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.

Summer Reads before the Coming Movies

What to read next? I’m sure that’s not a question in many readers’ mind as their TBR pile is high. But if you love to read the books before watching the movie adaptations, or looking for summer reads, here are some titles that might pique your interest.

Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Fun to listen to, love that voice in the audiobook. But if you’re a print aficionado, this  would make one breezy summer read and a movie to look forward to this fall. Cate Blanchett is Bernadett Fox, with Kristen Wiig and Judy Greer. Directed by Richard Linklater, who gave us the ‘Before…’ trilogy, Boyhood, and many other wonderful films.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett 

Ann Patchett’s 2001 novel won the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Pen/Faulker Award. A world-renown opera singer is trapped in a hostage crisis and the subsequent events. Based on a true incident in the Japanese embassy in Lima, Peru in 1996-1997. A movie adaptation has been brewing for some years and finally it’s made. Julianne Moore plays the lead role. Directed by Paul Weitz (About A Boy)

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Kevin Kwan’s Crazy trilogy is highly readable. Don’t get turned off by the titles like I was at first. They’re no-holds-barred satires that are bound to be eye-openers to many readers. A modern day, Asian version of Lizzy meeting Mr. Darcy. Movie adaptation coming out later this summer and will be a testing ground for audience world-wide with its all Asian cast and director. “Fresh Off the Boat” TV series star Constance Wu plays NYU prof Rachel Chu, Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger), Ken Jeong (Dr. Ken) are in. Jon M. Chu (Now You See Me 2) directs.

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt

Among the multiple awards Canadian writer Patrick DeWitt won with his 2012 novel was the Stephen Leacock Medal, which means it’s very humorous. A story about the brothers who share the last name Sisters. If you’re into dark but comedic Westerns, here’s your pick. A-listers Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reily star. Acclaimed French director Jacques Audiard (Rust and Bone) helms. Story takes place in Oregon and California during the 1850’s. Shot in Romania and Spain. That’s movie making today.


Other interesting titles just announced or in development:

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Entitled The Personal History of David Copperfield which I believe was the original Dickens title, is now being adapted once again into a contemporary version. Exciting to see old classics not only survive but getting creative remakes for modern-day appeal. This may not sit well with purists, but hey, our world is changing and spinning crazily every minute, so might as well enjoy the ride. This one stars Dev Patel as David Copperfield. You remember that’s the promising young man from Slumdog Millionaire, and after that, some worthy titles. He’s come a long way. An apt choice, I’d say. Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw, Hugh Laurie all in.

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

Benedict Cumberbatch acquired the film rights of Haig’s newest novel even before it’s published. So must be good. Cumberbatch will star as the 41 year-old man who actually has been living for centuries. Must contain some secrets of staying young, or maybe just a condition that you wouldn’t want. British novelist and journalist Haig’s books have been translated into 30 languages world-wide.

“The Judge’s Will” by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s last short story will be adapted into film to be directed by Alexander Payne. The ideal screenwriter for this one? James Ivory of course. Ismail Merchant, James Ivory, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, the literary-to-film triangle, my all time faves. You can read the story right here at The New Yorker online.


And here are some literary titles remade for TV series or movie on the small screen now or coming up:

King Lear by William Shakespeare

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Howards End by E. M. Forster 

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton