Stay tuned for our in-depth columns on Five Days at Memorial, an Apple TV+ miniseries based on Sheri Fink’s Kirkus-starred nonfiction book about a New Orleans hospital during and after Hurricane Katrina (premiering Aug. 12); and the fantasy theatrical film Three Thousand Years of Longing, based on a novella-length story by A.S. Byatt and starring Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba (premiering Aug. 31). Here are four more book-to-screen adaptations hitting big and small screens in August:

Aug. 7: Big Sky River (film premiere, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)

In bestselling author Linda Lael Miller’s 2012 romance novel—the third in her Big Sky series—Tara Kendall is a divorced former cosmetic company executive who moved from New York City to a ranch in Parable, Montana, a few years ago. Her neighbor, Sheriff Boone Taylor, is a widowed ranch owner with kids. She thinks that he’s “just plain irritating,” even if he is a “certified hunk”; he thinks she’s a snobby “city slicker,” even if she is “undeniably hot.” Neither is looking for love—but they may just find it, anyway. This new movie version stars Emmanuelle Vaugier (who was excellent as the snarky leader of the Dark Fae on the Syfy TV series Lost Girl) as Tara, and the always reliable Kavan Smith of When Calls the Heart as Boone. Both are enormously appealing actors, and the film’s setup has a low-key charm that’s sure to appeal to Hallmark movie aficionados.

Aug. 19: The Legend of Molly Johnson (U.S. theatrical film and video-on-demand premiere)

This new film, inspired by Henry Lawson’s 1892 short story “The Drover’s Wife,” features a new title for its U.S. release—perhaps out of fear that American audiences won’t know what a drover is. In the original tale, an unnamed woman and her children face off against a deadly snake in the Australian outback. Indigenous Australian writer/director Leah Purcell expands greatly on the source material, giving its main character a name, a pregnancy, and Indigenous heritage. (Purcell previously adapted the story as a play and a novel, the latter published last year.) The film version’s complex plot involves the titular protagonist (played by Purcell), an Indigenous fugitive (Rob Collins), a British sergeant (Sam Reid, who will play the vampire Lestat in the upcoming AMC series Interview With the Vampire), and the sergeant’s ill wife (Underground’s Jessica De Gouw). The movie was released in Australia and the United Kingdom in May, and its excellent notices make it well worth a watch.


Aug. 21: Groundswell (film premiere, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)

In Katie Lee’s 2011 novel, screenwriter Emma Guthrie’s relationship with movie star Garrett Walker falls apart due to his infidelity. As a result, she goes on a solo trip to a Mexican beach town; there, she makes a connection with Ben, a California-born surf instructor, and takes stock of her life. Kirkus’ reviewer wasn’t a fan of the book (“Beach readers may find sand gnats more entertaining”), but Hallmark movie veteran Lacey Chabert’s easygoing charm can’t be underestimated; musical theater and TV actor Ektor Rivera plays Ben. There’s no trailer yet, but it appears that the movie has made at least a few changes to the source material; according to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ summary, Emma is a chef, not a screenwriter, and her vacation destination is scenic Hawaii.


Aug. 21: House of the Dragon (series premiere, HBO)

This seems to be the summer for prequel fantasy series. Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work will soon be able to watch Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, a new show set thousands of years before the original trilogy; it premieres on Prime Video on Sept. 2. Before that, there’s this new HBO TV series, set a mere 200 years before the events of the hit show Game of Thrones, which was based on George R.R. Martin’s ongoing A Song of Ice and Fire novels. The new production draws on parts of Martin’s Kirkus-starred 2018 doorstopper, Fire & Blood, which tells the story of three kings of the Targaryen dynasty, who sit upon the Iron Throne of Westeros. Kirkus’ reviewer noted that there are “plenty of fierce dragons, impaled bodies, and betrayals to keep the storyline moving along briskly”; the trailer for the new series, co-created by Martin and co-starring Doctor Who’s Matt Smith, promises similar diversions.

David Rapp is the senior Indie editor.