M. Hugo Hits the List
It took precisely 150 years for the French author's celebrated novel, Les Misérables, to reach the silver screen (1862 to 2012), et quel voyage! A widely lauded musical version was produced simultaneously in London and on Broadway, running from 1987 to 2003, and a Broadway revival followed from Nov. 2006 to Jan. 2008. And now comes the long-awaited movie version, which began production back in June 2011 under the direction of Tom Hooper, who garnered an Oscar for The King's Speech. Following its Dec. 5 London premiere, Les Mis was released in the U.S. on Christmas Day, captivating moviegoers as it racked up impressive numbers at box offices worldwide. For the week Dec. 28–Jan. 3,Variety reported $80,579,110. Box Office Mojo's Dec. 31 "Around-the-World Roundup" reported a New Year's weekend gross of $8.3 million in Australia, and a six-day $20.1 million figure in South Korea.
The burning question remains, however: est-ce quelque bon? "Good" rapidly became relative, as critics in many instances rushed to judgment weeks before the film's opening—and not always with glowing responses. The 40 reviewers who weighed in at Metacritic.com, for example, scored their overall results at 63, out of the site's customary 100. (Lincoln, in contrast, scored 81.) Joe Morgenstern at the Wall Street Journal said the film "makes you feel, intensely and sometimes thrillingly, by honoring the emotional core of its source material." Even some "good" reviews are not all they seem: from the Christian Science Monitor: "Hooper is not great with action and big set pieces, but he gets the job done. What makes Les Misérables work are the up-close moments when he can focus on performance and song." Time's Richard Corliss, on the other hand, wasted no words: "This is a bad movie."
Still, Penguin is enjoying the movie tie-in's success. The publisher has had a mass market edition of Hugo's classic in print since 1987, and it has sold more than 200,000 copies since BookScan began tracking sales in 2001. —Dick Donahue
Losing Your Wheat Belly
Grabbing the #7 spot on our Hardcover Nonfiction list—the only debut among our top 10 in this final week of 2012 sales—is Wheat Belly Cookbook: 150 Recipes to Help You Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by William Davis.
Cardiologist Davis, medical director for Track Your Plaque, an online heart disease prevention program, is no stranger to bestseller lists—his diet book, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health, published in 2011, has spent 48 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, according to publisher Rodale. Davis argues that the "healthy whole grain" products we eat are actually harmful to our bodies and are the culprit for the buildup of belly fat, or what he calls "wheat bellies."
According to Rodale editorial director Anne Egan, "The wildly successful publication of the first book solidified Dr. Davis's position as the leader of a movement, and now his fans are hungry for more. The new book offers delicious recipes for favorite foods like cakes, cookies, breads, pasta, and even pizza, as well as shopping advice, ingredient swaps, a pantry guide and all the tools readers need to embark on, or maintain, a successful wheat-free lifestyle."
Davis appeared on the Dr. Oz Show in December and has been featured in prominent magazines and newspapers. Publicist Danielle Lynn says the book will soon be featured on CBS This Morning and in the Los Angeles Times and Vogue. —Mark Rotella
Dancing on Their ‘Graves'
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's 12th thriller featuring maverick FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast holds the #8 spot on the Hardcover Fiction list after three weeks. Two Graves wraps up the Helen trilogy, which began with Fever Dream (2010) and continued with Cold Vengeance (2011). Just as Pendergast is reunited in New York City's Central Park with his beloved wife, Helen, who he thought died 12 years earlier, a gang of well-organized kidnappers seize Helen, propelling Pendergast on a cross-country chase to rescue her. Meanwhile, a serial murderer dubbed the Hotel Killer has been targeting guests of Manhattan hotels and leaving odd bits of his own body at each scene.
Preston and Child are also the authors of the Gideon Crew series, most recently Gideon's Corpse (2012). Two of their novels, Relic and The Cabinet of Curiosities, were chosen by readers in a National Public Radio poll as being among the 100 greatest thrillers ever written. Relic, which introduced Pendergast, was made into a movie, though the character of Pendergast was written out of it. Preston's acclaimed nonfiction book, The Monster of Florence, is being made into a movie starring George Clooney. Lincoln Child, a former book editor, has published five novels of his own, including Deep Storm and The Third Gate. Lenny Picker profiled the duo for PW in our Nov. 12, 2012, issue.—Peter Cannon
The Long Life of Pi
Sales of the October 2012 movie tie-in edition of Yann Martel's blockbuster novel have added nearly 150,000 units to the already epic figures, pushing the book's all-time number over the three million mark (in hardcover, paper, and audio at outlets tracked by Nielsen BookScan). The tie-in paperback occupies the #15 slot on the Paperback Trade Fiction list. The film was directed by the mercurial Ang Lee, whose filmography—Brokeback Mountain; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Hulk; The Ice Storm—is a lesson in confounding expectations. It arrived to mostly favorable reviews: A.O. Scott in the New York Times called the film's setting "one of the great achievements of digital cinema," while Roger Ebert thought it "a miraculous achievement of storytelling and a landmark of visual mastery." Pi's combined take (over $300 million, most of that earned outside America) is respectable enough to make all those young boys sitting at all those computer consoles in all those dark rooms feel like all those months pushing pixels around was ultimately worth it. —Mike Harvkey