Buried beneath the cacophony of blockbuster season, a great number of intriguing book-based films are quietly working their way toward production. As summer nears its halfway point, we've collected the hottest recent breaking news on the most interesting print-inspired projects currently in the works.
J.C. Chandor ("Margin Call," "All Is Lost") has quickly established himself as one of the most unpredictably electric writer-directors working today. While his latest original, the thriller "A Most Violent Year," is set for a late-Fall release, the filmmaker has decided to take on next a retelling of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster, with a Matthew Michael Carnahan ("World War Z") script based on the riveting December 25, 2010, NYT article "Deepwater Horizon's Final Hours."
The Light Between Oceans
"Blue Valentine" filmmaker Derek Cianfrance's adaptation of M.L. Stedman's tragic 2012 historical novel may be getting a huge boost in the form of Michael Fassbender ("Shame," "12 Years a Slave"), who apparently is considering the lead role of a World War I veteran struggling with the morality of keeping an abandoned baby found in coastal Australia. Alicia Vikander ("Anna Karenina") has been cast as his wife, and Oscar winner Rachel Weisz ("The Constant Gardener") is attached to take the role of the child's mother.
"How to Talk to Girls at Parties"
Elle Fanning has been cast in John Cameron Mitchell's adaptation of Neil Gaiman's award-winning 2006 short story "How to Talk to Girls at Parties," which follows a pair of British boys who attempt to, yes, talk to girls at a party only to discover that the girls' "strangeness" owes less to their gender than to their planet of origin.
The Janson Directive
Universal is looking to build a franchise around a former secret operative whose life becomes dangerously complicated by nefarious government machinations. No, it's not Jason Bourne. But it does spring from the same mind: creator Robert Ludlum, whose posthumously published 2002 novel The Janson Directive serves as the planned first film's source material. The studio is now looking to Dwayne Johnson ("Fast & Furious 6," "Hercules") to embody the ex-Navy Seal Vietnam vet at the center of the action.
Climb to Conquer
Even as he's pushing eighty years old, Robert Redford has not slowed down one bit. He is already set to star as Dan Rather in an adaptation of Mary Mapes's Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege Of Power, and his big-screen A Walk in the Woods adaptation will hit theaters in Fall 2015. Now he's producing an adaptation of Peter Shelton's Climb to Conquer: The Untold Story of WWII's 10th Mountain Division Ski Troops, which details a key, little-known battle between American and German forces in the mountains of Italy. Kurt Johnstad ("300") is writing the screenplay.
The Taliban Shuffle
Journalist Kim Barker's 2011 memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which chronicles the comedy and calamity of her years living in hostile territory post-9/11 as a reporter and Chicago Tribune bureau chief, now has "I Love You Phillip Morris" filmmakers John Requa and Glenn Ficarra on board to direct an adaptation, as well as producer Tina Fey, who may also star.
Original "Spider-Man" trilogy director Sam Raimi is set to produce a film about another extremely sticky situation: a deadly fight between outnumbered American troops and hundreds of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in October 2009, as described in Jake Tapper's 2012 book The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor. "The Wrestler" writers Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson have penned the adaptation, which Raimi may also direct.
A House in the Sky
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" actress Rooney Mara will produce and star in an adaptation of Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett's grim 2013 memoir, which describes how Lindhout, a world traveler and TV journalist, survived 460 days of deprivation and abuse in Somalia after being abducted by masked men in 2008.
"In the Event of a Moon Disaster"
What-ifs can make for gripping drama. In the case of the historic Apollo 11 mission in 1969, Nixon aide William Safire penned a speech for the president to deliver should things go terribly wrong for Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and company. Now "The Help" filmmaker Tate Taylor and screenwriter Mike Jones are planning a feature version of what that failure would have looked like, i.e. The Eagle has been stranded.