The Publishing Post
LGBTQIA+ Book-to-Screen Adaptations Arriving in 2023
By Rhys Wright and Carly Bennett
2023 is a year for headline-grabbing book-to-screen adaptations and there are plenty of adaptations with LGBTQIA+ representation to get excited about too. There are both TV and film adaptations aplenty, from big budget adaptations of literary fiction which star household names, to under-the-radar queer classics finally getting their moment on the silver screen. Whether you’re looking for the next major award nominee to enjoy in the cinema or a TV show to binge on the sofa, we hope you find your next recommendation in our selection.
The film adaptation of Ottessa Moshfegh’s Booker Prize-shortlisted debut novel, Eileen, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, which means we can likely look forward to seeing it later in 2023. Starring Anne Hathaway and Thomasin McKenzie, the film follows Eileen (McKenzie), a lonely and self-loathing secretary in a juvenile prison and her dangerous infatuation with Rebecca (Hathaway), the institution's charismatic new counsellor.
The first of several film adaptations of Moshfegh’s novels in the works (including My Year of Rest and Relaxation), Eileen was both co-written and produced by Moshfegh herself. Touted as a tonally faithful adaptation of the novel, Moshfegh jokingly told Entertainment Weekly that after seeing the first cut of Eileen, her reaction was: “This is so much better than my book.”
Described by Hathaway as “Carol meets Reservoir Dogs”, this adaptation of Eileen looks sure to continue the fascination with the human body and the grotesque that characterises Moshfegh’s work. Once Eileen finally receives a theatrical release, it should likely be prime viewing for any fan of Carol or My Year of Rest and Relaxation.
Red, White and Royal Blue
Based on Casey McQuiston’s popular 2019 star-crossed romance, a film adaptation of Red, White and Royal Blue is set to hit Amazon Prime Video this year. While there is no confirmed date, press releases have suggested audiences can look forward to the film in “early 2023.”
Red, White and Royal Blue tells the rivals-to-lovers story of Alex, the son of the first female President of the United States, and Henry, Prince of Wales. An incident at Prince Henry’s older brother’s wedding attracts press that could harm Alex’s mother’s re-election campaign, leading to Alex and Henry’s worlds colliding with all the drama and sparks readers have come to expect from McQuiston’s always queer, always lovely romances.
Starring Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicholas Galitzine, as Alex and Henry respectively, as well as Stephen Fry, Uma Thurman, and Sarah Shahi (of The L Word), Red, White and Royal Blue has all the elements to make a fantastic screen adaptation.
Frog and Toad
Arriving on Apple TV+ in April 2023, Frog and Toad is a long-awaited adaptation of Arnold Lobel’s children’s classic, Frog and Toad Are Friends. While classifying Frog and Toad Are Friends as canonically LGBTQIA+ has been much debated, it’s hard to deny the books’ innate queerness and the series has become something of a queer cult classic over the years.
Perfectly embodying the grumpy/sunshine trope, optimistic Frog and perpetually pessimistic Toad share life’s happy mundanity together, building a shared home and embarking on all manners of wholesome challenges – wild swimming, cooking the perfect meal and mustering up enough courage to face the day. Sweet, insightful and often funny (knowingly or not), Frog and Toad Are Friends will doubtless make for a warm cottagecore adaptation when it hits Apple TV+ in April 2023.
The Color Purple
A brand new adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is scheduled to hit cinemas December 2023. This is not the first time The Color Purple has been adapted – once as a film in 1985 and also as a stage musical in 2005. The production team is an A-list mishmash of those who worked on both the original film and the musical: Steven Spielberg, Quincy Jones, Scott Sanders and Oprah Winfrey are all at the helm of this latest adaptation.
Following the story of Celie, an African American teenager who grows up in rural Georgia in the 1900s, The Color Purple charts the triumphs, tragedies and loves of Celie’s life. The novel is told through the regular letters that Celie writes to God to try and make sense of her life and tenderly explores existence under the racist patriarchy, where a man’s word is substitute for God and even the idea of an autonomous life feels like rebellion.
The 2023 film adaptation features a hugely talented cast made up of Fantasia, Taraji P. Henson, Colman Domingo, Danielle Brooks, Halle Bailey and H.E.R., movie-goers are already excited to see what this fresh take on the seminal sapphic classic will bring.