Is Hollywood running out of good ideas? It seems that literature is providing more and more source material for films as time goes by. Case in point: this latest roundup of science fiction and fantasy books that have been optioned for film or television.
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Artemis Fowl is the first book in a popular young adult series written by Eoin Colfer. The series, now eight books long, follows the titular 12-year-old character who happens to be a millionaire boy genius and a criminal mastermind. His latest scheme involves kidnapping Holly Short, a fairy, and holding her for ransom. Score one point if you realized that Artemis doesn't sound like a traditional fantasy hero. Over the course of the series, anti-hero Artemis goes from criminal mastermind to helper of the fairy people.
A film adaptation of Artemis Fowl has been in the works since 2001, not coincidentally the same year Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone released. Immediate production stalled and over the intervening years, the production tiptoed along. For example: in 2003, Colfer wrote a screenplay; in 2013, Disney announced that the film would cover the first two books of the series; and a new screenplay by Michael Goldenberg (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) was announced. And now it's being reported that Actor/Director Kenneth Branagh has been hired to direct the film, with Irish playwright Conor McPherson writing the script. Time will tell if this adaptation will stick. It does seem long overdue.
Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human
The concise pitch for Charlie Human's gonzo novel Apocalypse Now Now would probably read "supernatural bounty hunter." The longer description would have to include worlds like weird, kitchen sink, and audacious. The book mixes elements of fantasy, horror, apocalyptic fiction, and lots of other things as it tells the story of Baxter Zevcenko, an up-and-coming entrepreneur of sorts. Baxter is the 16-year-old leader of a syndicate peddling smut in his schoolyard. Business is great until his girlfriend Esme is kidnapped by strange forces. Baxter thus enlists the help of a "bearded, booze-soaked, supernatural bounty hunter" named Jackson “Jackie” Ronin to rescue her. The main thrust of the story is Baxter's and Ronin's attempts to save Esme from the seedy Cape Town underworld and the unimaginable horrors they encounter.
I'm not sure how you would even begin to tell this story on film, but it's being reported that XYZ studios has optioned Apocalypse Now Now for film. The screenplay is being written by Terri Tatchell, who wrote the scripts for District 9 and Chappie. Based on the book description alone, it could be absolutely terrible, or it could be the best movie ever. If it’s the latter, I've no doubt that Hollywood will turn their attention to the book's sequel, Kill Baxter.
The Drowning Girl and The Red Tree by Caitlín R. Kiernan
Caitlín R. Kiernan has been one of genre's best kept secrets. That might be about to change with news of not one, but two of her dark fantasy books being optioned for film. The Drowning Girl is about India Morgan Phelps (affectingly known as Imp to her friends), a schizophrenic who struggles with determining what is real and what is fantasy—an especially tough activity after a mysterious stranger enters her life. In The Red Tree, a novelist moves into an old house and discovers a manuscript written by the previous owner, a parapsychologist obsessed with the ancient red oak tree growing on a desolate corner of the property. That tree is somehow connected with a series of bizarre deaths that occurred in the small Rhode Island town.
These books, which have already garnered award attention, have also caught the interest of Josh Boone, director of The Fault in Our Stars (itself an adaptation of a book by John Green). His production compact, Mid-World, has optioned the rights for both books to be adapted for film. Boone is said to be writing the screenplay for The Drowning Girl, while author Kiernan is said to be writing the screenplay for The Red Tree.
Logan's Run by William F. Nolan & Clayton Johnson
Logan's Run has a simple but engaging premise: What if you were only allowed to live for 21 years? That's exactly what society dictates in the year 2116. At that time, the crystal flower in your hand begins to glow, marking the arrival of Lastday, after which you report to Sleepshop for final processing. Refusing to enter Deep Sleep makes you a Runner, and that makes you a target for elimination by the relentless Sandmen. The main narrative of Logan's Run is about a Sandman enforcer named Logan 3 whose time has come, but who opts to run toward the legendary place known as Sanctuary.
Logan's Run is a classic dystopian science-fiction novel originally written in 1967 that has already been adapted multiple times. In 1976, a film version appeared starring Michael York as Logan 5, Jenny Agutter as love interest Jessica 6, and Richard Jordan as Francis 7, Logan's Sandman friend who hunts him down. (Among the changes to the story, the Lastday age was bumped up to 30 and the main character was called Logan 5, not Logan 3—damn you, Hollywood!!!) In 1977, a short-lived spin-off television series was launched starring Gregory Harrison as Logan 5 and Heather Menzies as Jessica 6. Screenwriters for that series included the novel's authors and Star Trek scribe D.C. Fontana. There is also a comic book series co-written by Nolan. The latest news is that the film will be getting a new remake. Well, that part's not news; a remake has been in the works since 2000. The news is that it might be moving forward, possibly with a female lead. Simon Kinberg has been hired to write a fresh screenplay. Kinber's writing credits include Sherlock Holmes and X-Men: Days of Future Past (hooray!) but also the recent reboot of Fantastic Four (sad trombone).