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"Children": Neil Patrick Harris in A Series of Unfortunate Events.
"Children": Neil Patrick Harris in A Series of Unfortunate Events.

The 2017 Page-To-Screen Adaptations We're Most Excited About

Picture of Simon Leser
UK Literary Editor
Updated: 20 January 2017
Another year, another deluge of adaptations out to smother original screenwriting before it even gets a chance. We’ve counted at least 30 film and TV projects based on some book or other, and we’re fairly certain we forgot quite a few. But rest assured: here, as always, to rummage in the garbage pile in search of (prospective) gems is Culture Trip.

A Series of Unfortunate Events (January)

Already out on Netflix, this adaptation of the beloved fiction series was written and produced by the author himself (no, not Lemony Snicket—it’s Daniel Handler), and follows the overwhelming adventures of three ingenious orphans. Starring a brilliant Neil Patrick Harris as the many-costumed villain, along with Patrick Warburton as our ever-present (and ever-humorous) narrator, Lemony Snicket, this surreally funny, high-octane show—fantastically written and luscious-looking—is a definite must-see.

Hidden Figures (February)

Though it was released in the US late last month, we’ve decided to include Hidden Figures by virtue of its European due date. Given the fanfare with which the movie was unveiled Stateside, frankly this list couldn’t do without it. Based on a non-fiction title by Margot Lee Shetterly, it tells the true story of three African-American female mathematicians who worked for NASA (played by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe), and were instrumental in developing its space program.

The Circle (April)

With Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, Karen Gillan, and John Boyega cast in the main roles, this heavy-hitting adaptation of Dave Eggers’ 2013 bestseller cannot be but highly anticipated. Set in a near-future on the verge of dystopia, it traces the disappearance of privacy as the little cameras of a technology company called The Circle slowly become ubiquitous within society. It’s full of 1984 references, so that’s nice.

American Gods (April)

Bryan Fuller (Hannibal, Pushing Daisies) and Michael Green (HeroesGreen Lantern) are turning Neil Gaiman’s 2001 fantasy novel American Gods into a TV series, which all sounds rather exciting. Set in a modern United States, it is a world where mythological gods exist because people believe in them; a group of Old Gods, led by Odin (played by Ian McShane), forms to confront the New Gods (which feature Media, Technical Boy, etc…). Cool things ensue.

The Beguiled (June)

Well sure, this isn’t really much of a book adaptation, but rather a remake of a 1971 movie starring Clint Eastwood, which was based on a little-known Southern Gothic novel by Thomas P. Cullinan (now out of print). Set during the Civil War, it follows the dangerous liaisons of a wounded Union soldier (Colin Farrell), made to recuperate in an all-girl boarding school in Mississippi. As it was directed by Sofia Coppola, we certainly can’t wait to see her take on the definitely-a-little-misogynistic classic.

Colin Farrell in Miss Julie (2014) | Courtesy of Maipo Film

Colin Farrell in Miss Julie (2014) | © Maipo Film

My Cousin Rachel (July)

The appropriately named Rachel Weisz stars in this adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s 1951 classic, which centers around the successive loves of cousins Philip and Ambrose for Rachel, their other cousin (yeah). As with every du Maurier novel, though, this is romance with a dark edge—in this case, that the mysterious woman may well also be a murderer. Done well, it could easily be a fantastic film.

Rachel Weisz in Agora (2009) | ©Mod Producciones

Rachel Weisz in Agora (2009) | © Mod Producciones

The Dark Tower (July)

Stephen King’s epic fantasy-science fiction-western series is finally going to get the big-screen debut it deserves. It’s not strictly a book adaptation, but rather a sequel (but given the story’s circularity, we’re guessing it will follow a similar course) starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. The Dark Tower‘s universe, to put it as simply as possible, is a little like a broken version of ours—that is, time flows weirdly; various ages and technologies intermix; directions alternate; and no one really knows what’s going on. Makes for a nice ride, though, we promise.

Idris Elba and Tom Taylor in The Dark Tower | ©Sony Pictures Entertainment

Idris Elba and Tom Taylor in The Dark Tower | © Sony Pictures Entertainment

Murder on the Orient Express (November)

Speaking of ride: Agatha Christie’s classic train-bound murder mystery is getting the star makeover, courtesy of Sir Kenneth Branagh (who will both direct and play the lead role as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot). Want to know why we’re really excited, though? Consider the following cast list: Olivia Colman, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Derek Jacobi, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Daisy Ridley.

Johnny Depp in Mortdecai (2017) | Courtesy of Lionsgate

Johnny Depp in Mortdecai (2017) | Courtesy of Lionsgate

The Glass Castle (?)

Brie Larson, Naomi Watts, and Woody Harrelson star in this adaptation of Jeannette Walls’ 2005 memoir, a New York Times Best Seller for 261 straight weeks. It tells the story of the author’s unconventional (to say the least) childhood in the American Southwest, in a poor, debt-ridden family, and with an alcoholic scammer for a father. I’m not sure when it’s coming out yet, but it’ll definitely be sometime this year.

The Glass Castle, starring Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts | ©Lionsgate

The Glass Castle, starring Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts | © Lionsgate

His Dark Materials (?)

A full 10 years after Hollywood’s disappointing adaptation, the greatest young adult fantasy adventure ever written (and I mean that) is being adapted into a TV show, courtesy of the BBC and writer Jack Thorne (Skins, This is England). It may come out at the end of this year or early in 2018—so details are still fairly sparse—but given the general greatness of Philip Pullman’s trilogy, we can’t wait!

The His Dark Materials trilogy | Courtesy of Scholastic Publishing

The His Dark Materials trilogy | Courtesy of Scholastic Publishing