Books into Movies: 2019 and Beyond

Feeling the post-Oscar blues? How about turning to books, before they in turn are morphed into a movie? The following are some upcoming books being adapted into movies in various stages of development. Some are coming out soon, some just announced.

The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook

The movie adaptation starring Keira Knightley, Alexander Skarsgärd and Jason Clarke is coming out March 19, directed by Testament of Youth (2014) helmer James Kent. In recent years, WWII historical fiction has enjoyed a sensational growth in popularity, The Aftermath is another one of this highly sought after genre. The transfer to movies, while not always as effective, lacks no enthused followers. The Aftermath is set in 1946 Hamburg, a British family and a German widower and his daughter had to live under the same roof during a de-Nazification operation.

Cats: The Musical 

Based on T. S. Eliot’s collection of poems Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats is hailed as one of the biggest hits in theatrical history on their website. Director Tom Hooper has another musical-turned-movie under his belt: Les Misérables (2012) which won 3 Oscars. Attractive cast in Cats the movie: Rebel Wilson, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, James Corden, Taylor Swift.

Death on the Nile & Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie

Kenneth Branagh will direct Wonder Woman Gal Gadot and Armie Hammer in Death on the Nile. Branagh will reprise his role of Hercule Poirot, after starring in and directing Murder on the Orient Express in 2017. Now over forty years after her death, Christie’s influence has not waned. A movie adaptation of Witness for the Prosecution has also been announced with Ben Affleck directing.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

John Crowley is no stranger to literary adaptations; his previous feature, Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn, was nominated for 3 Oscars. This time, Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize winning The Goldfinch reads like it’s written readily for the camera, considering the eclectic characters and the explosive storylines. Sarah Paulson and Nicole Kidman star. Screenplay adapted by Peter Straughan, who was nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for co-writing the 2012 script for John Le Carré’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2012).

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

Larson’s 2011 non-fiction is a captivating look into the power and social structure of Berlin during the emergent years of Hitler’s rule. Focus is on the the true story of William Dodd, a mild-mannered Chicago professor who becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany. And this is relatively hot-off-the-press: English film director Joe Wright will helm the production (See also the last entry of this post). Tom Hanks was originally linked with the role of Dodd (and a good choice I think); whether he will carry it through or just remain as producer is to be seen. This is one movie I’ll definitely watch out for. Before then, the book is a great read to prep for it.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Geared for a Christmas release, this new version of Alcott’s classic is written and directed by Greta Gerwig. Gerwig is acclaimed for her take on the contemporary young woman, her psyche and struggles in films like Frances Ha (2012) and Lady Bird (2017). How will she approach Alcott’s novel of a bygone era? And if you still have Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, Kursten Dunst and Christian Bale from the 1994 cast stamped in your mind, now try to imagine Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, Emma Watson, Meryl Streep and Laura Dern taking their places. Actually, not a bad replacement.

The Personal History of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

First off, I must say this is one of my all time favourite novels, but I’m no purist. While I welcome new representations and interpretation, I still hope the upcoming movie will be Dickens-approved. A most interesting (postmodern) cast: we have Dev Patel as Davie, Tilda Swinton as Betsey Trotwood, Hugh Laurie as Mr. Dick, Ben Whishaw as the ultimate villain Uriah Heep, Benedict Wong as Mr. Wickfield. Directed by Armando Iannucci (The Death of Stalin, 2017).

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier 

In this remake of Rebecca, Armie Hammer will play Maxim de Winter. And who will be Mrs.? None other than Lily James, ubiquitous after Downton Abbey (Lady Rose). Do you think she will make one successful Mrs. de Winter? What I’m most interested in, however, is the production design, headed by 6-time Oscar nominee Sarah Greenwood, whose filmography includes Darkest Hour (2017), Anna Karenina (2012), and Atonement (2007) among many other titles. I think Manderley is in good hands. But will the whole production beat the classic Alfred Hitchcock noir with Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine? And who can be more chilling than Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers?

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

Another wildly popular genre in recent years along the line of Gone Girl and Woman on the Train etc. is the modern day thriller-cum-unreliable-narrator (and alas, they’re mostly women!) mystery novels. Finn’s (Now what’s with the writer whose real name is Daniel Mallory using a pseudonym close to Flynn, the Gone Girl author?) NYT bestseller is turned into a movie with a top-notch cast. (Aside: do writers nowadays write in preparation for a movie?) Directed by the much sought-after Joe Wright, who’d helmed Darkest Hour (2017), Anna Karenina (2012), Atonement (2007), and Pride and Prejudice (2005). Wright has a dream cast in his hands: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Juliane Moore. The movie adaptation is written by Pulitzer winner, playwright/screenwriter Tracy Letts, who gave us August: Osage County.


Which one(s) of the above do you anticipate most? Others not on this list?



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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

11 thoughts on “Books into Movies: 2019 and Beyond”

  1. Wow. I’m pretty excited about most of these. Certainly Cats — that’s a cast! And the Christies. Rebecca, too. Thought Armie might be weird as Maxim till I saw him in On the Basis of Sex and thought, nope. He’ll do! Hated the Goldfinch but I think it will make a better movie than book — at least a shorter one. Garden of Beasts sounds great and the Little Women cast is good. Nice head’s up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jeanie,

      Glad they pique your interest. Time to read and reread these titles. And certainly, as a book and film lover, I hope they will be handled with care and thoughtful interpretations, not only for the enjoyment of readers and viewers, but to shatter the cliché that ‘the book is always better’.


  2. I think you may be right about writers writing to mak transition to screenplay that much easier. But could it also be that authors are influenced by movies?
    I remember putting the A.J. Finn book on hold at my library and I think I remember what a slow start the book was that I may have let my loan period expire without finishing the book. Maybe it was genre-fatigue!


    1. nikkipolani,

      You have a point here. Contemporary writers could very well have been influenced by the movies they watch. I’ve also observed that, not only do they write a book to be readily adapted into a screenplay, they’d want to be the person doing just that too. Case in point: Gillian Flynn, author and screenwriter for “Gone Girl”; Emma Donoghue for “Room”.


  3. So glad Kenneth Branagh is going to do another Christie movie. I really liked Murder on the Orient Express. And the new one will have Gale Gadot, so exciting! Also, Cats! Is Judy Dench going to be a cat? Is she going to sing and dance? Must see this! And David Copperfield too. Movies to look forward to!


    1. Stafanie,

      Yes, I look forward to another Branagh’s Poirot and AG adaptation too. As for “Cats”, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, my hats off to these (still) energetic actors. Don’t know if they will dance and sing, but you can find out come Christmas when it’s released. Note too, movies coming out after September are likely to have their eye on the Awards circuit. And for “Little Women”, which has a Dec. 25 release date, director Greta Gerwig is already on the early list of Oscar watch 2020! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Of course I’m going to be eager for the “Cats” release. I’m glad to know about that. As a side note, one of the most interesting things I’ve noticed about the song “Memory” is that it seems to be rooted not in Eliot’s extended poem about cats, but in another of his poems: “Rhapsody on a Windy Night.” Not only are there multiple references to memory, there are lines about streetlamps muttering and sputtering, and other phrases that show up in the lyrics. This may be common knowledge to most, but I hadn’t come across the similarities before, and thought them fascinating.


  5. Nice list, but I am not excited. Finn, the “writer” of The Woman in the Window is rightly accused of plagiarism (he copied the book Saving April) and he is also a ruthless serial liar, so I will not go to see the film as a matter of principle and I do not think anyone should either. Remaking Rebecca is an insult and the fourth adaptation of Little Women is a horrifying thought. The Goldfinch could be nice, but I am sure it will not live up to the book.


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