6 books to read this summer before the movie comes out
From 'Annihilation' to 'The Lost City of Z,' these are the page-turners that will shortly captivate theater audiences.
To those cinephiles concerned that Hollywood has run out of original ideas, allow us to put you at ease. The brief list below represents just a slice of the film adaptations from some truly wonderful books that are slated to grace theaters in the coming years. They may not have superheroes or take place in a galaxy far, far away, but read just one page from these novels and we're convinced you'll understand why Hollywood is eager to take them from the shelf to the silver screen.
"Annihilation," by American novelist Jeff VanderMeer, is a 2014 science fiction novel that closely follows an expedition investigating a mysterious part of the world called Area X. The all-woman team – a biologist, a surveyor, an anthropologist and a psychologist – subsequently discover a place "where the rules of nature do not apply."
In 2014 it was announced that director Alex Garland would helm the film adaptation, with Oscar-winning Israeli-American actress Natalie Portman, American stars Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Gina Rodriguez, and Guatemalan-American actor Oscar Isaac leading the cast.
After his hit sci-fi thriller "Ex Machina," we know that Garland is fully capable of delivering a nail biter of a film. As VanderMeer said in a recent interview, "Annihilation" promises to deliver this and much more.
"It is intentional that this novel destabilizes you section by section," he said. "You think you’re reading one kind of novel. Then you think you’re reading another kind of novel. Then you just slowly kind of descend into this world where you’re having to yourself analyze what’s going on and say, 'Is this accurate? Is this not accurate?'"
'The Gray Man'
American novelist Mark Greaney's series of novels about Court Gentry, a CIA operative-turned-assassin, has been dubbed by Hollywood as the next great "Bourne Identity" film franchise.
"Being the Gray Man means he moves through the world without anyone around him knowing he’s there," Greaney said of his main character.
The first book in the four-novel series, "The Gray Man," was originally set to be produced by Arnon Milchan, a prolific Israeli filmmaker, and star American actor Brad Pitt in the lead. After scheduling and development delays, the rights were optioned by Sony Pictures, who promptly signed brothers Anthony and Joe Russo to adapt the screenplay.
In a surprising twist, Sony revealed last fall that it was courting South African actress Charlize Theron for the lead spy role. According to Deadline, the gender swap isn't without precedent: the 2010 spy thriller "Salt" with American actress Angelina Jolie was originally set to star Tom Cruise.
'The Hunter's Prayer'
"Hunter's Prayer," British author Kevin Wignall's 2004 thriller, tells the story of a young girl named Ella who teams up with a hitman to avenge the deaths of her family. In 2013, it was announced that Australian actor Sam Worthington would star as the main assassin, with up-and-coming Israeli actress Odeya Rush in the role of the vindictive young Ella.
"I became convinced Sam was right for the character of Lucas when I saw 'Terminator Salvation,'" Wignall said in an interview. "He was the best thing in it, and his character hit many of the same notes.”
While details regarding the film, slated for release in September 2016, are slim, the book itself is widely praised as a superb, fast-paced thriller.
"Somehow Kevin Wignall has managed to pen an absorbing, action-packed 210-page thriller about a hit man who might not want to be a hit man anymore and an innocent girl falling into darkness after coming face-to-face with his world, and have it shot through with intriguing philosophical themes, without ever losing steam, dragging things out, or seeming soap-boxy," writes Craig Sisterson in a review. "A master class in style and substance, laced with subtext."
'Into the Forest'
American author Jean Hegland's intimate post-apocalyptic survival tale "Into the Forest" will soon be released as a major film starring Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood. The novel, released in 1996, tells the story of two teenage sisters living in a remote forest while the modern world around them collapses.
"As I was writing it, I was immersed in that world," Hegland said in a 1997 interview. "I wanted to write it before things started breaking down. Now I'm drifting away from that sense of urgency. I was and still am worried about the future, but I think it's quite a hopeful book even though not everyone reads it that way."
The film adaptation, directed by Canadian filmmaker Patricia Rozema, is already being well-received by critics ahead of its September 2016 release. In his review, Darren Ruecker praised the film for valuing small character moments over the large dramatic ones common in post-apocalyptic films.
"It’s nice every now and then to have a film treat the catastrophe as background to the more mundane but nevertheless engaging drama of two sisters trying to make it through the wilderness together," Ruecker wrote.
'The Lost City of Z'
In 1925, during an expedition to find an ancient lost city, British explorer Percy Fawcett disappeared with his son in the Amazon. The mystery surrounding their fate, as well as the possible location of the storied ruins they sought, was the subject of American author David Grann's 2009 book "The Lost City of Z."
"If you went there, you almost never came back," Grann said in an interview with The Daily Beast. "Fawcett would take expeditions of just a few men and march into these areas with an almost crazy, divine sense of purpose."
Writer/director James Gray has spent the last five years developing a script for "Lost City," saying in an interview that "the story is amazing, but it's a complicated story." English actor Charlie Hunnam is set to star as Fawcett, with Robert Pattinson and Sienna Miller also attached.
While the film's release date has yet to revealed, we do know that production was completed last year after an international shoot that included locations in Columbia and Northern Ireland.
'The Devil in the White City'
Fresh off his Oscar-winning role in "The Revenant," American actor Leonardo DiCaprio will next team up with Martin Scorsese in "The Devil in the White City." The film, an adaptation of American author Erik Larson's nonfiction novel of the same name, details the story of the United States' first serial killer set against the backdrop of Chicago's 1893 World's Fair.
DiCaprio will play Dr. H.H. Holmes, a handsome psychopath who specifically built a hotel in Chicago for the purposes of committing murder. Secret rooms, trap doors and other devilish devices were all present within the structure.
"He was a full-service psychopath," Larson said in a 2003 interview. "He did not limit himself. My take on it is that his preference was for young attractive women, but he was not averse to killing men when he saw some other potential gain, typically financial. This guy was – calling him a thoroughly bad man doesn’t even do it justice."
As for DiCaprio pulling off an evil character, Larson had no reservations about the actor's abilities. “I think he'd be great," he told USAToday. "I don't think he's played a serial killer type. He's got that necessary charm. He's a lot better looking than Holmes ever was.”
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