2020 Page-to-Screen: Your guide to film and TV adaptations

More than 100 book adaptations will premiere on screens big and small in 2020, likely driving new interest in their source material. Here's your guide to the coming year in TV and film.

More than 100 book adaptations will premiere on screens big and small in 2020, likely driving new interest in their source material. Returns, reboots, and comics rule the landscape, and bestsellers make their debuts. See the full calendar below and note that dates change frequently; follow Book Pulse for the most current information.


Favorite Returns

To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You arrives in time for Valentine’s Day, based on the YA novel by Jenny Han. This is the second Han adaptation after the wildly successful To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before shaped the rom-com landscape for Netflix. Proof of its staying power? Waiting in the wings is the adaptation of Han’s Always and Forever, Laura Jean. Another fan favorite returns with season five of Outlander, based on The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon, who says books nine and ten in the series are in the works; meanwhile, STARZ is already looking ahead to the sixth book.
 
In a new launch from an old favorite, Star Trek: Picard takes the beloved sf franchise where it has not gone before. Author Michael Chabon is the showrunner while fan-favorite Patrick Stewart stars. Another take on a several-times-adapted sf classic, Frank Herbert’s Dune, will star Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides, directed by Denis Villeneuve. Another repeat adaptation, Dolittle, based on the book by Hugh Lofting, marks the return of the man who can talk to animals. It stars Robert Downey Jr., and, in another nod to the Marvel gang, features the voice of Tom Holland (and many other big names). Disney continues remaking its animated films as live-action editions with Mulan, based on a Chinese legend.
 
Star returns include Daniel Craig in the 25th James Bond film, No Time to Die, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and based on a script cowritten by Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Hollywood powerhouse Reese Witherspoon revives Elle Woods in Legally Blonde 3, based on Legally Blonde by Amanda Brown. Kenneth Branagh stars again as Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot in Death on the Nile, with Gal Gadot and Armie Hammer. Tom Clancy also gets a new outing with Without Remorse, starring Jamie Bell and Michael B. Jordan. The remake of Roald Dahl’s The Witches lines up Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch, the role Anjelica Huston played in the 1990 adaptation.
 

Comics

Wonder Woman and Harley Quinn will take center stage for DC this year. Director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot team up once again in Wonder Woman 1984. As the title implies, the setting jumps forward in time, to the Reagan era. Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn features another female dynamic duo, director Cathy Yan and actress Margot Robbie. Marvel adds another kick-ass woman of comics with the Scarlett Johansson-led Black Widow, which takes place before the events of Avengers: Endgame and allows character Natasha Romanoff to take center stage. Also from Marvel, a prequel in the “Kingsman” franchise, The King’s Man, pits the well-dressed gang of British spies against Rasputin. Marvel, by way of Sony, expands its sprawling cinematic galaxy with two films set in the Spider-Man universe: Morbius and Venom 2. The New Mutants, a horror film set in the world of X-Men, is currently due out April 3; fans have been waiting for it, with shifting premiere dates, since 2018.
 
Moving beyond DC and Marvel, Bloodshot, based on the Valiant Comics superhero character, debuts this year. It stars Vin Diesel, Sam Heughan, Guy Pearce, Eiza González, and Toby Kebbell. Riverdale, based on the “Archie” comics, continues to provide spin-off opportunities with the debut of Katy Keene and the return of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina for season three on Netflix (with season four already ordered). While the Sabrina series is horror, the much brighter Katy Keene will be a musical comedy. Darker in tone will be the post-apocalyptic Snowpiercer, an adaptation of the French comic Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, which has already been made into a film. Finally, Avatar: The Last Airbender, which originated as an animated TV series on Nickelodeon before spinning off into comics, is set to debut as a live-action series.
 

Bright New Stars

The new year sees many adaptations based on bestsellers. Among these are Just Mercy, based on Bryan Stevenson’s nonfiction book about fixing America’s broken justice system. It stars Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx and is directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. Highly anticipated as well is James McBride’s National Book Award-winning The Good Lord Bird. It spans eight episodes and stars Ethan Hawke and Hamilton’s Daveed Diggs. Reese Witherspoon is joined by Kerry Washington in Little Fires Everywhere, based on the novel by Celeste Ng. No less highly anticipated for having fewer high-profile names is Normal People, based on Sally Rooney’s award-winning novel. The adaptation of Paulette Jiles’s News of the World, a finalist for the National Book Award, is another potential gem.
 
The Woman in the Window stars Amy Adams and Gary Olman. It was a breakout novel, but its shine has since been dimmed by revelations about author A.J. Finn (Dan Mallory). Not dimmed at all is reader reaction to Eoin Colfer’s “Artemis Fowl” series, now transformed into a film directed by Kenneth Branagh. Colfer’s new book, The Fowl Twins, is out now. Families can also look forward to the feature film based on Katherine Applegate’s Newbery Medal-winning The One and Only Ivan. Her new book, The One and Only Bob, publishes May 5. There is another new title out in the many Stephen King adaptations that appear semi-regularly; this time, it’s the ten-episode The Outsider.
 

Classics

Jane Austen comes to screens twice in 2020. The eight-part Sanditon airs on PBS Masterpiece. The unfinished novel left director Andrew Davies plenty of room to fill in the blanks, raising eyebrows among Austenites. Fashion photographer Autumn de Wilde directs a new version of Emma, with a script by Eleanor Catton, the Man Booker winner of The Luminaries. Other big adaptations from the literary canon include The Good Shepherd by C.S. Forester, which comes to the screen as Greyhound, starring Tom Hanks, and Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, starring Harrison Ford and Dan Stevens.

Several children’s classics are also getting remade this year. The director of Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin, finally returns to the silver screen with Wendy, based on J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Also on the way are Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, based on the stories of Beatrix Potter, and another adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. Anne with an “E” comes back for season three, continuing viewers’ gentle love affair with L.M. Montgomery.

Not gentle at all is The Turning, adapting The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. It stars Finn Wolfhard of Stranger Things and is the first of two variations of the novella. The second is The Haunting of Bly Manor, season two of Mike Flanagan’s Netflix’s series. Already attracting attention with its bloody trailer is the BBC/Netflix’s remake of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In another horror turn, Gretel & Hansel explores the sinister world of the original German fairy tale. Lastly, H.G. Wells’s star is on the rise with The Invisible Man reboot. It stars Elizabeth Moss and is directed by Leigh Whannell, the co-creator of the “Saw” films. A strong year for book-inspired film and TV, old and new, is good news for connecting a new crop of readers to the stories behind the screen.


2020 Page to Screen Calendar

January

3 Anne With an “E,” season three, based on Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. Netflix series.
The Grudge, not based on a book but there are associated titles. Theatrical release. Rated: R.
 
10 Just Mercy, based on Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. Theatrical release. Rated: PG-13.
The Informer, based on Three Seconds by Anders Roslund & Börge Hellström. Theatrical release. NR.
 
12 The Outsider, based on the book by Stephen King. HBO series.
Sanditon, based on the book by Jane Austen. PBS Masterpiece series.
 
14 DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, season five, based on DC comics characters. CW series.
 
17 Dolittle, based on The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting. Theatrical release. NR.
 
23 Star Trek: Picard, not based on a book but there are associated titles. CBS All Access series.
 
24 The Turning, based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. Theatrical release. NR.
 
31 Gretel & Hansel, based on the Grimms’ fairy tale. Theatrical release. Rated: PG-13.
The Rhythm Section, based on the book by Mark Burnell. Theatrical release. NR.
 

February

7 Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, based on DC comics characters. Theatrical release. NR.
 
12 To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, based on P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han. Netflix film.
 
14 The King’s Man, based on Marvel comics characters. Theatrical release. NR.
Sonic the Hedgehog, not based on a book but there are associated titles. Theatrical release. NR.
 
16 The Good Lord Bird, based on the book by James McBride. Showtime series.
Outlander, season five, based on The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon. STARZ series.
 
21 Bloodshot, based on Valiant comics characters. Theatrical release. NR.
The Call of the Wild, based on the book by Jack London. Theatrical release. NR.
Emma, based on the book by Jane Austen. Theatrical release. NR.
 
28 The Invisible Man, based on the book by H.G. Wells. Theatrical release. NR.
Wendy, based on Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. Theatrical release. Rated: PG-13.
 

March

6 First Cow, based on The Half-Life by Jonathan Raymond. Theatrical release. NR.
 
13 Godzilla vs. Kong, not based on a book but there are associated titles. Theatrical release. NR.
 
27 Mulan, based on the Chinese legend. Theatrical release. NR.
 

April

3 Fatherhood, based on Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss & Love by Matthew Logelin. Theatrical release. NR.
The New Mutants, based on Marvel comics characters. Theatrical release. NR.
Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, based on characters created by Beatrix Potter. Theatrical release.
NR.
 
8 No Time to Die, based on characters created by Ian Fleming. Theatrical release. NR.
 
15 The Secret Garden, based on the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Theatrical release. NR.
 
17 Antlers, based on the short story “The Quiet Boy” by Nick Antosca. Theatrical release. Rated: R.
 

May

1 Black Widow, based on Marvel comics characters. Theatrical release. NR.
 
8 Greyhound, based on The Good Shepherd by C. S. Forester. Theatrical release. NR.
The Personal History of David Copperfield, based on David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Theatrical release. NR.
Legally Blonde 3, based on characters created by Amanda Brown. Theatrical release. NR.
 
15 Scoob, a “Scooby-Doo” spinoff; not based on a book but there are associated titles. Theatrical release. NR.
The Woman in the Window, based on the book by A. J. Finn. Theatrical release. NR.
 
22 The SpongeBob Movie: It’s a Wonderful Sponge, not based on a book but there are associated titles. Theatrical release. NR.
 
29 Artemis Fowl, based on the book by Eoin Colfer. Theatrical release. NR.
 

June

5 Wonder Woman 1984, based on DC comics characters. Theatrical release.NR.
 
12 Candyman, a continuation of the franchise based on “The Forbidden” by Clive Barker. Theatrical release. NR.
 

July

3 Minions: The Rise of Gru, not based on a book but there are associated titles. Theatrical release. NR.
 
31 Morbius, based on Marvel comics characters. Theatrical release. NR.
 

August

7 The Empty Man, based on the book by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Vanesa R. Del Rey. Theatrical release. NR.
Infinite, based on The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz. Theatrical release. NR.
 
14 The One and Only Ivan, based on the book by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Patricia Castelao. Theatrical release. NR.
 

September

18 Without Remorse, based on the book by Tom Clancy. Theatrical release. NR.
 

October

2 Venom 2, based on Marvel comics characters. Theatrical release. NR.
 
9 Death on the Nile, based on the book by Agatha Christie. Theatrical release. NR.
 
16 Snake Eyes, a G.I. Joe spinoff; not based on a book but there are associated titles. Theatrical release. NR.
The Witches, based on the book by Roald Dahl. Theatrical release. NR.
 

November

6 The Eternals, based on Marvel comics characters. Theatrical release. NR.
 
13 Clifford the Big Red Dog, based on the books by Norman Bridwell. Theatrical release. NR.
 

December

18 Dune, based on the book by Frank Herbert. Theatrical release. NR.
Uncharted, based on the video games; there are associated titles. Theatrical release. NR.
West Side Story, inspired by “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare. Theatrical release. NR.
 
23 Tom and Jerry, not based on a book but there are associated titles. Theatrical release. NR.
 
25 News of the World, based on the book by Paulette Jiles. Theatrical release. NR.
 

The following films and series will premiere in 2020, though specific dates have not yet been announced.

Films

100% Wolf, based on the book by Jayne Lyons, illustrated by Victor Rivas. Theatrical release. NR.
All the Bright Places, based on the book by Jennifer Niven. Theatrical release. NR.
Books of Blood, based on the book by Clive Barker. Hulu.
Chaos Walking, based on The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. Theatrical release. NR.
Chemical Hearts, based on Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland. Theatrical release. NR.
Dear Zoe, based on the book by Philip Beard. Theatrical release. NR.
The Devil All the Time, based on the book by Donald Ray Pollock. Netflix.
Dragon Rider, based on the book by Cornelia Funke. Theatrical release. NR.
Enola Holmes, based on the series by Nancy Springer. Theatrical release. NR.
Fear Street, based on the series by R.L. Stine. Theatrical release. NR.
The Jesus Rolls, based in part on Les Valseuses (Going Places) by Bertrand Blier. Theatrical release. Rated: R.
The Kissing Booth 2, based on Going the Distance (The Kissing Booth, Bk. 2) by Beth Reekles. Theatrical release. NR.
The Last Thing He Wanted, based on the book by Joan Didion. Theatrical release. NR.
Minamata, based on the book by W. Eugene Smith and Aileen M. Smith. Theatrical release. NR.
The Prom, based on the Broadway play, novelized by Saundra Mitchell, et.al. Netflix.
Radioactive, based on Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss. Theatrical release. Rated: PG-13.
Rebecca, based on the book by Daphne Du Maurier. Netflix.
Stargirl, based on the book by Jerry Spinelli. Theatrical release. Rated: PG.
The War with Grandpa, based on the book by Robert Kimmel Smith. Theatrical release. Rated: PG.
The Willoughbys, based on the book by Lois Lowry. Theatrical release. NR.
 

TV Series

13 Reasons Why, season four, based on the book by Jay Asher. Netflix.
The 100, season seven, based on the series by Kass Morgan. CW.
The Alienist, season two, based on the book by Caleb Carr. TNT.
Avatar: The Last Airbender, debut, not based on a book but there are associated titles. Netflix.
The Boondocks, debut, based on the comics created by Aaron McGruder. HBO Max.
Bosch, season six, based on the series by Michael Connelly. Amazon Prime.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, season three, based on the comics character created by George Gladir and Dan DeCarlo. Netflix.
Doctor Who, series 12, not based on a book but there are associated titles. BBC One.
Doom Patrol, season two, based on DC comics characters. HBO Max.
Dracula, debut, based on the book by Bram Stoker. BBC One and Netflix.
Dune: The Sisterhood, based on Dune by Frank Herbert. HBO Max.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, debut, based on Marvel comics characters. Disney+.
Fear the Walking Dead, season six, based on the comic by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. AMC.
Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045, debut, based on the manga by Masamune Shirow. Netflix.
The Handmaid’s Tale, season four, based on the book by Margaret Atwood. Hulu.
The Haunting of Bly Manor, season two, based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. Netflix.
Hilda, season two, based on the comic by Luke Pearson. Netflix.
I Know This Much Is True, debut, based on the book by Wally Lamb. HBO.
Katy Keene, debut, based on the comic character created by Bill Woggon. CW.
Little Fires Everywhere, debut, based on the book by Celeste Ng. Hulu.
Lost in Space, season two, inspired by The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann D. Wyss and Space Family Robinson created by Del Connell and artist Dan Spiegle. Netflix.
The Magicians, season five, based on the book by Lev Grossman. SyFy.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season seven, based on Marvel comics characters. ABC.
Marvel’s Helstrom, debut, based on Marvel comics characters. Hulu.
McMafia, season two, inspired by McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld by Misha Glenny. AMC and Sundance Now.
Miracle Workers, season two, based on What in God’s Name by Simon Rich. TBS.
My Brilliant Friend, season two, based on the novels by Elena Ferrante. HBO.
Normal People, debut, based on the book by Sally Rooney. BBC Three and Hulu.
Perry Mason, debut, based on the character created by Erle Stanley Gardner. HBO.
Shrill, season two, based on Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West. Hulu.
The Simpsons, season 32, not based on a book but there are associated titles. Fox.
The Sinner, season three, based the book by Petra Hammesfahr. USA.
Snowpiercer, debut, based on the comic by Jacques Lob. TNT.
Spider-Man: Maximum Venom, season three, based on Marvel comics characters. Disney XD.
The Stand, debut, based on the book by Stephen King. CBS All Access.
Stargirl, debut, based on DC comics characters. DC Universe.
Star Trek: Discovery, season three, not based on a book but there are associated titles. CBS All Access.
Superman & Lois, debut, based on DC comics characters. CW.
The Umbrella Academy, season two, based on the comic by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá. Netflix.
Untitled Third Walking Dead spinoff, debut, based on the comic by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. AMC.
Vagrant Queen, debut, based on the comic by Magdalene Visaggio and Jason Smith. SyFy.
The Walking Dead, season 11, based on the comic by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. AMC.
Wynonna Earp, season four, based on the comic by Beau Smith. SyFy.
Y, debut, based on the comic by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra. FX.
Younger, season seven, based on the book by Pamela Redmond Satran. TV Land.
Author Image
Neal Wyatt

nwyatt@mediasourceinc.com

Neal Wyatt is LJ’s readers’ advisory columnist, contributing The Reader’s Shelf, Book Pulse, and Wyatt’s World columns. She is the coauthor of The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 3d ed. (ALA Editions, 2019). Contact her at nwyatt@mediasourceinc.com

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