Dear Hollywood, Please Adapt These New Books
Because we're all bored of remakes and sequels
Electric Lit relies on contributions from our readers to help make literature more exciting, relevant, and inclusive. Please support our work by becoming a member today, or making a one-time donation here.
Remakes, reboots, and sequels, oh my! There have been six Transformers films and somehow Hollywood still wants more. It’s not just the mega-blockbuster franchises that are getting milked dry. Perfectly good ’80s comedies and action flicks like Overboard and Red Dawn were remade for… some reason.
In mid-July, another film that should have been left in the past had a remake announced: Jon Hamm will be starring in a new Fletch. More power to you if that sentence didn’t make you audibly groan and slouch in your chair as you give up at the lack of originality in Tinseltown. Hollywood is obsessed with remaking existing intellectual property because it’s less of a gamble. That’s why books are a rich source for them as well. This year alone we’ve seen Normal People and Little Fires Everywhere become runaway hits on Hulu. And with the hundreds of Stephen King adaptations only batting .250, why not adapt new books by debut authors instead?
Film scouts, here are ten adaptations of brilliant new books that should be greenlit immediately!
Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas
Logline: A new student unravels the twisted secrets of her mysterious college.
Director: Nia DaCosta has one of the best new eyes in Hollywood. While people keep giving Jordan Peele credit for the new Candyman, it is DaCosta who deserves all of the praise.
Writer: Lena Waithe’s strengths are in telling tightly wound stories in off-kilter ways. This gothic novel will give her a new challenge by taking her away from the slice-of-life style she does so well.
Starring: Letitia Wright (Black Panther), Cristin Milioti (Palm Springs)
Real Life by Brandon Taylor
Logline: A queer Black Ph.D. student navigates homophobia and racism over the course of a summer weekend.
Director: Barry Jenkins has already put on a masterclass in black, queer film. This could be his Everest.
Writer: Brandon Taylor is one of the most talented writers around, whether it’s this novel, his essays, or his hilarious Twitter feed. Screenwriting is his next evolution.
Starring: Sullivan Jones (Slave Play), Timothée Chalamet (Ladybird)
Godshot by Chelsea Bieker
Logline: A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl caught in a cult in small-town California.
Director: Greta Gerwig.
Writer: Greta Gerwig has already proven she can craft both amazing original and adapted films. Giving her the fresh voice of Bieker to follow will put this film more in line with Lady Bird than Little Women, and that’s the breath of fresh air that Hollywood needs right now.
Starring: Kaitlyn Dever (Unbreakable), Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story)
The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom
Logline: A true story about race, class, and family in New Orleans East.
Director: Ava DuVernay, need I say more?
Writer: Issa Rae’s comedic chops are on full display with Insecure. This offers her a chance to prove she can write a thought-provoking drama as well.
Starring: Teyonah Parris (Chi-Raq, Candyman), Angela Bassett (What’s Love Got to Do With It)
Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang
Logline: A Chinese American woman explores race and belonging in America.
Director: Lulu Wang charmed us with her bittersweet movie The Farewell, starring Awkwafina who returns to China to be with her terminally ill grandmother who doesn’t know that she’s dying. We’d love to see Wang and Awkwafina reunite for an adaptation of this introspective novel.
Writer: Alice Wu finally followed up her 2004 debut Saving Face with this year’s Netflix movie The Half of It.
Starring: Awkwafina (The Farewell), Lucas Hedges (Manchester By The Sea)
In West Mills by De’Shawn Charles Winslow
Logline: An intimate portrait of a headstrong woman living in a tight-knit community in rural North Carolina.
Director: Lee Daniels knows how to direct powerful actors and the leading actress in this needs to be a tour-de-force.
Writer: Steven Canals’ Pose is one of the most diverse and visionary shows on television right now. He knows how to write strong characters who can command a scene with just a close-up of their face. Give him a crack at Azalea “Knot” Centre.
Starring: Viola Davis (How To Get Away With Murder), Paapa Essiedu (I May Destroy You)
The Affairs of the Falcóns by Melissa Rivero
Logline: A Peruvian family searches for their American Dream in 1990s New York City.
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Writer: Alfonso Cuarón’s ability to tell a vivid family saga was on full display in Roma.
Starring: Nathalie Kelley (Fast and Furious), Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina)
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
Logline: A Cold War thriller about an FBI agent who travels to Burkina Faso to take down the “African Che Guevara.”
Director: Donald Glover teaming with actors from his Emmy-winning show Atlanta (see below) to recreate that well-oiled magic.
Writer: Lauren Wilkinson is currently working in a writer’s room in Hollywood. Given that experience, she’s the logical choice to turn her novel into a unique spy film that avoids all of the typical cliches.
Starring: Zazie Beetz (Atlanta), Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta)
The Bright Lands by John Fram
Logline: A man returns to his rural hometown to investigate the disappearance of his younger brother, a star quarterback.
Director: Richard Linklater knows Texas and this conservative small-town city is a vital character in Fram’s queer noir.
Writer: Joey Soloway’s ability to write complex queer characters is perfect to adapt this novel about football and teenage masculinity.
Starring: Ben Platt (The Politician), Lola Kirke (Mistress America)
In At the Deep End by Kate Davies
Logline: A Millennial Londoner has a queer sexual awakening.
Directed by: Phoebe Waller-Bridge. This smart, raunchy, and funny novel is perfect for fans of Fleabag.
Written by: Phoebe Waller-Bridge can do no wrong. Fleabag stopped everybody in their tracks. Killing Eve is a killer adaptation. She’s even done rewrites on the latest Bond film.
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma), Florence Pugh (Midsommar)