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Fall is the perfect time for curling up with a good book—or maybe a good movie. (We’re not monsters.) Even better if you can hit two birds with one stone, of course, and this after all is Literary Hub, so here we present the literary movies and TV shows—adaptations, documentaries, and other book-adjacent fare—we’re most looking forward to this season.
The Wheel of Time (Season 2)
Prime Video, September 1
Literary bona fides: based on Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time universe (1990 – 2013)
The first season of Amazon’s ginormous-budget adaptation of Jordan’s beloved series got pretty mixed reviews, but at least some fans have hope that season two will be an improvement. Either way, those looking for their high fantasy fix in this post-Game of Thrones world will be able to find it here—though if that’s you, might I suggest dipping a toe into Baldur’s Gate 3?
The Little Mermaid
Disney+, September 6
Literary bona fides: based on Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale (1837)
Disney’s latest live action remake—making its streaming debut after opening in theaters in May—is technically an adaptation of its own 1989 animated classic, but that one was (loosely) based on the original fairy tale, so whatever, it counts. Again, reviews were decidedly mixed, but in these dark and darkening days, my stance is: the more magic we can dole out to children (and ourselves), the better.
Apple TV+, September 8
Literary bona fides: based on The Changeling by Victor LaValle (2017)
I loved LaValle’s creepy, horror-fabulist New York novel—which contains one of the most frightening scenes I’ve ever read in a book—and I’m beyond stoked to see LaKeith Stanfield as Apollo Kagwa, the rare book dealer who finds himself plunged, in this very grown up fairy tale, into a sort of mirror world of grief and solitude and monsters.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
In theaters, September 8
Literary bona fides: based on Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (2012)
The beloved coming-of-age novel, in which two Mexican-American boys in 1987 El Paso find an unexpected connection in one another, has been tenderly adapted by Aitch Alberto,
The Other Black Girl
Hulu, September 13
Literary bona fides: based on The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris (2021)
Book publishing is a land of horrors! Or at least it is when, like Nella, you’re the only Black employee at a company—until, that is, Wagner Books hires Hazel, and somehow things begin to get even worse. Here’s hoping that Hulu does justice to Harris’s twisty bestseller.
Love at First Sight
Neftlix, September 15
Literary bona fides: based on The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith (2013)
Hadley (Haley Lu Richardson) meets Oliver (Ben Hardy) in the airport, they connect over a long flight, but will they ever see each other again? Rom-com fans, step right up.
Prime Video, September 15
Literary bona fides: based on Wilderness by B.E. Jones (2019)
This British adaptation is a middle-of-the-road thriller with a lot of flaws—which shouldn’t stop it from satisfying viewers looking for a weeknight pulse-raiser.
A Haunting in Venice
In theaters, September 15
Literary bona fides: based on Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie (1969)
Kenneth Branagh is back back back again as Christie’s Hercule Poirot, flanked this Halloween by another all-star cast, including Michelle Yeoh, Tina Fey, Jamie Dornan, and Kelly Reilly. Will it change the world? Never. Will it entertain you for nearly two hours? Almost certainly.
In theaters, September 22
Literary bona fides: based on The Antisocial Network by Ben Mezrich (2021)
Remember the GameStop stock fiasco? That was in January 2021, if you can believe it; by September 2021, there was already a book about it, and two years later, that book has been adapted into a movie starring Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, Seth Rogen, and Shailene Woodley. Talk about compound interest, amirite?
Peacock, September 26
Literary bona fides: based on Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational (2008)
NBC’s new fall drama, episodes of which will be available the day after air date on Peacock—inspired by the bestselling nonfiction book about human patterns, Predictably Irrational, by behavioral scientist Dan Ariely—stars Jesse L. Martin as a behavioral science professor who uses his insights into human behavior to crack complicated high-stakes cases. Sounds like fun to me.
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, etc.
Netflix, September 27
Literary bona fides: based on “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” by Roald Dahl (1977)
Wes Anderson’s Roald Dahl project hits Netflix at the end of the month, with four short films based on Dahl’s stories, beginning with The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar on September 27, followed by The Swan (Sept. 28), The Ratcatcher (Sept. 29) and Poison (Sept. 30). The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, which will also get a theatrical release on September 20, is a snack-sized 40 minutes and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar, with Ralph Fiennes as Dahl himself, alongside Dev Patel, Ben Kingsley, Rupert Friend, and Richard Ayoade.
Lupin Part 3
Netflix, October 3
Literary bona fides: based on the stories of Arsène Lupin by Maurice Leblanc (first introduced in 1905)
Don’t let the subtitles (or the awkwardness of dubbing, though the former is a better experience) scare you away from Lupin, the wonderful and stylish French thriller series that is coming back for a third season this fall. It’s worth it—especially for Sherlock Holmes fans.
In theaters, October 6
Literary bona fides: based on “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian (2017)
Let’s be real: early reviews are bad. But considering this is based on a (mega viral) short story many of us had to read through our fingers in the first place, that almost enhances its appeal. (Nicholas Braun definitely enhances its appeal.) Follow your heart.
In theaters, October 6
Literary bona fides: based on Foe by Iain Reid (2018)
Reid co-wrote the adaptation of his own near-future psychological thriller with Garth Davis, who also directs; Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal star along with Aaron Pierre (but don’t be fooled—Reid is not Irish, but Canadian). More importantly, if the film follows the novel, there’s a pretty good twist…
The Fall of the House of Usher
Netflix, October 12
Literary bona fides: based on Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839)
Salem-born filmmaker Mike Flanagan is kind of into horror—he’s adapted Shirley Jackson, he’s adapted Henry James, he’s adapted Stephen King, and next up is his take on Edgar Allan Poe, in an eight episode limited series inspired by the title story, as well as other works by the spooky literary legend. Don’t mind me, I’ll be under the bed.
Lessons in Chemistry
Apple TV+, October 13
Literary bona fides: based on Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (2022)
Call your book club! In what feels like no time at all, this bestseller—in which a female scientist in the 1950s becomes a TV chef in order to smuggle scientific concepts to other women stymied by the times—has become a highly anticipated miniseries starring Brie Larson.
Disney+ and Hulu, October 13
Literary bona fides: based on the Goosebumps books by R.L. Stine
October 13th is a Friday this year, so of course that is when Disney’s new Goosebumps series, in which a bunch of teens must chase down the supernatural baddies they accidentally set free, will be coming out. Also of course: Justin Long is in it (presumably as an adult, but I wouldn’t stake the farm).
Killers of the Flower Moon
In theaters, October 20
Literary bona fides: based on Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (2017)
This is arguably the marquee literary adaptation of the season, based on Grann’s bestselling and widely praised nonfiction book, focusing on the 1920s murders of members of Oklahoma’s Osage Nation after their land was discovered to be rich in oil, directed by Marin Scorsese, and featuring, at least by some early accounts, the best performance of Leonardo DiCaprio’s life. The film, which is a whopping 3 hours and 26 minutes, also stars Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone, as well as Jesse Plemons, John Lithgow, Tantoo Cardinal, and Brendan Fraser. Early reviews are sterling, but if nothing else, it will be the movie everyone is talking about this year.
The Pigeon Tunnel
Apple TV+, October 20
Literary bona fides: a documentary based on John le Carré’s final interview
“Why is betrayal an important concept to you?” Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris asks former spy David Cornwell, better known as spy novelist John le Carré, in this documentary, which is built around what is being described as the author’s last interview before his death in 2020. Le Carré was famously loath to give interviews, especially in-depth ones about his family; this promises to buck that trend, and should be a real treat for fans.
In theaters, October 27
Literary bona fides: based on Elvis and Me by Priscilla Presley and Sandra Harmon (1985)
This is what the cool girls will be watching this fall: Sofia Coppola’s adaptation of Priscilla Presley’s memoir for A24, starring Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla Presley and Jacob Elordi as Elvis Presley. (It should also make an interesting counterpoint to Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis.)
Netflix, October 27
Literary bona fides: based on The Hard Sell by Evan Hughes (2022)
David Yates (the final four Harry Potter movies) directs this crime drama from a screenplay adapted by Wells Tower (where’s your next book, Wells?), which takes us inside a pharmaceutical company’s (illegal) boom and (inevitable) bust. Starring the always excellent Emily Blunt, along with Chris Evans, Catherin O’Hara, and Andy Garcia.
Showtime, October 27
Literary bona fides: based on Fellow Travelers by Thomas Mallon (2007)
This steamy-looking (it’s Showtime!) miniseries is a love story between Bryce Larkin and the Bridgerton brother (ahem, Matt Bomer and Jonathan Bailey), that begins in McCarthy-era Washington and takes us with it through the decades.
In theaters, October 27
Literary bona fides: based on From Darkness to Sight: A Journey from Hardship to Healing, by Ming Wang (2016)
Greg Kinnear stars with Terry Chen in this adaptation of top laser eye surgeon Ming Wang’s autobiography, which follows Wang from his life in rural China in the 70s to Harvard and MIT and finally to his work restoring sight to those others had abandoned.
All the Light We Cannot See
Neflix, November 2
Literary bona fides: based on All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (2014)
The long-awaited series based on Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel—which alternates between the stories of a blind French girl and a confused German soldier, both in occupied France during WWII—stars Aria Mia Loberti, who won the part of Marie-Laure during the production’s global search for a blind or low-vision actor, in her very first role, as well as Mark Ruffalo, Hugh Laurie, and Louis Hofmann as Werner.
In theaters, November 3
Literary bona fides: based on Erasure by Percival Everett (2001)
Cord Jefferson (Watchmen, Succession, The Good Place) makes his directorial debut with this adaptation of Percival Everett’s 2001 satire, in which a frustrated English professor named Thelonious “Monk” Ellison (Jeffrey Wright) who sets out to pillory the literary culture that pigeonholes and exploits Black writers and winds up, of course, accidentally publishing a bestseller. Early reviews are very good, and the film just won the Toronto International Film festival’s top prize, the TIFF People’s Choice Award; Tracee Ellis Ross, Sterling K. Brown, Issa Rae, Adam Brody, and Erika Alexander also star.
The Marsh King’s Daughter
In theaters, November 3
Literary bona fides: based on The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne (2017)
Daisy Ridley stars in Neil Burger’s take on Dionne’s bestselling psychological thriller, in which a woman born into captivity must face her past when her father—and former captor—escapes from prison, and she knows only she can find him.
Apple TV+, November 8
Literary bona fides: based on The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton (1938)
American women invade 1870s London in this adaptation of Wharton’s unfinished final novel, with results that might just make one clutch their pearls. Written by Katherine Jakeways and directed by Susanna White.
Stamped from the Beginning
Netflix, November 15
Literary bona fides: based on Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi (2016)
This “hybrid documentary” (it contains scripted and animated elements) based on Kendi’s work, which traces the evolution of racist concepts in America, and explains why and how we are where we are, was directed by Ross Williams, who said in a press release: “Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You are powerful and essential pieces of literature that clearly outline how deeply rooted racist ideas are in the United States. I hope these films crystallize Dr. Kendi’s message that ‘the only thing wrong with Black people is that they think something is wrong with Black people’ and encourage everyone to fight for a more equitable society. I am thrilled to be partnering with Netflix to bring Dr. Kendi’s incredible work and crucial insights to a broader audience.”
Netflix, November 10 (Select theaters October 27)
Literary bona fides: based on The Killer by Matz and illustrated by Luc Jacamon (1998)
David Fincher directs and Michael Fassbender stars in Andrew Kevin Walker’s noir-tinged adaptation of the French graphic novel series, in which a Smiths-obsessed assassin finds himself the target of an international manhunt after a job goes awry.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
In theaters, November 17
Literary bona fides: based on The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (2020)
As the world turns, so the prequel novel to the Hunger Games series becomes a shiny blockbuster. To be fair, the Hunger Games movies have traditionally been better than they needed to be, so hopefully this one will follow suit.
In theaters, December 1
Literary bona fides: based on The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon (1967)
Jeff Nichols’ latest film is based on an iconic photo-book by influential documentary photographer Danny Lyon, who embedded with the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club from 1963-1967 and emerged with incredible photographs and stories. The film, which tracks the club’s transformation over a decade, stars Jodie Comer, along with Austin Butler, Tom Hardy, Michael Shannon, Mike Faist, and Norman Reedus.
In theaters, December 8
Literary bona fides: based on Poor Things by Alasdair Gray (1992)
The deranged Yorgos Lanthimos has returned, this time with an adaptation of a novel by the demented Alasdair Gray, itself a retelling of Mary Shelley’s disturbed Frankenstein. I mean all of these terms in the best of ways, of course—what good is art if it’s not a little insane? Emma Stone produces and stars as Bella Baxter, a reanimated young woman who escapes her creator (Willem Dafoe) to run off with a slimy lawyer (Mark Ruffalo) on the way to claiming her own independence. But as in all Lanthimos productions, the plot is hardly the point—it’s the bombastic, strange, bawdy, monstrous beauty of it all.
The Zone of Interest
In theaters, December 8
Literary bona fides: based on The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis (2014)
Jonathan Glazer’s first film since 2013’s Under the Skin is a loose adaptation of Martin Amis’s fourteenth novel, and is a much different sort of horror film: documenting the lives of the commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel), and his wife Hedwig (Sandra Hüller), as they unfold just on the other side of the wall from that evil place. “Glazer is careful not to humanize or defend these people, but he captures the ordinariness of daily life,” writes Brian Tallerico, challenging “our perception of one of the most horrifying chapters of world history by revealing the mundanity of it all for those who committed atrocities.”
Leave the World Behind
Netflix, December 8
Literary bona fides: based on Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam (2020)
Netflix’s adaptation of Alam’s well-loved, philosophical apocalypse novel—in which a white family’s stay at a Long Island Airbnb takes a strange turn when the Black owners return with nebulous news of disaster—stars Julia Roberts (who also co-produced), Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke, Myha’la Herrold, Farrah Mackenzie, Charlie Evans, and Kevin Bacon.
In theaters, December 15
Literary bona fides: based, ever so distantly, on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl (1964)
It’s more IP, but at least there’s a little something for the Chalamet stans now that Dune: Part Two has been pushed back to March 2024.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Disney+, December 20
Literary bona fides: based on Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan (2005-2023)
Rick Riordan’s beloved Greek mythology-infused YA series—whose planned film adaptation series was cut short after two installments—will get new life as a TV show. This time, rumor has it that Riordan will actually be involved with the production, which should help.
In theaters, December 25
Literary bona fides: based on Enzo Ferrari: The Man and the Machine by Brock Yates (1991)
Adam Driver has been hired to do another Italian accent. Penélope Cruz and Shailene Woodley also star.
The Color Purple
In theaters, December 25
Literary bona fides: based (originally) on The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982)
A new musical of The Color Purple based on the old musical of The Color Purple, which was based on the novel by Alice Walker as well as the original 1985 film adaptation. Directed by Blitz Bazawule from a screenplay by Marcus Gardley, this should be a big Christmas event.