BooksTelevision & Film

Studios Are Going Book Shopping

It’s a continuing process to keep audiences entertained, whether with films or with television series. A popular way for the studios to get these new projects is to adapt books. They are always on the search for that next big idea, from new authors to established authors, books that were released years ago and one not yet on the shelves. Here is a look at some of the future projects the studios have fought and paid for.


Collaborative Kings

Anonymous Content should be excited to have acquired the rights to Sleeping Beauties, new supernatural/suspense novel from Stephen King and his son, Owen King. Together, the three will develop the book into a television series.

Due to be released on September 26 by Simon & Schuster’s Scribner, the story takes place in the near future in a small Appalachian town whose main employer is a women’s prison. However, something strange happens to the women: when they go to sleep, they become wrapped in a cocoon-like gauze and become feral and violent if the wrapping is disturbed or violated, or they are woken. But when they are asleep, they go to another place. The men are alone and abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. Yet one woman, the mysterious Evie, is immune, but is it a blessing or a curse? Is she a medical anomaly to be studied or a demon who must be destroyed?

Michael Sugar (Spotlight) and Ashley Zalta will executive produce for Anonymous Content. Currently they are working together on Netflix’s The OA and Maniac.

This is the first full length collaboration for the father and son team. Owen King says he dreamed up the idea over dinner one night and when he mentioned the idea, the elder King “brightened right up and insisted we write it together.”

Stephen King has several projects coming out this year, including the remake of It and The Dark Tower. He also has two series that will both be released for Hulu with J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot, 11.22.63 and Castle Rock.

Owen King is currently developing an original script, Fade Away, with his brother Joe Hill, for a television series for Miramax and Miguel Sapochnik. King is also co-writing with Mark Poirier Alien Invasion for Constantin Film Based on their graphic novel.

Check out the video below for an interview with the King’s on their upcoming book.


A Duplicated Man

Next up is also a first novel for author Tal M. Klein called The Punch Escrow. Currently Lionsgate is in advance talks to acquire the book, first published by InkShares.

The novel’s high concept and strong lead role has drawn interest. The protagonist, Joel Byram, lives in the year 2147, a time of peace on Earth, with the Last War ending a half century ago. The human race has found ways to purify the air with mosquitoes feasting on carbon fumes instead of blood, ending pollution. They have also cured most ailments, including aging. Travel is now done with teleportation, handled by the world’s most powerful privately held company. Joel is accidentally duplicated in a transportation incident, which exposes a flaw in the established nirvana. Now he must outsmart the organization that runs the teleportation, outrun the religious sect that wants to destroy him, and find a way back to the woman he loves in a world that has two of him.

Klein describes it as a sci-fi thriller with a love story at its heart; he wrote it as a text book from the future. “I wanted to write a story set in the future that addressed a lot of questions I’ve had about where our world is going—not dystopia or the apocalypse, just a credible world a century-plus from today in which our relationship with technology continues to evolve at its current pace.”

The pitch from Klein received strong interest when he submitted it the online publisher. Authors post a sample or pitch and if their project receives 750 or more pre-orders, the website will publish it, providing editing, design, and distribution services like a traditional publishing house. Adam Gomolin, head of InkShares, remembers his first impression, stating, “I saw the property in high def immediately. It’s one of the most clearly constructed near-future worlds since Gattaca, and the man-against-the-machine backbone hits the notes of the Tony Scott thrillers I grew up on like Enemy of the State.”

The Punch Escrow will be published this summer.


Re-Discovering America

Moving onto an already established book, Netflix has acquired the film rights to the 1981 sci-fi novel Hello America by J.G. Ballard. Scott Free’s Ridley Scott, Kevin Walsh, and Michael Pruss will produce.

A century after America’s financial collapse and most of the citizens escaping to Europe and Asia, a group of explorers leave behind England in a steamship to unravel the mystery of what made North America unlivable. They uncover secrets, surprises, and scoundrels in the post-apocalyptic America, culminating in a showdown with a “charismatic leader” calling himself President Charles Manson, who controls an arsenal of nuclear weapons and will use them against anyone who threatens his power.

This is the second deal between Scott Free and Netflix. Recently, they partnered up on War Party, the Andrew Dominik-directed film that will star Tom Hardy.


Bugs and Sex for Teens

For a change of pace, New Regency is in the final talks to pick up Andrew Smith’s young adult novel Grasshopper Jungle. The book was a 2015 Michael L. Printz Honor Book and the winner of the 2014 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction.

The story takes place in Ealing, Iowa and follows a sexually confused and bi-curious teen name Austin. Along with his best friend Robby and girlfriend Shann, they accidentally trigger a possible apocalypse, spreading a virus that happens to turn anyone infected into a giant praying mantis who have an insatiable appetite for food and sex. Together he has to find a way to maneuver through his sexual feelings for both his friends while trying to stay alive.

The project had previously been set up at Sony but now Edgar Wright has his eyes set on it, directing with Matt Tolmach, producer Nira Park, and writer Scott Rosenburg.

Wright has a loyal following due to his hits Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs, the World.

And just like the craziness of a six-foot hungry and horny praying mantis? The book came to Wright’s attention through a Facebook comment.


Paradigm Shift

And finally, a company that has decided they want to change the way of pitching their project. Normally a studio pitch would have the screenwriter(s) talking up their plans for a project while peppering their presentation with those key words or using visual props, like storyboards or concept art. Producers may even have some footage from other films to give backers and idea of how their money will be spent.

However, DMG Entertainment, the Chinese media company behind Looper, Priest, and the recent Point Break has decided to step up their game. They have spent “seven figures” to create a 15-minute virtual reality experience to push their big screen adaptation of Brandon Sanderson’s fantasy Novel series Cosmere.

The company didn’t just get one of his books, they bought the rights to the entire Cosmere universe, a vast group of interconnected sci-fi and fantasy stories. Compared to the equivalent to Stephen King’s Dark Tower or J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth universes, the Cosmere’s spans more than just a single trilogy but multiple novels and series. Each can be read alone, but they all include references and clues to a bigger picture. Currently there are 11 known worlds.

DMG has committed to spending $270 million which will cover half what is needed to back the first three movies from the series. It will use the virtual reality experience for the potential business partners, but they plan on offering the experience to consumers. It is being produced by Arcturus, an interactive media division DMG recently launched.

Sanderson stated that he has seen some of the VR experience and is impressed how they adapted his fantastical worlds he created. However, it’s not surprising due to the extensive research DMG did on him when they came courting. “I thought maybe they’d want to option one book or story, but they told me they’d dug into everything I’d ever published. It stop me in my tracks. They’d read my whole canon. Nobody had ever done that.”

Currently they are fast-tracking an adaptation of The Way of Kings, the first in The Stormlight Archive with Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan writing. DMG founder Dan Mintz will produce with Sanderson and Joshua Blimes serving as executive producers. DMG will simultaneously adapt the first book in the Mistborn series with F. Scott Frazier writing.

It is quite the mix of stories that will be told over the next year or so with this current batch of planned projects. It should be interesting to see if they will be as well received by the audience as they are by the studios.

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