The Flix List: Ten books we wish to see adapted to the big screen

Every year, dozens and dozens of movies are made based on literary works, be it a fiction, non-fiction, short story, children’s book, what have you. Even Wikipedia has to break it down to multiple subcategories to list them all. I guess the mindset in Hollywood is that if the book is successful, it could mean that there is enough public interest to see a film adaptation of it, with the hope that its considerable following would likely support it as well.

Some of my favorite movies of all times are based on books, Gone with the Wind, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, Sense & Sensibility, just to name a few. Yet, there are still more books out there we would love to see adapted to the big screen, either for the first time or as a remake of what’s been done previously. So today my guest blogger Ted Saydalavong and I team up to bring you our wish list of top five literary works each of us would like to see adapted to the big screen:

Ted’s List

(Click on each title to link to the book detailed info on Wikipedia or Amazon)

1. Fahrenheit 451

Just finished reading it again since high school and would love to see a new film version that stays true to the book. I do hope Frank Darabont can convince someone to finance it. Maybe if The Girl With Dragon Tattoos and The Dark Tower series became huge hits, some studio finally give it a go. (read Ted’s post on Fahrenheit 451‘s remake)

2. The Talisman

Another of Stephen King novel that I love and almost made it to the big screen way back in early 2000s. The story of a 12 year old boy who has to travel across America to find The Talisman was quite an adventure and would definitely work well on the big screen. Spielberg actually bought the film rights back in the 80s and was going to make it himself but decided to do the other story of a 12 year old boy, Empire of the Sun. At one point Spielberg said he wanted to turn it into a mini-series after it didn’t make it to the big screen in early 2000s. Hopefully if The Dark Tower is a big hit and then we might get to see the film version of this book hitting local cinemas in the future.

3. Blood Meridian or An Evening Redness in the West

Cormac McCarthy’s ultra violent western epic has been in development hell for years now. At one point Ridley Scott was attached to direct but left because he wanted to stay as close to the book as possible but the producers wouldn’t grant him that wish. For those of you who’ve read the book, you know that there’s no way they include some of the things that were written on the pages. James Franco is trying to convince the producers to hire him to write and direct the film’s adaption, I hope to God that this will never happened. This is the kind of project that a more experienced and well respected director should be in charge, not some pretty boy actor who couldn’t even do a good job at hosting the Oscars.

4. A Brave New World

Aldous Huxley’s futuristic drama has been adapted to a movie twice, in 1980 and then again for a TV movie in 1998. I’ve never seen either of those but I think with a talented director and the right budget, it could be something very special. Leonardo DiCaprio still owns the film rights and he’s still trying to get Ridley Scott on board to direct, let’s it will happen soon. (rtm’s note: Blood Meridian and Brave New World are just two of the many projects Ridley was reportedly attached to)

5. The Prometheus Deception

One of the last books Robert Ludlum wrote before his death and I’m surprised that none of the Hollywood studios have picked up the movie rights yet. The Bourne films made tons of money and people seems to like seeing spy flicks, I thought we’d already see this book made into a movie by now. The story of spy who worked at a secret agency, later found out that it was actually run by Russian intelligence and that all of his successful missions actually hurt America’s interests instead of helping it. I think with a decent director and strong leading man, this could be a fun spy action/adventure flick.

Ruth’s List

1. Love Walked In

I read this book several years ago by Marisa de los Santos and was blown away by her amazing writing style and this unconventional love story. The protagonist Cornelia’s life is turned upside down the minute a little girl walks into her cafe, who turns out to be her boyfriend’s daughter Clare. What’s unique about this novel is that the writer tells the story from the perspective of Cornelia and alternating it with Clare’s. So it’s not a typical romance of boy-meets-girl, but there’s definitely a sweet romance between Cornelia and her Cary Grant-like boyfriend Martin Grace, and the unexpected one she finds as the story progresses.

There have been reports that Sarah Jessica Parker has bought the rights to the film adaptation, but that was a few years ago so I don’t know if there is any progress to it. I actually hope Parker WON’T be playing the petite, intelligent but hopeless romantic Cornelia. For one, she’s too old to play someone in her early 30s, so I’m thinking someone like Rachel McAdams or Emma Stone might work.

2. King David’s story from The Book of Samuel

(Or The David Story by Robert Alter, a translation with commentary which offers a lot of historical and cultural context to the story)

Now, you probably said there have been movies done in the past on the most famous King that ever walked this earth. There was David and Bathsheba with Gregory Peck as the titular monarch, and the much-panned 1985 version King David with Richard Gere. NBC has also adapted a modern-day retelling of King David in the 2009 series KINGS starring Ian McShane, but was canceled after only one season due to low rating. There is also a 3D Biblical epic in the works based on Cliff Graham’s historical novel Day of War (the first of the 5-book Lion of War series) which sounds very action-packed as the filmmaker would focus on the battle-filled adventures of David before he became king of Israel (per Collider).

The tricky part about adapting such a vast narrative is that it’s it can get overwhelming to contain into a 2+ hour feature film, so I’d try to focus on just one specific aspect of his life to adapt, with only brief flashbacks to a few of the milestones. Ideally I’d like to see a Lord of the Rings‘ type treatment that can include his early life (including the David vs. Goliath tale), the ‘warrior’ David prior to him being anointed as King, and his affair with Bathsheba which led to him pleading with God to save his son. Even more of a wishful thinking on my part is that the film would stay true to main source that is the Book of Samuel from the Bible, so the spiritual side isn’t just simply glossed over to just zone in to the violent and sexy parts of his life story. After all David is known as the man after God’s own heart and he wrote the Psalms, so there’s the musical side to him that could be explored as well.

3. Persuasion

I had seen two film adaptations of this before I read the book. The first was the 2007 BBC version with Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones, which then prompted me to rent the 1995 feature film starring Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds. Though in the end I thought that the film version was the superior one of the two, I still wish they’d give a fresh new spin in a feature film adaptation.

It’s perhaps my favorite story of all Jane Austen’s novels (which happens to be her last), the story of second chances between Anne Elliot and Fredrick Wentworth is enchanting as well as heart-wrenching. Anne is persuaded to break off her engagement by her family, only to be reunited again when Fredrick returns from the war as a naval captain. Will their love survive? It’s the kind of story that beguiles me and the social relations between cultural classes of that era is quite fascinating and is a good opportunity for a great ensemble cast to portray the various peculiar characters in the book. But of course it’d be fun for me to speculate who should play the two lovebirds 🙂

4. Teacher Man

This is a memoir by Frank McCourt, the author of Pulitzer Prize-winning Angela’s Ashes (which was adapted into a critically-acclaimed movie in 1999 starring Emily Watson). The memoir covers his 30-years experience as an English high school teacher in New York City and how he often struggled with insecurities and feelings of inadequacy. I haven’t read the book yet actually, but from everything I’ve read, it sounds like a great material for an engaging movie.

The Irish author is a fascinating individual with an equally fascinating story to tell, and he’s got a way to tell it. His self-deprecating humor and wit surely would make a fun script peppered with quotes like “Look at me: wandering late bloomer, floundering old fart, discovering in my forties what my students knew in their teens.”

A couple of years ago, IMDb listed this project under Gerard Butler’s profile and that his production company ‘Evil Twins’ was going to produce it, but now it no longer appears to be the case.

5. Innocence

I read this quite a while ago and while I don’t think this was a masterpiece, I was quite taken by the doomed romance story and the tales about pursuing one’s dream. Evie is a young, aspiring actress leaving her hometown in Ohio to study drama in London, where she falls for a young punk rocker, Jake. There’s also the theme of friendship between Evie and her drama student friends, particularly the Bohemian New Yorker Robbie. It’s not a happy-go-lucky story and in fact, it’s quite tragic in parts, and it also got pretty peculiar when the ghost of her best friend visits her to remind her not to let go of her dreams. It’s an interesting character-study type of novel that might translate well to the big screen.

The author Kathleen Tessaro has a knack for describing places and situations astutely, setting the mood for her colorful characters. I could practically picture the sexy and passionate rendezvous between Evie and Jake, though what happened between them is heartbreaking. I could picture any of the three guys in this breakout performances post (especially Tom Hardy) as Jake and somebody with a more naive vibe like Amanda Seyfried could perhaps play Evie.

P.S. Speaking of book adaptation, there is also the romantic drama Last Voyage of the Valentina, the fantasy movie pitch I did a few months ago. I’d love to see that get a big screen treatment, preferably with the cast I came up with 🙂

Well, any thoughts on any of them on this list? Feel free to also add your own wish list in the comments below.

52 thoughts on “The Flix List: Ten books we wish to see adapted to the big screen

    1. Ted S.

      I don’t know if Blood Meridian should be make into a film, it’s going to be very tough. The book didn’t really have a “hero” character and it’s so violent that it might not sell to general audiences. But I think if someone like the Coen Brothers or even Clint Eastwood can make it happen.

  1. Hmm. Well, I’m excited for Jane Eyre, which is one of my faves … how about a GOOD adaptation of The Count of Monte Christo (Sorry, that last one was an atrocity)? I just read The Angel’s Game by Zafon, and it was fascinating, and with a good screenwriter could make a really great movie. Javier Bardem would play Vidal. Um … I wish that they’d done a good job w/Inkheart, because the casting was simply phenomenal, and I would absolutely have loved to have seen Brendan Fraser and Paul Bettany carry on and make the next two movies, along w/Jennifer Connelly. Finally, there’s a book I love which is an Elizabethan take on the fairy tale Snow White and Rose Red. It’d be a period piece with great costumes, but also with fun effects because a lot of the story revolves around faerie.

    It’s fun to dream ….

    1. Well, you already know I’d disagree w/ you about ‘Monte Cristo’ It’s not spectacular but not bad either, but then again I love Jim Caviezel.

      Ha..ha.. you’d want Javier to play everyone, wouldn’t you? I never heard about Inkheart but yeah, I like the cast (more Fraser less Bettany) Oh, an Elizabethan Snow White story sounds fun, but there are currently a whole bunch of Snow White-related adaptations in the works.

      1. Yeah, I know we disagree on Monte Christo. Maybe it would be ok just as a movie, but as an adaptation? It stunk. Sorry. 🙂

        It’s not that I want Bardem to play everyone, but the book is set in Barcelona, and Bardem is kind of the premier Spanish actor these days. Also, Vidal is a secondary character, as Bardem would be too old and all wrong for the main character. 🙂 So there!

        Inkheart is the first of an AWESOME trilogy of YA Fantasy … the film, despite a really excellent cast (add in Andy Serkis, Helen Mirren, and Jim Broadbent), was kind of awful, with a few good moments.

        And finally, Snow White and Rose Red is not at all the Snow White story … completely different fairy tale, and much more interesting, IMO. The only problem for me personally would be the necessity for a young and attractive cast, and I don’t really have a lot of favorite actors under the age of 30. Alas.

        1. Ok, ok, I guess a bad adaptation can still be a good movie 🙂

          He…he… I was just teasing you about Bardem, hey I haven’t read the book so I’ll take your word for it he’s good for the character.

          WOW, I have to see Inkheart now… those last 3 actors just sold me!

          Ah I see, well good then, but they probably should change the title to avoid confusion. You don’t have a fave actors under 30? I think there are plenty of talented new crops… I’d be happy to help you as a casting agent 😀

                1. Oh, he was in About a Boy as a kid and I also saw him in Wah-Wah and clips of him in A Single Man. You’re right, I would never watch — nor support — Skins.

  2. Darren

    I don’t know, something just bugs me about Frank McCourt. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it might have something to do with the Irish steretypes he played up to in Angela’s Ashes (“look how quaint and poor we are!”).

    But Darabont’s Fahrenheit 451 would be soemthing to see, wouldn’t it?

    1. Well, it wouldn’t be a stereotype if he’s talking about his own life that he lived it… I think the Teacher Man would be more about his life as a teacher in NYC and less about his previous life in Ireland.

    1. Yes dahling, I mentioned that very info on the post 😀 But what I want to see is the more faithful, God-fearing side of David. He’s not a perfect leader but he had the humility and wisdom to trust and rely on God in everything, even giving thanks during the toughest part of his life (when his son with Bathsheba died). I’d love to see the story of David get the ‘Ben-Hur’ kind of treatment.

  3. Mel Gibson wanted to direct and star in F451 at one point. Looks like that’s not happening.

    Another good Stephen King film that’s never been filmed is ‘Rose Madder.’ I could easily see it as a star vehicle for Michelle Williams.

    I love Frank McCourt! I got all three of his books. I’m surprised no one’s thought of turning ‘Teacher Man’ or ”Tis’ into a movie yet, but somebody should. But not with Gerard Butler. I know he’s your man, Ruth, but he looks nothing like Frank.

    1. No, I don’t think Butler was going to star in the movie, he was just listed as producer. No, he doesn’t look like Frank and lots of people know he can’t do Irish accent properly so I doubt he’ll be playing an Irishman again, ha..ha..

      @ Ted, I included the Fahrenheit 451 link in the post already 🙂

  4. Ted S.

    When you mentioned Rachel McAdams or Emma Stone, I’m in even though I don’t know anything about Love Walked In. 🙂

    Innocence sounds very interesting.

    1. He..he.. I knew w/ Rachel, Castor would watch it in a heartbeat as well 🙂 The male characters in Love Walked In are both eye-candy material. One character Teo is of American/Filipino descent who’s tall, with tanned skin, dark hair and GREEN eyes! That’d be a tough one to cast, but if they could, yowza! 🙂

      Innocence is interesting indeed, too bad I can’t find my book anymore as I’d like to re-read it again.

      1. Ted S.

        Wow a character that’s half Filipino/American, well they can always cast Keanu Reeves since he’s part Asian. There’s an actor, forgot his name, he was in Baywatch in the late 90s, he’s part Asian/Caucasian, he could fit that role. I haven’t seen him in any thing for a long time though.

        1. Oh I had no idea Jason Mamoa was half Hawaiian, but yeah he’d be perfect… but the version BEFORE he bulked up like crazy to play Conan, I mean he’s already huge before now he looks scary! But he’s got dark hair, tanned skin AND green eyes, WOW!

          If he still look like in these pics, I’d love to see him play Teo. Not sure about his acting skills though, he seems to gravitate more to physical roles.

  5. Wowzers!!

    “Thar be some epic movies in them there lists!!”

    /for some reason I went all pirate then/

    King David would be a great one (or three). I reckon your on to a winner there RTM. Get it written, get it done!! 🙂

    I am not of great intelligence and am ashamed to say I do not read as much as I should (I blame the kids, but it is not their fault)

    I would love (and this is very low brow) to see “The Killing Joke”, the great graphic novel adapted into a film. Or a good swamp thing movie, would have to be adapted from the Alan Moore version though. Very dark!!

    Great list guys (as per usual)


    1. Thank you, Custard, for agreeing w/ me about King David. I guess it’s a hard sell for Hollywood to make a movie that gives glory to God, but it’s a historical story worth telling and not just for the more sensational part.

      Oh, if it’s by Alan Moore it’s got to be dark 🙂 I mean, lots of people thought Watchmen couldn’t be filmed and this one sounds even darker??

        1. Oh great find there Rich, thank you! I guess they made graphic novels out of everything these days, come to think of it, I actually have a book of illustrated Bible stories at home, which is kind of like a graphic novel.

  6. There was a while there where Todd Field (In the Bedroom) was set to direct Blood Meridian, but for some reason that fell through, and that makes me sad. Wasn’t crazy about the book myself, but it would make one mean Western all the same.

    And you just made me want to read Teacher Man that much more. Never read Angela’s Ashes, but I agree, sounds like a great idea for a movie and something very much worth reading. Good call.

    1. I haven’t read Angela’s Ashes either. I think with the right cast, Teacher Man could be quite compelling. We’ll see if the project would ever get off the ground.

      1. ‘Angela’s Ashes’ is a remarkable book. If you ever do get to read it, be warned: he does pile on the misery, but then again, this was his life. And he does manage to leaven it with humor and sentiment. I read the book because I had heard about the movie and I knew Emily Watson was gonna be in it, whom I love, and then when I saw the book was a Pulitzer Prize winner, I decided to give it a try.

    2. Ted S.

      I believe Todd Field ran into the same problems that Ridley Scott had, he wanted to stay as close to the book as possible but both the studio and producers won’t let him, that’s why he left.

  7. PrairieGirl

    Was almost worried until I got to the very last paragraph of this post – not including Last Voyage of the Valentina would be a crime! It should be made EXACTLY as you pitched and cast it, and I love it that you didn’t change one thing from the novel except the main character’s name. I’ve read quit a few novels in the last couple years, and this one is the absolute best to turn into a film.

    Of course, I want more of Michael Dibdin’s Italian detective novels to be made, even if just for TV, continuing to star MMBF (my movie boyfriend forever 😉 Rufus Sewell.

    1. He..he.. actually I did forget about it until this morning. I didn’t want to include it again on the list as I’ve already done the pitch. But yeah, wouldn’t it be nice to see Rufus and Fassbender in the same movie… oh la la!

      Oh I’d definitely be first in line for a ZEN movie version!! With you in tow, of course 😀

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  9. I think you may have mentioned this is another post, but I would love to see Stephen King’s Dark Tower Series adapted to the screen!
    Perhaps as a 13/15 episode HBO miniseries or something. It seems impossible to squeeze it in to less than 10 hours, otherwise a trio of films would be a top choice. I think I heard that Ron Howard was working on an adaptation. That makes me cross haha.

  10. Great topic Ruth & Ted.
    Everytime I read a great book I always wanted it to be turned into a movie, of course with great director and great cast.
    Shame on me, I don’t know any of those books except the Talisman (I haven’t read it yet). I always try watching any movies based on books eventho I haven’t read the book because movies based on books tend to have great story.

    And now for my list 🙂
    I would love to see Rose of Versailles made into movies, but I couldn’t think of any actress suitable to be Oscar.
    Under The Dome: is my current SK book that I really want to see in cinema but the book is too huge to be a movie.
    It would also be nice to see tha Japanese Sherlock Holmes in The Tokyo Zodiac Murder: turns into movie.
    This might be an impossible wish because the book hasn’t been released yet, Shelter: by Nicholas Jobe is also something I am eager to see. Do you still remember Nick’s pitch, Ruth?

    1. Awesome, Nov, somehow I knew you’d have lots of books you’d like to see on the big screen as you read a lot. Cool, I’ll check out those links this weekend. Well surely you’ve heard about King David, Nov… I’m sure even the Quran mentions him 🙂

      1. Do I sound too sadistic if I said I want all the great gory books to be turned into movie? 😉
        I have a bloody short story of my self that needed a little more editing.

        Yes, I have heard of David, Islam calls him Daud. As you have said, that would be nice to be turned into a movie like TLoTR.

        1. Oh boy Nov, how could you be into gory movies? 🙂 I loathe those films… I find blood and gore in movies so unnecessary and just plain disgusting, sorry.

  11. I can’t believe your timing, I am working on a similar list. As my list is all books from the last ten year (except one slightly older one I sneaked in) it is very different from yours. I did think about including a Robert Ludlum, either The Prometheus Deception or The Sigma Protocol both of which I read when they first came out. Unfortunately they didn’t quite make the final cut.

    1. Curious to check out your list, Andy. Of course my list is more romantic than Ted’s or yours, I like a bit of romance as much as sci-fi and thrillers. No rom-coms though, these would make good dramas.

  12. Well you already know about my anticipation for the Vampire Academy books. I read the first book of the Georgia Kincaid by the same author called Succubus Blues, but i can’t say whether i would like to see it adapted until i finish the series.

    I haven’t read much in a while. But maybe during the summer that will change

  13. The list of books I’d like to see adapted are quite long. Two of which, The Hunger Game and The Perks of Being a Wallflower are already in different stages of production.

    I don’t think there’s any good gothic tale recently. Jane Eyre could be the one for this year. So I’d also like to see another gothic book, the Thirteenth Tale adapted.

    Another one would be the Chuck Palahniuk book, Survivor. That would definitely be interesting to see.

    1. Glad to hear two of your fave books are being adapted already.

      Have you seen the new Jane Eyre, yet? It hasn’t opened yet in my city but I’ll definitely be seeing that in the theater.

      Palahniuk is the author of Fight Club right? Or am I thinking of someone else?

  14. We need to talk! I have been a huge fan of Fahrenheit 451 since 7th grade, probably have read it 12 or so times since. I saw your post and was hoping this would be on the list and hot damn, #1!

    I think there is so much cinematic potential with that story for something beautiful and great. I definitely want to see it or make it some day.

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