From book to film: what’s coming in the second half of 2015?

From the classics Far from the Madding Crowd (Thomas Hardy) and Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert) to more recent titles such as Paper Towns (John Green, HarperCollins) and The Dressmaker (Rosalie Ham, Duffy & Snellgrove), Erika Lucciola rounds up the book-to-film adaptations coming to Australian cinemas in the second half of 2015.

After three previous adaptations, Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd is coming back to the big screen under the direction of Thomas Vinterberg. Adapted by author David Nicholls, the film stars Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene, Matthias Schoenaerts as Gabriel Oak, Michael Sheen as William Boldwood and Tom Sturridge as Sergeant Frank Troy. While some have compared it unfavourably to John Schlesinger’s 1967 adaptation, the film has received largely positive reviews. It will be in Australian cinemas on 25 June.

Sophia Barthes is the first woman to direct a big-screen adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. Starring Australian actress Mia Wasikowska as Emma Bovary and Henry Lloyd-Hughes as her husband, the film opened to mixed reviews at the Telluride Film Festival in 2014. It’s coming to Australian cinemas in June.

Director Bill Condon reunites with his Gods and Monsters star Ian McKellen for a story about an aging Sherlock Holmes who is coping with the loss of his once-incredible mind. Sherlock Holmes, based on the 2005 novel A Slight Trick of the Mind (Mitch Cullin, Doubleday), made its debut at the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year and will screen at the Sydney Film Festival on 6 June.

While Tom Rob Smith’s latest novel The Farm (S&S) has recently been in the bestsellers chart, director Richard Price has adapted his first novel Child 44 (S&S) for the screen. Tom Hardy (Black Hawk Down, Inception, Warrior) stars as Agent Leo Demidov, who is on the trail of a serial killer in 1950s Soviet Union. The film hasn’t been received well by the critics, but Hardy’s performance has been highly praised. It will be in Australian cinemas in July.

Paper Towns is the second of John Green’s YA novels to be adapted for the screen, following last year’s smash-hit The Fault in Our Stars. The film is directed by Jake Schreier (Robot & Frank) with the same screenwriters from TFIOS. Nat Wolff—who also appeared in TFIOS—and Cara Delevingne star as childhood friends ‘Q’ and Margo. Paper Towns has been in the bestsellers chart for the past month in anticipation of its release in July.

Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) directs the crime film Black Mass, based on the 2001 book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill (HarperCollins). The film stars Johnny Depp as South Boston crime figure Whitey Bugler, Australian actor Joel Edgerton as FBI agent John Connolly and Kevin Bacon as Connolly’s boss. The film will be released worldwide on 18 September.

Book two in James Dashner’s ‘The Maze Runner’ trilogy, The Scorch Trials (Chicken House), has been adapted for the screen and is coming to cinemas in September. Director Wes Ball and screenwriter T S Nowlin are back on board, as are actors Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee and Patricia Clarkson.

Kate Winslet stars in director Jocelyn Moorhouse’s The Dressmaker (Duffy & Snellgrove), based on the 2000 novel of the same name by Australian author Rosalie Ham. The film, which was produced in Victoria, also stars The Hunger Games’  Liam Hemsworth as Kate Winslet’s love interest. It’s due in Australian cinemas in October.

Billy Ray (screenwriter for The Hunger Games and Captain Phillips) directs the crime thriller The Secret in their Eyes (Random House), based on Argentine author Eduardo Sacheri’s novel of the same name. A previous adaptation won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2010. This adaptation, starring Nicole Kidman, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dean Norris and Julia Roberts, will be released in Australian cinemas in October.

The fourth and final ‘Hunger Games’ movie, Mockingjay Part 2, based on Suzanne Collins’ series (Scholastic), will hit Australian cinemas in late November.

Drew Goddard (screenwriter and director of The Cabin in the Woods) has adapted Andy Weir’s debut sci-fi novel The Martian (self-published 2011, then published by Crown Publishing). The film is directed by Ridley Scott and stars Matt Demon and Jessica Chastain. It is expected to be released in Australia in November.

Australian actor Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and Tom Holland star as the crew of the whaleship Essex in director Ron Howard’s adaptation of the 2000 book In the Heart of the Sea (Nathaniel Philbrik, Viking). The story of the whaleship Essex, which sunk in the Pacific Ocean after encountering a large, enraged sperm whale, might sound familiar to readers; the same incident inspired Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. The film will be released in Australian cinemas in December.

Director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables) has brought David Ebershoff’s novel The Danish Girl (A&U) to the big screen. Inspired by the true story of Danish painter Einar Wegener, who underwent sexual reassignment surgery, The Danish Girl explores sexuality, self-discovery, courage and unconventional love. The film stars Eddie Redmayne as Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe, and will be in Australian cinemas in December.

Also coming in December is Carol, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 romance novel The Price of Salt, directed by Todd Haynes and starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara as lesbian lovers.

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