The entertainment industry runs on a different schedule than we lesser mortals and, in the land of Hollywood, the summer blockbuster season hits earlier each year. This year? It’s already underway. “Logan” and “Kong: Skull Island” blew open the blockbuster doors in early March and a steady stream of films has followed. Fortunately for all of us, films no longer have the summer market cornered. The era of “peak TV” has proven too fruitful to be relegated solely to the fall. Summer, once the province of reruns and also-rans, is increasingly becoming home to some of the best television has to offer and more than a few these days carry literary underpinnings. In preparation for the bounty coming our way across screens big and small, we present this look at upcoming film and TV offerings with a literary basis or inspiration.
“The Sense of an Ending” (3/10/17)
“The Sense of an Ending,” released in limited theaters earlier this year, centers on the story of Tony Webster (Jim Broadbent), a reclusive man who sees his quiet life upended when secrets long thought buried begin to surface, forcing him to confront the devastating truths of his younger days. The film is based on the Man Booker Prize-winning novel of the same name by Julian Barnes.
Read it: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
“The Lost City of Z” (4/21/17)
Based on the book of the same name by journalist David Grann, “The Lost City of Z” chronicles the life of British explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) and his ill-fated obsession with the secrets of the Amazon. The film is a melancholic and contemplative exercise built around a superb, understated performance by Hunnam.
Read it: The Lost City of Z by David Grann
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (4/26/17)
This stunning adaptation will likely prove to be the definitive take on Margaret Atwood’s celebrated 1985 novel. Anchored by a predictably brilliant performance by Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale” perfectly captures the eerie and unsettling prescience of Atwood’s timeless tale of a near-future dystopia ruled by an oppressive theocratic regime. “The Handmaid’s Tale” alone is worth the price of a Hulu subscription.
Read it: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
“American Gods” (4/30/17)
Following its premiere on Starz on April 30, “American Gods” firmly positioned itself as one of TV’s most daring, bizarre, and visually arresting new series. Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman, “American Gods” follows recently released convict Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) who, having lost virtually everything, finds himself in the employ of an enigmatic conman named Mr. Wednesday and pulled into a world far beyond his understanding.
Read it: American Gods by Neil Gaiman
“The Dinner” (5/5/17)
Based on the deeply unsettling eponymous novel by Dutch writer Herman Koch, “The Dinner” takes place over the course of a single dinner where two brothers and their wives meet to discuss a disturbing family secret and its potential fallout. Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan, and Rebecca Hall make for a perfectly choreographed cast.
Read it: The Dinner by Herman Koch
“Master of None” (5/12/17)
The second season of this critically acclaimed Netflix series from Aziz Ansari pulls inspiration from the star and writer’s 2015 book, Modern Romance, on the perils of dating and romance in a world of smart phones and social media. The series chronicles the continued misadventures of Dev (Ansari), a struggling actor seeking fulfillment and romance in New York City.
Read it: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
“Everything, Everything” (5/19/17)
Based on the eponymous bestseller by Nicola Yoon, the charming young adult romance “Everything, Everything” introduces us to Maddie, an eighteen-year-old suffering from a debilitating immunodeficiency disorder that keeps her confined to her home. Maddie yearns to experience the world outside her proverbial bubble – and soon finds the impetus to take a chance in the form of her new neighbor, Olly.
Read it: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
“The Exception” (6/2/17)
Based on The Kaiser’s Last Kiss by Alan Judd, “The Exception” is a World War II-era thriller chronicling the plight of a German soldier on a mission to investigate the exiled German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II (Christopher Plummer).
Read it: The Kaiser’s Last Kiss by Alan Judd
“Orange Is the New Black” (6/9/17)
Netflix’s flagship original series, which premiered July 11, 2013, is now heading into its fifth season. Based on the bestselling memoir by Piper Kerman, the drama has remained a hit with fans and Netflix recently renewed the series through a seventh season. The salacious dramedy chronicles Kerman’s incarceration in a minimum security prison.
Read it: Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman
“My Cousin Rachel” (6/9/17)
Based on the novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier, whose most famous novel, Rebecca, has seen its own fair share of adaptation, “My Cousin Rachel” is a gothic mystery built around the mysterious death of a wealthy Cornish man who may have been murdered by his widow. The film stars Sam Claflin and Rachel Weisz.
Read it: My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier
“Queen Sugar” (6/20/17)
This series from Oprah Winfrey and Ava Duvernay, based on the novel of the same name by Natalie Baszile, is set for a second season premiere in late June. The series chronicles the ongoing travails of the increasingly dysfunctional Bordelon family and their sugar cane farm in Louisiana.
Read it: Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile
“The Beguiled” (6/30/17)
This Palme d’Or-nominated film from Sofia Coppola will mark the second adaptation of the Thomas P. Cullinan novel (originally published as A Painted Devil). The first was the well-received 1971 version starring Clint Eastwood. The film centers on the rising tensions in a Civil War-era girls school following the arrival of an injured Union soldier, and stars Kirsten Dunst, Nicole Kidman, Elle Fanning, and Colin Farrell.
Read it: The Beguiled by Thomas P. Cullinan
“Game of Thrones” (7/16/17)
With events in Westeros quickly careening toward their likely-to-be-bloody close, the penultimate season of HBO’s blockbuster adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is easily one of the summer’s most anticipated events. Winter has finally come – albeit in the middle of summer – to Westeros.
Read it: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
“Midnight, Texas” (7/24/17)
“Midnight, Texas,” brought to us by the good people of NBC, chronicles the goings-on of all manner of supernatural creatures in a remote Texas town. The series is based on the Midnight, Texas novels by Charlaine Harris who is best known as the author of The Southern Vampire Mysteries, which fans will recognize as the source material for HBO’s “True Blood.”
Read it: Night Shift by Charlaine Harris
“The Sinner” (8/2/17)
“The Sinner,” premiering in August on USA, is a taut psychological thriller revolving around a seemingly normal woman named Cora Bender (Jessica Biel) who brutally stabs a man to death for no apparent reason. Haunted by the impact of the case, and its seeming incongruity, detective Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) sets out to unravel the potential mystery and Cora’s complex, sordid past.
Read it: The Sinner by Petra Hammesfahr
“The Dark Tower” (8/4/17)
Based on the bestselling series from Stephen King, “The Dark Tower,” in an intriguing turn, is being touted as more of a sequel to the novels than a direct adaptation. The story – a western-tinged fantasy marked by King’s trademark horror – centers on Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), the last Gunslinger, and his quest to stop an evil wizard known simply as the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) from destroying the nexus of reality.
Read it: The Gunslinger by Stephen King
“Mr. Mercedes” (8/9/17)
Based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King, “Mr. Mercedes” is set to premiere on the Audience Network to a ten episode run. This howcatchem mystery follows retired Detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) and his rekindled attempts to catch an elusive murderer who evaded capture prior to Hodges’ retirement.
Read it: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
“The Glass Castle” (8/11/17)
This long-awaited adaptation of Jeanette Walls’s beloved and breathtaking memoir is finally near release. “The Glass Castle” recounts the complex and unconventional upbringing of Walls, played by one of our favorites, Brie Larson, and her siblings with their continuously poverty-stricken and dysfunctional parents. Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson also star.
Read it: The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
“Tulip Fever” (8/25/17)
Based on the novel of the same name by Deborah Moggach, the woman behind “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “Tulip Fever” is the tale of an artist (Dane DeHaan) and the young married woman (Alicia Vikander) whose portrait he has been commissioned to paint. The period drama is set against the Tulip Mania of the seventeenth-century Dutch Golden Age in the Netherlands.
Read it: Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach