Aren’t you getting sick of seeing Jane Austen adapted over and over again? Or four different reboots of “Frankenstein”? Hollywood has become obsessed with the public domain characters and novels that they can adapt because they a) don’t cost anything to use and b) people are familiar with them.
The latest example of the trend is Warner Bros’ “Jungle Book” adaptation, which apparently has Alejandro González Iñárritu attached to direct. A competing project from Disney and director Jon Favreau makes this the second possible project based on the Rudyard Kipling story collection.
The public domain is filled with works from some of our greatest authors, and yet studios insist on recycling only a handful. If Hollywood was looking for something fresh to adapt that wouldn’t cost them a fortune to option, the titles below wouldn’t be a bad place to start.
(You can download free copy of each book by clicking the title.)
’The Jungle Book’ But Not Another Mowgli Movie
Why hasn’t Hollywood given us “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi,” the story of a badass, family-protecting, snake-killing mongoose, yet? This one should be obvious.
’A Modest Proposal’ by Jonathan Swift
The 18th-century satire was never meant to suggest that the poor of Ireland actually sell their children as food to the wealthy… but what if it did!? Imagine a spin on the modern zombie movie, where the undead are actually just the parents of a down-on-their-luck, Goonies-style group.
’O Pioneers!’ by Willa Cather
The story of Alexandra Bergson and the American frontier is a green light away from a Best Actress nomination for whoever takes on the role. It’s a sprawling period epic with a strong female lead. That’s the definition of Oscar bait.
’The Secret Agent’ by Joseph Conrad
The “Heart of Darkness” author’s tale of espionage and terrorism could get a logical modern-day adaptation — just like “Apocalypse Now” — with the right writer.
’The Purloined Letter’ by Edgar Allen Poe
The great American author is credited with writing the first detective novel, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” This novel follows the detective from that story, C. Aguste Dupin, and has only been adapted as an episode of “Wishbone” called “The Pawloined Paper.” A new movie could easily capitalize on the renewed popularity of Sherlock Holmes.
’The Damned Thing’ by Ambrose Bierce
Bierce was one of the masters of American ghost stories, but this short story examines the limits of man’s perception and the horrible things that may exist just outside it. The story is definitely worth a read and could make for great supernatural horror movie.