Book and movie enthusiasts rejoice! A number of tales, classic and recent, are being adapted for the big screen this year. Below are a handful that are must-see, listed in order of their release dates:
J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, first written as a play in 1904 and released in novel form in 1911, is still going strong. Over a century after its creation, it’s inspiring yet another film version, this time directed by Joe Wright and due out July 24, 2015.
The original tells of the sprite Peter who whisks children Wendy, John and Michael to the island of Neverland, where they meet a gang of Lost Boys and fight the villainous pirate Captain Hook. Wright gives the story a unique twist, turning Hook into a hero and saving the villainy for Blackbeard, played by the incomparable Hugh Jackman.
Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein tells a story of scientific power run amok. The brilliant scientist Victor Frankenstein discovers the key to animating life, only to find the man he has created is more monster than man.
20th Century Fox's horror film based on the classic arrives October 2, 2015. It stars James McAvoy as Frankenstein and Daniel Radcliffe, of Harry Potter fame, as deformed assistant Igor, and will be told from Igor’s point of view. Not part of Shelley's original vision, the hunchbacked character first shows up as Fritz in the iconic 1931 film, and later on was transformed into Ygor, played by the great Bela Lugosi.
Veteran director Ridley Scott helms a sci-fi adventure penned by debut novelist Andy Weir. The Martian, due to open in 3D on November 25, 2015, is based on Weir’s 2012 book. Matt Damon stars as astronaut Mark Watney. Stranded on Mars, he must use his ingenuity to survive and ultimately reconnect with a rescue attempt by fellow astronauts.
Weir’s self-published novel became a smash online before it was traditionally published. Fans of the novel should be glad to hear that Weir has acted as a technical advisor to screenwriter Drew Goddard and also considers the screenplay "amazing."
This Ron Howard directed adventure, set for release on December 11, 2015, is a thrilling tale of 19th century sailors shipwrecked by a sperm whale and fighting for their survival. It’s based on a true story that inspired Melville's classic Moby Dick.
Historian Nathaniel Philbrick recounted the events in his 2000 National Book Award winning book. Howard, known for attention to realistic details, reportedly has his actor/sailors eating light to better portray the starving men of the doomed whaleship Essex.
The Disney studio helms another version of the tale based on Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 story collection, which contained stories about a boy named Mowgli raised by wolves and befriended by a bear and a panther. This adaptation, directed by Jon Favreau, will combine live action and 3D CGI. It pays homage to its 1967 Disney predecessor (which is finally available on demand - check your local channels), including new songs by original songwriter Richard M. Sherman. Ben Kingsley and Bill Murray will star as Bagheera and Baloo respectively. Originally scheduled for a 2015 release, it’s now set to open in spring 2016.
Whether you love them or hate them, literary adaptations on screen provide opportunity to experience familiar stories in new forms. Readers who like to ponder that transformation have much to look forward to this year, from classic fantasy to sci-fi, horror and historic adventure.
Spencer Blohm is a freelance entertainment, culture, and lifestyle blogger. He lives and works in Chicago. When not working he can be found camped out in his apartment watching the latest films and newest television shows.