If you love seeing your favorite books as movies and television series, the next few years will not disappoint! 2018 and beyond have a veritable bevy of well-loved classic novels being adapted for the big and small screens. From children’s favorites like Peter Rabbit and A Wrinkle in Time to fantasy hits like His Dark Materials and The Lord of the Rings to two (!) new Little Women projects, we’ve rounded up the most exciting classic book adaptations coming soon to television and theaters. Publishers’ descriptions and details included below.
Peter Rabbit based on The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Peter Rabbit is the most adventurous of his siblings. He runs into trouble, however, when he ignores his mother’s request that he stay out of Mr. McGregor’s garden.
Things to Know: The film, starring James Corden, Rose Byrne, Margot Robbie, and Daisy Ridley, blends live action and animation to bring the classic story of a mischievous rabbit to a modern generation. Corden, who voices Peter, told The Telegraph:
“I hope that a new generation will see this film and rediscover the incredible books and storytelling of Beatrix Potter and fall in love with the character as I did.”
Premiere Date: February 9, 2018
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.
“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I’ll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.”
A tesseract (in case the reader doesn’t know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L’Engle’s unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg’s father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.
Things to Know: The cast list for this classic children’s adaptation is packed with amazing actors. Storm Reid, who previously appeared in the 12 Years a Slave adaptation, will take on the role of Meg, and Chris Pine plays her scientist father. Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, and Mindy Kaling will star as the three mysterious neighbors who help Meg in her quest, and Zach Galifianakis rounds out the cast as the character of the Happy Medium. The trailer proves without a doubt that this is going to be an amazing movie experience.
Premiere Date: March 9, 2018
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Publisher’s Description: The fourteen fables in this landmark of children’s literature tell the story of Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves in the Indian jungle. With the help of Baloo the bear, Kaa the python, and Bagheera the black panther, Mowgli learns the laws of the wild and survives countless escapades—none more thrilling than his confrontation with the menacing tiger Shere Khan, king of the jungle.
Many other unforgettable characters appear in The Jungle Book, including Kotick, a rare white seal who searches for a safe haven from those who hunt him; Rikki-tikki-tavi, a brave mongoose who saves a boy and his family from a pair of deadly cobras; and Toomai, a ten-year-old elephant trainer who risks everything to witness one of the world’s greatest mysteries: the dance of the elephants.
As educational as it is entertaining, Rudyard Kipling’s masterpiece has delighted and inspired generations of readers the world over.
Things to Know: The latest live-action adaptation of Kipling’s classic was filmed on location in South Africa. The cast includes Christian Bale as Bagheera the panther, Cate Blanchett as Kaa the python, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Shere Khan the tiger. Plus, Andy Serkis (pictured above) is both directing and starring as Baloo the bear.
Premiere Date: October 19, 2018
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
“Every Who down in Who-ville liked Christmas a lot . . . but the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville, did NOT!” Not since “’Twas the night before Christmas” has the beginning of a Christmas tale been so instantly recognizable. This heartwarming story about the effects of the Christmas spirit will grow even the coldest and smallest of hearts. Like mistletoe, candy canes, and caroling, the Grinch is a mainstay of the holidays, and his story is the perfect gift for young and old.
Things to Know: This adaptation of Seuss’s famous Christmas tale will be a 3D animation venture into the beloved world of the Whos and their nemesis on the top of Mount Crumpit. Benedict Cumberbatch will voice the titular character.
Premiere Date: November 9, 2018
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Harper Lee’s Pulitzer prize-winning masterwork of honor and injustice in the deep south—and the heroism of one man in the face of blind and violent hatred, available now for the first time as an e-book. One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, served as the basis for an enormously popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the twentieth century by librarians across the country. A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father-a crusading local lawyer-risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.
Things to Know: This adaptation is not a movie or a television series, but a Broadway play! Oscar winner Aaron Sorkin — of A Few Good Men, The Social Network, and The West Wing — has penned the script for the stage version of Lee’s classic. No news about casting yet, but this production is sure to be on the radar of the many who grew up cherishing this important addition to American literature.
Premiere Date: December 13, 2018
Mary Poppins Returns based on Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers
From the moment Mary Poppins arrives at Number Seventeen Cherry-Tree Lane, everyday life at the Banks house is forever changed. It all starts when Mary Poppins is blown by the east wind onto the doorstep of the Banks house. She becomes a most unusual nanny to Jane, Michael, and the twins. Who else but Mary Poppins can slide up banisters, pull an entire armchair out of an empty carpetbag, and make a dose of medicine taste like delicious lime-juice cordial? A day with Mary Poppins is a day of magic and make-believe come to life!
Things to Know: The highly anticipated Disney sequel, starring Emily Blunt as Mary and Lin-Manuel Miranda as lamplighter Jack, has been officially titled Mary Poppins Returns. Set in 1930s London, Jane and Michael Banks are now adults, but still need their childhood nanny to bring some joy back into their world.
Premiere Date: December 25, 2018
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath’s shocking, realistic, and intensely emotional novel about a woman falling into the grip of insanity Esther Greenwood is brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.
Things to Know: The film stars Dakota Fanning as Esther Greenwood, and Kirsten Dunst will make her full-length movie directing debut. Dunst shared in an interview:
“It’s a book that most women have read. I’m directing it, so I enjoy it just because I get to write exactly what I want to see, and I think that the way I’m approaching it is very funny, so it’s going to be a dark comedy.”
Premiere Date: 2018
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.
Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.
When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.
Things to Know: The HBO movie, which began filming in July, stars Michael B. Jordan as Montag, Michael Shannon as Captain Beatty, Sofia Boutella as Clarisse, Laura Harrier as Millie Montag, and Grace Lynn Kung as Chairman Mao.
Premiere Date: 2018
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (miniseries)
The four March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, live in Concord, Massachusetts, with their beloved mother while their father is stationed far away as an army chaplain. Although not well-off financially, they are nonetheless well-known in the neighborhood for their charitable work. The girls amuse themselves at home with imaginative fun and games, including performing plays and writing sketches. They are the picture of a loving family and each daughter has her own part to play in it. The March girls are so deftly and vividly drawn that everyone who reads this book will identify with one sister in the story, whether they are reading Little Women for the first time as a child or rereading it for the 100th time as an adult.
Things to Know: There’s not one, but two new adaptations of Little Women coming in 2018. First up, the TV version on PBS Masterpiece will be a miniseries in three parts. It boasts a star-studded cast, including Emily Watson as Marmee, Angela Lansbury as Aunt March, and Michael Gambon as wealthy neighbor, Mr. Laurence. The four March sisters — Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy — will be played by Willa Fitzgerald, Maya Hawke, Annes Elwy, and Kathryn Newton, respectively.
Premiere Date: 2018
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (movie)
Things to Know: In addition to the miniseries, there is also a movie adaptation of Little Women coming in 2018, with Lea Thompson starring as Marmee. Lucas Grabeel of High School Musical has been cast as Laurie.
Premiere Date: 2018
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiousity and hostility of the villagers. Their days pass in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp.
Things to Know: The cast of Jackson’s adaptation includes Taissa Farmiga, Alexandra Daddario, Sebastian Stan, and Willem Dafoe. Filming for the movie took place in Enniskerry, Ireland, and wrapped in September 2016.
Premiere Date: 2018
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.
Things to Know: Yet another Jackson adaptation, this 10-episode Netflix series features actors Annabeth Gish and Timothy Hutton, as well as young actresses McKenna Grace and Violet McGraw. The Haunting of Hill House has been made into feature length films in both 1963 and 1999, the latter of which was titled The Haunting and starred Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Owen Wilson, and Lili Taylor.
Premiere Date: TBD
Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie
When wealthy spinster Emily French is found murdered, suspicion falls on Leonard Vole, the man to whom she hastily bequeathed her riches before she died. Leonard assures the investigators that his wife, Romaine Heilger, can provide them with an alibi. However, when questioned, Romaine informs the police that Vole returned home late that night covered in blood. During the trial, Ms. French’s housekeeper, Janet, gives damning evidence against Vole, and, as Romaine’s cross-examination begins, her motives come under scrutiny from the courtroom. One question remains, will justice prevail?
Things to Know: Ben Affleck is both directing and starring in a new film version of Christie’s short story. The most well-known adaptation of The Witness for the Prosecution was a 1957 movie starring Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich, Elsa Lanchester, and Charles Laughton.
Premiere Date: TBD
Dracula by Bram Stoker
A junior solicitor travels to Transylvania to meet with an important client, the mysterious Count Dracula. Ignoring the dire warnings of local townsfolk, he allows himself to be seduced by the count’s courtly manners and erudite charm. Too late, the solicitor realizes that he is a prisoner of Castle Dracula, his guards a trio of voluptuous young women with sharp white teeth and a taste for blood.
Soon thereafter, the solicitor’s fiancé, Mina, visits a friend on the English coast. The town is full of speculation over a Russian ship run aground nearby, its crew missing, the dead body of its captain, crucifix in hand, lashed to the wheel. A giant dog was seen leaping from the deck before disappearing into the countryside. The ship’s cargo: fifty boxes of Transylvanian dirt. As the beautiful Mina will soon learn, Count Dracula has arrived.
At once a Gothic reflection of the Victorian era and a timeless tale of sinister lust, Bram Stoker’s Dracula has inspired countless adaptations–none with the same power to quicken the pulse as the original.
Things to Know: Sherlock writers Mark Gattis and Stephen Moffat are drafting a BBC miniseries adaptation of Stoker’s classic horror story. Variety reports that this Dracula series will follow a similar format to Sherlock, with “a miniseries run of feature-length episodes.” No casting announcements have been made at this time.
Premiere Date: TBD
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass are available together in one volume perfect for any fan or newcomer to this modern fantasy classic series that has graced the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Book Sense, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists.
These thrilling adventures tell the story of Lyra and Will—two ordinary children on a perilous journey through shimmering haunted otherworlds. They will meet witches and armored bears, fallen angels and soul-eating specters. And in the end, the fate of both the living—and the dead—will rely on them.
Phillip Pullman’s spellbinding His Dark Materials trilogy has captivated readers for over twenty years and won acclaim at every turn. It will have you questioning everything you know about your world and wondering what really lies just out of reach.
Things to Know: The BBC miniseries will begin with eight episodes, but there are plans to eventually cover all three books in Pullman’s trilogy. The show is currently in the process of casting and pre-production. Read more about what we hope to see in the series here.
Premiere Date: TBD
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of “the Brotherhood”, and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.
Things to Know: Hulu has acquired the rights to produce a TV series based on Ellison’s 1952 novel. This project is in the very early stages of development — no script has been written and no cast members have been announced.
Premiere Date: TBD
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.
From Sauron’s fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, his power spread far and wide. Sauron gathered all the Great Rings to him, but always he searched for the One Ring that would complete his dominion.
When Bilbo reached his eleventy-first birthday he disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin Frodo the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.
The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the Dwarf; Legolas the Elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider.
Things to Know: The Tolkien estate and Amazon recently announced their partnership in producing a “multi-season” Amazon Prime original series based on the much-beloved fantasy novels. The deal also includes possible spin-offs to explore the rest of the richly detailed world Tolkien created.
Premiere Date: TBD
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. The first sentence of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is among the most quoted in literature, and sets up the humorous and ultimately timeless tale of proper English society, unspoken intentions, and true love acquired. Pride and Prejudice is a classic that adeptly traces the intricacies of social status, manners, and relationship rituals in nineteenth-century England, through which all the love between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy eventually blossoms.
Things to Know: While no release date or cast have been announced, we do know that Nina Raine, writer of BBC’s Poldark and Victoria, has been tapped to pen this latest small screen adaptation. “Pride and Prejudice is actually a very adult book, much less bonnet-y than people assume,” Raine said in an interview with Radio Times. “I hope I do justice to Austen’s dark intelligence — sparkling, yes, but sparkling like granite.”
Premiere Date: TBD
The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis
Narnia… where giants wreak havoc… where evil weaves a spell… where enchantment rules.
Through dangers untold and caverns deep and dark, a noble band of friends is sent to rescue a prince held captive. But their mission to Underland brings them face-to-face with an evil more beautiful and more deadly than they ever expected.
The Silver Chair is the sixth book in C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, a series that has become part of the canon of classic literature, drawing readers of all ages into a magical land with unforgettable characters for over fifty years. This is a complete stand-alone read, but if you want to discover what happens in the final days of Narnia, read The Last Battle, the seventh and concluding book in The Chronicles of Narnia.
Things to Know: Fans have been waiting since the 2010’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader film to see the next installment of Lewis’s beloved series brought to life. Joe Johnston will direct The Silver Chair, which is being touted as a reboot of the entire franchise. While this may disappoint some faithful fans, it makes sense because the original four Pevensie siblings — Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy — are not present in the book. Click here for more details about the upcoming adaptation.
Premiere Date: TBD
The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
“For a time I believed that mankind had been swept out of existence, and that I stood there alone, the last man left alive.”
When a strange, meteor-like object lands in the heart of England, the inhabitants of Earth find themselves victims of a terrible attack. A ruthless race of Martians, armed with heat rays and poisonous smoke, is intent on destroying everything that stands in its way. As the unnamed hero struggles to find his way across decimated wastelands, the fate of the planet hangs in the balance . . .
H. G. Wells was a pioneer of modern science fiction. First serialized in the UK in 1897, The War of the Worlds is one of the earliest stories to depict conflict with an extraterrestrial race, and has influenced countless adaptations and sequels.
Things to Know: In May, BBC greenlit this small screen adaptation of Wells’s classic sci-fi tale, attaching writer Peter Harness (Doctor Who, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell) to the project.
Premiere Date: TBD
Which of these upcoming adaptations are you looking forward to? Tell us in the comments!