tinseltown the benefit of the doubt for a moment. What follows are 30 books all set for the big screen treatment. Some have finished filming and are due for imminent release; others are in that tricky development stage, and one or two are still at the rumours stage.
We can’t wait to see each and every one. And if you want to appear smarter than the average bear, you know what to do. Read the books… NOW!
The Sisters Brothers - Patrick DeWitt
Cuddly comedic actor John C Reilly’s production company has bought the rights to Patrick DeWitt’s acclaimed 2011 historical novel. Set in Oregon and California in 1851 it tells the dark tale of the Sisters brothers, Eli and Charlie, both assassins for hire who attempt to take out the ingeniously named Herman Kermit Warm.
The Monuments Men - Robert M. Edsel
The cast of this adaptation reads like a cinephile’s wet dream: George Clooney, Bill Murray, Daniel Craig, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damon and John Goodman are all slated to appear in this World War II drama that starts shooting in Berlin next month (March 2013). The book is a fascinating account of a group of Allies who were charged with rescuing important cultural artefacts before Hitler destroyed them.
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
We’re pretty sure you’ll have seen the epic trailers for this one. Colourfully directed by Baz Luhrmann, and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire and Isla Fisher, this is the latest version of Fitzgerald’s epoch-defining account of the Roaring Twenties to come to the big screen. The novel is generally considered to be one of the Great American tomes.
Admission - Jean Hanff Korelitz
Funny duo Tina Fey and Paul Rudd star in Paul (American Pie/About A Boy) Weitz’s adaptation of Korelitz’s well-received novel. Admission charts the burgeoning romance between two former college classmates: the straight-laced Princeton admissions officer (Fey) and Rudd’s unconventional headmaster. Chuck in the possibility of a long-lost son given up for adoption and you have the recipe for a warm and intelligent rom-com.
World War Z - Max Brooks
Brad Pitt stars in the big screen adaptation of Brooks’s feted post-apocalyptic zombie tale. Pitt plays UN worker Garry Lane who travels the globe in an effort to find the cure to a pandemic that is bringing down armies and nations. Of particular note to ShortList readers will be the appearance of Bryan ‘Breaking Bad’ Cranston.
Romeo & Juliet - William Shakespeare
Even if you haven’t read Shakespeare’s timeless account of a pair of star-crossed lovers, surely everyone is familiar with the doomed romance between Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet. The latest adaptation stars Brit Douglas Booth and True Grit actress (The Brit and The Grit – we can see the posters now!) Hailee Stanfield, alongside Paul Giamatti, Damian Lewis, Stellan Skarsgard and Natascha McElhone.
The Wolf of Wall Street - Jordan Belfort
Belfort’s memoir caused a literary sensation upon publication in 2008 – it told the tale of a group of stockbrokers, led by him, who were out of control on Wall Street. A fast-partying lifestyle was matched by criminal activities in the office. Leonard DiCaprio has teamed up with Martin Scorsese for the fifth time to bring this tale to the big screen. Also stars Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey, Jean Dujardin, Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau and, erm, Joanna Lumley.
The Company You Keep - Neil Gordon
Hot on the heels of Argo comes a new political action thriller inspired not only by the films of the 70s, but the actions of that decade’s activists. Robert Redford (who else?) directs and stars in this adaptation of Neil Gordon’s novel which tells the tale of a former Weather Underground militant who has been in hiding for over 30 years. Also stars Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie and Shia LaBeouf as the young journalist trying to unmask him.
Carrie - Stephen King
Helmed by Kimberley Peirce (Boys Don't Cry)and starring Chloe Grace Moretz is the troubled titular teen, this will be the third time Stephen King’s first published novel has been adapted. Julianne Moore stars as Carrie’s overbearing mother and Judy Greer will play the sympathetic gym teacher. Will it match Brian De Palma’s classic 1976 treatment? Only time will tell, although reports suggest it will stick closer to King’s original novel than De Palma did.
Thérèse Raquin - Emile Zola
Emile Zola’s cautionary tale about lust, deceit and murder has been brought to the cinema by Charlie Stratton. The film stars Elizabeth Olsen, hot on the heels of her acclaimed turn in Martha Marca May Marlene, Tom Felton and Oscar Isaac as the doomed romantic triumvirate. Also stars Jessica Lange, Shirley Henderson and Matt Lucas.
London Fields - Martin Amis
Heavyweight directors David Cronenberg, Michael Winterbottom and David Mackenzie have all been attached to the big screen adaptation of Amis’s controversial 1989 novel, but hitherto nothing has got past the development stage. The latest director attached to the project is Elizabeth filmmaker Shekhar Kapur. Let’s hope this project gets past that tricky development stage.
American Tabloid - James Ellroy
James Franco recently revealed that he was behind the latest attempt to bring James Ellroy’s celebrated 1995 novel to cinema audiences. The book details a group of rogue government agents whose lives become entangled in the JFK assassination. Franco plans to direct and star. Previous Ellroy novels adapted for the big screen include the mesmeric LA Confidential and the risible The Black Dahlia. We hope Franco can match the former, not the latter.
Child of God - Cormac McCarthy
James Franco is obviously a voracious reader because he’s also been working on an adaptation of one of cinema’s favourite novelists Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God. McCarthy’s third book, it is a beautiful retelling of the birth of Christ. Not really, in true McCarthy fashion it depicts the life of a young outcast who shunned by society becomes a violent serial killer – is there any other kind?
Before I Go To Sleep - SJ Watson
The premise for Before I Go To Sleep might sound like some saccharine coated rom-com – a woman suffering from amnesia wakes up each day not knowing who she is – but this is more Memento than any Richard Curtis movie. Ridley Scott has acquired the rights and Nicole Kidman, Mark Strong and Colin Firth are all set to appear.
50 Shades of Grey - E.L. James
One for the ladies, or those intrigued males out there. Various thesps have been touted for the role of E.L. James’s literary phenomenon Christian Grey: Alexander Skarsgard, Channing Tatum, Ian Somerhalder and Jake Gyllenhaal are among the more renowned actors linked with the part, although it’s thought an unknown might bag the character, and more besides no doubt. Angelina Jolie has also expressed an interest in directing – and possibly appearing. Which would be, ahem, interesting.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk - Ben Fountain
The rights for adapting the best book of last year have been acquired by Slumdog Millionaire screenwriter Simon Beaufoy. Fountain’s novel is a stirring anti-war read, and in the hands of the right person – hopefully Beaufoy – will translate to the big screen (all the action – chiefly - takes place over one day) with ease.
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea - Jules Verne
Fight Club, The Social Network and Se7en director David Fincher is on board for a new version of Jules Verne’s classic science fiction novel. Brad Pitt was rumoured to be teaming up with his old pal Fincher once more – maybe for the part of Captain Nemo – but that seems to have gone quiet recently. Channing Tatum is another thought to be up for a part. This version will examine the relationship between Nemo, French marine biologist Professor Pierre Aronnax and master harpoonist Ned Land.
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
Fincher is also rumoured to be in the director’s chair for this adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s 2012 psychological thriller, Gone Girl. Reese Witherspoon’s production company purchased the rights and Emily Blunt and Michael Fassbender are two of the names touted for the roles of narrator Nick Dunne and his murdered wife Amy. Reviews of the novel cited its superb seat-of-your-pants twists and turns – sounds ripe for a cinematic overhaul.
As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner
Faulkner’s seventh novel is regularly hailed as one of the towering works of the 20th Century. Published in 1930 it’s a black comedy that retells the death of Addie Bundren through the voices of 15 narrators and her family’s attempts at honouring her wishes to be buried in Jefferson. James Franco – him again – is helming the project and will also star. He will probably also write and sing the theme tune.
Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
To some Nicholas Hoult will always be that endearing kid from About A Boy (itself an adaptation of Nick Hornby’s hit novel), to others he is Tony from Skins. He is, however, carving himself a bona fide Hollywood career. He has just signed up to play the lead role in Sebastian Faulks’s Birdsong. Hoult will play young World War 1 officer Stephen Wraysford, a part last played by Eddie Redmayne in the BBC1 version.
The Snowman - Jo Nesbø
None other than filmmaking legend Martin Scorsese is slated to direct Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø’s The Snowman. The seventh book in Nesbø’s Harry Hole series, it cemented the writer’s reputation as a master of hard boiled fiction. Although set in Norway – the book depicts the savage work of a serial killer and detective Harry Hole’s attempts to bring the murderer to justice – it’s thought Scorsese’s involvement may see the film transported to America.
Wool - Hugh Howey
Originally a one-off novella, Hugh Howey’s Wool was such a word-of-mouth hit that he was compelled to carry on developing the series. Ridley Scott is in line to bring the action – set in a post-apocalyptic Earth where man (and woman no doubt) survives in underground cities – to the cinema, as producer at least. While J Blakeson, best known for Brit thriller The Disappearance Of Alice Creed, is set to sit in the director's chair.
The Girl Who Played With Fire - Steig Larsson
Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara and David Fincher are all thought to be down to reprise their respective acting and directing roles in the second and third parts of Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. Word is that they might be filmed back-to-back, but don’t expect anything before 2014 at the earliest.
Robopocalypse - Daniel H. Wilson
Steven Spielberg claims he will direct this cult novel that deals with the consequences of a robotic future. Wilson’s book was compared to early Michael Crichton and with a plot that involves serial killing robots running amok on Earth we can see why. Chris Hemsworth is the big name attached to the lead role, with Anne Hathaway and Ben Whishaw also mooted to be involved. According to latest reports, the project is on hiatus at present but should be revisited in the not too distant future.
Oblivion - Arvid Nelson
Okay, Oblivion is a graphic novel but allow us this one. Set in 2073, it stars Tom Cruise as a former Marine who repairs the drones that protect an Earth that was nearly destroyed by alien invasion. However, as his mission comes to an end he uncovers a secret about the alien conflict that could prove catastrophic. Also features Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo, Olga Kurylenko, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Andrea Riseborough.
Serena - Ron Rash
The partnership of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence was critical and box office gold in Silver Linings Playbook so the folk behind Serena will be hoping for more of the same here. Rash’s novel revolves around the naked ambition of a timber baron’s wife in depression-era North Carolina. Rhys Ifans and Toby Jones also star.
Paranoia - Joseph Finder
American crime writer has been described in some quarters as the new John Grisham. His hit 2004 bestseller Paranoia has been bought to the big screen by Robert Luketic. Liam Hemsworth, Gary Oldman, Harrison Ford and Richard Dreyfuss will all star in this high stakes tale of corporate espionage and murder.
Devil’s Knot Mara Leveritt
Based on Mara Leveritt’s true account of the murders in 1993 of three children in Memphis, the film stars Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Kevin Durand, Stephen Moyer and Bruce Greenwood. The book and film focus on three teenagers who were falsely imprisoned for the killings.
Winter’s Tale - Mark Helprin
Supernatural drama Winter’s Tale has long been mooted to be coming to the big screen since it was published in 1983. Directed by Akiva Goldsman, it stars Will Smith, Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly and William Hurt. The novel is set in a mythical New York of today and 100 years ago.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - James Thurber
Danny Kaye starred in the original adaptation of James Thurber’s tale of a daydreaming nobody, and for the remake Ben Stiller is directing and starring. The supporting cast include Shirley MacLaine, Kristen Wiig and Adam Scott.