These days, it’s rare to see a big-budget movie that’s not based on some preexisting property. Most blockbuster films are either sequels, reboots, remakes, or in many cases, adaptations of popular novels.
That is just as true in 2018, a year in which quite a few books are being brought to the big screen, including with a huge Disney film that could be one of the biggest hits of the year. Here’s a look at some of the novels that are (or have been) made into movie adaptations in 2018.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure, premiered Jan. 26
The Maze Runner film trilogy will conclude with The Death Cure. The books by James Dashner wrapped up in 2011 with this final chapter, although they were followed up by two prequels. As teased at the end of The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure will see the characters breaking into a maze, Last City, in order to rescue their friends. Wes Ball, director of the first two Maze Runner movies, returns to close out the series.
At the box office, the Maze Runner movies have been nowhere near as successful as Harry Potter or The Hunger Games. But they have performed decently enough for 20th Century Fox to finish the trilogy with The Death Cure. The original plan was to release this third movie in early 2017, but it was delayed a full year after actor Dylan O’Brien sustained serious injuries on set.
It opened in January, one of the first major releases of 2018.
Next: This new Clint Eastwood movie tells the story of three real-life heroes.
The 15:17 to Paris, premiered Feb. 9
In August 2015, a suspect opened fire on a train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris. However, there were not any fatalities, as Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, and Spencer Stone subdued the shooter and saved everyone on board. Those men were later decorated with the Legion of Honour, and they wrote a book called The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes.
Now, Clint Eastwood has turned this non-fiction account into a feature film. This comes after Eastwood previously directed another movie about a real-life hero, Sully. But what’s most interesting about this film is that Eastwood did not hired actors to play the main three characters. Instead, Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone actually star in the film as themselves.
According to Variety, the movie tells the story of the main characters’ friendship and therefore does not take place entirely on the train.
Next: This romance film is also based on a popular book and opened on the same day as Eastwood’s movie.
Fifty Shades Freed, premiered Feb. 9
E. L. James concluded her erotic book series Fifty Shades of Grey in 2012 with Fifty Shades Freed. The third installment picks up with Anastasia and Christian now being married. But their lives get complicated when Jack Hyde, Anastasia’s former boss, attempts to exact revenge after Christian got him fired in Fifty Shades Darker.
Fifty Shades Darker came out in February 2017. Freed hit theaters about 12 months later, having filmed back-to-back with Darker. Despite being so controversial and generally poorly reviewed, the Fifty Shades movies have continued to perform well for Universal, though Darker less so than the original.
Once again, the third movie opened just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Next: This science fiction film comes from an Oscar-nominated director.
Annihilation, premiered Feb. 23
Director Alex Garland’s most recent prior to this one film was Ex Machina, a rare science fiction movie to receive multiple Academy Award nominations. His newest film is Annihilation, based on the 2014 Jeff VanderMeer novel of the same name. The story follows a biologist, Lena, who joins a secret expedition into an environmental disaster zone, where she encounters strange phenomena that defy the laws of science. She goes on this journey in hopes of finding her husband, who has gone missing.
The 2018 film adaptation stars Natalie Portman in the lead role. Oscar Isaac also plays Lena’s husband. The rest of the cast consists of Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, and Benedict Wong.
Next: This adaptation of a popular novel stars Jennifer Lawrence as a Russian spy.
Red Sparrow, premiered March 2
The 2013 novel Red Sparrow, written by Jason Matthews, centers around a female spy who learns to seduce her enemies in order to extract information. Matthews himself is a former operative for the CIA, although the book is fiction. The rights to a movie adaptation were sold even before the book came out, and in 2018, that adaptation hits theaters.
The film was directed by Francis Lawrence, known for directing the last three Hunger Games movies. He reunites with Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence, who plays the main character, a Russian spy. Starring alongside Lawrence are Joel Edgerton, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, and Jeremy Irons.
Next: Disney is turning this classic science fiction novel into a big-budget movie that will likely be a box office hit.
A Wrinkle in Time — March 9
Madeleine L’Engle’s 1963 science fiction fantasy novel A Wrinkle in Time follows a 13-year-old girl, Meg, whose scientist father disappears. She sets out to find him, being aided by three supernatural beings. The book was turned into a television movie in 2003, but now, Disney is spending over $100 million on this major adaptation.
The cast of the movie is superb, with the supernatural beings played by Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and Oprah Winfrey. Meg’s father is also played by Chris Pine. In the director’s chair is Ava DuVernay, whose 2014 film Selma earned several Oscar nominations.
It opens in early March, around the same time as Disney’s 2017 version of Beauty and the Beast opened, and so it has potential to be one of the highest-grossing movies of the year.
Next: Steven Spielberg directs another big-budget science fiction movie that opens in March 2018.
Ready Player One — March 30
Written by Ernest Cline, the 2011 novel Ready Player One takes place in a dark future in which people spend most of their time in a virtual-reality simulation called the OASIS. The creator of the game hid an Easter egg inside, promising his fortune to whoever found it. So the main character of the story, Wade Watts, sets out to do so.
Part of the hook of Ready Player One was that it is dripping with pop culture references, especially to Steven Spielberg films. Somewhat appropriately, the movie adaptation is directed by Spielberg himself. In addition, Warner Bros. was able to get the rights to many of the properties mentioned in the book. So the movie promises to be sort of like Wreck-It Ralph, but with more than just games.
The trailer alone features references to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Back to the Future, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Iron Giant, and much more. Whether Spielberg is able to elevate Ready Player One to something more than a simple reference-fest remains to be seen.
Next: This new comedy comes from one the best directors working today.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? — May 11
Released in 2012, Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is about a 15-year-old girl who attempts to figure out what happened to her mother following her disappearance. In this attempt to track her down, the girl compiles written correspondences with Bernadette, and it’s through reading these that we get to know the missing woman.
The film adaptation is directed by Richard Linklater, who is responsible for brilliant films with unconventional narrative structures like the Before trilogy and Boyhood. Starring in the lead role of Bernadette is Cate Blanchett. Fleshing out the rest of the cast is Billy Crudup, Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer, and Laurence Fishburne.
It remains to be seen how Linklater will adapt a story that so distinctly relies on the written word, but we’ll find out when the film hits theaters in May 2018.
Next: This new comedy is a rare Hollywood film with Asian actors playing all of the lead roles.
Crazy Rich Asians — Aug. 17
When Kevin Kwan wrote his 2013 novel Crazy Rich Asians, he said he wanted to introduce contemporary Asia to North American readers. The book follows Rachel Chu, a Chinese woman born in America who travels to Singapore, accompanying her boyfriend to his best friend’s wedding. But what he didn’t tell her is that his best friend is one of the richest men in Asia.
Starring in the lead role of Rachel will be Constance Wu, known primarily for Fresh off the Boat. Playing her boyfriend is a less well-known actor named Henry Golding. Also starring in the movie will be Michelle Yeoh, Harry Shum Jr., Ken Jeong, and Jimmy O. Yang. The film comes from director Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Now You See Me 2).
It will be one of the few movies ever released in the U.S. by a major studio that stars an all-Asian cast.
Next: This spooky new horror story aimed at kids will be hitting theaters in time for the Halloween season.
The House with a Clock in Its Walls –– Sept. 21
Originally published in 1973, The House with a Clock in Its Walls is a gothic horror story for kids. It follows an orphan, Lewis, who moves in with his uncle Jonathan, only to discover that his uncle is a warlock and his next door neighbor is a witch. Jonathan also learns that the house’s previous owners hid a clock inside which could bring about the end of the world.
Eli Roth directed this 2018 adaptation of the book. Roth is mainly known for R-rated horror fare like Hostel, but this film will be aimed at younger audiences.
Starring as Lewis is Owen Vaccaro (Daddy’s Home 2), while Uncle Jonathan is played by Jack Black. And starring as the witch next-door neighbor is Cate Blanchett. Kyle MacLachlan also plays Isaac, the former owner of the house.
Next: This new movie hopes to be the next Hunger Games.
The Darkest Minds — Sept. 14
The Darkest Minds is a new film based on a young adult novel aimed towards the Hunger Games demographic. In 2012, Alexandra Bracken published the first book in this science fiction series, which takes place in a world where most children have been wiped out by a disease but those who survived were left with supernatural abilities. The main character, Ruby, is one of these girls, who escapes from a government rehabilitation center and meets up with a group of kids with similar abilities.
The film adaptation stars Amandla Stenberg as Ruby. Hunger Games fans will recognize her as the actress who portrayed Rue in the first Hunger Games film. Also starring in the movie are Mandy Moore and Gwendoline Christie.
Next: This film follows a young man who is sent to gay conversion therapy by his parents.
Boy Erased — Sept. 28
The 2016 memoir, written by Garrard Conley, has been turned into a major feature film. The book tells the true story of Conley being subjected to gay conversion therapy, being told by his parents that he must do so or be disowned. His book, which earned critical acclaim, portrays these conversion therapy programs as extremely harmful to gay youths.
The feature film version stars Lucas Hedges (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) as Garrard Conley. Also starring in the film are Russell Crowe as Garrad’s father, Nicole Kidman as Garrad’s mother, and Joel Edgerton as the main therapist at the conversion program. In addition to starring, Joel Edgerton wrote and directed the movie. This is only the second film he has directed after 2015’s The Gift, a thriller which received positive reviews.
Boy Erased‘s September release date puts it right in Oscar season.
Next: This drama based on a true story is likely to be a contender at the 2019 Oscars.
First Man — Oct. 12
In 2016, Damien Chazelle directed La La Land, a critically acclaimed musical starring Ryan Gosling that very nearly won the Oscar for Best Picture. Chazelle’s follow-up also stars Gosling, though this one tells the true story of Neil Armstrong. The movie is based on the book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, released in 2005 and written by James R. Hansen.
Gosling plays Armstrong in the film. Claire Foy stars alongside him as Armstrong’s wife, Corey Stoll as Buzz Aldrin, Kyle Chandler as Deke Slayton, Jason Clarke as Ed White, and Jon Bernthal as David Scott. The screenplay was co-written by Josh Singer, who was nominated for an Oscar for co-writing Spotlight.
First Man hits theaters in October 2018 and has potential to become a major player at the 2019 Academy Awards.
Next: This film is the latest installment in a series that has been dormant on screen for six years.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web — Oct. 19
From 2005 through 2007, Stieg Larsson posthumously published three novels: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Those were adapted into three Swedish films in 2009 and 2010. Then, in 2011, Sony Pictures adapted the first novel into an American film starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig.
In the years following that movie, talk circulated about potentially doing another American sequel, but it never happened. Since then, more novels in the book series have come out. In 2015, The Girl in the Spider’s Web was published. This sequel was written by David Lagercrantz, since Stieg Larsson died before the first book was even released.
Now, Sony has jumped ahead and adapted this fourth novel on screen in 2018. This one has an entirely new cast, though. Playing Lisbeth Salander, the role originally portrayed by Rooney Mara, is Claire Foy. The film was directed by Fede Álvarez, known for the horror films Evil Dead and Don’t Breathe.
Next: A classic holiday story gets another adaptation just in time for Christmas.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas — Nov. 9
Dr. Seuss’ classic children’s book How the Grinch Stole Christmas has been adapted on screen a number of times before, most notably in the 1966 animated Christmas special. It has also been adapted into a feature film in 2000, starring Jim Carrey as the titular character. But in time for the holiday season 2018, we’ll be getting our first rendition of the Grinch story in 18 years.
This animated new version, currently advertised as The Grinch, comes from Illumination Entertainment. Illumination, of course, is the studio responsible for the Despicable Me movies. It also previously produced an adaptation of a Dr. Seuss story in 2012 with The Lorax.
The studio has not announced the full cast of the new Grinch, but Benedict Cumberbatch voices the title character.
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