Showing all posts tagged: screen adaptations
15 August 2023
After reading Move fast and beat Musk: The inside story of how Meta built Threads, by Naomi Nix and Will Oremus of The Washington Post, I’m certain the story behind the launch of Meta’s rival to Twitter, Threads, is ripe for adaptation to the big screen.
All the ingredients of a thriller-like race against time are there. Trust me. So here I am, calling action.
First, opportunity presents itself:
The mercurial Musk had just taken over Twitter. Amid the ensuing chaos, [head of Instagram Adam] Mosseri’s boss at rival Meta smelled opportunity.
Next there are senior Meta executives on family holidays in Europe, taking breathless phone calls from their boss in the middle of the night:
It was nighttime in Italy, and Mosseri spoke softly to avoid waking his sleeping wife. The group discussed Twitter-like features they could add to existing apps, including Instagram.
What? Enhance an existing app to make it look like something it isn’t? Are you for real? No, the boss wants to land the legendary three-thousand pound marlin here:
Zuckerberg, however, had a different idea: “What if we went bigger?”
Now that exact requirements are understood, and the enormity of the task at hand can be seen in the cold light of day, the inevitable panic begins to set in:
“Oh God, we’ve got to figure this out, because [Zuckerberg is] very excited about this,” Mosseri recalled thinking. “Sometimes you can tell when he kind of gets his teeth into something.”
The last thing, of course, you want to do is disappoint the boss. But you know what they say: when the going gets tough, the tough get going:
With a mandate from Zuckerberg to take a big risk, Mosseri assembled a lean, engineer-heavy team of fewer than 60 people to hack together a bare-bones app on a breakneck timetable more reminiscent of a start-up than an entrenched tech giant.
That paragraph sounds like it packs a punch, but a sixty person team is hardly “reminiscent of a start-up”. Instagram, which Threads is built upon, was, at the beginning, the work of two people, Michel Krieger and Kevin Systrom. But who cares? This is the movies, and all audiences want is a great story.
And size of the development team notwithstanding, there were challengers aplenty. Mainly what product features not to include, rather than what to ship:
To keep things moving, the Threads team punted thorny decisions and eschewed difficult features, including private messages and the ability to search for content or view the feeds of people you don’t follow.
But the clock is ticking. No one knows when the competitor — he who must not be named — might snatch back possession of the ball, and wrest the game away from the team we’re barracking for. But (naturally) such fears prove to be unfounded:
That night, a “core group” worked together at Meta headquarters while Mosseri and other team members chatted on an internal messaging forum, watching the sign-ups pour in. Mosseri recalled astonished team members asking, “Are we sure about these numbers? Can someone double-check that the logging isn’t messed up?”
And there we have it, the happy ending. One hundred million app signups. But wait, how can you call ever declining engagement, and plummeting time spent on the platform, a happy ending? Of course you can’t, but don’t you see where this is going? Wait for it. Wait for it. To a sequel, of course.
Watch this space, you will not be disappointed.
14 August 2023
Book cover of The Tetris Effect, written by Dan Ackerman.
Dan Ackerman, editor-in-chief of design and technology publication Gizmodo, claims in a recent court filing that Apple TV+, producers of the 2023 film Tetris, directed by Jon S. Baird, copied the storyline from his 2016 book, The Tetris Effect. Ackerman further alleges he sent a pre-publication edition of the book to Maya Rogers, CEO of the Tetris Company, and soon after received a cease and letter warning him not to adapt the story for film or television:
Ackerman accused Rogers of working with screenwriter Noah Pink to develop a screenplay using content taken from his book without his knowledge or consent. Apparently, numerous producers showed interest in adapting his book, but the Tetris Company refused to license its IP for the project. “This was done at the direction and behest of Ms. Rogers so that she and the Tetris Company could pursue their own project and opportunities based on Mr. Ackerman’s book without compensating him,” the lawsuit reads.
I wrote about the film last March, but still haven’t had a chance to see it. According to the film’s IMDb page, the screenplay was written by Noah Pink. No mention, at least that I can see, is made of Ackerman, nor The Tetris Effect, there.
4 July 2023
Well over a year after a screen adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s 2017 novel The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo was announced, American filmmaker and screenwriter Leslye Headland has been named as director. Reid’s work of historical fiction spent over a year on The New York Times best seller list, after becoming a TikTok sensation in 2021.
The story recounts the life and times of Hollywood Golden Age star Evelyn Hugo, who, at age 79, grants a rare interview to an unknown journalist, Monique Grant. The now reclusive Hugo promises to reveal all to Grant, much to the chagrin, and envy, of Grant’s better known contemporaries. While Grant is as surprised as anyone else at being chosen, Hugo has a reason for selecting her.
18 May 2023
Klara and the Sun, the 2021 novel by British author Kazuo Ishiguro, is being brought to the big screen by New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi. While all parties are yet to sign on the dotted line, it’s looking pretty certain, according to Justin Kroll, writing for Deadline:
Sources tell Deadline that the Jojo Rabbit Oscar winner is in negotiations to direct Klara and the Sun, based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s New York Times bestselling novel, for Sony’s 3000 Pictures. The project is in development, with Dahvi Waller penning the original draft of the screenplay.
I loved the novel. I believe Waititi could bring forth a faithful adaptation of Klara without dispensing with too many of his trademark cinematic flourishes.
7 March 2023
Image courtesy of David Condrey.
A few weeks ago film production company Warner Brothers announced plans to make a raft of new movies based on the Lord of the Rings volumes, written by J.R.R. Tolkien. Many of these new movies will be set several hundred years before events depicted in the films Peter Jackson made between 2001 and 2003.
The news is no doubt exciting for fans of the books written by Tolkien, and the movies made by Jackson. But do we really need another slate of Lord of the Rings films? Have we not seen enough of fire breathing dragons, giant spiders, and enormous armies that threaten to crush the heroes?
There are plenty of other stories that could be adapted to film, and many of them are Australian novels. On top of that, there’s a stack to choose from. So here we go, my list of five Australian books to adapt to film instead of Lord of the Rings stories.
The Shut Ins by Katherine Brabon
The Melbourne based author wrote her second novel, The Shut Ins in 2021. Set in Japan, Brabon explores hikikomori, a phenomenon where mostly young Japanese men completely withdraw from society. Some of them might spend years confined only to a room in their parent’s house, barely even seeing their family.
The Shut Ins centres on Hikaru Sato, a man in his late twenties, who has locked himself in his room. One day by chance, his mother Hiromi, meets Mai, an old high school friend of Hikaru. Hiromi implores Mai to help lure her son out his room. But Mai has her own troubles. She has recently married, and both her husband, J, and family, expect to her give up her career and have children.
Another character, Sadako, meanwhile, works as a hostess, and entertains J during his regular business trips to Tokyo. It is doubtful Mai is aware of their liaisons. In a separate timeline several years later, an Australian writer, researching the hikikomori phenomenon, travels around Japan. As she moves from place to place, she corresponds by email with a Japanese man, a former hikikomori.
Although he now lives in America, he has returned to Japan for a holiday. The split timelines, and the uncertainty as whether anyone in the latter timeline is connected to those of several years earlier, would make The Shut Ins a compelling film.
Loveland by Robert Lukins
Robert Lukins is another Melbourne based author, whose second novel, Loveland, was partially inspired by the cover of Bruce Springsteen’s 1982 album, Nebraska.
May, an Australian woman, has travelled to Loveland, in the US state of Nebraska, following the death of her grandmother, Casey, whom May barely knew. May is also escaping an abusive husband, who wants her to sell Casey’s property as soon as possible.
As May readies the house for sale, she learns Casey likewise sought to escape her old life by coming to Loveland. In fact she has more in common with her late grandmother than she realises, and like Casey, May comes to realise Loveland might be able to offer her a new beginning.
Loveland is slow burning, though suspenseful drama, delivering an outcome certain to leave filmgoers guessing right up to the final frame.
Every Version of You by Grace Chan
Climate change and poverty have rendered the real world unbearable by the latter part of the twenty-first century. Many people have taken to residing virtually, in a digital domain known as Gaia. Their bodies never leave their apartments, but in Gaia, their digital avatars roam free, carrying on what passes for a normal life.
This how a young woman Tao-Yi, and her boyfriend, Navin, largely exist. When a new technology emerges allowing people to permanently upload their minds to Gaia, and live forever as a digital avatar, a choice must be made. To live in an increasingly inhospitable environment, or escape into the digital utopia that is Gaia.
Navin thinks being permanently fused to Gaia is a great idea. Tao-Yi is far from certain. Her mother meanwhile, wants no part of the virtual realm, and prefers to remain in the almost abandoned real world, with her memories of living in Malaysia. Every Version of You would be a treat for fans of science-fiction and speculative fiction films.
Picnic at Mount Disappointment by Melissa Bruce
Sydney based Victorian born author Melissa Bruce’s 2017 debut will sate the appetite of people looking for a coming of age story, and those who still feel an affinity with the eighties. Fifteen year old Lucy is uprooted from her comfortable inner-city life in Melbourne, to move to a small town in rural Victoria.
Adjusting to living on a horse farm, at the foot of Mount Disappointment, is not easy. Lucy has to contend with a step-mother she hardly knows, a situation not helped by her father who is often away, travelling for work. She also must get used to a new high school, where she has no place on the pecking order, while looking out for her younger brother, who is also struggling to adapt.
But Lucy soon learns to ride horses, make new friends, and finds a boyfriend. And as her growing confidence turns to bravado, Lucy is quickly confronted by new challenges and threats. Bruce’s novel is written in alien to the eighties tweet styled stanzas, which would add zest to any screenplay for Picnic at Mount Disappointment.
The Wife and the Widow by Christian White
I’m not sure The Wife and the Widow, the second novel by Victoria based Australian author Christian White, could be adapted for the screen. To go into why would give away one of the most spectacular twists seen recently in fiction. In short though, this is the story of two women, a wife, Abby, and a widow, Kate.
Kate has travelled to an island off the coast of Victoria, following the murder of her husband, who was possibly leading a double life. The killing has shocked the island’s small, tight knit, community. Abby, meanwhile, is beginning to suspect her oddly behaving husband may be a murderer.
But it is only as Kate and Abby slowly draw towards each other, that the truth about their husbands come to light. I have no doubt an adept screenwriter could bring The Wife and the Widow to cinemas. It would be worth the effort if it worked, because the twist, when revealed, will leave audiences dumbfounded.
No more Lord of the Rings, please…
My list of Australian novels that could be adapted to film is by no means exhaustive. It could easily have been far longer, but I think the point is clear: there are plenty of new, original stories, written here in Australia, that would make great movies.
8 January 2023
Fans of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s 2018 novel, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, would like to see American actor Jessica Chastain cast in the role of Celia St. James, in the upcoming Netflix screen adaptation of the book. I couldn’t agree more with such a choice. Chastain often came to mind as I read Seven Husbands, and not solely because both Chastain and St. James are redheads. In fact, I can’t help wondering whether Reid drew a certain degree of inspiration for St. James from Chastain.
While I believe the role of St. James officially remains to be cast, Chastain has expressed interest. “Send me a script”, she said, when asked recently about the possibility, by American TV show host Andy Cohen.
22 June 2022
Here’s the book to screen adaptation we’ve been waiting for. The film rights for Sydney based Australian author Charlotte Wood’s highly acclaimed 2019 novel The Weekend, have been bought by Brouhaha Entertainment, a production company with offices in London and Sydney.
The 2019 book, published by Allen & Unwin, follows three friends for one last, life-changing long weekend, during a subtropical Sydney Christmas. As they declutter the beach home belonging to the fourth member of their quartet, who died the previous year, there is an escalating sense of tension as frustrations and secrets bubble to the surface.
And to the obvious question, who are they going to cast?
21 May 2022
All the forensic psychological nuance that Rooney feeds us through Frances – her neurotic overthinking, her spiky self-loathing, her overworked efforts to affect nonchalant charm – those chaotic moments that lend Frances her skewed humanity, are dulled, if not lost, on screen. What you’re left with is lingering shots of Frances staring out a rain-streaked window, presumably deep in existential thought, but who knows?
Disappointing. I know I just about always look forward the screen adaptation of the novels I like, despite an innate weariness to the book to film thing…
29 March 2022
The book, which has recently spent 54 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller Paperback list, four years after publishing, and has turned into a TikTok book phenomenon, follows reclusive Hollywood legend Evelyn Hugo, who chooses an unknown reporter, Monique Grant, to tell her life story. Evelyn recounts her time in the Golden Age of Hollywood, her rise to fame, and her seven marriages — revealing stunning secrets and lies. But through it all one question remains: Why has she chosen Monique for her final confession?
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is on my sprawling TBR list, here’s hoping I’m able to finish reading it before the film arrives.