Weekend Roundtable: Most Wanted Book-to-Movie Adaptations

Read any good books lately? For this week’s Roundtable, we’re continuing on the dream project theme we started last week. This time, we’d like to know which books you’d most like to see adapted into movies.

Obviously, we’re looking mainly for books that haven’t yet been made into movies. However, if a particular book was adapted badly in the past, we’ll accept the request for a remake.

Dick Ward

When I find a book that I really love, I’ll usually read it a few times. I’ve read ‘Ender’s Game‘ no less than ten times, and I’ve found something new to love each time. Say what you want to about Orson Scott Card’s political leanings, the man can write some damn good science fiction. I feel like we’re finally at the point where an ‘Ender’s Game’ movie is achievable without poor special effects that might ruin it. The only question would be how to portray the protagonist. Ender is incredibly young, and has to stay that way for the story to work. He’s also incredibly violent at times, which could draw quite a lot of criticism. Still, made by the right director (Neill Blomkamp?) and with the right cast, ‘Ender’s Game’ could be brilliant.

Drew Taylor

The book I would most like to see turned into a feature film is David Bowker’s overlooked masterpiece ‘I Love My Smith & Wesson‘. The novel is a Frankenstein’s monster of Gothic horror and modern British noir, about a failed writer named Billy Dye, newly married. A former childhood friend who has grown up to be a ghoulish, hulking villain calling himself Rawhead menaces Billy, who also falls into the crosshairs of a criminal organization called The Priesthood. This all happens on the streets of present day Manchester. It would be easy to suggest a director like Guy Ritchie for this, since he’s so good at capturing jaunty English crime. But I’d suggest someone more nuanced, and able to handle the novel’s darker elements. Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn would probably be up to the task. He’s proven himself to be a singular, impressionistic talent, and he handled the Ritchie territory well with ‘Bronson‘. People would probably have to know/read the book before that could happen – so get to it!

Junie Ray

I’d like a remake of ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s‘. Don’t get me wrong, I love the original film. I love Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, and Patricia Neal. (I could probably live without Mickey Rooney’s performance, though). I enjoy the storyline of the movie, and love Audrey’s wardrobe. Everything about it is classic. The problem is that it takes some rather large departures from Truman Capote’s novella, and I think his original story deserves a shot.

In the book, there’s no romance with Paul, the writer upstairs. There’s no Patricia Neal part. Signs point to Paul being gay. Miss Holly-Go-Lightly is more complicated, and there’s no happy ending. It’s a really good story, just perhaps not as Hollywood friendly as the original movie. As for casting in the remake, that’s a tough call. I’m sure a lot of Hollywood would want Audrey’s part, but I’m not sure who could pull it off and give it the depth required. Natalie Portman (though she’d need the right director)? Scarlett Johansson? Lindsay Lohan comeback? (Yikes!) And for Paul, that’s another tough call. Perhaps Ed Norton?

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

Tributes, homages, and post-modern re-envisionings of film noir are a dime a dozen. Unless you’re strolling into a repertory house, it’s been ages since a true example of the genre last splashed across the big screen. Reading ‘You Have Killed Me‘, a graphic novel by Jamie S. Rich and Joëlle Jones, is quite a lot like holding a couple nitrate prints of a classic hardboiled detective story in my hand. Rich’s dialogue crackles with the same flair as Raymond Chandler. As so much of the storytelling unfolds visually courtesy of Jones’ breathtakingly gorgeous artwork, every word connects with that much more of an impact. Jones’ art is wonderfully cinematic, seeking out compelling compositions and deftly playing with light and shadow in the finest noir tradition. Though there’s certainly a part of me that thinks ‘You Have Killed Me’ is already a flawless execution of everything I love about film noir, I can’t help but be curious if there’s someone ambitious enough to translate what works so wonderfully on the page over to the silver screen.

Aaron Peck

Many great authors have explored the craziness of Florida life. Authors like Carl Hiaasen and Dave Barry have had their works of zany Floridian fiction turned into movies. However, there’s another author based in Florida that has yet to make a movie out of hilarious books. Tim Dorsey is that man, and he’s now written twelve books all starring a lovable serial killer named Serge that would be perfect for dark comedy. His snappy dialogue would work wonders in a screenplay. He’s also got a great feel for how to put together a plot that with an endless array of nutty characters, all the while leading them to his signature endings that usually wind up with all the characters converging into a heap of chaos and laughter.

There isn’t a specific book of his that I’d like made into a movie, because I’d love to see them all made. If I had to pick just one, it would be his book ‘Triggerfish Twist‘, which sets out the chronological beginning of Serge’s tale of mayhem, and the mischief he spreads throughout the Sunshine State. Truthfully, any of Dorsey’s books would be perfect for a Tarantino-type movie. Now, search him out and read his books. You won’t regret it.

Josh Zyber

Speaking of Carl Hiaasen (thanks for the reminder, Aaron!), the popular Floridian author has had a pretty lousy track record for movies based on his books. That adaptation of ‘Strip Tease’ with Demi Moore was a notorious bomb. While the movie based on his Young Adult novel ‘Hoot’ wasn’t quite as disastrous (who even remembers it?), it mostly came out as a well-intentioned but poorly-executed dud. There’s something about the author’s way of mixing the crime thriller genre with goofy comedy that’s really hard to capture in live action. Still, I think it can be done with the right director and a strong script.

My vote for the Hiaasen book with the best chance at movie success is his first novel, ‘Tourist Season‘. It’s a cracking good mystery with environmental themes that are still plenty relevant, if not more so now. It’s also a really funny book laced with Hiaasen’s sharp wit throughout. However, this one is played a bit straighter than his subsequent novels, which tend to go overboard with the goofball characters and slapstick antics. I think a smart director might stand a good chance of capturing the tone of this one better than the way ‘Strip Tease’ was handled.

Mrs. Z

Why must Katherine Heigl ruin everything? Despite being married to a man who likes his movies subtitled, I admit to having moments of pop culture weakness. My all time favorite guilty pleasure book series is Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels. If you’re not familiar with the series, they follow a spunky New Jersey bounty hunter. She has a sassy former ‘ho sidekick Lula, and a serious flirtation with both hunky Italian cop Joe Morelli and the mysterious Cuban-American bounty hunter Ranger. I know it’s cheese, and the series has gone on a bit long (she’s currently on book 16), but it’s really fun, laugh out loud cheese.

Like many fans, I’ve been anticipating/dreading a movie adaptation of this series since reading the first book. Who should play Stephanie has always been a hot topic of conversation among my friends. Sandra Bullock? Debbie Mazur? Lauren Graham? Then we got our answer: It was announced last year that ‘One for the Money‘ was finally being made with Katherine Heigl in the lead.


The movie is scheduled for release later this year, but even without seeing it, I’m already wishing for a do-over. It’s directed by Julie Anne Robinson, the auteur behind ‘The Last Song‘. Never heard of it? That’s because it starred Miley Cyrus. The writing team adapting the book also brought us the Katherine Heigl flop ‘The Ugly Truth‘. Seriously, who thought it was a good idea to put these people together again?!

I know it’s probably not good form to ask for a remake before actually seeing the movie, so I will say that there are a few flickers of hope that it might not be a total bust. Sherri Shepard seems perfectly cast as Lula. While I would not have picked Jason O’Mara for Morelli or Daniel Sunjata as Ranger, they’re well suited for the tasks. And Debbie Reynolds as Grandma Mazur is a great choice. According to IMDb, the writers of the Ugly Truth also wrote ‘10 Things I Hate About You‘ (a movie I must watch every time I run across it on cable – It’s based on Shakespeare, honey!). The third credited writer on the screenplay is the creator of ‘Nurse Jackie’. Hey, maybe it won’t be so bad after all! Nope. It stars Katherine Heigl and she ruins everything. (See: ‘Gray’s Anatomy’).

Chris Boylan (Big Picture Big Sound)

As a sci-fi fan (but not fanatic), I’ve come across a few books and stories from fairly obscure authors that I think would make excellent adaptations to the large screen. So when Hollywood is finally done mining the major and minor works of Philip K. Dick, I hope someone notices F. Paul Wilson. He published a few interesting sci-fi and fantasy novels in the late ’70s and early ’80s, one of which (‘The Keep’) was made into a fairly terrible movie. My favorite of his works was his first novel, ‘Healer‘.

‘Healer’ deals with an intergalactic traveler named Steven Dalt who, after an accident in a cave on a less developed world, has his DNA fused with an alien being that is conscious down to the cellular level. This little symbiotic invader allows our hero to effectively become immortal. The alien consciousness is able to repair any damage within its host’s body, making him immune to aging and disease. As the centuries pass, Dalt’s legend grows. He seems to be the only one capable of healing a mysterious psychological illness spreading throughout the galaxy.

Although Wilson’s alien worlds are firmly grounded in a libertarian philosophy, they never become preachy. Instead, ‘Healer’ is a well-told tale, set in a nicely fleshed-out universe with a satisfying story arc and climax. I imagine that the alien worlds, technology and beings could be fantastically rendered using modern CG techniques. I’d love to see a good director’s handling of the story.


Those are our choices. Now tell us which books you want to see made into movies.


  1. Jared Chamberlain

    Like last week, I’m gonna say Preacher would be amazing if adapted properly. Also, I think the Steve Alten books Meg, and The Loch would also be outstanding.

  2. HuskerGuy

    Good call on Tim Dorsey Aaron. I’ve read a couple of his books and they are fantastic.

    As for my selection, I would request a remake of Congo. Something that stays faithful to the book and not the flaming piece of shit that was the original movie.

    • RollTide1017

      I agree about Congo, the book was great and it deserves a better movie. I would love to see The Lost World remade because Speilberg completely changed the story that was in the book. I think The Lost World book is actually better then Jurassic Park but Speilberg didn’t have the balls to shoot that movie.

    • HuskerGuy

      The only one I remember off hand is The Stingray Shuffle. I think I ‘ve read another one or two, but can’t recall which at the moment.

      • HuskerGuy

        As far as who would play Serge, that’s a good question. I could see Depp or Carey do it for sure. For some reason though I picture him being a bit more bulky (not fat, just not really skinny like those guys). It’s been a little while since I’ve read one though so I may be thinking wrong.

  3. Josh! Good call on ‘Tourist Season’. That’s a wonderful book, with some really zany characters. I have a hard to thinking who could play Skink though (the recurring character in his books). Maybe Jeff Bridges?

  4. The Subtle Knife
    The Amber Spyglass

    The Vampire Lestat
    A remake of Queen of the Damned
    Some of Anne Rices other Vampire books

    The Magic or Madness Trilogy

    More Douglas Adams books adapted to movies / mini-series

    Would love to see some Mini-Series of the Little House books. May be hard, as you will have to get look-alikes to play the kids at different times of life. Also, would love to see them branch out of The Laura years, and do The Rose Years, Charlotte, Caroline and Martha.

    Gender Blender (there was a German movie with a similar principle, Hilfe, Ich Bin Eine Junge, which is one of my favorite movies).


  5. Jake

    Well I just finished reading Fahrenheit 451 again so I would love to see the remake that stays true to the book. I know that Mel Gibson tried to bring it to the big screen back in the late 90s and now Frank Darabont is still trying to find some studio to finance the remake. I think someone like Clive Owen or Eric Bana can play Guy Montag and of course I would to see how they can make those mechanical hounds comes to life on screen.

  6. I’m surprised that there’s been no major motion picture adaptation of Henry IV, Part I, but there have been two big-time Henry Vs.

    Henry 4.1 is the best of Shakespeare in one play with Falstaff and Hal as two great comic foils and Hotspur as one of Shakespeare’s better tragic figures. With as much war that happens in the play, you could certainly create some riveting cinema. If it did well enough, the studio could easily put together two sequels and a prequel.

    I know I fudged as this is a play not a book, but close enough.

    Along the lines of Falstaff, Hollywood needs to keep trying to make A Confederacy of Dunces.

  7. BMH

    Wow, lots of great picks- especially sci fi stuff has been mentioned. I would add Heinlein’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress,” and several more Philip K. Dick works- “Now wait for Last Year,” “The Man in the High Castle,” and “Ubik.”

    Hopefully, “World War Z” will be as good a film as the source material.

    I would love to see somebody tackle, “Pilgrim’s Progress.” Make it brutal.

    My whole family like reading Christopher Moore’s books, and some have been optioned but nothing produced yet.

    Anyways, please make let’s favor new book to film adaptations over remakes. I love PKD’s story “Second Variety,” but “Screamers” was garbage. Once somebody makes a lousy adaptation then move it to the back of the line. Every time they’ve tried to make a good movie out of “I am Legend,” they’ve failed worse than the last time. Sorry, Vincent Price, Charleton Heston, and Will Smith, your adaptations were bad, and you should feel bad.

  8. I’d like to see Edgar Rice Burroughs Martian Tales on the big screen (I believe a proper version is well under way, and forget the terrible Asylum version, even if it was an Avatar cash in that was better than Avatar!) It’s just a shame they won’t make it a truly violent adventure, as it should be.

    I’d also like to see his Pellucidar & Venus series brought properly to life, with that old-fashioned sense of fun and adventure!

    Also, a Tarzan that stays true to the first couple of Burroughs books. 😀 Who wouldn’t want to see Tarzan as a French spy, rending his enemies limb from limb? 😉

    Someone else mentioned a proper version of I Am Legend as well. That’s definitely needed.

  9. hurin

    ‘I am Legend’ in a way that’s actually faithful to the book.

    ‘Darkness at Noon’ unfortunately it’s probably to late for an adaptation.

    Neal Stephenson’s ‘The Baroque Cycle’ as three movies. Problem is it would be very expensive to film.

  10. Junie

    Tourist Season – I agree!
    I was horrified that Miley was cast in Last Song.
    Henry IV- That could be good. I saw it on stage in NY with Kevin Klein and Ethan Hawke – they were excellent and I’m sure could translate to screen.
    I also think Starship Troopers deserves another shot. I thought that book was great and it pains me to think that most people know it by the awful movie version.

    • Josh Zyber

      Starship Troopers is one of the worst books I’ve ever read. The movie does exactly the right thing with it. It dissects every one of Robert Heinlein’s extremist Right-wing views about the great benefits of allowing the planet be ruled by a military police state, and ruthlessly satirizes them.

      A “faithful” adaptation of that novel would be unwatchable. It’s 90% long-winded political sermonizing book-ended by two short action scenes.

      • motorheadache

        Plus, there’s nothing like seeing Michael Ironside say lines like “They sucked the brains right out of his head.”

        Man, I love that movie.

  11. motorheadache

    For years my answer would be The Dark Tower, but now that’s not just a what-if fantasy. I really hope Ron Howard manages to pull it off– I can’t say he’s the first person I’d think of to undertake the project, however.

  12. Jared Chamberlain

    Battle Royale is another book I’d like to see adapted properly, I enjoy the Japanese film, but that’s another one that should have been more faithful to the source material…

  13. Ryan

    I agree with Dick on Ender’s game movie, and after seeing the youthful violence of Kick-Ass I think it can be done with child in tow. Plus you’re right about the special effects, and of course it would be in 3D as well if released now. If so, let’s all hope its not post-converted!

    I have to echo motorheadache’s sentiments as well and branch off by saying that I’d like The Stand to be done properly. By this I mean a quality show by HBO or AMC. I mean, look at what Darabont did with Walking Dead. Plus, at 13-episode seasons you could probably get a few seasons out of the source material! If Darabont wasn’t doing Walking Dead, I’d love for him to take on this project given his King-adapting background. I also wonder what he would have done with something like the Dark Tower series, as Ron Horward worries me. Then again, many people were worried about Peter Jackson doing LOTR and I thought that turned out great – so I hope that will be the case here as well.

  14. I must mention that I’d also love to see a different movie made of ‘Bringing Down the House’. The movie ’21’ was based off of that book, but the movie sucked hard. The book is amazing and is a much more interesting and exciting account of what really happened to those card counters.

    • Ryan

      I agree, although it wouldn’t be on my most-wanted list. You bring up a good potential topic for a future round-table discussion: most wanted remakes/reboots/etc. and other different/new takes on already produced material.

      • Ryan

        P.S. and thank you for not saying you want a different movie made of “Bringing Down the House” (the movie starring Steve Martin and Queen Latifah)!

  15. I think Wheel Of Time would make a great AMC series. Way too complex to try to shoehorn into a feature film.

    Raymond Feist has a great novel called “Fairie Tale” that I’ve always thought would make a good 2 hour flick.

    The 90’s comic book series “Starman” would also make a fine television program.

  16. “Starship Troopers is one of the worst books I’ve ever read.” Sacrilege!!! 😉 Then again, I pretty much love most of Heinlein’s books.

    “A “faithful” adaptation of that novel would be unwatchable. It’s 90% long-winded political sermonizing book-ended by two short action scenes.” – On that I sort of agree (though much less harshly), but I don’t think its political discussion should be held against it. That’s the point of the book, a discussion about potential political systems and beliefs through the medium of a fictional characters and situation (Whether you agree with the politics or ideas is a completely different matter). A remake would just need to address that in a logical way, with story and character taking centre-point, rather than the other way around. Having said that, I don’t think it needs a new version any time soon. I love the Verhoeven version!!

    The Puppet Masters could do with a proper film version… of course, rated 18 for the excessive nudity lol!

  17. Before I even looked at the article, my number one pick was “Ender’s Game” – possibly the best sci-fi book I’ve ever read.

    I’d still love to see someone do justice to Alex Cross (the two movies we got paled in comparison to the books upon which they were based), either as a film or maybe even a weekly series.

    • Josh Zyber

      Whoever eventually adapts Ender’s Game, I just ask that they cut out that stupid “Speaker of the Dead” epilogue and the side story about Ender’s kid brother taking over the planet. It’s a great book otherwise, but those two things really feel out of place.

      • “Speaker FOR the Dead”. 🙂 Actually the sequel (of the same name) is just as good as the original…all books that follow (both sequels and prequels) never quite live up to those two stories.