Happy 2024—may it be better than
2023 2022 2021 2020 you expect. To that end, here are a selection of literary films and tv shows hitting screens large and small in the year to come. Might as well entertain ourselves while the world burns. (NB that premiere dates are subject to change, and plenty haven’t been announced yet, especially in the second half of the year.)
Fool Me Once
January 1, Netflix
Literary bona fides: based on Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben (2016)
You can always count on Harlan Coben for a twisty mystery—in this one, a woman is shocked when she sees a mysterious man on her nanny cam, not least because the man is her husband, who was murdered two weeks previously. Or so she thought… Daniel Brocklehurst’s eight-part limited series adaptation transports the events of the novel to the UK and stars Michelle Keegan, Adeel Akhtar, Joanna Lumley and Richard Armitage. Early reviews are mixed, but apparently fans are digging it.
Society of the Snow
January 4, Netflix
Literary bona fides: based on Pablo Vierci’s Society of the Snow: The Definitive Account of the World’s Greatest Survival Story (2009)
In 1972, a Uruguayan Air Force flight carrying 45 passengers and crew, including 19 members of the Old Christians Club rugby union team, crashed in the Andes. 72 days later, 16 survivors were rescued. Journalist Pablo Vierci, who knew many of the players, interviewed all of the survivors for his book, which he says seeks to chronicle not just the grueling facts but “what happened in the minds and hearts” out there in the snow; the film too focuses on the emotional story, to great effect.
January 5, Vertical Entertainment
Literary bona fides: based on The Bricklayer (2010) by Noah Boyd (Paul Lindsay)
The latest from Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2) looks as formulaic as can be: an ex-CIA operative hauled out of retirement for One Last Job, a sexy location, a sexier handler, an international conspiracy, Aaron Eckhart. But appetite for action thrillers is apparently bottomless, and maybe it will be good?
He Went That Way
January 5, Vertical Entertainment
Literary bona fides: based on Conrad Hilberry’s Luke Karamazov (1987)
It sounds interesting—an animal trainer (Zachary Quinto) transporting a once-famous-but-now-down-on-his-luck monkey named Spanky picks up a teenage hitchhiker (Jacob Elordi) who turns out to be a serial killer. Road trip with a monkey, a serial killer, and Old New Spock? I’m listening… but unfortunately, early reviews aren’t great.
January 14, AMC
Literary bona fides: based on Dashiell Hammett’s beloved character
In this neo-noir series from Scott Frank (The Queen’s Gambit) and Tom Fontana (Oz), a certain detective you may have heard of called Sam Spade (Clive Owen) has retired to the South of France. But detectives you’ve heard of aren’t allowed to retire! New murders and old adversaries conspire to ruin (or enhance?) Spade’s golden years, as of course they must, and plenty of intrigue ensues.
Death and Other Details
January 16, Hulu
Literary bona fides: inspired by Agatha Christie, and also every literary detective ever
All right, it’s not an adaptation, but don’t you want to see Mandy Patinkin as a details-obsessed detective in a “post-fact” present, stuck on a lavish ocean liner? I do—especially because writers and executive producers Mike Weiss and Heidi Cole McAdams are big Agatha Christie fans. “We love Agatha Christie novels,” they told EW. “We’ve read everything she’s ever written. We wanted to capture the atmosphere of those works and drag her style into our contemporary world.” Fun.
The End We Start From
January 19, Paramount
Literary bona fides: based on Megan Hunter’s The End We Start From (2017)
This adaptation of Hunter’s poetic debut novel, adapted by Alice Birch (Normal People) and directed by Mahalia Belo, stars Jodie Comer as the central mother character, who flees a flooded London with her infant, along with Katherine Waterston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Stron, and Joel Fry. Here’s hoping it will do the book, which isn’t an obvious candidate for adaptation, despite the fact that Cumberbatch’s production company acquired the rights before it was published, justice. Early signs are good.
January 19, Neon
Literary bona fides: inspired by—and about—Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of our Discontents (2020)
Ava DuVernay takes an unusual, ambitious approach to Isabel Wilkerson’s bestselling nonfiction book, which frames American racism as part of an unacknowledged caste system in this country. “The film is not so much an adaptation of Caste but an attempt to translate it into the vernacular of narrative cinema,” wrote Bilge Ebiri in a review for Vulture. “To do this, DuVernay goes back to basics: She presents Wilkerson herself (played by Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor) as the protagonist of this drama and portrays the author’s very personal journey as she’s pulled into this subject, even as her life is falling apart. But she also rifles through history to present case studies from Wilkerson’s research—sometimes through extended sequences, sometimes through mere flashes. The results are incredibly ambitious and, frankly, devastating.” Interestingly, despite the fact that DuVernay’s screenplay for Origin was classified as original by the Writers Guild of America, it will be considered an adapted screenplay for Oscars consideration—the same judgement the Academy made for Barbie.
Which Brings Me To You
January 19, Decal
Literary bona fides: based on Steve Almond and Julianna Baggott’s Which Brings Me to You (2005)
Two people meet at a wedding, and sparks fly. Unfortunately, both of them (Lucy Hale as Jane, freelance writer, and Nat Wolff as Will, photographer) are pretty terrible at relationships. The book this movie is based on is an epistolary love affair, as the two spill their guts through written letters; the film crams all the confessing into a 24-hour spree. Could be a sort of fun meta rom-com, or could be a romantic burnout—we’ll have to see.
January 26, Next Film
Literary bona fides: based on Władysław Reymont’s The Peasants (1909)
If you saw the experimental Van Gogh biopic Loving Vincent (2017), which was the very first fully painted feature film, you’ll probably be pleased to learn that directors and writers DK Welchman and Hugh Welchman are back with another movie that uses the same animation technique—this one based on Polish writer Wladyslaw Reymont’s, novel, originally published in installments between 1904 and 1909. Reymont won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1924, with the Academy specifically citing The Peasants as “his great national epic.” Early reviews are mixed, but if nothing else, the film looks beautiful.
January 26, Amazon Prime Video
Literary bona fides: based on Janice Y.K. Lee’s The Expatriates (2016)
When, one wonders, will directors stop torturing Nicole Kidman? In this six-part series, created by Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Kidman plays Margaret, a wealthy American expat living in Hong Kong, whose young son disappears on a crowded street, paralyzing her with guilt and grief. Newcomer Ji-young Yoo plays Mercy, the young woman who is blamed for the disappearance, and Sarayu Blue plays Margaret’s friend and neighbor, who is contending with her inability to have children at all. As the parent of a toddler, I will absolutely not be watching this, but early buzz is good.
Feud: Capote vs. the Swans
January 31, Hulu
Literary bona fides: based on Laurence Leamer’s Capote’s Women: A True Story of Love, Betrayal, and a Swan Song for an Era (2021)
For the second season of his Feud series, Ryan Murphy takes on a legendary piece of literary gossip—the time Truman Capote backstabbed all his fancy, hard-won, high-society lady friends (whom he of course called his “swans”) by publishing a thinly veiled short story, “La Côte Basque 1965”—an excerpt from his then-unpublished novel Answered Prayers—in Esquire, revealing a few too many of their secrets. Capote then found himself, to his shock, resoundingly excommunicated, and neither he nor his career ever really recovered (though his legacy is fine). Tom Hollander plays Capote, and Calista Flockhart, Diane Lane, Naomi Watts, and Chloë Sevigny star along with Demi Moore, Molly Ringwald, and Ella Beatty. This looks faintly ridiculous, in the best way.
February 2, Universal Pictures/Apple Original Films
Literary bona fides: Probably not an adaptation, definitely about a novelist
The latest addition to the micro-genre of movies about writers whose books come true (are there many more than Stranger Than Fiction and Ruby Sparks?) is this goofy, deranged-looking spy action comedy, directed and produced by Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Kick-Ass, the Kingsman movies) and written by Jason Fuchs (Wonder Woman). Perhaps you remember the minor media mystery over Elly Conway, who was listed as the unknown author of the debut book this big-budget “adaptation” was based on? Ha, ha, it was all a publicity hoax, it seems, because it turns out that Elly Conway is the writer in the movie, whose unpublished spy novel-in-progress begins to come true, making her the target of lots of guns and killing. And the movie is real, you see? This might have worked better if more people cared about the identity of writers…but perhaps that is the whole point of this film? Head-exploding emoji, as the kids would never say.
The Promised Land
February 2, Magnolia Pictures
Literary bona fides: based on Ida Jessen’s The Captain and Ann Barbara (2020)
Mads Mikkelsen makes anything good—so if you’re in the market for an epic historical drama about the common man vs. the aristocracy vs nature vs. chaos vs. good vs. evil, this adaptation of Ida Jessen’s Danish best-seller is a pretty good bet.
The Tiger’s Apprentice
February 2, Paramount+
Literary bona fides: based on The Tiger’s Apprentice by Laurence Yep (2003)
This animated adaptation of the first book in Yep’s The Tiger’s Apprentice trilogy has been delayed for literal years, but will finally be released to streaming in February. In it, Chinese-American teenager Tom Lee, who’s minding his own business in San Francisco until he discovers he’s connected to a group of magical protectors called the Guardians—and they need him. Of course. For kids or kids at heart.
February 8, Netflix
Literary bona fides: based on David Nicholls’ One Day (2009)
Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall star in this limited series adaptation of David Nicholls’ bestselling novel (in which two people meet every day, on the same day, for 20 years, cue the swoonage), the book’s second chance at a screen life after the disappointing 2011 feature film.
It Ends With Us
February 9, Sony Pictures
Literary bona fides: based on Colleen Hoover’s It Ends With Us (2016)
The behemoth of all CoHo behemoths was optioned in 2019, even before its BookTok-fueled resurgence—the final product, directed by and starring Justin Baldoni along with Blake Lively, from a screenplay by Christy Hall, will be in theaters just in time for Valentine’s Day. It will almost certainly make money.
February 9, Focus Features
Literary bona fides: very very loosely based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818)
Look, the idea of Frankenstein (say it with me: Frankenstein is the doctor) has firmly transcended Mary Shelley’s novel at this point, so whether we can really count this as a “literary film” is arguable. But mad scientist or no, this is my list, and I mean, teen goth resurrects Victorian hottie in a tanning bed, and then murders ensue—as written by Diablo Cody? My deep nostalgic love for the age of Heathers and Weird Science demands that I’ll give it a whirl.
February 9, Utopia
Literary bona fides: based on Alexander Maksik’s A Marker to Measure Drift (2013)
Directed by Anthony Chen from a screenplay by Susanne Farrell and Alexander Maksik, Drift stars Cynthia Erivo as a young Iberian refugee who lands on a Greek island, where she meets and bonds with American tour guide Alia Shawkat while she tries to move on from her past. Early reviews are mixed, but Erivo is always worth watching.
February 27, Hulu
Literary bona fides: based on James Clavell’s Shōgun (1975)
Clavell’s epic bestseller, itself loosely based on the true story of William Adams, one of the first Englishmen to reach Japan, has already been adapted into a beloved (or at least constantly shown on TV) 1980 miniseries. FX’s new adaptation looks pretty spectacular, though, starring Hiroyuki Sanada as Lord Toranaga, Cosmo Jarvis as Adams-stand-in John Blackthorne, and Anna Sawai as the translator/samurai Toda Mariko.
March 1, Netflix
Literary bona fides: based on Jaroslav Kalfař’s Spaceman of Bohemia (2017)
Adam Sandler is Jakub Procházka, a Czech astronaut sent on a dangerous mission, leaving his wife (Carey Mulligan) behind. Paul Dano plays the giant talking space spider, and for those who have not read the novel, that is all I will say about that. I’m always glad to see Sandler in a role like this; I have high hopes for this movie.
Dune: Part Two
March 1, Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Picture
Literary bona fides: based on Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965)
The long-awaited follow-up to Dune: Part One—let’s be honest, you already know whether you’re going to see it. (Florence Pugh and Christopher Walken are in this one!)
March 15, Apple TV+
Literary bona fides: based on James L. Swanson’s Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer (2006)
Monica Beletsky’s historical thriller, based on Swanson’s bestselling and Edgar Award-winning nonfiction book, follows Edwin Stanton in the days after Lincoln’s assassination, as John Wilkes Booth leads him on a “wild, 12-day chase” across the country. Starring Tobias Menzies as Stanton and Anthony Boyle as John Wilkes Booth.
March 20, Apple TV+
Literary bona fides: based on Juliet McDaniel’s Mr. & Mrs. American Pie (2018)
In 1969, striver Maxine Simmons (Kristen Wiig) tries with all her might to make it into Palm Beach’s “high society.” Fun. The costumes already have my attention, and so does the cast: Wiig is joined by Ricky Martin, Josh Lucas, Leslie Bibb, Amber Chardae Robinson, Mindy Cohn, Julia Duffy, Kaia Gerber, with Laura Dern, Allison Janney and “extra special guest stars” Bruce Dern and Carol Burnett. Whew.
3 Body Problem
March 21, Netflix
Literary bona fides: based on Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem (2008)
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (Game of Thrones) are back, bringing in Alexander Woo to adapt Chinese novelist Liu Cixin’s beloved apocalyptic science fiction epic, which even Obama loved. “The scope of it was immense,” he said. “So that was fun to read, partly because my day-to-day problems with Congress seem fairly petty—not something to worry about. Aliens are about to invade!” Hopefully this series will bring us the same level of escape as we stare down the maw of 2024.
Arthur the King
March 22, Lionsgate
Literary bona fides: based on Mikael Lindnord’s Arthur: The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home (2016)
Mark Wahlberg, making friends with a dog, and then bringing him along on a 435-mile race in the Dominican Republic. Ah sure, why not?
March 22, Warner Bros. Pictures
Literary bona fides: Barbara Winton, If It’s Not Impossible…The Life of Sir Nicholas Winton (2014)
Anthony Hopkins stars in this heartfelt biopic about Nicholas Winton, a British stockbroker who helped hundreds of Jewish children escape German-occupied Czechoslovakia in the months leading up to WWII—and who, decades later, got to meet some of those children on the BBC television show That’s Life.
March 29, Warner Bros. Pictures
Literary bona fides: based on Edward Ashton’s Mickey7 (2022)
In the latest film from the brilliant and terrifying Bong Joon-ho’s new film, in which Robert Pattinson plays an “expendable” worker on a space mission to colonize an ice planet—expendable because of technology that can regenerate his body if anything goes wrong. Steven Yeun, Naomi Ackie, Toni Collette, and Mark Ruffalo also star, and according to the WGA credits, Charles Yu contributed “additional literary material” for the film. Highest hopes for this.
March 29, Magnolia Pictures
Literary bona fides: a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad lit prof movie
I will simply paste the logline for this movie, which stars David Krumholtz, Martin Starr, and Olivia Thirlby, here: “Man-baby Lousy Carter struggles to complete his animated Nabokov adaptation, teaches a graduate seminar on The Great Gatsby, and sleeps with his best friend’s wife. He has six months to live.” Seems painful—but maybe in a good way.
Wicked Little Letters
March 29, Sony Pictures Classics
Literary bona fides: it’s about the power of (swear) words, gang
This is another film that I will be counting as literary: a black comedy starring Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley (based on an actual scandal in 1920s England), in which a slew of mysterious, obscene, and insulting letters begin arriving in the postboxes of all the fine, upstanding citizens of a small town. Obviously, the first move is to blame the least conforming woman in town—because if she isn’t doing it, who is?
Apples Never Fall
Literary bona fides: based on Liane Moriarty’s Apples Never Fall (2021)
A mystery miniseries about secrets—aren’t they all? But if you’re wondering what to expect, Liane Moriarty wrote the book that Big Little Lies was based on (also called Big Little Lies)—that should be elevated by a star-studded cast, which includes Annette Bening, Sam Neill, Alison Brie, and Jake Lacy.
April 26, A24
Literary bona fides: written and directed by Alex Garland
Obviously, by now Alex Garland is more of a filmmaker than he is a novelist, but he’s still a literary one. This speculative action film (A24 doing action!) follows a group of reporters helmed by Kirsten Dunst as they try to cover, and survive, an all-consuming American Civil War. Looks terrifying, to be fair.
The Idea of You
May 2, Amazon Prime Video
Literary bona fides: based on Robinne Lee’s The Idea of You (2017)
Michael Showalter directs and Gabrielle Union produces this adaptation of the novel written by actress Robinne Lee, in which a 40-year-old divorcée (Anne Hathaway) takes her daughter to Coachella and winds up falling for the famous lead singer of a boy band (Nicholas Galitzine), who was inspired by—you guessed it—Harry Styles. Why not, I ask you?
May 10, Sony Pictures
Literary bona fides: based on Nicholas Adams’s Horrorscope (1992)
In which a group of friends have their horoscopes read and then begin dying—in ways related to their fortunes. (Gotta love a 90s horror premise.)
Literary bona fides: based on A.M. Shine’s The Watchers (2021)
Ishana Night Shyamalan—the daughter of a certain director—makes her feature directorial debut with The Watchers, in which a young artist (Dakota Fanning) finds herself lost in the Irish wilderness. Then she finds what seems like shelter—but is actually something more like a cage, presided over by the mysterious creatures who rule the forest.
Literary bona fides: based on David Koepp’s Cold Storage (2019)
Obviously, David Koepp, who is most famous as a screenwriter—ever heard of Jurassic Park or Mission: Impossible?—wrote the screenplay for this feature adaptation of his 2019 biohazard thriller. The film is produced by Gavin Polone (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and stars Liam Neeson and Joe Keery; whatever the result, the writing should be top-notch.
Literary bona fides: based on The Bikeriders by Danny Lyon (1967)
Delayed half a year due to the SAG-AFTRA strike, 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.
Literary bona fides: based on Elizabeth Fremantle’s Queen’s Gambit (2013)
Divorced, beheaded, she died; divorced, beheaded, survived—this film, directed by Brazilian director Karim Aïnouz from a screenplay by Henrietta Ashworth and Jessica Ashworth, tells the (revisionist) story of the only queen to make it through being married to Henry VIII—Katherine Parr, played by Alicia Vikander. Jude Law plays the king (Henry wishes).
Harold and the Purple Crayon
August 2, Sony Pictures
Literary bona fides: based on Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955)
The still-mysterious live-action adaptation of what feels like a pretty unadaptable book has been pushed back twice, and will now supposedly hit theaters this summer. It stars Zachary Levi, Lil Rel Howery, and Zooey Deschanel, and was directed by Carlos Saldanha.
The Wild Robot
September 20, DreamWorks
Literary bona fides: based on Peter Brown’s The Wild Robot (2016)
Based on Peter Brown’s bestselling middle-grade novel, the film follows a robot—designed for an urban world—that gets shipwrecked on an island and must adapt to the landscape and ingratiate itself to the wildlife. Will it be the new WALL-E?
October 4, Lionsgate
Literary bona fides: based on R.J. Palacio’s White Bird (2019)
In October, Wonder fans will be treated to a spin-off based on 2019 graphic novel of the same name by R.J. Palacio. This is another film that has been massively delayed—it was originally scheduled for fall 2022.
November 8, 20th Century Studios
Literary bona fides: based on Robert Littell’s The Amateur (1981)
Rami Malek stars as Charles Heller, a CIA cryptographer whose wife is killed in a terrorist attack—and like all good spy thriller heroes, decides he must take matters into his own hands to avenge her. Rachel Brosnahan, Caitríona Balfe, Laurence Fishburne, and Adrian Martinez also star.
The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim
December 13, Warner Bros.
Literary bona fides: based on a story from the appendices of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
The LOTR universe goes anime. I have mixed feelings about the infinite adaptation possibilities Tolkien left us, but I do not have mixed feelings about Brian Cox, who stars in this installment as the voice of Helm Hammerhand.
Also anticipated and expected—but unconfirmed—for 2023:
TBD, HBO Max
Literary bona fides: based on Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer (2015)
This limited series based on Nguyen’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is “an espionage thriller and cross-culture satire” that stars Hoa Xuande as the Captain, a biracial mole and spy during the Vietnam War who becomes an exile in the US. Park Chan-wook and Don McKellar co-showrun and executive produce, along with Robert Downey Jr., who apparently plays more than one role. Can’t come quickly enough, really.
A Gentleman in Moscow
Literary bona fides: based on Amor Towles’s A Gentleman in Moscow (2016)
Showtime’s series adaptation of Towles’s big bestseller stars Ewan McGregor as Count Alexander Rostov who, after the Russian Revolution, is sentenced to house arrest in a hotel attic by a Bolshevik tribunal—but discovers a rich world within.
Literary bona fides: written and directed by Annie Baker
Anything from Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Annie Baker is worth a look; her feature directorial debut, which stars Julianne Nicholson, Zoe Ziegler, Elias Koteas, Sophie Okonedo, and Will Patton, focuses on the interior life of an 11-year-old who is just beginning to free herself from her mother’s orbit.
Turtles All the Way Down
TBD, HBO Max
Literary bona fides: based on John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down (2017)
The film adaptation of Green’s bestselling YA novel about a teenager with OCD is directed by Hannah Marks from a screenplay by Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker, and stars Isabela Merced.
TBD, HBO Max
Literary bona fides: based on Hernan Diaz’s Trust (2022)
This may or may not actually make it to screens in 2024, given that Kate Winslet, who stars, also headlines another HBO original limited series, The Regime, which airs in March (that show gets an honorary place on this list, because Gary Shteyngart is one of the writers). Perhaps they’ll want to spread out the Kate, but we can hope.
The Spiderwick Chronicles
Literary bona fides: based on Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black’s The Spiderwick Chronicles (2003-2009)
Fans of the children’s fantasy series will be pleased to learn that Roku picked up this eight episode series after it was dropped in 2023 by Disney+; it is slated to air in early 2024.
The Shrinking of Treehorn
Literary bona fides: based on Florence Parry Heide’s The Shrinking of Treehorn (1971)
How will Ron Howard adapt this wonderful, weird little book, originally illustrated by Edward Gorey, about a child who mysteriously begins to shrink (much to the disinterest of his parents)? I don’t know, but I’m looking forward to finding out.
Lady in the Lake
TBD, Apple TV+
Literary bona fides: based on Laura Lippman’s Lady in the Lake (2019)
Lippman’s bestselling psychological noir, set in 1960s Baltimore and based on two real-life murders from the era, has been given the miniseries treatment by Alma Har’el (Honey Boy), and stars Natalie Portman and Moses Ingram.
TBD, Apple TV+
Literary bona fides: based on Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter (2016)
Joel Edgerton stars in Crouch’s series adaptation of his novel, about Jason, a physicist who winds up in a parallel universe created by a choice he made 15 years before—the choice not to marry his wife Daniela (Jennifer Connelly). Turns out there are many Jasons, and they are angry. Should be fun!
The Legacy of Mark Rothko
Literary bona fides: Lee Seldes’s The Legacy Of Mark Rothko (1974)
Russell Crowe plays legendary abstract expressionist Mark Rothko in this film, directed by by Sam Taylor-Johnson, which focuses on the battle over his estate after his suicide.