This winter, there are more films based on books than usual. Too bad it's also Hollywood's fallow season, when few movies stick around for long. The animated version of Curious George could be a bright spot, sending parents into stores for the children's classic during the months of post-Christmas burnout. Then again, the much-anticipated movie has also been much delayed—not a good sign. For adult viewers, the adaptation of the Richard Price novel Freedomland looks promising, based on the trailer and mystery fans' tendency to seek out the book if they've enjoyed the movie. Booksellers are also excited about graphic novelist Daniel Clowes's Art School Confidential, about the making of the movie by the same name, since his Ghostworld sold heaps of copies when the 2001 film came out.
Starring Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Bill Nighy
Directed by Len Wiseman
Release Date January 20 (Lakeshore Entertainment/Screen Gems)
Novelization by Greg Cox (Pocket Star, Jan. 1; 75,000 mass market)
This sequel to 2003's Underworld, which took in $100 million worldwide, chronicles the ongoing battle between vampires and werewolves.
Starring Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Angela Lansbury
Directed by Kirk Jones
Release Date January 27 (Universal)
Tie-inNanny McPhee: The Movie Tie-in Edition (Bloomsbury, Dec.; 50,000 paper)
Loosely based on Christianna Brand's Nurse Matilda books of the 1960s, this kid pic with a screenplay by Emma Thompson performed respectably in the U.K. despite tepid reviews.
Tristram Shandy:A Cock and Bull Story
Starring Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Keeley Hawes
Directed by Michael Winterbottom
Release Date January 27 (Picturehouse)
Based on the novelThe Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne (Penguin Classics; trade paper)
This 2005 U.K. comedy was hailed by British critics; in the U.S., it will get only a limited release.
Starring Sanaa Lathan, Simon Baker, Mike Epps
Directed by Sanaa Hamri
Release Date February 3
Based on the bookDarkened by the Sun: A Story of Love, Faith, Hope and Miracles by Ted-David Mizingou (Cross and Salt, Oct. 8; 3,000 paper)
In this art-house flick by a debut director, a black female professional becomes romantically involved with a white working-class man.
Voices of Will Ferrell, Drew Barrymore, Dick Van Dyke
Directed by Matt O'Callaghan
Release Date February 10 (Universal)
Tie-ins from Houghton Mifflin (Jan. 10): Curious George the Movie: The Deluxe Movie Storybook (260,000 paper over board); Curious George the Movie: Sticker Fun Book (140,000 paper); Curious George the Movie: Meet Curious George, A Picture Reader (125,000 paper); Curious George the Movie: Touch and Feel Book (125,000 board book); Curious George the Movie: A Junior Novel (150,000 paper); Curious George the Movie: Curious George's Big Adventures (240,000 paper)
Other tie-insCurious George Mad Libs Junior (Price Stern Sloan, Jan. 19; mass market)
Ferrell provides the voice of the Man in the Yellow Hat in this animated film.
The Pink Panther
Starring Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, Beyonce Knowles
Directed by Shawn Levy
Release Date February 10 (MGM)
Tie-insPink Panther: The Ultimate Guide by Jerry Beck (DK, Jan.; hardcover); The Pink Panther: Junior Novel (Hyperion, Jan.; paper); The Pink Panther by Max A. Collins (Harper Entertainment, Feb.; mass market)
In this prequel to the original 1964 Peter Sellers film, Clouseau must find the thief who stole the Pink Panther diamond. Director Levy's last credit was Cheaper by the Dozen.
Starring Julianne Moore, Samuel L. Jackson, Edie Falco
Directed by Joe Roth
Release Date February 17 (Columbia/Revolution)
Based on the novel by Richard Price (Bantam Dell, Dec. 6; mass market)
This film about a community divided by racial tensions boasts a sterling cast who believed in the movie so much they each took pay cuts to keep the budget under $30 million.
Starring Presley Chweneyagae, Terry Pheto, Kenneth Nkosi
Directed by Gavin Hood
Release Date February 24 (Miramax)
Based on the novel by Athol Fugard (Grove/Atlantic, Mar.; paper)
This adaptation of Athol Fugard's tale of a young gang leader who finds himself caring for a baby accidentally kidnapped during a car-jacking won the audience award at the Los Angeles AFI Film Festival.
Starring Milla Jovovich, Cameron Bright
Directed by Kurt Wimmer
Release Date February 24 (Sony)
Novelization by Yvonne Navarro (Warner, Mar. 1; mass market)
Sci-fi vampire thriller set in the late 21st century.
Starring Kris Kristofferson, Genevieve Bujold, Gary Farmer
Directed by Jay Craven
Release Date February (Kingdom County Productions)
Based on the novel by Howard Frank Mosher (Houghton Mifflin, Mar.; paper)
The last installment in Craven's low-budget Mosher trilogy about a farmer and whiskey runner.
Mystery of the Nile
Starring Pasquale Scaturro, Gordon Brown, Saskia Lange
Directed by Jordi Llompart
Release Date February (Orbita Max & MacGillivray Freeman Films)
Tie-inMystery of the Nile: The Epic Story of the First Descent of the World's Deadliest River by Richard Bangs and Pasquale Scaturro (NAL, Feb.7; 25,000 trade paper)
This documentary recounts, in IMAX format, a 114-day voyage.
Goal!: The Dream Begins
Starring Kuno Becker, Anna Friel, Alessandro Nivola
Directed by Danny Cannon
Release Date March 3 (Touchstone)
Novelization by Robert Rigby (Harcourt, Feb.; 100,000 paper); (Vintage Español, Feb. 14; 15,000 mass market)
This first installment in a trilogy about rising soccer stars focuses on a young Latino player, with cameos by many familiar faces (e.g., David Beckham).
Ask the Dust
Starring Colin Farrell, Salma Hayek, Donald Sutherland
Directed by Robert Towne
Release Date March 17 (Paramount)
Tie-inFull of Life: A Biography of John Fante by Stephen Cooper (Angel City, Dec. 1; 5,000 trade paper)
An adaptation of Fante's Depression-era novel set in South Africa that's been in the works for three decades.
V for Vendetta
Starring Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving
Directed by James McTeigue
Release Date March 17 (Warner Bros.)
Based on the book by Alan Moore and David Lloyd (Vertigo, 1990; mass market)
Novelization by Steve Moore (Pocket Star, Feb. 1; 125,000 mass market)
The Wachowski brothers (the Matrix trilogy) adapt the graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd.
A Scanner Darkly
Starring Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr.
Directed by Richard Linklater
Release Date March 31 (Warner Independent)
Tie-ins Graphic novel version of A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick (Pantheon, Feb.; 50,000 paper)
In this limited release, Linklater reworks Dick's classic tale of split personalities and reality-bending drugs using "interpolated rotoscoping" (animation over live action).
Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
Voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary
Directed by Carlos Saldanha
Release Date March 31 (Fox)
Tie-ins from HarperKidsEntertainment (Mar.): Ice Age 2: A Mammoth Mix-Up by Catherine Hapka (100,000 paper); Ice Age 2: Meet the Characters by Sadie Chesterfield (100,000 hardcover); Ice Age 2: Sid and the Mini-Sloths by Jennifer Frantz (100,000 paper); Ice Age 2: The Great Escape by Judy Katschke (125,000 paper); Ice Age 2: The Movie Novel by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld (125,000 paper); Ice Age 2: The Movie Storybook by Ellie O'Ryan (175,000 hardcover); Ice Age 2: The Reusable Sticker Book by Jodi Huelin (100,000 paper)
Other tie-insIce Age: The Essential Guide (DK, Feb.; hardcover); Ice Age 2: The Meltdown Mad Libs (Price Stern Sloan, Mar. 2; mass market)
Sequel to the 2002 computer-animated film for kids, which pulled in more than $170 million at the box office.
The Celestine Prophecy Starring Matthew Settle, Sarah Wayne Callies, Annabeth Gish
Directed by Armand Mastroianni
Release Date April 5 (Lions Gate)
Based on the novel by James Redfield (Warner, Feb. 16; trade paper)
Redfield co-wrote the screenplay for this adaptation of his 1994 bestseller about the search for a sacred manuscript in the Peruvian rain forest. Has the moment passed?
Starring Sara Paxton, Emma Roberts, JoJo
Directed by Elizabeth Allen
Release Date April 14 (Fox)
Based on the novelWater Tales: Aquamarine and Indigo by Alice Hoffman (Scholastic, Mar.; trade paper).
The cast is tween heaven: Paxton is the star of Discovery Kids' Darcy's Wild Life, Roberts is actress Julia Roberts's niece, and JoJo is a teen pop star.
Voices of Kiefer Sutherland, Eddie Izzard, Dominic Scott Kay
Directed by Steve Williams
Release Date April 14 (Disney)
Tie-ins from Random House (Mar. 14): The Wild (130,000 junior novelization); The Koala King (140,000 Step into Reading—Step 2); The Wild (115,000 picture book); One Amazing Adventure (160,000 coloring book plus tattoos); Almost Wild (160,000 deluxe coloring book)
Other tie-insThe Wild Ultimate Sticker Book (DK, Mar.; paper)
The premise—a teenage lion is accidentally shipped from the New York Zoo to Africa—sounds suspiciously similar to DreamWorks's 2005 smash Madagascar, which could work for or against it.
Art School Confidential
Starring John Malkovich, Jim Broadbent, Max Minghella
Directed by Terry Zwigoff
Release Date April 28 (Sony Pictures Classics)
Tie-inArt School Confidential by Daniel Clowes (Fantagraphics, Apr. 6; 15,000 trade paper)
Graphic novelist Daniel Clowes (Ghostworld) wrote the screenplay for this satirical look at the cult of celebrity.
Starring Nick Nolte, Scott Mechlowicz, Amy Smart
Directed by Victor Salva
Release Date April (Lions Gate and DEJ Productions)
Based on the novelWay of the Peaceful Warrior: A Story that Changes Lives by Dan Millman (New World Library/HJ Kramer, Apr.; 100,000 trade paper)
With Nolte playing spiritual mentor to a college gymnast, this sounds more like an afterschool special than a feature film, but the 1985 book still sells.
Starring Lisa Ray, Seema Biswas, Sarala
Directed by Deepa Mehta
Release Date April (Fox Searchlight)
Based on the bookShooting Water: A Memoir of Second Chances, Filmmaking, and Family (Newmarket, Apr.; 10,000 hardcover)
Indian-born Canadian filmmaker Mehta finishes the trilogy that began with Fire (1996) and Earth (1998). In Hindi with English subtitles.