Hayley breaks down the movies and TV series based on books due to hit screens in the following months.
Undoubtedly riding the coattails of 2020’s Emma, as well as their own (decidedly saucier) smash-hit period romance Bridgerton, Netflix is producing their first Jane Austen adaptation with Persuasion, Austen’s last novel, published after her death in 1817. While the source material has been handled numerous times by the BBC, it has never had a big studio behind it, and this cinematic version brings a modernisation in tone but not in style; expect cheeky fourth-wall breaks alongside the lush Regency-era costumes. Dakota Johnson stars as the protagonist Anne Elliot, a woman who was persuaded by her family to end her engagement, but receives a second chance at love when her former fiancée returns from the navy after seven years.
Fun, dynamic, zany action movies are very much up my alley, and Bullet Train is giving me everything I want (mainly neon lights, quick-witted dialogue and whip-pans). Atomic Blonde and John Wick director David Leitch has rounded up a huge ensemble cast, including, but not limited to: Brad Pitt, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Joey King, Zazie Beetz, Michael Shannon, Bad Bunny and Sandra Bullock, seemingly returning the favour for Pitt’s cameo in The Lost City earlier this year. Based on Kōtarō Isaka’s novel, originally titled Maria Beetle, it centres on Ladybug, a reluctant assassin tasked with collecting a briefcase from a bullet train heading to Toyko, who realises his objective is connected to a slew of other trained killers.
Where the Crawdads Sing
Delia Owens’s Where the Crawdads Sing was thrust into the spotlight just weeks after it was published when Reese Witherspoon hand-picked it for her book club; now, having turned the novel into a bona fide phenomenon, Witherspoon spearheads the adaptation with her own production company. Normal People’s Daisy Edgar-Jones stars in the lead role of Kya, an outcast young woman abandoned by her family and forced to survive alone in the North Carolina marsh, who becomes embroiled in the murder case of a popular local man. While the film marks another win for the increasingly sparse “mid-budget movies” of Hollywood, studio Sony Pictures Releasing will no doubt be hoping that the colossal book sales translate into box office.
The Gray Man
An adaptation of Mark Greaney’s The Gray Man has been in the Hollywood pipeline for over a decade, having passed from the teamings of Ad Astra director James Gray and Brad Pitt to Mission Impossible: Fallout director Christopher McQuarrie and Charlize Theron. It’s now set to be Netflix’s most expensive movie to date, though its $200 million budget is pennies to Avengers: Endgame helmers, the Russo brothers. With a stacked cast featuring Ryan Gosling, a moustachioed Chris Evans, Ana de Armas and Regé-Jean Page in his first post-Bridgerton role, the action-packed spy thriller follows a notoriously covert CIA operative who is hunted across the globe by a psychopathic former ally.
Five Days at Memorial
Apple TV+ continues its run of compelling television with Five Days at Memorial, a haunting dramatisation of the true events at a New Orleans hospital in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, based on Sheri Fink's investigative book (itself an expansion of her Pulitzer Prize-winning article for The New York Times Magazine). In the days following the disaster, as thousands were trapped inside Memorial Medical Centre with failing power and rising flood waters, the staff were forced to make decisions for their patients that would later be called into question. With the respective writers of Lost and 12 Years a Slave heading the series as co-showrunners, this is sure to be a searing and complex look at a real-life tragedy.
House of the Dragon
I don't know if any other TV series in 2022 will conjure the same flurry of mixed emotions as the Game of Thrones prequel, House of the Dragon. Based on Fire and Blood (the book George R. R. Martin put out instead of finishing The Winds of Winter) and focusing on House Targaryen 200 years prior to the events of GoT, the show would have been a sure-fire hit – if the final season of the original series hadn’t slid head-first downhill and eviscerated years of devotion from the fans. Despite the loss of faith, HBO plowed on with the spinoff, though without the involvement of the original showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss; whether the lingering vitriol will truly dampen the reception of the prequel, however, remains to be seen.
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
HBO and Amazon Studios are staging a battle of the epic fantasy prequels, with The Lord of the Rings spinoff The Rings of Power set to hit the latter’s streaming service mere weeks after House of the Dragon begins on the former. But unlike its competition, the new series won't be taking place in the same cinematic universe as its preceding films, with Peter Jackson nowhere to be found in the behind-the-scenes roles, so don’t hang around for any callbacks to the original trilogy or the Hobbit movies. The series draws its inspiration from the appendices at the end of The Return of the King, condensing over a thousand years of events to cover the forging of the Rings of Power and the rise of Sauron.
Next up on the endless list of Stephen King adaptations (and yet another remake) is Salem’s Lot, a new film to contend with the 1979 miniseries. Gary Dauberman is no stranger to King’s work, having co-written both IT and its sequel, and he now moves to the director’s chair too, taking full charge of the horror master’s sophomore novel. Bill Pullman stars in the lead role as an author named Ben Mears, returning to a town where he spent part of his childhood only to find that its residents are being plagued by an ancient evil, turning them into vampires. Considering the recent string of Stephen King adaptation-remakes, my expectations for this are pretty low, but let’s just hope it’s better than Firestarter, Pet Sematary and Carrie.
Blonde is another film that has been stuck in development hell for over ten years, though this one never strayed from the resolute hands of Kiwi-born director Andrew Dominik. Joyce Carol Oates’s 2000 novel fictionalises the life of Marilyn Monroe, contrasting her inner self with her on-screen persona, from her childhood as Norma Jeane Mortenson to her meteoric rise to fame. Knives Out star Ana de Armas steps into the immense role, but this is no typical Oscar-bait biopic – the film has already garnered an NC-17 rating in the US for its explicit content, the first of the decade to do so, and Dominik claims his script has very little dialogue, instead intending for it to be an “avalanche of images and events.”