The page-to-screen process is a tale as old as time – and a lucrative one at that. The screen rights for some books sell for millions:The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown sold for $6m (£4.6m), and EL James earned $5m (£3.8m) from her Fifty Shades trilogy. Occasionally, these rights are sold before the the book has even hit the shelves, like with Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and The Martian by Andy Weir.
So far this year, we’ve been spoiled with page-to-screen adaptations: Jandy Nelson’s The Sky is Everywhere arrived on Apple TV+ in February, Adam Kay’s This Is Going To Hurt aired on BBC earlier this year, and the second season of Bridgerton (based on Julia Quinn’s The Viscount Who Loved Me) landed on Netflix at the end of March.
If you love to read the book before you watch the adaptation, here are 13 to read before their screen translations are released later this year.
Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan – 15 April, Netflix
Starring Sienna Miller, Michelle Dockery and Rupert Friend, Netflix’s Anatomy of a Scandal is based on Sarah Vaughan’s 2017 novel of the same name.
A political thriller, Miller’s novel follows James, a high-profile junior government minister accused of a sexual crime. His wife Sophie is sure he is innocent – but Kate, the barrister prosecuting the case, is convinced he is guilty.
David E Kelley and Melissa James Gibson have developed a series of six episodes, with the possibility of expansion into an anthology series that will depict other large-scale elite scandals in the UK.
Anatomy of a Scandal will launch on Netflix on 15 April.
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney – 15 May, BBC Three
After the highly successful Normal People, the adaptation of Sally Rooney’s debut novel has been highly anticipated since it was announced early in 2020. The novel was well-received when it was published in 2017, and was nominated for the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Folio Prize in 2018.
Set in Ireland, Conversations with Friends follows best friends and ex-girlfriends Frances and Bobbi as they become entangled with a married couple, Melissa and Nick.
Starring Alison Oliver, Sasha Lane, Joe Alwyn and Jemima Kirke as the central quartet, the full 12-episode series will be available on BBC iPlayer from 15 May.
20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill – 24 June, theatrical release
One of the stories in Joe Hill’s 2005 collection of short stories has been adapted into a film. Starring Ethan Hawke and directed by Scott Derrickson, The Black Phone is a supernatural horror about a teenager trapped in a basement with a mysterious black phone hanging on the wall.
The film had a world premiere in September 2021 – receiving positive reviews from critics – but was delayed due to Covid. Hill’s collection won multiple awards in 2005, including the Bram Stoker Award for best fiction collection, and the British Fantasy Award for best collection.
The Black Phone is expected to arrive in theatres on 24 June.
Mr Malcolm’s List by Suzanne Allain (1 July) – theatrical release
A fun Regency spoof with a hint of the classic teen romcom John Tucker Must Die, Mr Malcom’s List is perfect for fans of Netflix’s Bridgerton.
Suzanne Allain’s self-published 2009 novel follows Selina, new girl in town, who is persuaded by friend Julia to enact revenge on Jeremy Malcolm, a gentleman who has created a list of requirements that a future wife must fulfil.
Allain adapted her novel into a script, which attracted the attention of filmmaker Emma Holly Jones in 2015. Jones then created a short film version of Mr Malcom’s List for Refinery29 in 2019. The short film’s success led to Allain’s novel being published Piatkus (an imprint of Hachette) and a feature film being financed, starring Freida Pinto, Theo James and Zawe Ashton.
Mr Malcolm’s List is expected to arrive in theatres on 1 July.
Bullet Train by Kotaro Isaka (15 July) – theatrical release
Kotaro Isaka’s bestselling satirical thriller, titled Maria Beetle in Japan, was published in 2010 in Japan. An English translation was published in 2021 – the first time Isaka’s writing has been translated into the language – following the movie rights being acquired by Sony in June 2020.
The novel follows five assassins all aboard the same high-speed train to Tokyo, who come to realise that their missions might be linked. The film, directed by Deadpool 2’s David Leitch, has an ensemble cast: Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Joey King, Brian Tyree Johnson, Zazie Beetz, Karen Fukuhara and Logan Lerman all star.
Bullet Train is expected to arrive in theatres on 15 July.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – 22 July, theatrical release
The film adaptation of Delia Owens’s bestselling 2018 novel will hit theatres this summer, directed by Olivia Newman, produced by Reese Witherspoon, and starring Daisy Edgar Jones, Taylor John Smith and Harris Dickinson.
Set principally in 1969 North Carolina, Where the Crawdads Sing follows Kya (Edgar Jones), a girl who grew up in a marsh and is suspected of killing a man that once pursued her.
Bonus points if you’re a Taylor Swift fan: the American singer has recorded an original song for the film, “Carolina”, after she fell in love with the novel.
Where the Crawdads Sing is expected to arrive in theatres on 22 July.
‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King – 9 September, theatrical release
Historically adapted into a two-part miniseries, and later a television film starring Rob Lowe, this cinematic adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot has been in the works since 2019.
King’s 1975 horror – which he regularly cited as the favourite of his novels in the ‘80s – follows writer Ben Mears as he returns to Jerusalem’s Lot, a town in Maine, where he lived between the ages of five and nine. While there, Mears, played by Lewis Pullman, discovers the residents are becoming vampires.
‘Salem’s Lot is expected to arrive in theatres on 9 September.
She Said by Jodi Kantor & Megan Twohey – 18 November, theatrical release
Starring Carey Mulligan, Zoe Kazan and Patricia Clarkson, the film adaptation of Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s 2019 non-fiction release She Said will arrive in theatres later this year.
Kantor and Twohey are the two New York Times investigative journalists who exposed Harvey Weinstein’s history of sexual misconduct and abuse against women, which started the #MeToo movement.
The book details the behind-the-scenes of the investigation conducted by Kantor and Twohey. Universal Pictures announced their film dramatisation in 2021.
She Said is expected to arrive in theatres on 18 November.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – 23 December, theatrical release
Starring real-life sisters Dakota Fanning and Elle Fanning as fictional sisters Vianne and Isabelle, The Nightingale is a Second World War film from the perspective of French women.
One a housewife, the other a rebellious 18-year-old, Hannah’s 2015 novel, set principally in 1939 Nazi occupied France, follows the sisters’s struggle to resist the German occupation.
The Nightingale is the first time ever that the Fanning sisters will star opposite one another on screen. “We have played the same character at different ages but have never spoken to each other in front of a camera,” the sisters wrote on Instagram in 2019. “For years, we have looked for a film to do with one another and then this gem appeared.”
The Nightingale is expected to arrive in theatres on 23 December.
TBC: Adaptations expected to be released in 2022
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid – Prime Video
A 10-part series based on Taylor Jenkins Reid’s award-winning novel was ordered by Prime Video before the novel was even published. Filming started in September 2021, with Reese Witherspoon executive producing and Sam Claflin, Riley Keough and Suki Waterhouse all starring.
Set in the 1970s, Daisy Jones & The Six follows the titular Daisy (Keough), an erratic rockstar, who joins band The Six to become one of the world’s most legendary acts, only to ultimately split at the height of their success.
Comparisons are frequently drawn to Fleetwood Mac, and Jenkins Reid has confirmed that she was at least partly inspired by watching their performances on television when she was growing up. Told in documentary style, the novel attracted praise for its vibrant storytelling and ability to capture the wildness of the 1970s.
Filming wrapped earlier this year, but Prime Video is yet to confirm a release date.
The Power by Naomi Alderman – Prime Video
Naomi Alderman’s feminist sci-fi novel took the world by storm when it was released in 2016. The author herself adapted the novel into a 10-part series for Prime Video.
The Power, set in a near-future, sees women across the globe develop the ability to release electric shocks from their fingers, leading them to become the dominant sex.
Starring Leslie Mann, Auliʻi Cravalho and John Leguizamo, the series began filming in early 2021, and was still ongoing in October. Prime Video is yet to confirm a release date.
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue – Netflix
Emma Donoghue’s internationally acclaimed novel Room was adapted into a successful film in 2015. Her 2016 follow-up, The Wonder, is being adapted by Netflix. Little Women and Black Widow actor Florence Pugh will lead, with Toby Jones, Niamh Algar and Ciarán Hinds in supporting roles.
A psychological thriller set in 19th-century Ireland, The Wonder follows Lib Wright (Pugh), a nurse summoned to a small village to observe an 11-year-old girl who has stopped eating but remains miraculously alive and well.
Filming started in mid-2021 with an expected 2022 release, but Netflix is yet to confirm a release date.
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll – Netflix
Jessica Knoll’s 2015 bestselling novel, Luckiest Girl Alive, is being adapted by Netflix into a film starring Mila Kunis and Finn Wittrock.
Frequently compared to the modern crime classics Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Luckiest Girl Alive follows Ani (Kunis) who has tried to reinvent herself in adulthood, having experienced a series of traumatic events in her teenage years.
Luckiest Girl Alive is slated for a 2022 release, but Netflix is yet to confirm a release date.