2020 has a host of great books-to-movies adaptations in store and limited series adaptations of books planned as well. I’m hopeful it’s going to be a strong year for books making their way to film and screens. Here’s what’s currently on the docket.
As with the 2019 list, note that this only includes titles that sound reasonably sure to be released in 2020. So, that means they’ve issued a release date or are done filming or a producer has said will be released in 2020, something like that.
For more upcoming adaptations, see the list of 2021 Book to Movie & TV Adaptations.
Just Mercy (IMDB)
Release Date: January 10, 2020
Just Mercy by Bryan Stephenson is a true story about Bryan Stephenson, who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, which is dedicated to representing people in need.
From IMDB: “After graduating from Harvard, Bryan heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned, with the support of local advocate Eva Ansley (Larson.) One of his first, and most incendiary, cases is that of Walter McMillian (Foxx,) who, in 1987, was sentenced to die for the notorious murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite a preponderance of evidence proving his innocence and the fact that the only testimony against him came from a criminal with a motive to lie.
In the years that follow, Bryan becomes embroiled in a labyrinth of legal and political maneuverings and overt and unabashed racism as he fights for Walter, and others like him, with the odds-and the system-stacked against them.”
The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle (IMDB)
Release Date: January 17, 2020
The chilren’s novel The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle will be getting a star-studded adaption, to be released in January. Plus, if any Avengers fans want to see Robert Downey Jr. reunited with Tom Holland, here’s your chance to do it. Plus, Emma Thompson, Selena Gomez, Rami Malek and pretty much every other famous person is in it too.
The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle is about a doctor who discovers he can talk to animals.
The Turning / The Turn of the Screw (IMDB)
Release Date: January 24, 2020
From IMDB: “A young governess is hired by a man who has become responsible for his young nephew and niece after the deaths of their parents.” It stars Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard, Brooklynn Prince.
The Turning is being executive produced by Steven Spielberg and is based on the supernatural horror novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (the movie The Others was partially based on this as well).
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before 2 (IMDB)
Expected Date: February 12, 2020
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before 2 will be an adaption of the second book in the trilogy by Jenny Han, entitled P.S. I Still Love You. The original cast is all back, with the addition of Jordan Fisher as the character of John Ambrose.
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before 2 doesn’t have a set release date yet, but filming is already wrapped and it’s in post-production, so it’s expected in early 2020 (or maybe even 2019. IMDB lists it as 2020 as of right now, so I’m going with that.)
Call of the Wild (IMDB)
Release Date: February 21, 2020
Karen Gillam, Harrison Ford, Dan Stevens and Wes Brown are all slated to star in this live-action CGI-animated adaptation of Jack London‘s classic tale, Call of the Wild.
In Call of the Wild, Buck (a dog) gets stolen and sold to freight haulers in the Yukon during the Alaska Gold Rush.
The Invisible Man (IMDB)
Release Date: February 28, 2020
H.G. Well’s classic sci-fi horror story The Invisible Man is being adapted once again. This time Elizabeth Moss will helm the vehicle that represents Universal’s Monster series Reboot.
The movie was originally part of Universal’s Dark Universe. While it looks like that has been scrapped, they’re still planning on a series of classic monster movies.
From IMDB: “The film follows Cecilia, who receives the news of her abusive ex-boyfriend’s suicide. She begins to re-build her life for the better. However, her sense of reality is put into question when she begins to suspect her deceased lover is not actually dead.”
Artemis Fowl (IMDB)
Release Date: March 29, 2020
Artemis Fowl is a children’s sci-fi book series by Eoin Colfer that is well-loved and has a ton of fans. The movie, which is being directed by Kenneth Branaugh, stars newcomer Ferdia Shaw along with Hong Chau, Judi Dench, and Josh Gad.
Originally, the plan was for this movie to cover the first two books of the series. More recent reports have indicated that the movie will only cover the first book. This was also originally slated for 2019, but was pushed to 2020.
Peter Rabbit 2 (IMDB)
Release Date: April 3, 2020
There’s a sequel to 2018’s Peter Rabbit adaptation coming out in February. Stars Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson and James Corden.
Fatherhood / Two Kisses for Maddy (IMDB)
Release Date: April 3, 2020
The memoir Two Kisses for Maddy is being adapted into a movie called Fatherhood, starring Kevin Hart.
It’s a book about love, grief and fatherhood by Matt Logelin. Synopsis: “Matt and Liz Logelin were high school sweethearts. After years of long-distance dating, the pair finally settled together in Los Angeles, and they had it all: a perfect marriage, a gorgeous new home, and a baby girl on the way. Liz’s pregnancy was rocky, but they welcomed Madeline, beautiful and healthy, into the world. Just twenty-seven hours later, Liz suffered a pulmonary embolism and died instantly, without ever holding the daughter whose arrival she had so eagerly awaited.
Though confronted with devastating grief and the responsibilities of a new and single father, Matt did not surrender to devastation; he chose to keep moving forward-to make a life for Maddy.”
Secret Garden (IMDB)
Release Date: April 17, 2020 (UK)
This classic book by Frances Hodgson Burnett is getting a new adaptation! Colin Firth, who was in the 1987 TV movie version (not the well-known 1993 adaptation) as the adult version of the boy in the wheelchair, will be in the 2019 adaptation as well. This time, he’ll be playing the boy’s father.
Greyhound / A Good Shepherd (IMDB)
Release Date: May 8, 2020
This Tom Hanks movie is an adaptation of The Good Shepherd by C.S. Forester, but will be titled Greyhound. This is not the same story as the movie The Good Shepherd that came out in 2006 starring Matt Damon.
Greyhound is a war drama about a navy officer commanding a convoy of allied ships in WWII with Nazi U-boats in hot pursuit.
Dragon Rider (IMDB)
Release Date: August 17, 2020 (Germany)
Cornelia Funke’s children’s novel Dragon Rider is getting an animated adaptation. From IMDB: “A young silver dragon teams up with a mountain spirit and an orphaned boy on a journey through the Himalayas in search for the Rim of Heaven.”
Brave New World (IMDB)
Release Date: 2020
Aldous Huxley’s dystopian classic Brave New World will be hitting the small screen as a series on the USA Network. It’s being directed by Owen Harris, who is probably best known for directing Black Mirror “San Junipero” and “Be Right Back” (both are fantastic if you haven’t watched them).
The adaptation will star Jessica Brown Findlay, Harry Lloyd (you’ll know him as Viserys Targaryen) and Alden Ehrenreich. I’m guessing most people read this in school, but if you’re somehow not familiar with the story, it’s about a dystopian society where people are given drugs called Soma to suppress their emotions and there’s absolute and very rigid social order. But of course some people are curious to break free.
This probably won’t be as splashy of a release as some other things on this list, but I’m curious about this series since I could see the director doing something interesting with this material.
The One and Only Ivan (IMDB)
Release Date: August 14, 2020
The One and Only Ivan is a children’s book by Katherine Applegate (she also wrote the Animorphs). It’s being adapted to the big screen an an animated movie by Disney.
The adapation will be voiced by a number of stars such as Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren, Bryan Cranson, Sam Rockwell and so on.
Synopsis: “Having spent twenty-seven years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. Instead, Ivan occupies himself with television, his friends Stella and Bob, and painting. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes.”
The Devil All The Time (IMDB)
Release Date: September 16, 2020
From Netflix: “In a place called Knockemstiff, Ohio, a forgotten backwoods of this country, where a storm of faith, violence and redemption is brewing. Out of desperation to save his dying wife, Willard Russell turns to prayer which succumbs to sacrifice. This sets protagonist Arvin, Willard’s son (Holland), on his path from bullied kid to a man who knows when to take action. The Devil All the Time involves a nefarious cast of characters that is told across two decades.”
This dark and gritty country noir will hit Netflix sometime in 2020.
Enola Holmes (IMDB)
Release Date: September 2020
The Enola Holmes series by Nancy Springer is a fiction children’s mystery series about Enola, the younger sister of Sherlock Holmes.
It’s planned for a movie adaptation and is currently filming (as of Summer 2019). Millie Bobby Brown will play Enola and Henry Cavill will be playing Sherlock.
Rebecca is a classic ghost story by the Dame Daphne du Maurier. It was previously adapted into an Academy Award Best Picture-winning film by Alfred Hitchcock. Arnie Hammer and Lily James will star in this Netflix movie adaptation.
Death on the Nile (IMDB)
Release Date: October 9, 2020
Kenneth Branagh is reprising his role as Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective in Death on the Nile. His previous outing as Poirot, Murder on the Orient Express, also released by Fox, grossed over $100 million domestically and close to $250 million internationally.
I was a little underwhelmed by the Murder on the Orient Express movie, though it was beautifully shot. I thought the pacing was a little off, and the tone of it was a little dull. But I love, love, love Agatha Christie, so I’m happy to give a different movie another shot.
Gal Gadot, Tom Bateman, Arnie Hammer, Annette Bening and Letitia Wright will also make appearances in Death on the Nile.
In Death on the Nile, Poirot is crusing along the Nile (obviously) when a newlywed heiress is found dead. With a ship full of people who have reason to dislike her, Poirot has his work cut out for him as he investigates her death.
Hillbilly Elegy (IMDB)
Release Date: November 2020
J.D. Vance’s memoir about growing up in Appalachia and ending up at Yale Law School is being adapted by Ron Howard into a film, to be streamed on Netflix (and possibly to get a limited theatrical release). The film has been completed so there’s a good chance it will be released on schedule.
There are a number of big stars attached to the project, including Amy Adams, Glenn Close and Freida Pinto. J.D. Vance will be played by Gabriel Basso.
Deep Water (IMDB)
Release Date: November 13, 2020
Patricia Highsmith’s Deep Water is getting a film adaptation that’s set to star Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas. Other Highsmith novels that have gotten adapted include The Talented Mr. Ripley and The Two Faces of January.
From IMDB’s description of Deep Water: “A well-to-do husband who allows his wife to have affairs in order to avoid a divorce becomes a prime suspect in the disappearance of her lovers.”
Deep Water already began filming in 2019 and there was news that it had resumed filming after the holidays in January 2020. It’s currently still get to premiere in November 2020, but I guess we’ll see as things develop.
A long-awaited adaption of Dune by Frank Herbert, an epic sci-fi classic, is finally arriving in November of 2020.
Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Stellan Skarsgård will star in the movie, with a ton of other notable names such as Jason Momoa, Dave Bautista, Oscar Isaac, Timothée Chalamet and so on.
From the studio: “Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence-a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential-only those who can conquer their fear will survive.”
Note that this is separate and different from the Dune: The Sisterhood adapatation that is also in the works. Dune: The Sisterhood will be a female-focused limited series. It’s planned for the upcoming WarnerMedia streaming service. A release date for Dune: The Sisterhood is currently unknown, but 2020 looks likely.
News of the World (IMDB)
Release Date: December 25, 2020
From IMDB: “A Texan traveling across the wild West bringing the news of the world to local townspeople, agrees to help rescue a young girl who was kidnapped.”
The Pale Horse (IMDB)
Release Date: Christmas 2020 (Approx.)
The BBC and Amazon are teaming up for an adaption of Agatha Christie’s The Pale Horse, starring Rufus Sewell.
Station Eleven (IMDB)
Release Date: 2020
HBO Max has the Station Eleven adaptation slated for its 2020 release, though it’s unknown how COVID has affected those plans. It was filming in January 2020, but it does not seem to be the case that filming wrapped before everything was halted.
The 10-episode limited series adaptation stars Mackenzie Davis as the main character of Kirsten. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel follows a number of storylines about people’s lives many years after an apocalyptic virus has decimated the world population.
Made for Love (IMDB)
Release Date: 2020
Made for Love by Alissa Nutting is being made into a HBO Max limited series starring Cristin Milioti and Ray Romano. From IMDB: “A look at all of the complexities and expectations in modern relationships.”
The Luminaries (IMDB)
Release Date: 2020
The BBC’s Luminaries adaptation has wrapped filming and is likely to air in 2020. It will be a 6-episode limited series. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton won the Man Booker Prize in 2013.
From the official synopsis: “The Luminaries tells an epic story of love, murder and revenge, as men and women travelled across the world to make their fortunes. It is a 19th century tale of adventure and mystery, set on the Wild West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island in the boom years of the 1860s gold rush.”
For all the details, see Everything We Know About The Luminaries BBC Series.
Little Fires Everywhere (IMDB)
Release Date: 2020
The 8-episode limited series adaptation of Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere has started filming and is slated for release by Hulu sometime in 2020. Rosemarie DeWitt, Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington will star.
Little Fires Everywhere is about a family that moves into a well-to-do neighborhood and a young girl who has been recently adopted. As a custody fight breaks out over the young girl, cultural and class divisions threaten to split families and the community apart.
Read my review of Little Fire Everywhere.
I Know This Much Is True (IMDB)
Release Date: 2020
Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much Is True is being adapted into a 6-episode series that will air on HBO. It stars Mark Ruffalo, Kathryn Hahn, Juliette Lewis and Imogen Poots.
The story is told by Dominick Birdsey as he recounts his troubled relationship with Thomas, his paranoid schizophrenic twin brother, and his efforts to get him released from an asylum.
The Outsider (IMDB)
Release Date: 2020
Stephen King’s The Outsider will be getting an HBO limited series adaptation. It will be 10 episodes and likely be released in 2020.
The Outsider is horror novel about the murder of a young boy and the perplexing and horrifying investigation to try to find the killer.
Minamata is an upcoming movie based on war photojournalist Eugene Deb and Aileen Deb’s book of the same name, Minamata: The Story of the Poisoning of a City, and of the People Who Chose to Carry the Burden of Courage.
Johnny Depp will play Eugene, and the movie will be about him traveling to Japan where he documents the devastating effect of mercury poisoning in coastal communities.
The trend of adapting every Stephen King book to film continues with The Stand, a 10-episode streaming series coming to CBS All Access.
The series will star James Marsden, Whoopi Goldberg and Amber Heard. It’s set to start filming in September 2019. It’s about a world is in ruins, due to a man-made plague, and a battle of Biblical proportions ensues between the survivors.
The Undoing / You Should Have Known (IMDB)
Release Date: 2020
You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz is being adapted into an HBO series slated for 2020.
From IMDB: “Life for a a successful therapist in New York begins to unravel on the eve of publishing her first book.”
Normal People (IMDB)
Release Date: 2020
Normal People by Sally Rooney is being turned into a 12-episode Hulu series. It’s set to air sometime in 2020. It’s being produced by Element Pictures and BBC Three. The leads are Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal.
I wasn’t a huge fan of this book (like, at all), but I could see it being a much better TV show than as a book. It’s about a popular guy from a working class family and a unpopular girl from a wealthy family. The book follows them as their relationship develops and changes over the course of five years.
Untitled Bridgerton Series (IMDB)
Release Date: 2020
Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton Series is getting adapted into a 8-episode series by Shonda Rhimes and Chris Van Dusen. As of right now it is currently untitled, but it will be historical period romance drama set in Regency London high society. It will air on Netflix.
China Rich Girlfriend (IMDB)
Release Date: 2020 (Maybe)
The follow-ups to Crazy Rich Asians are filming back to back in 2020, though there’s no guarantee China Rich Girlfriend will be released in 2020. Maybe? Either way, if it manages to come out in 2020, it’ll be later in the year for sure.
China Rich Girlfriend is the second book in the trilogy by Kevin Kwan about the lives of Crazy Rich Asians. Whereas the first book took place in Singapore, the second book is about Rachel’s discovery that her father isn’t dead as she originally thought. This new discovery takes her into the lives of crazy rich Chinese people and also follows up with the storylines about Astrid and Kitty Pong.
I read the first book and liked it, though I’m not sure if I want to delve into the second one. I might just watch the movie, but we’ll see as we near the release date.
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (IMDB)
Release Date: Late 2020
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is a YA novel that is getting a movie treatment, to be streamed on Netflix. It’s a YA romance from the authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist.
The air date is currently scheduled for late 2020 (according to Rachel Cohn).
The much-loved YA book, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, is getting a movie adaptation in 2019. Grace VanderWaal will star as stargirl in this upcoming Disney release.
Those are the titles that I’m aware of that will be or are very likely to be released in 2020. Feel free to drop a comment if you know of anything else! I’ll be updating this as things progress.
The ones I’m most excited for are probably the Dune and Death on the Nile adaptations. Plus, I’ll probably be watching the Cruella and Dr. Dolittle movies, just cause they look fun. I’m also looking forward to the China Rich Girlfriend, P.S. I Sill Love You, and Little Fires Everywhere adaptations.
Which ones of these are you looking forward to?
P.S. Also see Book to Film Adaptations for 2019.
P.P.S. Also see Book to Film Adaptations for 2021.