Many movies throughout film history are adapted from another medium, and some of the best movie adaptations come from celebrated book source material. Short stories and novels written recently or centuries ago are ripe for the picking as far as movie retellings are concerned. Timeless tales are pulled from print and adapted to tell a story that’s at once familiar and comfortable, but also new and exciting.
Classics and modern classics are so often adapted that movie viewers can point to one adaptation over another as their favorite, and many books have already been adapted a handful of times. Some of your favorite novels may be coming to a theater near you in the next few years. Here are six upcoming movie adaptations of beloved books.
It Chapter Two
Anticipated release: September 2019
Stephen King is an author whose novels, novellas, and short stories always seem to be in production for one adaptation or another. Movies and television shows were released based on The Mist, Mr. Mercedes, Under the Dome, 11.22.63, The Dark Tower, Pet Sematary, and more all within the last few years, and the first half of an It two-part retelling was released in theaters in 2017—becoming a monster hit.
The gang is all grown up and still dealing with the iconic clown haunting the fictional town of Derry, Maine, in It Chapter Two. King’s novel was his 22nd book, and the new movie is scheduled for theatrical release in September 2019.
Anticipated release: December 2019
2018 marked the 150th anniversary of Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women, and a new adaptation starring 21st century talent was bound to happen, given the book’s recognized history. Movie and television movers and shakers thought so, too. A BBC miniseries and also a modern film retelling both were released in 2018, in addition to the 1994 classic starring Winona Ryder (above).
What sets the 2019 movie adaptation apart? The upcoming film reunites Oscar-winning director Greta Gerwig with actress Saoirse Ronan (after their 2017 film Lady Bird) and seals the deal by casting Meryl Streep as Aunt March.
Anticipated release: December 2019
A Broadway stage is the first thing most people imagine when an adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous play Cats is mentioned, and for good reason. Cats, originally inspired by T.S. Eliot’s book of poems Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, is continuously celebrated and has been performed countless times around the world.
Tom Hooper (Les Miserables) decided it was time to bring the play to the big screen, and he’s gathered a cornucopia of talent for his 2019 adaptation. Cats stars familiar faces that include Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Idris Elba, Rebel Wilson, Taylor Swift, James Corden, and Jennifer Hudson.
The Call of the Wild
Anticipated release: February 2020
The works of Jack London inspired a number of adaptations in the 1980s and 1990s—plus a 1972 film starring Charlton Heston (above)—but an updated telling of one of his stories of wilderness survival hasn’t made it to the big screen in some time. The last few years saw a semi-resurgence of dog-centric, family-friendly films (A Dog’s Journey, Dog Days, A Dog’s Way Home), and London’s writing introduced readers to more than a few memorable canines.
The author’s The Call of the Wild follows a stolen dog used as part of a sled team in the Yukon. No word yet on the dog talent involved, but the 2020 movie adaptation stars Bradley Whitford as Judge Miller, Harrison Ford as John Thornton, and Dan Stevens as Hal.
The Secret Garden
Anticipated release: April 2020
A young girl finds a magical garden hidden on her uncle’s estate in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1911 novel The Secret Garden. The book was adapted for the big screen in 1949 and 1993 (above), for the small screen in 1987, and again for the big screen in 2017. A new movie adaptation is expected to be released in 2020. Colin Firth stars as Lord Archibald Craven, and Dixie Egerickx is his garden-discovering niece Mary Lennox.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Anticipated release: TBD
Some film fans consider the 1971 Gene Wilder-starring Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (above) to be the definitive and only necessary adaptation of Roald Dahl’s story of a poor boy, an eccentric inventor, and the chocolate that connects them.
Director Tim Burton infused 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with his trademark zaniness, and the verdict is still out over whether the movie stood on its own feet or failed to meet high expectations, given the 1971 adaptation’s cult status.
Now, Paddington director Paul King will attempt to right the Wonka ship and take it in a new direction some time in the near future. Reports for his upcoming movie inspired by Dahl’s original book(s) say it is to be a prequel-type exploration of Wonka’s past and his interactions with the Oompa-Loompas.
Book-to-movie adaptations are endless
Plans to adapt properties come and go, adaptations find financing or flounder, and films either please audiences or disappoint fans of the source material. One thing is certain: As long as movies and television are popular, producers, directors, and actors will continue to attach themselves to beloved book adaptations.
Did any of your favorites make this list? If not, don’t worry. You’ll likely see even more book-to-movie adaptations emerge in the coming years and for years (and decades) to come.