From 'Little Women' to 'The Sun Is Also a Star': 18 Books That Will Be Adapted in 2019

8:00 AM 12/21/2018

by Lexy Perez

A new year marks a peak time for popular books to fly off the shelves onto the screen.

Meryl Streep, Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan and Timothee Chalamet-Getty Images-Split-H 2018
Getty Images

A new year is bringing a new chapter.

2018 marked a peak time for book-to-screen adaptations with an array that captivated audiences such as The Hate U Give, Netflix's Bird Box, HBO's Sharp Objects, Netflix's To All the Boys I've Loved Before (which recently announced a second season), among others. 

With 2018 winding down, a new chapter in the world of literary adaptations will begin. From a reimagining of a literary classic with Little Women starring Meryl Streep to The Goldfinch slated to star Ansel Elgort and Nicole Kidman, avid bookworms will see popular novels hitting both the big and small screens. This coming year, popular books like The Call of the Wild and the YA romance The Sun Is Also a Star will also be adapted, with stars such as Harrison Ford, Yara Shahidi, Tom Hanks and George Clooney among others set to lead the anticipated literary adaptations.

Below The Hollywood Reporter has compiled a list of the books readers must keep on their radar in light of their upcoming adaptations.

  • 'The Rhythm Section' by Mark Burnell

    Blake Lively, Jude Law, and Sterling K. Brown will star in the modern take of Burnell's 1999 novels centered on protagonist Stephanie Patrick. The Reed Morano-helmed film will follow Patrick (Lively) as she falls down a dark spiral after learning her family died in a plane crash. Though filled with sadness, Lively's Stephanie soon learns that there may be more to the circumstances surrounding her family's death, leaving her to seek to uncover the truth and revenge after joining a covert intelligence organization. Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli of EON Productions, the company behind the James Bond franchise, are producing the film. Global Road (formerly known as IM Global) is financing the thriller.

  • 'Chaos Walking: The Knife of Never Letting Go' by Patrick Ness

    The first of Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking trilogy is hitting the big screen with Spider-Man: Homecoming star Tom Holland as the film's leading man. Holland will portray Todd Hewit, known as the sole boy in a town of men. After an infection dubbed as the "noise germ" spreads and kills every female, Holland's Todd acquires the ability to hear everything the men think, as they are able to hear everything he thinks. Fearful that the town is hiding something, Todd escapes, only to stumble upon a stranger who happens to be female (Daisy Ridley) and could hold the secret to unlocking the New World's secrets. Doug Liman will direct the big-budget adaptation of the YA novel. Lionsgate is spending between $90 million and $100 million on the sci-fi thriller with hopes that the film will launch a franchise. Nick Jonas will also star.

  • 'Where'd You Go, Bernadette' by Maria Semple

    Maria Semple's 2012 novel will come to life with Cate Blanchett taking on the titular role of Bernadette Fox, an architect who suddenly vanishes after her 15-year-old proposes the family go on a trip to Antartica. Apart from Blanchett, the film from Annapurna Pictures also stars Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer, Laurence Fishburn and Troian Bellisario. Richard Linklater (BoyhoodDazed and Confused) not only directed the film but wrote the screenplay with Holly Gent and Vince Palmo. Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson and Ginger Sledge will produce the film while Megan Ellison and Jillian Longnecker will serve as executive producers.

  • 'The Good Shepherd' by C.S. Forester

    C.S. Forester's 1995 book follows Capt. Ernest Krause (Tom Hanks), the commanding officer of a Navy destroyer that leads an international convoy of Allied ships across the North Atlantic during WWII while being pursued by a fleet of German U-boats. Elisabeth Shue, Mudbound star Rob Morgan and Stephen Graham will co-star alongside Hanks in the film directed by Aaron Schneider. To adequately honor the Navy destroyer, Greyhound, commanded by Hank's character, the film will stray from Forester's original title for his WWII thriller and instead be named Greyhound. Hanks and his Playtone partner, Gary Goetzman, are producing. FilmNation’s Aaron Ryder, Playtone’s Steven Shareshian and David Coatsworth are among the film's executive producers. Financing comes from Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, Bron Creative, Sycamore Pictures and Zhengfu Pictures.

  • 'Five Feet Apart' by Rachael Lippincott

    CBS Films is releasing an adaptation of the recently published romantic drama penned by Rachael Lippincott. Riverdale's Cole Sprouse and The Edge of Seventeen's Haley Lu Richardson will star as the novel's Stella and Will, who fall in love while battling their separate illnesses and getting treatment in the hospital. Though finding comfort in each other, Richardson's Stella can't risk being closer than five feet away from Will out of fear of possible infection that could prevent her from receiving a lung transplant. The film, which is thematically similar to The Fault in Our Stars, will be directed by Jane the Virgin star Justin Baldoni, who will also produce alongside Academy Award winner Cathy Schulman (Crash). Though known for his television roles on Riverdale and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Five Feet Apart will mark Sprouse's first film role of his adult career. Claire Forlani and Moises Arias also star.

  • 'The Best of Enemies' by Osha Gray Davidson

    The movie, which is based on the 1996 book The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South by Osha Gray Davidson, centers on the unlikely relationship between Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson), an outspoken civil rights activist, and C.P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell), a local Ku Klux Klan leader. Taking place in the 1960s, as the country struggles with the issue of race, Henson's Atwater and Rockwell's Ellis battle over the desegregation of schools in Durham, North Carolina. Though having differing perspectives, they soon form an unlikely friendship while realizing the exploitation caused by the South's power structure. Robin Bissell (Hunger Games) directed the drama from a script he also penned. Rogue One star Babou Ceesay, Anne Heche, Wes Bentley, Bruce McGill, John Gallagher Jr. and Nick Searcy also star. Danny Strong, Fred Bernstein, Matt Berenson, Dominique Telson and Bissell serve as producers, along with Material Pictures’ Tobey Maguire and Matthew Plouffe. Rick Jackson and Jeremiah Samuels are executive producing.

  • 'The Aftermath' by Rhidian Brook

    Rhidian Brook's 2013 story centering on love and betrayal will be adapted by Fox Searchlight Pictures and helmed by director James Kent. The film stars Keira Knightley as Rachael Morgan who relocates to Hamburg from England with her husband (Jason Clarke) to assist in efforts to rebuild the city destroyed by British bombers. During their stay, the couple allows a German widower (Alexander Skarsgard) and his daughter to stay with them after his wife is lost as a result of the bombings. Knightley's Rachael and Skarsgard's Stefan then begin a love affair with the danger of separating their families and conflicting nationalities looming around them. The film was executive produced by Ridley Scott and adapted for the screen by Brook and the writing team of Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse (Race).

  • 'The Sun Is Also a Star' by Nicola Yoon

    From the same author behind the MGM and Warner Bros. adaptation of Everything, Everything, comes a story about New York City resident Natasha (Yara Shahidi), whose pragmatism is challenged when she falls in love with a young man (Riverdale's Charles Melton) right before her family is to be deported back to Jamaica. MGM and Warner Bros. picked up the rights to Yoon's 2016 book after partnering for Everything, Everything, which starred Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson and grossed over $60 million at the box office on a $10 million budget. Ry Russo-Young will direct the YA adaptation penned by Girls Trip writer Tracey Oliver. Also re-teaming with WB and MGM for the adaptation is Alloy Entertainment, who will produce the film, after working on Everything, Everything. Alloy's Les Morgenstein and Elysa Koplovitz Dutton are producing. Yoon's The Sun Is Also a Star was recognized as a 2016 National Book Award Finalist.

  • 'The Goldfinch' by Donna Tartt

    The 2013 best-selling novel The Goldfinch by Donna Tart will be another adaptation hitting the big screen next year from Warner Bros. and Amazon Studios. The film stars Baby Driver star Ansel Elgort as Theo Decker, who loses his mother (Nicole Kidman) in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After losing his mother and abandoned by his father (Luke Wilson), Elgort's Theo is taken in by a wealthy family, where he becomes enraptured by the city's art underworld. Sarah Paulson, Jeffrey Wright, Finn Wolfhard and Aneurin Barnard also star in the film. Nina Jacobson and Brad Simpson of Color Force are producing. Tartt's novel won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. John Crowley (Brooklyn) will helm the film. RatPac Entertainment is co-financing and producing. James Packer is executive producing.

  • 'The Good Liar' by Nicholas Searle

    Nicholas Searle's 2015 novel will hit the big screen with Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen to play the leading characters. McKellen will portray Roy, a conman set to pull off his final con by wooing a wealthy widow he met online named Betty (Mirren). Though he must be deceitful, Roy begins to care for Betty only for it to become an unexpected cat-and-mouse game.  Bill Condon directs the upcoming thriller from New Line Cinema. Bron Creative, a division of Bron Studios, is also boarding the project that adapts the novel, with the company acting as co-financier. Condon will not only direct but also produce, along with Greg Yolen. Jack Morrissey, along with Bron Creative’s Aaron L. Gilbert and Jason Cloth, will executive produce. Jeffrey Hatcher, who previously worked with Condon and McKellen on 2015’s Mr. Holmes, penned the screenplay. The adaptation of the psychological thriller will mark the fourth collaboration between Condon and McKellen, who first worked together on Gods and Monsters, which won Condon an Oscar for best adapted screenplay and McKellen a nomination for best actor.

  • 'The Call of the Wild' by Jack London

    20th Century Fox will adapt Jack London’s 1903 story — set in Yukon, Canada during the Gold Rush — about a sled dog that tries to survive the Alaskan wilderness and a series of abusive owners. Harrison Ford will take on the role of Jack Thorton, who becomes the canine's final owner. Dan Stevens, Cara Gee and Karen Gillan also star in the adaptation. Chris Sanders, co-director of The Croods and How to Train Your Dragon, is making his live-action debut with The Call of the Wild, which will incorporate major CG elements to portray the sled dogs. Logan writer Michael Green penned the screenplay. Erwin Stoff will serve as the producer, with Diana Pokorny and Ryan Stafford executive producing.

  • 'Little Women' by Louisa May Alcott

    Louisa May Alcott's literary classic will be adapted for the big screen with an A-list ensemble taking on the novel's iconic characters. The film will star Meryl Streep, Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, and Timothee Chalamet as they tell the story about sisters Amy, Jo, Bet, and Meg and their mother living in Civil War-era Massachusetts. As the novel does, the film will chronicle the family's lives as they navigate growing up, first loves and Christmas without their father. Lady Bird's Greta Gerwig wrote the screenplay for the feature, which Columbia Pictures previously made into a 1994 feature with Winona Ryder, Christian Bale, Susan Sarandon and Kirsten Dunst. Amy Pascal will produce alongside Denise Di Novi and Robin Swicord. To further hype the anticipated adaptation, Watson took to her social media to share her costars in character for the upcoming film. 

  • 'Limetown: A Novel' by Zack Akers, Skip Bronkie and Cote Smith

    Facebook Watch will adapt the 10-episode hit-podcast of the same name to the small screen with Jessica Biel taking on the starring role. The podcast also has a companion prequel novel written by Zack Akers, Skip Bronkie and Cote Smith which was recently released. Biel, who is also executive producing the project, stars as Lea Haddock, a radio journalist who seeks to unravel the mystery surrounding Limetown's disappearance of more than 300 residents. What first begins as a mystery soon leads Lea to danger with listeners following her every move. Stanley Tucci, Marlee Matlin, and Kelly Jenrette also join the drama's cast lineup alongside Biel. Rounding out the cast are John Beasley (Walking Tall) and Louis Ferreira (Travelers). Midnight Radio's Josh Applebaum, Andre Nemec, Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg are also executive producing. Adrienne Erickson is producing. The drama began production in Vancouver on Dec. 5 with Biel giving a sneak peek on her social media.

  • 'The Perfectionists' by Sara Shepard

    After achieving success with her book series Pretty Little Liars — which was also adapted as a hit series on Freeform and ran for seven seasons — Freeform is adapting Sara Shepard's new series The Perfectionists for screen slated for a 2019 debut. The Perfectionists centers around the mystery of the death of a high school student named Noah. Though the circumstances surrounding Noah's death remain a mystery, five teens grow nervous after Noah winds up dead the same way they planned to kill him, only they didn't actually go through with it. The question then remains as to who did murder Noah and will any of the five girls be next? Though The Perfectionists is a separate series, Freeform decided to merge the new series with PLL, ultimately creating a spinoff after PLL was ranked as cable's No. 1 drama among viewers 18-34 and 12-34 during its final season. PLL stars Janel Parrish and Sasha Pieterse join the series cast, reprising their roles made famous by the Freeform teen drama. Sofia Carson, Sydney Park, Eli Brown, Graeme Thomas King, Kelly Rutherford and Hayley Erin round out the cast. The series will be produced by Alloy Entertainment and Long Lake Media in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television. PLL showrunner I. Marlene King penned the pilot and serves as executive producer.

  • 'Catch-22' by Joseph Heller

    Joseph Heller's 1961 story centered around a U.S. Air Force bombardier in World War II has been recognized as a classic among readers. It was announced that Hulu would adapt Heller's novel into a six-part miniseries with George Clooney taking on the leading role. Paramount Television owned the rights to Heller's satirical novel and developed the upcoming series under head Amy Powell, who identified the book as one of the first projects she'd like to create since being tapped to run the studio. Despite being popular among readers, Heller's novel was never shy of controversy after it was banned in Ohio in the '70s because the author referred to women as "whores" in various instances throughout the story. Despite this, the book continues to remain in school curriculum.

  • 'Watchmen: Graphic Novel' by Alan Moore

    Watchmen will be heading to HBO as Damon Lindelof will adapt a new spin on the classic graphic novel by Alan Moore slated for next year. Though Alan Moore's graphic novel was previously translated for film by Zack Snyder,  Lindelof has dubbed his version a “remix” of the original, though many of the series' original characters will be included in the reboot. Lindelof's lengthy cast includes Regina KingJeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson and  Louis Gossett Jr. HBO released a description of the upcoming series stating: "Set in an alternate history where 'superheroes' are treated as outlaws, Watchmen embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel while attempting to break new ground of its own." Lindelof will serve as the series' executive producer and writer on the project, with pilot director Nicole Kassell joining him as EP alongside Tom Spezialy, Stephen Williams and Joseph Iberti.

  • 'Little Fires Everywhere' by Celeste Ng

    Reese Witherspoon's company Hello Sunshine has become notorious for snatching up the rights to popular books, with Celeste Ng's 2017 novel Little Fires Everywhere chosen to be adapted with Witherspoon and Scandal's Kerry Washington set to star and executive produce. Writer Liz Tigelaar (Casual, Life Unexpected) will pen the series, executive produce and serve as showrunner. ABC Signature Studios' Tracy Underwood will exec produce the series alongside Hello Sunshine and Simpson Street. Author Ng will also serve as a producer on the series. Ng's novel follows the intertwined relationship of the picture-perfect Richardson family and an enigmatic artist and single mother who rents a house from the family. Soon the mother and daughter's mysterious past ultimately threaten to upend the Richardsons' ordered community. The book received critical acclaim after it won the Goodreads 2017 best fiction award. The novel was also chosen as a September pick of Witherspoon's book club and an instant best-seller, appearing on many year-end best-of lists. A release date for the series has yet to be announced. 

  • 'Daisy Jones & The Six' by Taylor Jenkins Reid

    Amazon has ordered a 13-episode order for a limited series based on Taylor Jenkins Reid's forthcoming book Daisy Jones & The Six slated to be published on March 5. The limited series landed at Amazon before it could be taken out to the marketplace after Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine acquired rights to the book and Amazon's Jennifer Salke pursued TV rights to the title after reading an advanced copy. Reid's musical novel centers on a fictional rock band in the 1970s and follows their rise through the ranks of the L.A. music scene and beyond. The band eventually grows to become one of the most legendary bands in the world. Amazon will distribute original music from the series (via Amazon Music), and the print and audiobook from Ballantine/Random House will also be available via and The Disaster Artist duo Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber will pen the script, as well as executive produce. Witherspoon and her Hello Sunshine banner topper Lauren Neustadter will serve as exec producers alongside Brad Mendelsohn. Author Jenkins will be credited as a producer.

  • Books to Keep on Radar

    Though it is yet to be determined when their adaptations will be released, the following books have been optioned and slated to hit the screen: 

    The Dry by Jane Harper 

    As with Little Fires Everywhere, Witherspoon acquired the rights to the crime thriller from the Australian author's debut novel. The novel will be adapted for film with details to be announced. The thriller centers on the mystery of a farmer and his family who are found dead, with evidence suggesting that the farmer was the murderer. To further investigate the mysterious surroundings of his former friend, investigator Aaron Falk returns to the community he once left behind years ago to face the truth behind his friend's death and himself. Harper announced on her Twitter that Dirty John star Eric Bana will be taking on the role of Falk. Harper's anticipated new novel The Lost Man — centered on brothers Nathan and Bub uncovering details about the death of their younger brother found in the Australian outback — will be released on Feb. 5. 

    The Lost Husband by Katherine Center 

    Center's 2013 novel tells the story of a widower who, after losing her husband in a car crash, moves to her aunt's goat farm where she will not only live but work. It is at the farm where she learns things about herself and how to start over in a new life she never expected. The heartwarming story is being adapted for a feature film starring Josh Duhamel with the release date to be announced. Following the adaptation, Center's new novel Things You Save in a Fire — centered on firefighter Cassie who moves to Boston to take care of her sick mother and soon finds herself developing feelings for one of her colleagues — will be released on Aug. 13. 

    Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

    After Witherspoon chose the novel as her September book club pick, the actress and her Hello Sunshine label acquired rights to the book to adapt for a feature film. Where the Crawdads Sing tells the story of "Marsh Girl" Kya who raised herself alone in the marshes of North Carolina after being abandoned by her family. Though attempting to live a quiet life, Kya soon finds herself in the forefront of murder after her former boyfriend is found dead, leaving Kya as the prime suspect. Owens' novel spent twelve weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. A release date and details have yet to be announced. 

    The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle 

    The best-selling author's 2016 book — centered on Iris who, after losing her husband in a plane crash, is left to unravel the mystery behind his death and uncover secrets he has hidden from her — will be developed by ABC for a drama series. Michael Cooney will serve as the writer and executive produce, with Kim Moses also producing. Michael Offer will direct. A release date and details have yet to be announced. Belle's new novel Dear Wife — which chronicles the story of a woman on the run from her abusive husband and the mystery of a missing wife — will be available June 25.