If you’re one of those families that insist their kids read the book before seeing the movie, there’s some serious page-turning in your future. And if you’re happy just to be able to go to the movies for some kid- and teen-friendly fare, you’re in luck, too. From nursery classics like Peter Rabbit to tween and teen-targeted thrillers like Ready Player One, kids’ books and young adult novels are getting the Hollywood treatment. And now that movie trailers, sneak peeks, and behind-the-scenes footage hit the internet months in advance of the films’ releases, kids’ excitement for big-screen adaptations of their favorite books starts early. Check out the film adaptations hitting the big screen in 2018 to see if you’d like to read up before you step up to the box office.
— Tonya Cannariato (@tmycann) August 3, 2018
Maze Runner: The Death Cure by James Dashner (in theaters Feb. 9, 1018; targeted to teens)
Who’s in it: Nathalie Emmanuel, Dylan O’Brien, Katharine McNamara
After Thomas declines to have an operation to get his memory back, he and his friends plan an escape from WICKED (the government agency) headquarters and go to Denver, where they’ll be protected from a terrible disease. It’s not long before lawlessness reigns, and Thomas has to choose allegiance among three powerful forces.
Why we’re excited: The third and final installment in this grim dystopian series has the potential to answer lingering questions. The book left a few holes, so we’ll see if the movie does any better. In any case, there will be nail-biting suspense, exciting action, a high body count, and special effects that will be sure to impress whether you see it in 3D, 2D, or IMAX 3D.
— Cinematic Literature (@cine_magique) November 12, 2018
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter (in theaters as Peter Rabbit Feb. 9, 1018; targeted to kids)
Who’s in it: Voice talents of James Corden and Daisy Ridley; live actors include Domhnall Gleeson, Rose Byrne, and Margot Robbie.
Who doesn’t love rebellious Peter Rabbit, who, despite his mother’s warning, explores the garden of Mr. McGregor and gets chased out with a rake? Frightened and out of breath, Peter finally sees the gate and slips back home. He’s put to bed with a dose of chamomile tea while his three well-behaved sisters enjoy blackberries and milk.
Why we’re excited: Only a few weeks after Ferdinand, we get yet another movie adaptation of one of the most popular animals in children’s literature. Potter’s classic book is the jumping off point for an adventure that combines CGI animation and live action, in which Peter’s furry family gets mixed up in a comic romance between neighbor characters played by actors Rose Byrne and Domhnall Gleeson. James Corden brings his signature charm and sarcasm as the voice of Peter.
— youngmelissa944 (@youngmelissa944) November 1, 2018
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (in theaters March 9, 2018; targeted to tweens)
Who’s in it: Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, Zach Galifianakis
This classic from 1962 has been many middle-grade readers’ intro to science fiction. But the story of a scientifically minded girl’s quest through time and space to find and rescue her physicist father has lots of heart, too.
Why we’re excited: Though it was made into a TV movie in 2003, the new feature film promises to be a full-blown fantasy whirlwind. We expect great things from director Ava DuVernay, who was the first African-American woman to get a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director, for Selma (2014). Plus, it has Oprah — need we say more?
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertelli (in theaters as Love, Simon March 16, 2018; targeted to teens)
Who’s in it: Katherine Langford, Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner.
This sweet, romantic story of a gay teen coming out in high school deals with cyberbullying, blackmail, and the challenges of going public with your sexual identity. It’s a fast-moving, fun book about a boy learning to be honest about who he is — and brave enough to take a chance on love.
Why we’re excited: The film adaptation of this hit novel is buzzy for taking gay teen romance mainstream at the movies. It’s being produced by the people who brought us The Fault in Our Stars, and director Greg Berlanti was a writer and director on TV’s Dawson’s Creek. So this team knows something about telling teen stories. Kids may have seen Nick Robinson, who stars as Simon, in The 5th Wave or Jurassic World, and it looks like he’s up to teh task of portraying this endearing and complex hero.
Rebought “Ready Player One”. My favorite book ever. Lost the first one I got from a loot crate many years ago. Also, it’s one of the main reasons I starting looking into the metaverse.
Also bought “Dune” in preparation of the movie.
— Ioannis Sourdis (@Ioannis_AG) November 1, 2020
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (in theaters March 30, 2018; targeted to teens)
Who’s in it: Hannah John-Kamen, Mark Rylance, T.J. Miller
This smart, funny science-fiction thriller deals with a high-stakes online contest that mixes puzzles with video game violence. Set in a depressed future United States, where most people escape into virtual reality, it features a bunch of tough-talking teens fighting to keep their online playground out of the hands of an evil corporation.
Why we’re excited: The provocative book both celebrates and critiques online culture. It’ll be interesting to see whether the movie, directed by Steven Spielberg, strikes that same balance. There’s plenty of action on the page, and we know Spielberg’s skill at climactic face-offs and special-effects wizardry.
Goosebumps by R.L. Stine (in theaters Sept. 21; targeted to kids and tweens)
Who’s in it: Jack Black
Why we’re excited: Kid favorite Jack Black (Jumanji, School of Rock, Kung Fu Panda) stars as Goosebumps creator R.L. Stine, an author who blends suspense and horror with humor and puts his protagonists in scary — but not too scary — situations they invariably overcome. Scholastic published more than 60 Goosebumps chapter books from 1992 to 1997, and the best-selling franchise, which has sold more than 350 million books worldwide, also spawned a TV series. The plot of this sequel to the 2015 Goosebumps movie has not yet been revealed.
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (in theaters Oct. 19, 2018; targeted to kids)
Who’s in it: Live-action actors Rohan Chand, Matthew Rhys, Freida Pinto; motion-capture performances of animals by Andy Serkis, Christian Bale, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett
There’s loads of action and adventure in this century-old collection of short stories. From Mowgli’s battle of wits with Shere Khan the tiger to Rikki Tikki Tavi’s duel with cobras, the colorful characters never fail to inspire. The Jungle Book also includes positive messages about respecting the laws of nature and how compassion triumphs over brute strength.
Why we’re excited: Even though we liked the 2016 live-action/computer-generated Disney version, that film was based on Disney’s own animated feature. This new Warner Bros. version is based on Kipling’s classic text, so it could be darker — but it has more genuine live action. First-time director Andy Serkis, known for his performance-capture acting and voice work for computer-generated characters like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, has his work cut out for him. But if his madcap Twitter feed is any indication, we’re in for a wild ride.
— The Grinch (@grinchmovie) December 19, 2019
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss (in theaters Nov. 9, 2018; targeted to kids)
Who’s in it: Voice talents of Benedict Cumberbatch, Kaitlyn Maher
This classic Christmas read-aloud features one of the funniest scoundrels in children’s literature: the mean, green Grinch, who aims to stop Christmas by impersonating Santa and stealing every last possession from the Whos of Whoville. Seuss subtly exposes greed and commercialism, while promoting the values of love and community with wit, humor, and flawlessly constructed rhymes.
Why we’re excited: Fans disagree on which screen version of the Grinch is best: the animated 1962 TV special or the 2000 live-action versionwith Jim Carrey. This new version should make the debate even more interesting. This adaptation stretches the story to feature-film length but uses cutting-edge CGI. Could it be the best of both worlds?
— Reuters (@Reuters) December 1, 2018
Mary Poppins (in theaters as Mary Poppins Returns Dec. 25, 2018; targeted to kids)
Who’s in it: Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Lin-Manuel Miranda
P.L. Travers’ classic children’s novel about a quirky nanny who transforms the Banks family of London is charming and magical — if a bit old-fashioned. It offers timeless lessons about good manners and understanding other points of view.
Why we’re excited: Set in Depression-era London, with Jane and Michael Banks all grown up, Mary Poppins Returns is a sequel to the original Mary Poppins starring Julie Andrews. Plus, it’ll be fun to see Hamilton star/creator Lin-Manuel Miranda as Mary’s lamplighter friend Jack in a venue we can afford! Rob Marshall (Into the Woods, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) directs. And Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the team behind Hairspray, wrote the songs, so you know they’ll be catchy.