Culture

The Year Ahead: 2015's Most Anticipated Movie Adaptations

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in ‘Serena’/Image © Magnolia Pictures

For the literary-minded moviegoer, this coming year looks to be a typical smorgasbord of rich, print-based material in the world of movie adaptations. Week by week, theaters will be stuffed with epics based on award-winning books, comic book-inspired blockbusters, comedies and dramas based on real events, translations of genre works, animated films drawn from comics and children's books, continuing installments of bestselling series, and new takes on perennial classics. With more than forty adaptations and real-life-derived stories on offer -- plus the inevitable handful of book-based awards-bait wild cards slotted in at the last minute -- Signature presents a definitive breakdown of the movies you won't want to miss in 2015.

ANIMATION/KIDS

"Paddington" (January 16)
Michael Bond's internationally popular talking bear finally gets his big-screen moment more than fifty years after his first book appearance in this live-action/CGI hybrid that tells the story of how the Brown family came to take in the furry stranger after stumbling across him in a London train station.

"Home" (March 27)
Inspired by the 2007 Adam Rex novel The True Meaning of Smekday, this DreamWorks Animation fantasy adventure follows one human girl as she confronts a takeover of Earth by an alien race called the Boov.

"Goosebumps" (April 15)
R.L. Stine's super-popular series of spooky stories gets the meta treatment in this adventure comedy about what happens when Stine's (Jack Black) invented characters suddenly come to life and wreak havoc on a small town.

"The Peanuts Movie" (November 6)
Charlie Brown & Co. hit the big screen for the first time (in 3D!! with CGI!!) in an adaptation of the classic Charles Schultz comic shaped by the animation company behind "Ice Age" and "Rio."

CLASSICS REBORN

"Cinderella" (March 13)
Actor-director Kenneth Branagh, who helmed an adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein twenty years ago, tries his hand at reinventing the classic folk tale about the abused beauty and her lost glass slipper in this live-action Disney version.

"Far From the Madding Crowd" (May 1)
"The Great Gatsby" star Carey Mulligan headlines this David Nicholls-scripted adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Wessex-set 1874 novel about an independent woman's dealings with three suitors.

"Pan" (July 24)
"Atonement" and "Anna Karenina" director Joe Wright shepherded this live-action origin story of J.M. Barrie's famous creation. Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara, and Amanda Seyfried star in the family adventure.

"Frankenstein" (October 2)
"Chronicle" screenwriter Max Landis adapted Shelley's classic horror tale for a new big-screen version starring James McAvoy as Victor Frankenstein and Daniel Radcliffe as Igor.

"The Jungle Book" (October 9)
Disney's new live-action film inspired by Rudyard Kipling's classic fables about an orphaned boy's adventures in the Indian jungle was directed by Jon Favreau, with an all-star cast voicing the animals.

COMIC BOOKS

"The Avengers: Age of Ultron" (May 1)
Marvel Comics heroes Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and The Hulk must reunite to stop a renegade robot bent on eradicating humanity in the sequel to 2012's $1.5 billion-grossing team-up.

"Ant-Man" (July 17)
Continuing the confusingly inter-connected Summer of Marvel, this action adventure centers on a petty thief-turned-hero with the technology to change his size and strength (whose mentor is the scientist who accidentally births the super-villain Ultron!). Ant-Man was created in the 1960s by Larry Lieber, Stan Lee, and Jack Kirby, who are also responsible for the Avengers (a collective Ant-Man eventually joins).

"The Fantastic Four" (August 7)
Kirby and Lee also created the quartet of scientists-turned-superheroes featured in this latest Marvel property to get a reboot, this time scripted by "X-Men: Days of Future Past" writer Simon Kinberg.

DRAMAS

"Still Alice" (January 16)
This adaptation of Lisa Genova's bestselling 2008 debut novel offers Julianne Moore yet another Oscar-worthy showcase as a gifted wife and mother dealing with the sudden mental disintegration of Alzheimer's.

"Serena" (March 27)
"Silver Linings Playbook" stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper reunite in this adaptation of Ron Rash's gritty period novel about a powerful couple in 1929 North Carolina whose lives and marriage unravel when she learns of her husband's illegitimate family.

"The Moon and the Sun" (April 10)
Vonda N. McIntyre's eccentric 1997 novel inspired this adventure fantasy about a girl in Louis XIV-era France who becomes entangled with mythical sea monsters when the king seeks immortality.

"Paper Towns" (June 5)
The writing team that adapted John Green's The Fault in Our Stars -- Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber -- here tackles his third novel, also a bestseller, about a teenaged boy's bewildering relationship with an enigmatic girl he's known since early childhood.

"Me Before You" (August 21)
On the heels of adapting The Spectacular Now and the two Green novels, Neustadter and Weber also have their adaptation of Jojo Moyes's 2012 novel about a young woman's life-changing experience caring for an older, wheelchair-bound man coming out this summer.

GENRE FLICKS

"Fifty Shades of Grey" (February 13)
It'll be more than pretty ribbons tying things up this Valentine's Day thanks to this highly anticipated adaptation of E.L James's mega-selling BDSM-themed erotic romance.

"The Gunman" (March 20)
A killer cast -- Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Idris Elba, Ray Winstone -- plays rough in this crime drama based on a 1981 Jean-Patrick Manchette novel about a hitman whose employers turn on him.

"The Martian" (November 25)
Andy Weir's debut hard sci-fi novel about an astronaut trying to survive alone on Mars gets the A-List treatment, with Ridley Scott directing Matt Damon in a mostly one-man show a la "Cast Away" and "Gravity."

"The Revenant" (December 25)
Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a wounded frontiersman bent on revenge in an adaptation of Michael Punke's hard-bitten 2002 novel, which is based on real events that took place in the 1820s. "Birdman" and "Babel" helmer Alejandro González Iñárritu directed.

SEQUELS & RETURNING CHARACTERS

"The Divergent Series: Insurgent" (March 20)
Tris (Shailene Woodley) returns to fight for the future in this adaptation of the second volume in Veronica Roth's popular young-adult sci-fi trilogy.

"Jurassic World" (June 12)
Michael Crichton's vision of resurrected dinosaurs running rampant gets revived in this big-budget reboot designed by the filmmakers behind the award-winning indie "Safety Not Guaranteed."

"The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials" (September 18)
This adaptation of Book Two in James Dashner's post-apocalyptic YA series details what happens to the teenaged maze runners once they've escaped from the Glade.

"Bond 24" (November 6)
Ian Fleming's badass super-spy is set to return courtesy of the writing and directing team that crafted his 2012 outing "Skyfall," the highest-grossing Bond film to date. Thus far the plot is unknown, though Daniel Craig will reprise as 007.

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2" (November 20)
Katniss and her District 13 confederates try to complete the revolution in this final film installment adapted from Suzanne Collins's bestselling sci-fi action trilogy.

TRUE STORIES

"In the Heart of the Sea" (March 13)
Ron Howard directed this epic adaptation of Nathaniel Philbrick's National Book Award-winning In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, which details the real-life 1820 events that partially inspired Melville's Moby Dick; or, The Whale.

"Straight Outta Compton" (August 14)
This biopic of gangsta rappers N.W.A and their groundbreaking impact on hip-hop music and culture in the 1980s was produced by original members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre.

"Loomis Fargo" (August 14)
Based on a real, record-breaking bank heist that took place in North Carolina in 1997, this offbeat comedy stars Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis, and Kristen Wiig under the direction of "Napoleon Dynamite" filmmaker Jared Hess.

"Black Mass" (September 18)
Scott Cooper ("Crazy Heart") wrote and directed this gritty drama about infamous South Boston crime kingpin-turned-FBI informant Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp), drawn from the books written by journalists Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill (Whitey: The Life of America's Most Notorious Mob Boss and Black Mass).

"Everest" (September 18)
This mountain-climbing thriller retells the tragic events of May 1996, when eight climbers died during dueling expeditions to the summit after a terrible storm overtook them. Jon Krakauer detailed the disaster in his 1997 book Into Thin Air, though the film is not based on any one account.

"The Walk" (October 2)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Philippe Petit in this dramatization of the French daredevil's highwire walk between the Twin Towers in 1974. Drawn from Petit's memoir To Reach the Clouds, the film was co-written and directed by Robert Zemeckis ("Cast Away," "Forrest Gump").

"St. James Place" (October 16)
For this Cold War thriller, director Steven Spielberg reunites with Tom Hanks, who plays an American lawyer dispatched to negotiate the release of a pilot downed by the Soviet Union in 1960. The true story was co-written by the Coen brothers.

"Joy" (December 25)
In another Oscar-heavy pairing, director David O. Russell reunites with his "Silver Linings Playbook" and "American Hustle" star Jennifer Lawrence to tell the true story of the Long Island single mother who invented the Miracle Mop and dozens of other QVC staples.

WILD CARDS

"Beasts of No Nation" (TBD)
"True Detective" and "Jane Eyre" helmer Cary Fukunaga writes and directs an adaptation of Uzodinma Iweala's critically acclaimed 2005 debut novel about a young boy forced to become a child soldier in West Africa.

"Jobs" (TBD)
Casting remains unresolved, but Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle and Oscar-winning writer Aaron Sorkin are pulling together their take on the life of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs based on Walter Isaacson's bestselling 2011 authorized biography.

"The Light Between Oceans" (TBD)
Writer-director Derek Cianfrance ("Blue Valentine") adapts the 2012 M.L. Stedman period novel about what befalls an isolated Australian couple after they take in an abandoned baby.

HONORABLE MENTION

"Mortdecai" (January 23); "Seventh Son" (February 6); "Kingsman: The Secret Service" (February 13); "Desert Dancer" (March 20); "The Longest Ride" (April 10); "Child 44" (April 17)