Heinlein did the screenplay for Destination Moon, and worked as a technical advisor on the production.
The Puppet Masters isn’t really that bad of a Heinlein adaptation. It’s chief fault is that it had a low budget. But I thought Donald Sutherland made an excellent “Old Man”, and it’s clear that he read the book and pretty much understood the character.
b]The Moon is a Harsh Mistress** is in pre-production right now. The Script has been written by Tim Minear, who was one of the creative forces behind Firefly (he wrote several of the episodes). I think Firefly has a very Heinleinesque feel to it, and that may be Minear’s influence. So that give me hope for the movie.
This is what he says about it:
It’s been a pet project for Minear to adapt Heinlein’s difficult Hugo-Award-winning 1966 book, about the rebellion of a former lunar penal colony against the Lunar Authority that controls it from Earth. “[It’s] very difficult to adapt,” Minear said. “It’s interesting. I kept a lot more from the book than people may have expected. The light marriages are still there. The free trade with Earth is still there. The catapult is still there. And, you know, it’s not a silly arm on a fulcrum or something. The idea is this sort of Ferris wheel thing that takes it up over the gravity well and drops to Earth. The thing that I changed from the book is that Mike, the computer, manifests himself visually, so he’s not just a voice. But what I’ve done is I’ve given the citizens of Luna ocular ‘ident stamps,’ which are the equivalent of prisoner tattoos, and Mike finds a way into the personalized signature of people, so he can show himself to you, but no one else can see him. So that’s maybe the thing I added.”
Changes to Mike worry me - he’s the best character in the book. But Minear is a real Heinlein fan, and he won’t do a hatchet job like Starship Troopers.
I think Heinlein’s juveniles would make great animated films. Maybe Anime. Not cutesy kids films where they have to insert a pet dog or something, but a more mature film aimed at older family audiences. They would also make a great aniimated miniseries, with a potential for being very profitable as a DVD box set.