Hey there! You may know me as the Tor.com contributor who pines for adaptations of his favorite books in the ongoing column, Please Adapt. I’m constantly reading books and thinking about the different ways they could be brought to screens. But it’s rare that I get to focus on books and stories that are already making their way to screens. So this month, rather than a full-on “Please Adapt” column, I’ll take a look at eight announced or in-progress SFF adaptations and dig into the details. Do they have a cast? Have they started filming? When will they be released? Let’s get into it.
Wicked by Gregort Maguire
Gregory Maguire wrote the novel, which was then adapted into the famous Broadway spectacle with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman. Wicked was long viewed as obvious fodder for a film adaptation, and now it’s actually happening.
It appears the movie takes aim at adapting the musical, which is already a loose adaptation of the original text (or so I’ve been told). Call it a meta-adaptation. It was announced back in 2016, and every bit of info I could find indicates a planned 2024 release for Wicked.
Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians, In The Heights) will direct. Wicked will star Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba, and she sure as hell has the vocal chops to pull it off. Ariana Grande will play Glinda (a decision my wife remains woefully uncertain about). I’m all in. Benefit of the doubt, and all that. Jonathan Bailey (Bridgerton) rounds out the confirmed cast as Fiyero.
Rumor has it Jeff Goldblum will play the wizard—a glorious and wonderfully fitting choice, if true.
In some places, the film is listed as Wicked: Part 1. Chu confirmed it would be a two-parter to People.com in April.
Nimona by ND Stevenson
I adored ND Stevenson’s Nimona when I read it earlier this year. The animated adaptation ran into some trouble when Disney acquired FOX. Disney eventually shut down Blue Sky Studios, in turn canceling the project. But Nimona is a fighter, and can’t be stopped!
After spending a little while mired in development uncertainty (some reports said the film was 75% done when it was first canceled), Annapurna Animation, helmed by Robert Baird and Andrew Millstein (former Disney animation leads) picked it up. Nimona is slated for a 2023 release on Netflix. Prior to forming its animation wing, Annapurna was best known for its story-heavy video games, including Stray, Neon White, and Outer Wilds.
Nick Bruno and Troy Quane (Spies In Disguise) are directing the film. It stars Chloë Grace Moretz as Nimona, Riz Ahmed as Ballister Boldheart, and Eugene Lee Yang as Ambrosius Goldenloin.
IMDb still lists Nimona as “in production,” though ND Stevenson confirmed a 2023 release on Netflix.
Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Earlier this week I was playing Mario Party with a friend to whom I had lent Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time. “Y’know,” I said, “I just have no idea how they’re gonna adapt spiders who talk with subtle leg and palp movements.”
My friend turned to me: “They could do subtitles.”
…I almost quit the game and left, so angry with myself for not thinking of such a simple solution before bringing it up.
Children of Time is one of my all-time favorite books. I’m still unsure how it’ll work in adapted format, but it seems we have plenty of time before I’ll find out whether it succeeds.
Or, I suppose, whether it happens at all. The October 2017 announcement said Lionsgate optioned the book for adaptation. Colby Day (In The Blink Of An Eye) came on board as a screenwriter while Lionsgate’s Peter Kang and Meredith Wieck would “oversee” the project.
Cue the crickets.
It takes years to write a book. Could be the same for a screenplay adapting such a wide-sweeping evolutionary tale. Since the initial surge of news in 2017, it’s been radio silence from Lionsgate about Children of Time.
I searched Lionsgate’s website for any mention of Children of Time and came up short—not surprising, but a tad disheartening. Colby Day’s website mentions he was hired to write the script but offers no new information.
Let’s go with a hopeful “still in progress” on this one, though the lack of any meaningful news doesn’t bode well for Children of Time’s big-screen chances.
Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
Here’s a high-profile adaptation to keep your eye on. Just…not too soon. Denis Villeneuve is on board to direct Clarke’s Rendezvous With Rama, an excellent first-contact novel. On the heels of the original announcement, I opined on what could make Villeneuve’s Rama great.
Information has been sparse in the year since the announcement of Villeneuve’s project. Wonder why… Maybe it’s the giant Dune: Part Two-shaped slot in the 2023 release calendar.
Alcon Entertainment is the production company attached to Rendezvous With Rama. Most recently, the company produced Blade Runner: 2049. Scott Brick and Christos N. Gage are penning the screenplay.
I’ve also seen nuggets of info hinting at Morgan Freeman’s involvement. The actor was on board to produce a version with his company Revelations Entertainment in the late 2000s, with David Fincher in the director’s chair. It gained some actual traction, but in 2008, Fincher squashed any hopes that the movie would finish production or see the light of day. Freeman remains on the production team for Villeneuve’s take on Rama.
As for any new information, casting, release date, and the like? Don’t hold your breath. My guess is we’ll get updates in the months following Dune: Part Two’s debut.
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
Next year, I’m lowering my reading goals. I want to fill my calendar with big, beefy series so I don’t pad the count with a bunch of graphic novels (not that graphic novels aren’t also great). I’ve got my sights set firmly on N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, in part because I want to be caught up before the adaptation releases.
Sony’s TriStar Pictures got the rights to Broken Earth after a reportedly contentious bidding war. The final deal ended up in the seven-figure range. TNT originally optioned the series in 2017, but the adaptation didn’t gain any traction.
The best part? Jemisin is the one adapting her work. She’ll develop the story for screen. Michael B. Jordan of Black Panther and Creed fame is on board to produce with his production company Outlier Society.
No release date or window as yet, but The Fifth Season seems to be well on its way in the development process. I speculate we’ll get filming announcements sometime next year.
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is a force to be reckoned with. His stories have made their way into all sorts of adaptations of late, including Starz’s American Gods, Amazon’s Good Omens, and Netflix’s The Sandman.
Other than perhaps Nimona or Dark Matter, Anansi Boys is currently the furthest along on this list in terms of development. It’s coming to Amazon Prime Video, and it has a full cast, featuring Delroy Lindo as Anansi, Whoopi Goldberg as Bird Woman, and Malachi Kirby (Roots, Small Axe) as Charlie Nancy. Amazon Studios, BBC Studios, and Endor Productions are all attached to the 6-episode miniseries. Gaiman serves as co-showrunner alongside Douglas Mackinnon of Sherlock and Good Omens.
Filming wrapped last July, so it’s reasonable to expect Anansi Boys to arrive in 2023 or early 2024 at the latest.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Star-crossed magicians Celia and Marco meet in Erin Morgenstern’s dazzling The Night Circus. I read it for the first time earlier this year. Count me among the people incredibly excited about this adaptation.
Summit Entertainment, a branch of Lionsgate, optioned The Night Circus way back in 2011. Not much happened in the years that followed. Moira Buffini of Jane Eyre was recruited to write the script for the adaptation, but it appears she is no longer attached to the project.
In 2019, a string of announcements updated fans on The Night Circus’ progress, including the hiring of David Heyman (Harry Potter) and Jeffrey Clifford to produce. Den of Geek reports that Annie Baker wrote the most recent version of the script, and that Geremy Jasper (Patti Cake$) will direct.
I couldn’t find any casting or release info. The Night Circus is still in pre-production, and has been at that stage for more than three years, from what I can tell. I’m holding out hope we’ll get some news—maybe a filming start date— in 2023.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
This one’s near and dear to my heart. I love Blake Crouch’s books. They’re fast-paced and always capture cool, realistic-feeling sci-fi concepts within an otherwise familiar world. His novel Upgrade was a great new release earlier this year, and Dark Matter before it was an excellent read…plus, it takes place in my favorite city in the world: Chicago!
Crouch tweeted Dark Matter’s principal photography began in Chicago on September 30. It’ll be a nine-episode series on Apple TV, which is apparently the sweet spot for the streamer—Severance offered a nine-episode season as well. Joel Edgerton will star alongside Jennifer Connelly.
Blake Crouch is writing the series and serves as showrunner. He’s no stranger to the medium; his Wayward Pines novels were adapted for TV in 2015-16, and he penned three of the episodes himself. Louis Leterrier will direct episodes 1-4.
Once again, no release date, but it’s filming! Late 2023 seems likely for a Dark Matter release.
There you have it! Which adaptations are you most looking forward to? How about any series or movies currently in the works that aren’t mentioned above? Drop ’em in the comments, and here’s to an entertaining and adaptation-filled 2023!
Cole Rush writes words. A lot of them. For the most part, you can find those words at The Quill To Live or on Twitter @ColeRush1. He voraciously reads epic fantasy and science-fiction, seeking out stories of gargantuan proportions and devouring them with a bookwormish fervor. His favorite books are: The Divine Cities Series by Robert Jackson Bennett, The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, and The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune.