From book to big screen: Your guide to film adaptations 2014

Story highlights

Many classic books will be made into films this year

The batch kicks off with "Labor Day," released on January 31

Culminates in highly anticipated "Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1" in November

CNN  — 

Many beloved books, new and old, are being transformed in movies this year. Tales from Lois Lowry’s classic young adult tale “The Giver” to the popular dystopic novel “Divergent” are making feature film debuts.

Adaptations are always a tricky business, and sometimes it’s more fun when you’ve read the book first. With that in mind, here is a guide to all the books becoming movies in 2014 and what you need to know.

“Labor Day”

Author: Joyce Maynard
Movie release date: January 31
Cast: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin
What it’s about: A 13-year-old boy and his depressed, divorced mother (Winslet) encounter an escaped convict (Brolin) who becomes part of their lives and initiates a romance with the boy’s mother.
What to expect: Directed by Jason Reitman (“Juno,” “Up In the Air”), the film version seems like a romance-soaked melodrama. One of the film’s key scenes centers on pie-making and has been turned into a marketing campaign urging fans to make the “Labor Day” peach pie.

“Vampire Academy

Author: Richelle Mead
Movie release date: February 7
Cast: Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry, Sarah Hyland
What it’s about: Part of a six-book series, “Vampire Academy” centers on young vampires who are trained keep the peace against a group of evil bloodsuckers. The first incarnation follows a half-vampire/half-human named Rose Hathaway who is tasked with protecting a princess.
What to expect: The film falls somewhere between “Twilight” and “Clueless,” with paranormal teens and the tagline “They Suck at School.” It’s also a new look for “Modern Family” star Sarah Hyland, who puts her fast-talking teen skills to fresh use.

“Winter’s Tale”

Author: Mark Helprin
Movie release date: February 14
Cast: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe
What it’s about: A gang member named Peter Lake encounters a beautiful woman while attempting to rob her house in the early 20th century. After falling in love, he finds out she’s dying from consumption. After her death, Peter gains mysterious powers and sets out to save her.
What to expect: An epic, supernatural story that places Farrell as the romantic lead. The flick is being marketed as the perfect Valentine’s Day date movie.


Author: Veronica Roth
Movie release date: March 21
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet
What it’s about: In a dystopic version of Chicago, people are split into seven clans based on their personality traits. A young girl named Beatrice Prior (Woodley) is marked as a “divergent” who doesn’t fit into one category, kicking off a rebellion against the sect-driven government.
What to expect: This is the first adaptation in the “Divergent” trilogy, and it looks to be an epic young adult action film on the level of “The Hunger Games.” The film will probably be one of the biggest book-to-movie editions of the year, based on the popularity of the series.

“The Fault in Our Stars”

Author: John Green
Movie release date: June 6
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort
What it’s about: A 16-year-old cancer patient named Hazel (Woodley) falls in love with another patient. The book follows their unexpected relationship in a notably humorous way.
What to expect: The film looks embraces the dark humor of the book, with the tagline “One Sick Love Story.” But also? Bring tissues.

“The Hundred-Foot Journey

Author: Richard C. Morais
Movie release date: August 8
Cast: Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal
What it’s about: An Indian family journeys to France, where they open a restaurant across the street from a Michelin-rated competitor. The book follows the family’s unlikely aptitude for French cuisine and their rivalry with French chef Madame Mallory.
What to expect: Oprah Winfrey is among the film’s producers, so the adaptation will probably be heartwarming and family-friendly. Mirren plays the commanding Madame Mallory and has presumably been working on her French accent.

“The Giver

Author: Lois Lowry
Movie release date: August 15
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgard, Taylor Swift
What it’s about: In a dystopian future, society has eliminated pain, emotion and color. A young boy named Jonas is named the Giver, a position responsible for keeping the memories of the community safe. The young adult novel follows his struggle to abide by the strictures of society.
What to expect: Most of the film’s hype has come from the casting of Swift in a bit part, but the 1993 novel has been a longtime favorite and will probably be more centered on Jonas, played by newcomer Brenton Thwaites. It will be interesting to see how director Phillip Noyce handles the book’s explanation that there is no color in this society.

“This Is Where I Leave You

Author: Jonathan Tropper
Movie release date: September 12
Cast: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Rose Byrne, Adam Driver
What it’s about: Four siblings reunite in their childhood home after the death of their father to sit shiva for a week in the Jewish tradition. As they fulfill their father’s last wish, problems from the past are confronted.
What to expect: Director Shawn Levy helmed comedies “Date Night” and “The Internship” so will naturally embrace the humorous nature of the story. Plus, the pairing of Fey and Bateman should be undeniable.

“The Maze Runner

Author: James Dashner
Movie release date: September 19
Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario
What it’s about: The first in a series of young adult books, “The Maze Runner” follows a group of teenagers who wake up in a place called the Glade that exists inside a giant maze. The group has to deal with power issues as well as how to escape the maze (and why they are in there to begin with).
What to expect: An action-packed thriller akin to “The Hunger Games,” with more mystery about what’s going on in this dystopic society. The cast is mostly unknowns, which may make this a star-making flick.

“Gone Girl

Author: Gillian Flynn
Movie release date: October 3
Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike
What it’s about: The popular novel follows the troubled marriage of Nick and Amy Dunne. On the eve of their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing, and Nick becomes the prime suspect in her possible murder.
What to expect: Flynn wrote the screenplay and has said she veered away from the book’s surprise ending for the movie version. David Fincher, who also directed the adaptation of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” will probably bring a dark sensibility to the movie.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”

Author: Judith Viorst
Movie release date: October 10
Cast: Jennifer Garner, Steve Carell, Bella Thorne
What it’s about: The funny children’s picture book tells the tale of 11-year-old Alexander’s worst day as he deals with a series of unfortunate events like waking up with gum in his hair.
What to expect: The film will expand on the classic book, detailing how Alexander’s family members are also having their own terrible, horrible days. Garner and Carell play Alexander’s parents, perfect for some kid-friendly comedy.

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Author: Suzanne Collins
Movie release date: November 21
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
What it’s about: The final book in “The Hunger Games” trilogy has been split into two movies, so Part 1 will tell only the initial half of Katniss Everdeen’s rebellion to overthrow the Capitol in the aftermath of the Quarter Quell shown in “Catching Fire” last year.
What to expect: It’s hard to know how much of the story this film will recount, but expect more audacious costumes in the Capitol and more intensity from Lawrence as she channels Katniss’ struggle to become the rebellion’s leader. Part 2 won’t come until 2015.