Emily Henry’s Beach Read Movie: What We Know So Far

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In Emily Henry’s bestselling novel Beach Read, romance author January Andrews argues that her books are—to steal a phrase from Henry herself—not “silly or superfluous.” So insists January: “If you swapped out all my Jessicas for Johns, do you know what you’d get? Fiction. Just fiction. Ready and willing to be read by anyone, but somehow by being a woman who writes about women, I’ve eliminated half the Earth’s population from my potential readers.” The scene is one in which Henry seems to speak to audiences directly through her protagonist. Now that Beach Read is officially gearing up for a shiny big-screen adaptation, Henry seems perfectly aware that the issues haunting publishing similarly permeate Hollywood.

In an interview with ELLE.com ahead of the release of her latest book, Funny Story, Henry shared that “there’s still a huge stigma on romance in Hollywood.” She continued, “If you think about how stars tend to break out, it’s usually in either romance or horror, which are the two cheapest genres to make. They’re the least prestigious, arguably. And then once those two genres launch [stars] hard and they’re beloved, then they go on and do other things. ‘You’re doing what we take seriously now. Maybe you could be up for an Oscar someday.’”

Beach Read, as a film, should be a fascinating case study in exactly the conundrum Henry presents. The story follows January and her college rival, Augustus, as they attempt to swap literary philosophies: January, the romance novelist, will write a Great American Novel, while Gus, a literary novelist, will end his next book with a Happily Ever After. In the process, they’ll discover the truth behind their own love story.

Henry’s fellow romance author Yulin Kuang is attached to both adapt and direct the project for 20th Century Studios, and Henry told Variety in March 2024 that a “fantastic” first draft already exists. “It’s so different than I would have thought to approach it,” she told the outlet. “It feels like a big swing, which I am all about because I think the worst thing that a movie can be is boring and mediocre. If we’re doing this, let’s really go for it.” She added, “Yulin is working on the the next draft now, and it should be ready to do more with very soon.”

Beach Read by Emily Henry

<i>Beach Read</i> by Emily Henry

Beach Read by Emily Henry

Credit: Berkley Books

20th Century has yet to reveal any casting news, though fans certainly have their own dream cast: The Bear’s Ayo Edebiri as January and Aftersun’s Paul Mescal as Gus. In November 2023, Mescal told Awards Watch that he hoped to lead a comedy project beside Edebiri: “I think in the next five years I’m going to set myself a challenge to do, maybe, like a rom-com with Ayo, or something like that would be cool.” When, months later, Mescal and Edebiri shared a selfie together on St. Patrick’s Day—an image that was then reposted by Henry and Kuang on their own social media—fans interpreted the gesture as unofficial confirmation that the two would lead one of Henry’s film adaptations.

That wishful thinking might or might not come to fruition. Henry later told Variety that she can neither “confirm or deny anything with casting for any movie,” but that she thinks Mescal and Edebiri “would be amazing” and that she “saw them being discussed [online] for several different roles—and I definitely have a favorite.”

Even if Beach Read doesn’t end up snagging Edebiri and Mescal as its leads, two other upcoming Henry adaptations—People We Meet on Vacation and Book Lovers—might present a second opportunity. For now, fans have an abundance of Henry-affiliated physical media to enjoy: Both Kuang and Henry have new romance reads out.

This story will be updated.

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