Books have always made for great movies, because hey, a good story is a good story. Gone with the Wind, anyone? James Bond? Jurassic Park? But of late, as new networks like Netflix scramble for an edge in winning viewers’ loyalty, old pros in the game like HBO hustle to prove they’re still king of the game, and major film moguls hunt for the next hot franchise or Oscar winner, it seems like everyone is looking for the best book adaptations.
Which means we’re not only living in the second golden age for television—it’s also a freaking fantastic time to be a reader (and maybe an even better time to be an author? One can dream.)
Among the biggest book adaptations news of 2019, Leigh Bardugo’s megahit Six of Crows was picked up for adaptation by Netflix (date TBD, probably not 2020), Big Little Lies author Liane Moriarty has a new adaptation in the works for another thriller, and of course, everyone is on the hunt to discover the next Game of Thrones. Apparently it won’t be a spinoff show, after all.
But these are only a few rumblings among a long list of projects coming in the next year, with even more plans already firm for 2021.
That said, one area where Hollywood’s not so golden is in its diversity, which is glaringly missing from this list. There’s still a lot of work to be done both in publishing and adapting works by people from marginalized communities.
Here is a list of all the book adaptations coming to all the various screens you watch in 2020.
January Book Adaptations
The Outsider by Stephen King
Detective Ralph Anderson’s investigation into a young boy’s gruesome murder reveals supernatural forces at work. HBO will bring it to life in a 10-part series.
The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
This whimsical dive back into the good veterinarian focuses on the second book of Lofting’s series, where a new assistant joins Dolittle’s adventures. Titled simply “Dolittle,” the film is promised to be absolutely stuffed full of celebrity sightings and features Robert Downey Jr. and Tom Holland, a duo that has already proven their comedy chemistry together in the Marvelverse.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Two oddly quiet children get a new governess, who slowly begins to discover a secret the family and the house are hiding in this horror film.
The Rhythm Section by Mark Burnell
A woman joins a covert operation in pursuit of the men who killed her family in a desperate attempt for understanding and justice. Starring Blake Lively and produced by the team that brings us the Bond films, I’m excited for this female representation in a high-action revenge role that so often is left to the testosterone.
February Book Adaptations
Birds of Prey by Jordan B. Gorfinkel and Chuck Dixon
This classic superheroine-only team will hit the big screen with a story that features Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie again!) as she breaks up with the Joker and joins Black Canary, Huntress, and Renee Montoya to save a young girl from an evil crime lord. Though Gorfinkel and Dixon were the original creators of the series, shout out to Gail Simone, who brought the girl gang back to DC’s lineup in 2010.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
The second film in this series will be called “Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway.” With a stellar cast including Margot Robbie, Daily Ridley, and Rose Byrne, I don’t see how this could be anything but fun.
The Kingsman by Mark Millar, Matthew Vaughn, and Dave Gibbons
The Kingsman film franchise, inspired by the Marvel comics series, continues this Valentine’s Day with a prequel focused on the original creation of the secret agency.
To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
Yes, To All the Boys I Loved Before has a sequel, and Lana Condor and Noah Centino will be back for Netflix’s adaptation. Lucky for us, Han’s series has a third book, too—so get reading now and keep your fingers crossed.
Bloodshot by created by Kevin VanHook, Don Perlin, and Bob Layton
This fresh superhero tale from Valiant Comics in the early 1990s is sure to make for some fun big screen action with Vin Diesel at the helm. One of Rotten Tomatoes most highly anticipated movies for the coming year.
Emma by Jane Austen
Good news, it’s time to re-adapt Jane Austen again. (Is it ever not time to re-adapt Jane Austen?) Going from the film’s trailers, this remake of her sharpest comedy will stay true to the text while placing an emphasis on the plentiful quirks of character within the cast. It’s hard to go wrong.
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
This survival adventure story from London’s own experiences will feature Harrison Ford and Karen Gillen in a classic adventure of man (and dog) versus nature through the Alaskan Klondike.
The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
Elizabeth Moss will star in this film about a woman who escapes an abusive relationship only to have her past pursue her in this classic horror tale. This film will be part of the Universal Pictures classic monsters cinematic universe.
April Book Adaptations
The New Mutants by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod
Following a set of teens who have just discovered they possess strange supernatural abilities, this Marvel film brings to life an X-Men comic from the 1980s in an effort to reset the franchise with a new cast and gritty new tone. Rising stars Maisie Williams and Charlie Heaton are among the cast.
Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love by Matthew Logelin
In a true story from Logelin’s memoir, when Matt’s wife Liz dies just after giving birth to their daughter, Matt must find a way to hold onto his wife’s memory while adjusting to a new reality he isn’t prepared for with a new baby. The adaptation will be titled Fatherhood and will star Kevin Hart, Paul Reiser, and Alfre Woodard.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
April 15 (France)
This new adaptation of the classic children’s tale will star Dixie Egerickx as Mary Lennox and feature Colin Firth, which seems like too perfect a fit.
May Book Adaptations
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The film adaptation, titled The Personal History of David Copperfield, already debuted at the Toronto Film Festival. Dev Patel stars as the namesake character, along with other big-name talent including Gwendoline Christie, Hugh Laurie, and Tilda Swinton.
The Good Shepherd by C.S. Forester
Not to be confused with the film from 2006, this movie will be titled Greyhound. It will however, also star Tom Hanks in a story that taps into the history of World War II, this time on an American war ship that becomes surrounded by German U-boats.
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
You may remember the massive buzz around this book upon its release in 2018 amidst a swell of feminist thrillers and some comments of “haven’t I read that plot before?” Nevertheless, it will now hit the big screen. Starring Amy Adams, it promises to satisfy for fans of Rear Window and The Girl on the Train.
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
This fun story about a boy billionaire and criminal mastermind should make for good cinema. In this first take of the eight-part book series, Artemis plots to rob the fairies within their hidden realm.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
Dates on this one are vague, but there’s a lot of hype for the HBO Max movie based on this historical young adult series featuring bisexual Monty and his scandalous adventures in the 18th century.
August Book Adaptations
The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz
In a film adaptation titled Infinite, this story features a secret society of near-immortals, and their efforts across multiple reincarnations to change the course of history. The film will star Chris Evans.
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate and Patricia Castelao
This children’s story features a gorilla living at the Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. When a baby elephant joins him and his gorilla friends, Ivan must make sure it’s a change for the better. The film will feature an A-list cast including Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren, and Sam Rockwell as Ivan.
Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
Another children’s story adaptation for late summer, this animated film will go on an adventure with a young dragon and an orphaned boy seeking the Rim of Heaven.
September Book Adaptations
Without Remorse by Tom Clancy
In another major role for Michael B. Jordan in 2020, this high-action political thriller follows a former Navy SEAL and CIA agent as he chases down the drug lord who murdered his girlfriend.
October Book Adaptations
Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
Directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh alongside Wonder Woman herself (Gal Gadot), this film ought to be a as good a time as murder can be. In this follow-up to the Hercule Poirot mystery Murder on the Orient Express, this time the detective must work while vacationing on the Nile when a young heiress is found dead.
The Witches by Roald Dahl
I hadn’t heard about this one before researching this article, but it’s now one my most anticipated films for next year. With a top-notch cast featuring Anne Hathaway and Octavia Spencer and Dahl’s infamous topsy-turvy characters, this is sure to be a good time.
December Book Adaptations
Dune by Frank Herbert
The science fiction classic series from the 1980s and ’90s will come to life in this film featuring Zendaya, Dave Bautista, and Jason Mamoa. True to the sprawling epic of Herbert’s original, this is the first in a two-part series.
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
An adventure mystery laced with romance from the Wild West Coast of New Zealand’s Gold Rush in the 19th century. Winner of the Man Booker Prize. A limited series from BBC.
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
Based on Jiles’s National Book Award finalist, this story follows widower and veteran Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, who earns his keep while wandering from town to town by telling epic stories of the world’s history to locals in the wake of the Civil War. Starring Tom Hanks.
A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig
This popular origin story for Father Christmas is sure to be as much a holiday hit on the big screen as it has been as a children’s book.
TBD Book Adaptations
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Netflix is sure to continue it streak of young adult book adaptations with this one, starring Elle Fanning and Justice Smith as two teens who cross paths when they inadvertently plan the same suicide, and wrestle with the scars of their pasts together.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
You may remember this science fiction classic as one of a handful dystopian novels that rose to the top of sales lists shortly after Trump became president. USA Network will bring its tightly controlled society to life in a limited series.
The Bridgerton Series by Julia Quinn
Quinn’s eight Bridgerton novels each features a different one of the eight children of the Viscount Bridgerton. Regency romance isn’t usually my cup of tea, but with Julie Andrews at the lead, even I might have to tune in for this limited series Netflix adaptation from Shonda Rhimes and Scandal writer Chris Van Dusen.
Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness
A young adult coming of age adventure told amidst the backdrop of a planet on the verge of war and a world in which silence is something to flee from.
Cherry by Nico Walker
An addicted veteran suffering from PTSD turns to robbing banks to get out of debt.
China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
This sequel to Crazy Rich Asians promises to bring back everything fans loved about the first film (and books). It’s expected to drop in 2020 but may be pushed back further.
Dear Zoe by Philip Beard
A teen girl writes a series of letters to her dead sister in this film directed by Jenica Bergere.
The Devil All The Time by Donald Ray Pollock
Described as country noir, this Netflix thriller will dip into the gritty and disturbed against the backdrop of wartime trauma. Features Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson, Bill Skargard, Mia Wasikowska, and more, promising “a nefarious cast of characters.”
The Dig by John Preston
Inspired by the Sutton Hoo dig, this puts a peculiar treasure hunt against the backdrop of World War II. The Netflix adaptation will star Lily James, Ralph Fiennes, and Carey Mulligan.
Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
In a miniseries titled The Watch, BBC America will bring to life a small corner of Terry Pratchett’s renowned satirical fantasy series Discworld. It will focus on a group of misfit cops in the Ankh-Morpork City Watch with paltry resources and not much more jurisdiction.
Enola Holmes by Nancy Springer
This adventurous series features Sherlock Holmes’s younger sister Enola, and recent announcements cast Millie Bobby Brown as the lead character, so this film is sure to be a lot of fun.
The Falcon & The Winter Soldier, Marvel
Disney+ will bring these Marvelverse heroes to a miniseries later this year, putting the spotlight on two less-featured but beloved heroes, Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes, into the spotlight, focused on their experiences as Captain America. There is no specific comic that pairs up this particular duo, but there has been speculation about where the series might draw inspiration.
Fear Street by R.L. Stine
The first film in a planned trilogy built around Stine’s classic series is expected to release in 2020, in quick succession. In the first, a murder unsettles the teens of a small town in Ohio.
Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks Dalton
Netflix will strike again with this science fiction thriller about a scientist trapped in the Arctic. Directed by George Cooney and starring Felicity Jones.
I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb
Middle-aged Dominick struggles with his relationship to his schizophrenic twin brother and attempts to get him released from an asylum. HBO’s limited series will star Mark Ruffalo along with a stellar supporting cast.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid
Another New Year’s Day movie release from Netflix. A couple’s road trip takes a terrifying detour into their inner psyches, and feedback from readers of the book is that this one is mega dark and mega weird.
Invincible by Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley and Cory Walker
From the author of The Walking Dead, this animated series from Amazon will focus on the teen son of the superhero Omni-Man.
Jupiter’s Legacy by Mark Millar
The children of the world’s first superheroes struggle to live up to their parents’ heroic legacy in this television series from Netflix.
The Kissing Booth 2: Going the Distance by Beth Reekles
The first adaptation from Reekles’s young adult romance series was a hit for Netflix, so it’s no surprise it’s coming back to adapt the next book in the series.
Last Looks by Howard Michael Gould
A disgraced detective’s reclusive life in the woods is interrupted when he’s recruited to solve the murder of a TV star’s wife. The film will be titled Waldo.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington will star in this limited series from Hulu. Ng’s highly acclaimed novel turns everything upside down for the Richardsons when an enigmatic new family moves into the neighborhood.
Made for Love by Alissa Nutting
A limited series from HBO Max brings a darkly comical story of divorce and revenge to live with Cristin Milloti and Ray Romano.
Marry Me by Bobby Crosby
A pop star marries a random man from the crowd after her rock star fiancé ditches her at the altar. Adapted from Crosby’s graphic novel for film and starring Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson.
Marvel’s What If?, Marvel
This anthology series from Disney+ is expected to delve into alternate world possibilities within the Marvelverse, such as if Peggy Carter had taken the supersoldier serum instead of Steve Rogers. Should be a wild ride.
Minamata by W. Eugene Smith and Aileen M. Smith
This film will follow the true story of an American photojournalist as he documents the Minimata disease scandal in the 1970s. Starring Johnny Depp.
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
The Big Little Lies author teams up with Nicole Kidman again to bring another of her bestselling thrillers to television, this time with Hulu. True to its title, nine people are connected with they arrive for a very unusual heath retreat.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
In a classic case of “opposites attract,” this story follows a couple who couldn’t have less in common over a course of five years. Coming to Hulu in a 12-part series.
Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland
Grace isn’t a teen boy’s typical dream girl, but when she ends up editing the school paper with Henry, he falls head over heels. This sharp and heartbreaking young adult romance stars will be titled Chemical Hearts.
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Netflix is trying its hand at a modern take on a Hitchcock classic, based on the same haunting gothic novel as its predecessor.
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
This will be the first glimpse into Netflix’s foray into Bardugo’s Grishaverse, ahead of a second deal to adapt her megahit Six of Crows. In this Russian-inspired young adult fantasy, Alina’s unleashed powers leads her into the mysterious world of the Darkling.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Yes, there was already a movie adaptation of this one, Love, Simon, but now it comes to the small screen too, under the same title, thanks to Disney+.
The Stand by Stephen King
Following a plague apocalypse, two leaders emerge, and with them, two very different approaches to what it means for humanity to survive. The battle that follows may not just be for man’s survival, but its spirit. The cast for the CBS All Access limited series is a knockout, featuring Whoopi Goldberg, James Marsden, Nat Wolff, Marilyn Manson, and Alexander Skarsgard.
Stargirl by Geoff Johns and Lee Moder
It so happens there are two Stargirl adaptations expected to release in 2020. The first is a DC universe tie-in television series coming to the CW, in which high school student Courtney discovers the cosmos staff her stepfather derived power from as a former superhero sidekick.
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
The other Stargirl is a film based on Spinelli’s young adult novel that celebrates nonconformity, being picked up by Disney.
There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
The senior class of Osborne High is getting killed off one by one, but things take an even darker turn when Makani’s loner boyfriend becomes the top suspect. A horror film coming to Netflix, possibly around Halloween.
Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
This upcoming Netflix series will put a spotlight on the high stakes world of an elite ballet academy, based on the young adult novels co-written by the author of The Belles.
The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry
After being abandoned by their parents, the four Willoughby children learn to create a modern family of their own. With names like Ricky Gervais, Jane Krakowski, Maya Rudolph, and Martin Short attached to this animated Netflix film, it’s sure to be a fun, quirky watch.
Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn and Pia Guerra
This timely adaptation will bring to life a world in which everything with a Y chromosome have been killed by a mysterious plague (except one!), leaving women to keep the world running. The FX television show will be titled simply Y.
You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz
A successful therapist’s life is destroyed by a man she thought she knew just before the release of her first book, leading to a cascade of dark revelations. Starring Nicole Kidman, this HBO limited series will be led by Big Little Lies creator David E. Kelly. The adaptation will be titled The Undoing.