More book to screen adaptations 2020 – 2021

Vikram Seth’s epic novel (1993) of over 1,300 pages is turned into a 6-episode TV mini-series. The setting is India during the 1950’s. The story is the all-consuming duty of a mother finding a suitable boy for her daughter. The story might be culturally specific, but the mission definitely surpasses ethnic boundaries. The BBC production is helmed by the acclaimed Indian director Mira Nair (Queen of Katwe, 2016; The Namesake, 2006). Screenplay by Andrew Davies, who scripted Pride and Prejudice (1995). He’s done plenty since, more Austen, Dickens, Tolstoy, Hugo… now Seth. This did stir up some dissatisfied ripples questioning whether he’s a suitable scribe for this series.

Frank Herbert’s 1965 acclaimed sci-fi series is one of the highly anticipated movies to come out in 2020. Helmed by Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, a notable name with works such as Blade Runner 2049 (2017) and Arrival (2016). Screenplay by Villeneuve and Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, 1994, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 2008). Appealing cast with Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina, 2014, Inside Llewyn Davis, 2013) and Timothée Chalamet (Little Women, 2019) as father and son travelling to the planet Arrakis. Top supporting cast with Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem (Skyfall, 2012), Stellan Skarsgård (Mamma Mia! 2008), Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Rampling (Never Let Me Go, 2010).

Another book by Canadian author Patrick DeWitt after his Sisters Brothers was adapted for the big screen in 2018. French Exit is a good one for those looking for short and quirky reads. A New York socialite, using up most of her fortunes and years is moving to Paris with her adult son and their cat to escape financial woes. The book isn’t much of a story I feel, so hopefully the movie will work better. Considering the cast, I remain hopeful: Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucas Hedges, Imogen Poots, and Tracy Letts (the cat).

Paulette Jiles’s National Book Award nominated novel is a Civil War era story about an aging itinerant news reader who agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people. Goodreads says: “exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel … that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.” Tom Hanks is tasked to portray this character, reuniting with his Captain Philips (2013) director Paul Greengrass. Adapted screenplay by Luke Davies (Lion, 2016).

Directed and screenplay written by Joel Coen, I’m curious to see if this is a deadpan version of the Bard’s play. But then again, when I think of No Country for Old Men (2007), the Coens or just Joel here, could make it double toil and trouble, plain bloody too. Denzel Washington is Lord Macbeth, Frances McDormand is his Lady. Think Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017), this lady can wreak some havoc.


And then there are the remakes. West Side Story and Rebecca are two of the more anticipated ones.

West Side Story (2020)

A cast of 130+ will join the Spielberg team with screenwriter Tony Kushner (Lincoln, 2012) and cinematographer, two-time Oscar winner Janusz Kaminski (Saving Private Ryan, 1998, and Schindler’s List, 1993). Additional new music by David Newman. Ansel Elgort plays Tony, and Maria is Rachel Zegler, chosen from 30,000 auditioned. Rita Moreno, who played Anita in the 1961 movie, also stars in this remake.

Richard Beymer & Natalie Wood, 1961
Ansel Elgort & Rachel Zegler, 2020

Rebecca (2020)

Directed by Ben Wheatley, Armie Hammer is Maxim de Winter, Lily James, Mrs. de Winter, and Kristin Scott Thomas is Mrs. Danvers. What I’m most interested in, however, is the production design, which will be all burned down or undergo some tricky CGI effects is to be seen. Six-time Oscar nominee Sarah Greenwood heads up that department. Her works include Darkest Hour (2017), Anna Karenina (2012), and Atonement (2007) among many other titles. So, I think Manderley the set is in good hands. But will the whole production beat the classic 1940 Alfred Hitchcock noir with Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine?

Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier, Judith Anderson, 1940
Why do I think of A Streetcar Named Desire here?
Is Kristin Scott Thomas scary enough as Mrs. Danvers?


Release Information:

(Updated Oct. 10, 2020) As this has been a strange year with lots of uncertainties, the dates and where to see them could change in the coming days or months:

A Suitable Boy – on BBC One TV now. E1 started on Sunday July 26 at 9 pm, and the rest on five consecutive Sundays after that. It’s not available in North America yet. It’s a selection at TIFF2020 Update: Scheduled to stream on Netflix on October 23, excluding the US, Canada and China.

Dune – Release date delayed till Fall, 2021

French Exit – Premiere at New York Film Festival, October, 2020. After that not sure about distribution.

News of the World – in theatres December, 2020 still, but may change.

Macbeth – to be released in USA 2021, details unknown.

West Side Story – Pushed back to December, 2021

Rebecca – Oct. 16 limited theatre release, on Netflix beginning October 21, 2020


Related Posts:

Click on the links embedded in this post to read my Ripple reviews.

More Book to Movie Lists: Here, Here, and Here.

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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.

40 thoughts on “More book to screen adaptations 2020 – 2021”

    1. Let’s hope it got picked up by a distributor at the NYFF (which it has its premiere in Oct.) so we can have a chance to see it. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂


    1. I’m sure the Spielberg team has their method. Thanks for asking those questions, prompting me to dig deeper and found this YouTube clip. Rachel Z. has quite a voice too!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Yes. Kristin Scott Thomas can be very scary! I don’t know which book I hated more — Dune or French Exit. I’ll give both of those a pass but Macbeth sounds very intriguing and of course I’m all in for Rebecca!


    1. I wasn’t excited about the book French Exit either. But if they’re to make a movie of it, and with this cast, I sure hope they won’t be so ‘faithful’ to the literary source, but add in some appealing content, and not waste the talents they’ve got.


  2. I’m looking forward to A Suitable Boy when it makes its way to Australia but the rest don’t interest me at all. I loved the original Rebecca (and the book, of course) but a remake…noooo.


    1. O there’s another one coming out I forgot to mention: Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. Kenneth Branagh directs and plays Poirot. Interested?


  3. I wasn’t excited about the book French Exit either. But if they’re to make a movie of it, and with these talents in the cast, I sure hope they won’t be so ‘faithful’ to the literary source, but add in some appealing content, and not waste the talents they’ve got.


  4. I’m looking forward to all, even the couple which books I have not read: A Suitable…French Exit. (I didn’t know News of the World is planned to become a movie.


    1. News of the World is scheduled to be released in the US on Christmas Day this year. As things are so uncertain these days, just hope that it will come out on time. Many movies have been delayed due to Covid as theatres are either closed or allowed only limited seating capacity. Have you read the book? My most anticipated one in the above is A Suitable Boy. I haven’t read this book, too long, but I’d enjoyed Vikram Seth’s An Equal Music and his biography of his great uncle and aunt Two Lives.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. We really don’t know when the 6-episode mini-series will arrive in the US for you and Canada for me, so, may not be a bad idea to read it first. We might have lots of time. Hey… would you like to read it together? 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I imagine there might be a slow down in films being made and coming out. The last film I saw at the cinema was Petit Pays based on the book by Gael Faye, we were lucky to see the premiere with the Director and lead actress attending, but the film never got a chance to debut, due to the confinement.
    A suitable boy would be interesting to revisit, it was so long ago that I read it, I can barely remember it.


    1. Did you see that in a Film Festival? Edinburgh? Here in my city we don’t have many foreign films. Now even out of the question for popular movies, let alone artsy ones. With the Covid situation still very much active, I’m not sure when we’ll get to see even the ones I mention above despite their scheduled release dates. Many just go straight to streaming.


      1. I saw it in my hometown here in Aix-en-Provence, the avant-premiere was held here, which happened to be the hometown of the Director. A few days later they flew to Burundi to show the film to the actors and crew, so at least that happened, all in the days just before everything changed and public viewings halted.


        1. I was in Aix-en-Provence about ten years ago! It was a day trip from Avignon. There was a market, everything was beautiful! Are you still living there now?


  6. Some interesting looking adaptations here Arti. And the remake of Rebecca! I’ve recently read a thorough biography of Judith Anderson, and of course her Mrs Danvers came up, a role I remember. I had forgotten, though I’d re-watched it only recently-ish, about her being in Laura. I found her biography – much of it about her theatre work of course – fascinating.


    1. I’m not a literature ‘purist’ as who think a book should not be made into a movie; and of course, there are the ‘traditionist’ who hang on to an old version and don’t think a new one should be made. But I welcome a new Rebecca, esp. with Lily James and Kristin Scott Thomas (one of my all time faves.)


      1. No, I’m not a purist either. I see adaptations and remakes as new works and like to consider them on their merits. For example, I love Clueless, and Rozema’s Mansfield Park, which purists don’t like.


      1. Well, there were a few things, but the most egregious was not ending it “properly” in order to go for a second season (which I think won’t happen because I don’t think it was well received.) I think Davies and the production company sold Austen out for the opportunity to make more money.

        Further, there were scenes that were crude rather than witty in the Austen way, and much of it was very derivative of other Austen novels and Davies adaptations in order, I suspect, to keep it true to Austen but the result was obvious mishmash rather than a serious attempt to work out where Austen may have been going with this book.


        1. Umm, you sure are an astute viewer. Yes, Movies or TV, the bottom line is profit. I still have the chance to watch A Suitable Boy from TIFF, but they’re showing all 6 episodes back to back about 5.5 hrs! For $26 to watch online within a 12 hr. window. I don’t mind paying but the time requirement sounds exhausting.


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