The Year Ahead: 2016’s Most Anticipated Movie Adaptations

Michelle Williams in ‘Certain Women’ © Sony; Tom Hiddleston in ‘I Saw the Light’ © Sony Pictures Classics; Bella Heathcote in ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ © CTMG

There's only one thing more satisfying than spending the year ducking in and out of dark, cozy theaters as film adaptations of our favorite bestsellers, genre novels, comic books, classics, and literary fiction wash through us like, well, really good reads. And that's gleefully rubbing our ink-smeared hands together as we get a look at the year of adaptations ahead. Unsurprisingly, movies based on books, articles, historical events, and other source material make up a sizable (and, dare we say it, superior) percentage of the cinematic offerings in 2016. With great zeal and meticulousness, Signature has looked into every cranny of the forthcoming release schedule to compile this essential list of the print-based flicks you're most going to want to see this year.


"The Little Prince" (March 18)
French pilot-author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's whimsical 1943 classic has been turned into an animated adventure about a little girl's experiences in a fantastical world, with a stellar voice cast -- Paul Rudd, Marion Cotillard, Paul Giamatti, Jeff Bridges -- under the direction of "Kung Fu Panda" co-helmer Mark Osborne.

"The Jungle Book" (April 15)
Rudyard Kipling's oft-adapted stories about a boy's adventures in the Indian jungle get a new CGI-live action hybrid retelling courtesy of Disney, director Jon Favreau ("Iron Man," "Elf"), writer Justin Marks, and an all-star collection of voices (Scarlett Johansson, Christopher Walken, Bill Murray).

"The BFG" (July 1)
In an enchanting collaboration, director Steven Spielberg brings his childlike wonder to the witty world of Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) with a screenplay by late "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" writer Melissa Mathison about an orphaned girl who befriends an outcast Big Friendly Giant that delivers nice dreams to children instead of eating them.

Honorable Mentions: "Alice Through the Looking Glass" (May 27); "Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life" (October 7); "Jumanji" (December 25).


"Deadpool" (February 12)
Marvel Studios kicks off its year with this smart-ass actioner in which Ryan Reynolds reprises his role as the motormouth, sort-of-good-guy mercenary with accelerated healing powers last seen in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" (2009). The script is by "Zombieland" writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who lace the proceedings with a similar R-rated wit.

"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" (March 25)
DC Comics ramps up its bid for Marvel-sized mega-success by bringing together its two most popular characters (plus Wonder Woman) under the direction of returning "Man of Steel" helmer Zack Snyder in an all-star superhero smashdown written by Oscar winner Chris Terrio ("Argo") and David S. Goyer ("Batman Begins").

"Captain America: Civil War" (May 6)
Avengers Captain America and Iron Man turn on each other as a result of their differing political views in this Marvel blockbuster, which reunites the entire creative team from Cap's previous, $700 million-grossing outing while also inviting Spider-Man, Ant-Man, and Black Panther to make appearances.

"Suicide Squad" (August 5)
Part Two of DC Comics's big new franchise push involves this adaptation of the late-'80s John Ostrander comic about a motley group of supervillains manipulated into government service. Will Smith, Margot Robbie, and Jared Leto headline for "Fury" writer-director David Ayer.

"Doctor Strange" (November 4)
A killer cast -- Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, and Tilda Swinton -- take on this oddball Marvel character birthed in the 1960s, an injured surgeon who gains mystical powers and defends earth from supernatural evils.

Honorable Mentions: "X-Men: Apocalypse" (May 27); "Gambit" (October 7).


"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" (February 5)
Author Seth Grahame-Smith's first successful genre mashup goofed on Jane Austen's classic tale of early nineteenth-century social manners by turning the Bennet girls into fiercely feminist zombie hunters. The horror comedy was adapted by "Igby Goes Down" filmmaker Burr Steers.

"The Legend of Tarzan" (July 1)
Edgar Rice Burroughs's most enduring creation has been featured in dozens of big-screen action adventures, but this new incarnation starring "True Blood" star Alexander Skarsgård as the orphan raised by apes and Margot Robbie as plucky Jane Porter has "Harry Potter" master David Yates behind the camera and a jungleful of CGI magic to make the old boy swing.

"The Girl on the Train" (October 7)
This old-school mystery centers on a woman (Emily Blunt) who inadvertently becomes involved in the lives of a couple she sees every day on her London commute. "Secretary" writer Erin Cressida Wilson adapted Paula Hawkins's 2015 debut novel for "The Help" director Tate Taylor.

Honorable Mentions: "Rings" (April 1); "Knights of the Round Table: King Arthur" (July 22); "Untitled Bourne Sequel" (July 29); "Inferno" (October 14), "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" (October 21).


"The Young Messiah" (March 11)
"The Stoning of Soraya M." filmmakers Cyrus Nowrasteh and Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh adapted "Interview With the Vampire" author Anne Rice's 2005 novel "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt" for this retelling of Jesus's life as a boy.

"Miracles From Heaven" (March 18)
Jennifer Garner stars in this adaptation of Christy Beam's inspirational 2015 memoir Miracles From Heaven: A Little Girl, Her Journey to Heaven, and Her Amazing Story of Healing, which describes how Beam's daughter, suffering from an incurable disease, healed completely after surviving a fall that should have killed her.

"Same Kind of Different as Me" (April 29)
Renee Zellweger, Djimon Hounsou, and Greg Kinnear star in this adaptation of the bestselling 2006 memoir written by Ron Hall and Denver Moore, with Lynn Vincent, about how their lives crossed paths in unexpected and inspirational ways.

"The Shack" (August 12)
"Avatar" star Sam Worthington plays a grieving father invited back to the scene of the crime by none other than God in this searching spiritual drama based on William Paul Young's 2007 novel.

"Ben-Hur" (August 12)
First published 135 years ago, Lew Wallace's bestselling classic Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ has been adapted three times already, most notably for the William Wyler-directed version that starred Charlton Heston and won eleven Oscars in 1959. This latest adaptation directed by Timur Bekmambetov ("Wanted") has a script co-written by "12 Years a Slave" Oscar winner John Ridley and "Boardwalk Empire" hunk Jack Huston starring as Jesus contemporary Judah Ben-Hur, the prince turned slave turned charioteer who seeks revenge on the man who betrayed him.

Honorable Mentions: "Risen" (February 19); "Chicken Soup for the Soul" (December 16).

"How to Be Single" (February 12)

This ensemble romantic comedy, based on the 2008 Liz Tuccillo novel, has Alison Brie, Rebel Wilson, and "Fifty Shades of Grey" star Dakota Johnson flirting their way through New York City as they struggle with love, dating, and romance.

"Bridget Jones's Baby" (September 16)
Renee Zellweger and Colin Firth reunite as Helen Fielding's endearingly bumbling characters Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy in this third outing, written by Fielding and directed by Sharon Maguire, who helmed the first film in the series in 2001.

"Let It Snow" (December 9)
This romantic comedy built from the stories Maureen Johnson (The Name of the Star), Lauren Myracle (ttyl), and John Green (The Fault in Our Stars) contributed to a 2008 anthology concerns several teenagers whose lives intertwine during a Christmas Eve snowstorm.

Honorable Mention: "The Choice" (February 5).


"I Saw the Light" (March 25)
Tom Hiddleston takes a break from playing frequent Avengers antagonist Loki to throw on the hat and guitar of country music icon Hank Williams, in a biopic based on Colin Escott's 1994 book.

"Miles Ahead" (April 1)
Oscar nominee Don Cheadle ("Hotel Rwanda") co-wrote, directed, and stars in this long-in-development biopic of the great jazz trumpeter and composer Miles Davis.

"Snowden" (May 13)
Bumped from last year's schedule, this drama about Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who leaked classified NSA documents in 2013, was directed by Oscar-winning provocateur Oliver Stone, who based the script he co-wrote on books by Luke Harding (The Snowden Files) and Anatoly Kucherena (Time of the Octopus).

"Infiltrator" (August 31)
Robert Mazur's 2009 book The Infiltrator: My Secret Life Inside the Dirty Banks Behind Pablo Escobar's Medellín Cartel serves as the source material for this crime drama starring Bryan Cranston and helmed by "The Lincoln Lawyer" director Brad Furman.

"Deepwater Horizon" (September 30)
"Lone Survivor" writer-director Peter Berg takes on another harrowing real-life scenario with this action drama about the 2010 disaster that led to the most damaging oil spill in American history and the workers trapped on the burning rig.

"The Founder" (November 25)
The resurgent, Oscar-nominated Michael Keaton suits up as McDonald's founder Ray Kroc in a biopic penned by "The Wrestler" writer Robert D. Siegel and directed by "The Blind Side" filmmaker John Lee Hancock.

Honorable Mentions: "The Finest Hours" (January 29); "Embrace of the Serpent" (February 17); "Race" (February 19); "Eddie the Eagle" (February 26); "The Free State of Jones" (May 13); "Masterminds" (September 30).


"Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" (March 4)
Tina Fey stars as journalist Kim Barker, whose 2011 memoir The Taliban Shuffle described, in ludicrous detail, her time as a foreign correspondent stationed in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The laughs should be plentiful and dark, since the script is by "30 Rock" writer Robert Carlock and the directors are Glenn Ficarra and John Requa ("I Love You Phillip Morris," "Bad Santa").

"Arms and the Dudes" (August 19)
Jonah Hill and Miles Teller star as a couple of real-life Florida stoners who end up with hundreds of millions of dollars in government arms contracts during the war on terror. "The Hangover" director Todd Phillips directed and co-wrote the screenplay, which is based on the 2011 Rolling Stone article and subsequent book Arms and the Dudes: How Three Stoners from Miami Beach Became the Most Unlikely Gunrunners in History by Guy Lawson.

"Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk" (November 11)
The Oscar-winning team of director Ang Lee ("Brokeback Mountain") and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy ("Slumdog Millionaire") has adapted Ben Fountain's debut 2012 satirical novel, which follows a number of Iraq War vets adjusting to life back in Texas.

Honorable Mention: "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi" (January 15).

YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy

"The 5th Wave" (January 22)
This post-apocalyptic sci-fi actioner based on the bestselling 2013 Rick Yancey novel, the first of a trilogy, stars Chloe Grace Moretz as one of the last survivors of an accelerating alien attack. Top screenwriters Akiva Goldsman ("A Beautiful Mind") and Susannah Grant ("Erin Brockovich") had a hand in the adaptation.

"The Divergent Series: Allegiant" (March 18)
Hollywood's take on Veronica Roth's bestselling trilogy of dystopian thrillers continues and expands as Roth's final novel -- a la The Hunger Games and Twilight -- is split into two parts. Part Two, titled "Ascendant," will close out the franchise in March 2017.

"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" (November 18)
J. K. Rowling reopens her world of wizardry with this franchise-launching origin story of Newt Scamander, the writer of a key wizarding book young Harry Potter will study at Hogwarts seventy years later. For the first time, Rowling wrote the script herself, and trusty David Yates, who shepherded four of the "Harry Potter" films, is back in the director's chair.

"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiars" (December 25)
Ransom Riggs's debut 2011 novel Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, about a teenaged boy that ends up on a remote island where unusual kids were once quarantined, landed in the fitting hands of director Tim Burton and "Stardust" co-writer Jane Goldman.


"Anomalisa" (TBD)
Originally a "sound play" performed ten years ago at UCLA, Charlie Kaufman's ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind") latest poignant exercise in cinematic compassion is a stop-motion animated feature about a middle-aged man's encounter with a young woman while on a business trip.

"Certain Women" (TBD)
Using Maile Meloy's 2009 story collection Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It as inspiration, indie darling Kelly Reichardt ("Meek's Cutoff") has crafted a quiet drama about intersecting small-town lives in the Midwest. Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams, and Laura Dern star.

"The Light Between Oceans" (TBD)
"Blue Valentine" writer-director Derek Cianfrance adapted M. L. Stedman's 2012 period novel for this drama about the unexpected repercussions of an isolated Australian couple's (Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander) decision to take in an abandoned baby.