Every year, countless books are turned into movies. Some end up being the best of the year. From the silly to the serious, 2016 has a lot of prospects vying for our attention. We’ll highlight 24 of the most promising, exciting, and interesting films being adapted from books for 2016.

Ordinarily, comic book adaptations would be included in a list like this. Not many pretend graphic novels have less right to be considered literature these days. Since we already highlighted these in their own article, we’ll just point you to the Top 10 Comic Book Movies of 2016. Check it out after you’re done with these:

24. Inferno

With one rather terrible Dan Brown adaptation in “The Da Vinci Code” and one rather good (if ludicrous) one in “Angels & Demons,” director Ron Howard and Tom Hanks rejoin to film a third action movie about symbologist Robert Langdon. This time, Felicity Jones, Ben Foster, and Irrfan Khan will join him. That’s a standout cast. Hopefully, Howard has a handle on taking the material to film now.

Release: October 14, 2016

23. The 5th Wave

Chloe Grace Moretz’s run at her own franchise, “The 5th Wave,” finds her as one of Earth’s last survivors, fighting children captured by aliens and retrained to kill those humans left alive. Director J. Blakeson has a history in horror and thriller, while the novel by Rick Yancey hangs somewhere in the balance between young adult and adult. A January release date doesn’t exactly encourage optimism; studios typically use the month to dump projects underneath more successful Oscar bait.

Release: January 15, 2016

22. The Choice

Nicholas Sparks…the guy could write a sentence on a piece of toilet paper and it would be adapted into a movie and make money. Regardless, the man’s cottage industry of young romance novels can turn out some intriguing movies, and there are worse things in life than watching Alexandra Daddario, Maggie Grace, Teresa Palmer, Benjamin Walker, and Tom Welling on-screen for two hours.

Release: February 5, 2016

21. Ben-Hur

The Biblical-era tale of a slave’s rise to vengeance, one of the most classic and cherished films ever made will be remade by Timur Bekmambetov, the man who brought you “Wanted” and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” Right. “Ben-Hur: Vampire Hunter” might’ve been more palatable, but it looks like a serious take on the material, starring Jack Huston. The only question is whether they’ll start throwing the chariot racing horses at each other a la Abe Lincoln. With the film so far off, no promo material has been released yet. Instead, enjoy the 1959 version’s iconic chariot race above.

Release: August 12, 2016

20. The Divergent Series: Allegiant

The popular franchise has been up and down, but both lead actress Shailene Woodley and the novels by Veronica Roth have a loyal following. Hopefully, the increased success of the second film encourages producers to continue elevating the quality of the franchise as it moves ahead.

Release: March 18, 2016

19. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Featuring a standout cast including Lena Headey, Lily James, Suki Waterhouse, and Bella Heathcote, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is a riff on the famous Jane Austen novel. It asks what “Pride and Prejudice” would be like with zombies. We’re about to know. Director Burr Steers has a mind for irreverent comedy, having helmed “Igby Goes Down” and “17 Again.”

Release: February 5, 2016

18. Looking for Alaska

After the success of “The Fault in Our Stars,” John Green novels are getting snapped up for adaptation. Adapted by Sarah Polley and directed by Rebecca Thomas, “Looking for Alaska” follows a young boy at a boarding school who falls in love with a girl. Things get complicated from there. It’s a brash coming-of-age that already found a great deal of controversy regarding its sexual content.

Release: No date set

17. Tarzan

It’s hard to tell what exactly “Tarzan” is going for. Directed by David Yates, who helmed the last four “Harry Potter” movies, the film finds the man raised by apes returning from a civilized life to investigate a mystery in the jungle. Tarzan is, of course, played by…Alexander Skarsgard? Djimon Hounsou, John Hurt, Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie, and Christoph Waltz co-star.

Release: July 1, 2016

16. Alice Through the Looking Glass

Mia Wasikowska returns as Alice and Wonderland comes with her: Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp, and Anne Hathaway all return. There’s only one thing missing, and that’s director Tim Burton. James Bobin takes over, though his directing experience lies chiefly in “Flight of the Conchords” and the two recent “Muppets” movies. Audiences will have to see if the humor gels together.

Release: May 27, 2016

15. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Ah, here’s where you will find Tim Burton, directing the adaptation of Ransom Riggs’s novel. Jacob (Asa Butterfield) follows a mystery to an isolated island, where he discovers that the school for children that once stood there isn’t exactly empty. Indeed, its former occupants need his help. It co-stars Judi Dench, Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson, and Allison Janney. Above is one of the peculiar vintage photographs on which the novel was based.

Release: March 4, 2016

14. Knights of the Round Table: King Arthur

Director Guy Ritchie’s determined to visit every single time period in his films at this point. Charlie Hunnam is King Arthur. Joining him will be Eric Bana, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Jude Law, and Katie McGrath. It will be the third franchise Ritchie is directing concurrently, including “Sherlock Holmes” and “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”

Release: July 22, 2016

13. The Lost City of Z

More Charlie Hunnam, but let’s face it: the guy’s reliable. Based on the non-fiction account of Percy Fawcett’s expedition into the Amazon jungle, the film will co-star Sienna Miller and Robert Pattinson, who’s quietly built an exceptional post-“Twilight” career in smaller and independent films.

Release: No date set

12. Fun House

Based on the memoir “The Taliban Shuffle” by Kim Barker, but with an obvious name change, the film will similarly recount her experience covering the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Tina Fey will star as Barker, joined by Martin Freeman, Margot Robbie, and Billy Bob Thornton.

Release: No date set

11. The Finest Hours

Two oil tankers are destroyed in a 1952 blizzard. It’s up to the Coast Guard to make a risky rescue attempt in the middle of a hurricane. The film, based on true events, has a ridiculous cast including Casey Affleck, Eric Bana, Ben Foster, and a surprisingly sure-looking Chris Pine.

Release: January 29, 2016

10. Me Before You

Based on the novel by Jojo Moyes, “Me Before You” follows a girl in a small town who befriends the paralyzed man she’s caring for. Emilia Clarke and Jenna Coleman star opposite Sam Claflin and Charles Dance. Directed by Thea Sharrock, who’s enjoyed success with British series “Call the Midwife,” it will be a smaller, more personal production than many on this list.

Release: June 3, 2016

9. The Jungle Book

Jon Favreau directed the first two “Iron Man” movies, so he has a sense of how to bring a fun story together. What’s more fun than “The Jungle Book?” Neel Sethi plays young Mowgli, while the talking animals are animated in a semi-photorealistic style. Whatever else happens, audiences will get to enjoy a voice cast including Bill Murray’s Baloo, Idris Elba’s Shere Khan, and Christopher Walken’s King Louie.

Release: April 15, 2016

8. American Pastoral

Actor Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut is swinging for the fences. Based on the Philip Roth novel about a post-war family that struggles with death and their daughter’s violent opposition to the Vietnam War, the film will star Uzo Aduba, Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning, and McGregor.

Release: No date set

7. Jason Bourne

Fans of shaky-cam rejoice! Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass return to the house that Damon built. Little is known about the plot, and the film doesn’t even have a finalized title yet. Franchise regular Julia Stiles returns, alongside Vincent Cassel, Tommy Lee Jones, and one of this year’s most prolific actors, Alicia Vikander. With nothing yet released, enjoy the tense Bourne vs. Desh fight above from the last time Damon graced the franchise with his presence.

Release: July 29, 2016

6. The BFG

Life as a giant is tough, especially if you refuse to eat boys and girls like all the other giants. Director Steven Spielberg dives into animation again in adapting the novel by Roald Dahl, concerning the boy who befriends this outcast giant. Spielberg’s done animation before with “The Adventures of Tintin,” though the style in “The BFG” will be considerably different. The animation still above is from the 1989 animated film. We have no idea how Spielberg’s will look yet.

Release: July 1, 2016

5. Silence

Martin Scorsese is more up and down than most like to admit, but “Silence” sees him return to serious territory. Two Jesuit priests in the 17th century travel to Japan. These are Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield. They are in search of their mentor, who’s disappeared. This is Liam Neeson. An exploration of the clash of cultures, based on the novel by Shusaku Endo, it takes Scorsese into the kind of territory he’s never explored before. The film was originally expected to come out late this year, but it’s been pushed into 2016 as Scorsese is one of the few directors who can insist to a studio “when it’s ready.”

Release: No date set

4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

70 years before Harry Potter walked the halls of Hogwarts, Newt Scamander secretly wrote about New York’s community of wizards. J.K. Rowling’s long-awaited follow-up to the “Harry Potter” series sees director David Yates return to the universe. Newt Scamander will be played by Eddie Redmayne, while Colin Farrell, Ron Perlman, and Jon Voight contribute to what might be a bit more rough-and-tumble tale. This is the realization of one of Harry Potter’s first-year textbooks, by the way.

Release: November 18, 2016

3. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

A soldier and his friends have returned from fighting in Iraq. They are being honored at a Thanksgiving Dallas Cowboys game, but just before his appearance, Billy (Joe Alwyn) is told his tours are not over. He will be heading back to Iraq. Increasingly, the young man breaks down, spilling into memory of war, his upbringing, and what he sees as his failures. Such territory is difficult to master, but director Ang Lee has realized a range of films including “Brokeback Mountain” and “Life of Pi.” Vin Diesel, Garrett Hedlund, Steve Martin, Makenzie Leigh, Kristen Stewart, and Chris Tucker co-star.

Release: November 11, 2016

2. A Monster Calls

The Carnegie-award winning children’s fantasy finds a young boy calling on a tree monster to help him cope with his single mother’s terminal illness. Young Conor will be played by newcomer Lewis MacDougall, while Felicity Jones will play his mother and Liam Neeson will play the monster. Sigourney Weaver and Toby Kebbell will also star. Most importantly, if you’ve seen director J.A. Bayona’s Spanish-language “The Orphanage,” you know he can tell a story to both terrify and make you weep. The above Jim Kay illustration from the book tells you just how different a children’s story this is.

Release: October 14, 2016

1. The Revenant

Watch the trailer. Try to remember to breathe afterward. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s follow-up to “Birdman” couldn’t be more different. That it’s pushed into a January release is surprising, especially considering its Oscar chances if released just two weeks earlier. The adaptation of Michael Punke’s novel stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy in a vengeance thriller. It may yet see a limited, Oscar-qualifying release late in 2015 before expanding to the rest of the nation in 2016. We’ll see. For now, it falls on the 2016 side of that divide.

Release: January 8, 2016

Other Notable Adaptations

Other 2016 adaptations include “Fallen,” “How to Be Single,” “Nerve,” and “The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.”

Films you may have heard of, but that are pushed to 2017, include: Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One”…Ben Affleck’s adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s “Live by Night”…Peter Jackson’s “The Adventures of Tintin: Prisoners of the Sun”…P.T. Barnum biopic “The Greatest Showman on Earth”…and “The Maze Runner: The Death Cure.”

“An Ember in the Ashes,” “Armada,” “Brilliance,” “The Darkest Minds,” “Eleanor & Park,” “Matched,” “The Operators,” “The Selection,” “Ugly Love,” and “Wool” are not far enough along in production to be guaranteed a film.

It’s a good year to be a book-to-film fan in 2016.


Which books mentioned here have you read? What would you like to see from their adaptations?




Gabriel Valdez
Gabriel Valdez
Gabriel is a movie critic who's been a campaign manager in Oregon, an investigative reporter in Texas, and a film producer in Massachusetts. His writing was named best North American criticism of 2014 by the Local Media Association. He's assembled a band of writers who focus on social issues in film. They have a home base.