Into the Wild
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Fall books to screen

By Patrick Day, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Have most of the books you bought at Borders’ 4 for 3 sale this summer gone unread? Never fear. In Hollywood’s unceasing quest to adapt every inanimate object into a film, another round of best-sellers and perrennial favorites have gone before the lens. Here are some highlights:

“Into the Wild”

In 1992, recent college graduate Christopher McCandless gave up his possessions and hitchhiked into the Alaskan wilderness to live. Journalist Jon Krakauer expanded his Outside magazine article about McCandless to book length in 1996 and gained fame as a non-fiction adventure writer. Sean Penn adapted the book and directed the film, with stars Emile Hirsh and Vince Vaughn. (Sep. 21) (Chuck Zlotnick / Paramount Vantage)
“Feast of Love”

Director Robert Benton has some impressive writing credits on his own (“Bonnie and Clyde” and “Places in the Heart”) but for his latest film, he used a screenplay by Allison Burnett, adapted from the novel by Charles Baxter, about love in its various forms among a group of friends in Oregon. Benton is able to go the book one better, however, by including lots of naked people -- one arena where the movie will always be superior to the book. (Sep. 28) (Peter Sorel / Lakeshore Entertainment / MGM)
“The Jane Austen Book Club”

Jane Austen’s collected works serve as the inspiration for both Karen Joy Fowler’s best-selling 2004 novel and the film adaptation of the same name, starring Maria Bello, Emily Blunt, Kathy Baker and Maggie Grace. A group of friends get together to discuss the author’s works and find their own romantic lives beginning to parallel the books. (Sep. 21) (Ralph Nelson / Sony Pictures Classics)
“The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising”

If you love them, thank Harry Potter. If you loathe them, blame Harry Potter. Since the little wizard’s big screen success, studios have been plundering the children’s sections of libraries, trying to turn up any undiscovered gems. They may have found one in Susan Cooper’s Newberry Award-winning “The Dark Is Rising” sequence of five novels, which have been around since the 1970s. Though don’t expect Potter-like reverence to the source material. In adapting the story of a young boy who discovers his role in the ongoing struggles between the forces of light and dark, the filmmakers have reportedly taken several liberties with plot, character and setting. (Oct. 5) (Fox Walden Films)

He may have announced his retirement from playwriting, but theater legend Harold Pinter apparently has no problem working for Hollywood. His screenplay adaptation of Anthony Shaffer’s original stage play and subsequent film version has been promised to differ substantially from all previous adaptations, no doubt giving the schemes and double crosses of a mystery writer (Michael Caine) and struggling actor (Jude Law) a whole new dimension. (Oct. 12) (Strand Releasing)
“Gone, Baby, Gone”

This crime drama about two Boston-area detectives who go searching for a missing four-year-old girl and encounter troubles both personally and professionally isn’t the highest profile film of the fall, but it comes with quite a pedigree. It’s based on a book by Dennis Lehane, whose last film adaptation was “Mystic River,” and has a screenplay co-written by its director, Ben Affleck. Say what you will about Affleck’s acting choices, but the last time the guy got behind a typewriter, we got the Oscar-winning screenplay to “Good Will Hunting.” (Oct. 19) (Claire Folger / Miramax Films)
“30 Days of Night”

Winter’s month-long darkness in northern Alaska provides an excellent hunting ground for vampires, who descend on the small town of Barrow to feast on its citizens. And only the sheriff, played by Josh Hartnett, can stop them. The film is based on the hit graphic novel by Steve Niles, who made his comics reputation on this single work in 2002. (Oct. 19) (Kirsty Griffin / Columbia Pictures)
“Martian Child”

Science fiction writer David Gerrold’s 2002 novel took his experiences with becoming an adoptive parent and turned them into the story of a writer (John Cusack) whose own adopted child may or may not be from Mars. Gerrold already has one science fiction home-run to his credit, with the script for the original “Star Trek” episode, “The Trouble With Tribbles.” (Oct. 26) (Alan Markfield / New Line Cinema)
“The Kite Runner”

Khaled Hosseini’s first novel became a critical and popular hit in 2003, soon after the United States armed forces routed the Taliban from their Afghan bases. Four years later, Afghanistan remains in the news, and with a resurgent Taliban, the story of a Afghani man’s childhood through the Soviet invasion and the first rise of the Taliban still seems as current today. “Monster’s Ball” director Marc Forster and screenwriter David Benioff adapt Hosseini’s novel. (Nov. 2) (Phil Bray / Paramount Vantage)