Bunny: Everything We Know So Far About Bad Robot's Movie Adaptation

Mona Awad's 2019 novel "Bunny" was bound to be adapted for the screen. Its mix of fairy tale and horror themes combined with classic teen movie aesthetics seemed tailor-made for the BookTok demographic — that's the literature subcommunity on TikTok — which has been a reliable source of new material for Hollywood in recent years. And would you believe, the book about a gaggle of rich girls who dabble in magic, and an outsider who gets sucked into their world of dark academia did indeed prove popular with the BookTok crowd, leading Hollywood into a bidding war for the rights.

Thus far, AMC has snapped up the television rights, but as Deadline reports, J.J. Abrams's Bad Robot has now optioned Awad's novel for a big-screen adaptation. And considering Awad took inspiration from such movies as "Heathers," "Carrie," "The Craft," and "Mean Girls," it seems there is lots to draw from in that department.

"Bunny" was named Best Book of 2019 by Time and Vogue and has almost unanimously positive reviews. And propelled by its BookTok popularity, it is in its 14th printing, according to Deadline. Hollywood has pounced on other tomes that have found internet fame via BookTok, such as Colleen Hoover's "It Ends With Us," and TikTok viral fantasy novel "The Atlas Six" is becoming an Amazon series. But a "Bunny" adaptation is an exciting prospect, considering the book's heavy cinematic influence and potential to bring the tone of some beloved teen horror movies of the past into the 2020s.

This is why we couldn't help but gather up all the information we have on "Bunny" and its big-screen adaptation right here for your reading pleasure.

What is the Bunny release date, and where can you watch it?

Bad Robot optioned the novel in March of 2023, which means official details are scarce at this early stage. But there are things we do know. According to Deadline, TikTok videos about "Bunny" racked up more than 4.1 billion views as users started fan-casting the movie following its 2019 release. As such, Bad Robot will likely want to capitalize on the novel's popularity sooner rather than later.

But that might prove tricky considering the unique situation J.J. Abrams finds himself in. Bad Robot has an overall deal with Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) which gives the studio a first look at anything Abrams and co. are developing. But the company behind "Cloverfield" and two "Star Wars" movies has recently had to contend with WBD's ongoing debt issues and CEO David Zaslav's sweeping reforms.

Thus far, Zaslav's corporate strategy has seen HBO Max remove TV shows and movies. What's more, as part of an overall effort to reduce the $49.5 billion debt with which WBD is saddled, more than $2 billion worth of movies and TV shows were axed. And Abrams hasn't been immune, either. Along with Matt Reeves, and Bruce Timm, he was overseeing "Batman: Caped Crusader," before it too was scrapped and found a new home at Amazon.

And as Deadline reported last year, Abram's overall deal was also under scrutiny from Zaslav. All of this makes the release date for "Bunny" as big a mystery as the one in the pages of the novel. Abrams' deal is up in 2024, so it could be that once Bad Robot is free of WBD woes, development on the project will ramp up. In the meantime, we'll have to sit tight for more details.

What is Bunny about?

While there are no details on exactly what J.J. Abrams and his team are planning, we obviously have Mona Awad's book to go off. The author has spoken about being inspired during her Master's program, revealing in a Strand Book Store discussion featuring Margaret Atwood: "When I went and did my MFA I couldn't help but feel, during and after, that it would be great fodder for a horror novel, a fairy tale, or a satire." And if you've read "Bunny," you'll know that she eventually combined all three.

The story focuses on Samantha Heather Mackey, who is pursuing an MFA at the fictional Warren (get it?) University in New England. Samantha is very much an outsider at her college, and finds herself developing a strong revulsion for a clique of inseparable rich girls who call each other "Bunny." Much to Samantha's surprise, the simpering cohort eventually invites her to one of their "Smut Salons" — monthly meetings where they perform an unsettling ritual that turns real bunnies into the men of their dreams. There are plenty of twists along the way, as Samantha discovers the power and limits of her own imagination. As Awad explained in her Strand discussion:

"This book goes deep into the notion of the birth of the imagination and its genesis and so I think fairy tale and myth were so much a part of it because it's about the transformative power of the imagination and that's what fairy tales really explore, is those kinds of transformations."

Again, nothing has been confirmed in terms of what elements of the story will make it to the movie. But considering the popularity of the book, Abrams and co. will likely want to stick fairly closely to Awad's story.

Who's in the cast and crew of Bunny

As you might expect, with the news of Bad Robot's rights acquisition only recently being announced, there's been no word yet on casting. Of course, there have been plenty of fan-casts from the TikTokers who helped make the book such a success. Anya Taylor-Joy frequently pops up as a favorite to play the lead role of Samantha Mackey.

And with "Heathers" providing so much inspiration for Mona Awad, it might be that the producers reach out to Winona Ryder, even if it's just for a cameo. The '80s cult classic from "Batman Returns" scribe Daniel Waters has become somewhat of a coming-of-age touchstone, and fans have long been clamoring for a "Heathers" sequel. But while that looks like less and less of a possibility, it seems the "Bunny" movie might give audiences their fix of horror-tinged teen drama in the meantime.

Awad said as much during her Strand discussion: "As for the teen movies and things like that, yes I definitely was watching a lot of those when I was working on 'Bunny.' I wasn't reading other books but I was watching those because those girl clique movies like 'Heathers' and like 'The Craft' and like 'Mean Girls,' they're just so much fun [...] I wanted that energy in the book."

At this stage, it's hard to say whether those films' influence on the novel will have any impact on casting. But it gives you an idea of the kind of thing we can expect. And I'm just saying, if you really want to play up that fairy tale-meets-horror sensibility, surely there's a part for Disney princess-turned-scream queen Jenna Ortega in there somewhere?