CLOSE
Focus Features
Focus Features

6 Books That Took Forever to Become Movies

Focus Features
Focus Features

While the current box office is positively glutted with remakes, reboots, re-imaginings, and a healthy dose of adapted material, not every book is rushed to the silver screen—some take whole decades to make the jump from page to celluloid, often quite memorably held up in the process. From classic novels to the next big pop culture phenomenon, success as a book doesn’t guarantee a quickie movie version.

1. Dangerous Liaisons
Book: 1782 // Movie: 1959

While the best-known cinematic version of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ Les Liaisons Dangereuses is the 1988 adaptation by Stephen Frears, a big screen version arrived much sooner—in 1959 with Roger Vadim’s updated version of the classic tale.

Still, Vadim’s film arrived nearly 200 years after the book was first published, way back in 1782. Though movies weren’t actually invented (splitting hairs!) until long after the novel hit shelves, the book was exceedingly popular (and ripe for reinvention) for decades, spawning stage versions and eventual radio and television productions. It's surprising that it didn't hit cinemas sooner.

2. Winter’s Tale
Book: 1983// Movie: 2014

Mark Helprin’s 1983 novel just arrived on the big screen in the form of Akiva Goldsman’s film of the same name. While Helprin’s book pushes the 800-page mark, Goldsman’s film clocks in under two hours. So, yes, quite a bit has been cut out of the narrative in order to make it a film-friendly story.

Perhaps that’s why it took over three decades for it to fly (on a winged horse, no less) to the silver screen? It may also be why Martin Scorsese, who originally purchased the book’s rights, eventually backed out of the feature, deeming it unfilmable.

3. The Hobbit
Book: 1937 // Movie: 2012

J.R.R. Tolkien’s exceedingly beloved fantasy novel has gone through plenty of adaptation cycles, including a 1966 short film comprised of cartoon stills and a 1977 animated version, but the definitive live-action version only hit theaters in 2012. Peter Jackson’s three-part series will wrap up later this year, and the trilogy is a testament to the continued power of Tolkien’s story.

4. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Book: 1937 // Movie: 2008

A somewhat forgettable big screen outing starring Amy Adams just before she became, well, Amy Adams, Bharat Nalluri’s low-key charmer adapted Winifred Watson’s novel of the same name for some fizzy fun. Watson herself aimed to make something a bit more ditzy after previously penning darker books like Fell Top and Odd Shoes. While publishers originally rejected Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, they agreed to print it if she wrote them yet another drama (Upyonder).

Watson’s desires proved to be sage, however, and Pettigrew was a huge hit. The book was first set to be made into a musical starring Billie Burke in 1941, but the spread of World War II delayed it indefinitely. Instead, Adams and Frances McDormand starred in the film adaptation, which only took another 67 years to make it to the silver screen.

5. John Carter
Book: 1917 // Movie: 2012

One of author Edgar Rice Burroughs’ most enduring and well-known characters, John Carter first popped up in a magazine serial in 1912. Burroughs eventually made the character the central protagonist in a number of his Barsoom books—including A Princess of Mars, which was the basis for the 2012 film John Carter.

Extremely long in the making (Bob Clampett wanted to make a film out of the book way back in 1931, and the film eventually cycled through such attached talents as Frank Miller, Jon Favreau, Robert Rodriquez, and many others), Andrew Stanton’s adaptation was a notorious flop at the box office, even though it was meant to ostensibly celebrate an entire century of John Carter fandom.

6. Fifty Shades of Grey 
Book: 2011 // Film: 2015

Sure, in the grand scheme of things—and compared to a lot of others on this list—four years between the release of a book and its subsequent film adaptation doesn’t sound like a lot. But when it comes to something like E.L. James’ wildly popular trilogy, it seems unbelievable that fans of the phenomenon will have to wait until 2015 to see their favorite story steam up the big screen.

James first published her over-the-top love story as Twilight fan fiction under the title “Master of the Universe” back in 2009, and while the final product has changed significantly over time, fans have been eagerly anticipating the film version. It probably doesn’t help that the feature has already been moved once—from summer of this year to Valentine’s Day 2015.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
literature
The Best Children's Books of the Year, According to Bank Street College of Education
iStock
iStock

The Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College of Education in New York City recently released its 2018 list of the best children's books on the market. Separated into five age-appropriate categories, the list includes more than 600 titles published in the U.S. and Canada in 2017.

In making their selection, judges considered books' literary merit, presentation, and potential emotional impact on young readers, as well as originality of the story, credibility of the characters, and absence of stereotypes. They also looked for positive representations of religious and ethnic differences.

Nonfiction books were checked for accuracy, balance, and documentation, while poetry books were assessed for their language, sound, rhythm, substance, and emotional intensity. Each book on the list was read and reviewed by at least two members of the committee, and then considered by the committee as a whole.

Of the books on the list, three are selected for special awards each year. For 2018, the Josette Frank Award—given to an outstanding novel in which a child character handles difficulty in a positive and realistic way—was awarded to Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson. The Claudia Lewis Award for poetry went to One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes, and the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award for inspiring nonfiction went to Hawk Mother: The Story of a Red-Tailed Hawk Who Hatched Chickens by Kara Hagedorn.

Below is a selection of some of the books on the list. All of the titles below were awarded "outstanding merit" by the committee. For the full selection, click on the PDF link next to each individual category.

Under five category [PDF]
Anywhere Farm by Phyllis Root and G. Brian Karas
Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper
Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown
Mine! by Jeff Mack
Noisy Night by Mac Barnett and Brian Biggs
Sam & Eva by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
Snow Scene by Richard Jackson and Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Winter Dance by Marion Dane Bauer and Richard Jones

Five to nine category [PDF]
After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat
Alfie: The Turtle That Disappeared by Thyra Heder
Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban
Good Night, Planet by Liniers
Pandora by Victoria Turnbull
Robinson by Peter Sís
Sleep Tight, Charlie by Michael Escoffier and Kris Di Giacomo
Spiders!: Strange and Wonderful by Laurence Pringle and Meryl Henderson

Nine to twelve category [PDF]
All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
A Properly Unhaunted Place by William Alexander and Kelly Murphy
If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams
Little Bits of Sky by S. E. Durrant and Katie Harnett
Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King
Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce
The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain, Philip C. Stead, and Erin E. Stead
The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Twelve to fourteen category [PDF]
Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time by Tanya Lee Stone
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling
Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali
Satellite by Nick Lake
The Book of Chocolate: The Amazing Story of the World's Favorite Candy by H. P. Newquist
The Exact Location of Home by Kate Messner
Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner and Maxime Plasse
Yvain: The Knight of the Lion by M. T. Anderson and Andrea Offermann

Fourteen and up category [PDF]
Between Two Skies by Joanne O'Sullivan
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
Far From the Tree by Robin Benway
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F. C. Yee
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

A print copy of The Best Children's Books of the Year, 2018 Edition ($10, plus $3 shipping) can be purchased by emailing bookcom@bankstreet.edu.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Lists
10 Things You Might Not Know About Wine
iStock
iStock

by Tilar J. Mazzeo

Between the vine and the liquor store, plenty of secrets are submerged in your favorite bottle of vino. Here, the author of Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma spills some of the best.

1. DIGITAL EYES ARE EVERYWHERE IN VINEYARDS.

Certain premium estates in Bordeaux and Napa are beginning to look a little more like an army base—or an Amazon.com warehouse. They’re using drones, optical scanners, and heat-sensing satellites to keep a digital eye on things. Some airborne drones collect data that helps winemakers decide on the optimal time to harvest and evaluate where they can use less fertilizer. Others rove through the vineyard rows, where they may soon be able to take over pruning. Of course, these are major investments. At $68,000 a pop, the Scancopter 450 is about twice as costly as a 1941 Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon!

2. THERE ARE ALSO LOTS OF COW SKULLS.

They’re not everywhere, but biodynamic farming techniques are on the rise among vintners who don’t want to rely on chemicals, and this is one trick they’ve been known to use to combat plant diseases and improve soil PH. It’s called Preparation No. 505, and it involves taking a cow’s skull (or a sheep’s or a goat’s), stuffing it with finely ground oak chips, and burying it in a wet spot for a season or two before adding it to the vineyard compost.

3. FEROCIOUS FOLIAGE IS A VINTNER’S FRIEND.

The mustard flowers blooming between vineyard rows aren’t just for romance. Glucosinolates in plants like radishes and mustard give them their spicy bite, and through the wonders of organic chemistry, those glucosinolates also double as powerful pesticides. Winemakers use them to combat nematodes—tiny worms that can destroy grape crops.

4. WHAT A CANARY IS TO A COAL MINE, ROSES ARE TO A VINEYARD.

Vintners plant roses among their vines because they get sick before anything else in the field. If there’s mildew in the air, it will infect the roses first and give a winemaker a heads-up that it’s time to spray.

5. VINTNERS EXPLOIT THE FOOD CHAIN.

A trio of wines
iStock

Small birds like blackbirds and starlings can clear out 20 percent of a crop in no time. But you know what eats little birds? Big birds. Falconry programs are on the rise in vineyards from California to New Zealand. Researchers have found that raptors eat a bird or two a day (along with a proportion of field mice and other critters) and cost only about as much to maintain as your average house cat.

6. THE BIG PROBLEMS IN TASTING ROOMS ARE VERY SMALL.

Winemakers are constantly seeking ways to manage the swarms of Drosophila melanogaster that routinely gather around the dump buckets in their swanky showrooms. You know these pests as fruit flies, and some vintners in California are exploring ways to use carnivorous plants to tackle the problem without pesticides. Butterworts, sundews, and pitcher plants all have sweet-sounding names, but the bugeating predators make for terrific fruit fly assassins, and you’ll see them decorating tasting rooms across wine country.

7. WINE NEEDS CLEANING.

Winemaking produces hard-to-remove sediments. Filters can catch most of the debris, but winemakers must add “fining agents” to remove any suspended solids that sneak by. Until it was banned in the 1990s, many European vintners used powdered ox blood to clean their wines. Today, they use diatomaceous earth (the fossilized remains of hard-shelled algae), Isinglass (a collagen made from fish swim bladders), and sometimes bentonite (volcanic clay). Irish moss and egg whites are also fine wine cleaners.

8. ATOMS HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS.

About 5 percent of the premium wine sold for cellaring doesn’t contain what the label promises. So how do top-shelf buyers avoid plunking down serious cash on a bottle of something bunk? Most elite wine brokerages, auction houses, and collectors use atomic dating to detect fraud. By measuring trace radioactive carbon in the wine, most bottles can be dated to within a year or two of the vintage.

9. FINE WINES GET MRIs.

Even with atomic dating, there are certain perils involved in buying a $20,000 bottle of wine. Leaving a case in the hot trunk of your car is enough to ruin it, so imagine what can happen over a couple of decades if a wine isn’t kept in the proper conditions. Back in 2002, a chemistry professor at University of California at Davis patented a technique that uses MRI technology to diagnose the condition of vintage wines. Not planning any $20,000 wine purchases? This is still good news for the consumer. This technique may soon be used at airport security, meaning you’ll be able to carry on your booze.

10. THERE’S A TRICK TO AGING YOUR WINE.

If you end up with a bottle of plonk, Chinese scientists have developed a handy solution. Zapping a young wine with electricity makes it taste like something you’ve cellar aged. Scientists aren’t quite sure how it happens yet, but it seems that running your wine for precisely three minutes through an electric field changes the esters, proteins, and aldehydes and can “age” a wine instantly.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios