Hayley breaks down the movies and TV series based on books due to hit screens in the coming months.
Hulu already covered the topic in their critically acclaimed 2021 series Dopesick (and scored 14 Emmy nominations, including a win for lead actor Michael Keaton), but Netflix is now also tackling the American opioid epidemic with Painkiller, inspired by the investigative books Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe and Pain Killer by Barry Meier. While the two different takes on the topic seem to cover a lot of the same ground, Hulu’s series was a more sombre look at the victims of OxyContin, the drug that fuelled the crisis, while the Netflix show is more of a deep-dive into the Sackler family, founders of the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma, and the 2007 lawsuit that saw them under fire for misrepresenting the addictive nature of the drug.
Dracula: Voyage of the Demeter
Few novels have been so iconic as to inspire a film based on a single chapter, but Bram Stoker’s Dracula is happy to pluck that crown, thank you. Dracula: Voyage of the Demeter (simply titled The Last Voyage of the Demeter overseas; no subtlety allowed for those down under?) is the second Dracula-adjacent film from Universal Studios in 2023, coming just months after Renfield endeared audiences to the vampire’s unfortunate henchman. Inspired by chapter 7, “The Captain’s Log,” from the original text, this film narrows the story down to that of the Demeter, a Russian ship carrying unmarked crates from Carpathia to London, as the crew are stalked each night by a sinister presence onboard the vessel. Spoiler: I think that might be Dracula.
Red, White and Royal Blue
Ask any rom-com aficionado (ahem, myself), and they’ll tell you that the current output doesn’t hold a candle to the heyday of the ‘90s and early ‘00s. But Hollywood is trying, and in their attempts, they’re turning more and more to the romance novels currently blasting up bestseller lists. Red White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston is one of the most-read and most-loved books from this new wave of rom-coms, focusing on the enemies-to-lovers story of Alex, son of the American president, and Henry, Prince of England. The sweet and spicy film adaptation, hitting Amazon Prime Video, stars Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicholas Galitzine in the lead roles; not bad for a book that started its life as The Social Network fanfiction (yes, you read that right, and yes, it is apparently a thing).
Force of Nature: The Dry 2
Eric Bana is stepping back into the role of Aaron Falk in this follow-up to the 2020 adaptation of Jane Harper’s The Dry (in case you couldn’t tell from the ludicrous “Make-Sure-They-Know-It’s-A-Sequel!” title). Force of Nature: The Dry 2 transports the Aussie detective to the lush, remote bushlands of the fictional Giralang Ranges (better title: The Moist?), where a group of five colleagues have gone for a team-building hike, but only four have come back. Falk is called in to help, but uncovers a far deeper mystery; Alice, the missing hiker, was helping him with a financial investigation into her company and was on the verge of bringing him crucial evidence before she disappeared. There seems to be a great dearth of mystery and thriller content coming to film and TV at the moment, so this is sure to fill a nice gap in the genre.
Netflix is taking another crack at manga/anime adaptation, a bold move after their 2017 Death Note film and 2021 Cowboy Bebop series both effectively tanked. And they’re certainly not giving themselves an easy job for their chance at redemption; Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece currently has 106 volumes and is the longest and biggest-selling manga series of all time, while the anime series is sitting on its 1086th episode. The swashbuckling adventure story follows Monkey D. Luffy, a young pirate captain who sets sail with his crew, the Straw Hat Pirates, in order to track down the mythical treasure called the “one piece” and obtain the title of Pirate King. All eyes will be on Netflix to see whether they can, this time, pull off an adaptation of such a hugely beloved series.
A Haunting in Venice
The Agatha Christie Cinematic Universe continues with A Haunting in Venice, a vague adaptation of a later and lesser-known Poirot mystery, Hallowe’en Party. Centring around a Halloween seance taking place in Venice, where one of the attendees is, of course, murdered, Kenneth Branagh’s latest Poirot film has quite a different atmosphere from its predecessors; that is to say, it looks spooky. Considering the book it’s based on is not set in Venice, nor does it contain a seance, Branagh is certainly running fast and loose with the source material, but the switch in tone could serve the series well after the lukewarm critical reception for the first two films. The third addition also features a more modest ensemble cast this time round, but does star newly-minted Academy Award winner Michelle Yeoh alongside Tina Fey, Jamie Dornan and Kelly Reilly.