Maybe it’s just as well that the summer movie season is winding down, as several recent films—blockbusters that weren’t—are taking heat in more ways than one. There’s been considerable chatter in the trade papers, as the millions thrown at the next sure thing have quickly withered. Think The Lone Ranger, which one critic called “appalling in ways that you could never have anticipated.” Not even The Man of Steel escaped unscathed: reviews were okay, but far from compelling.
But cheer up, movie mavens. Not only is the fall film season typically rife with new releases, but this particular feature includes more tie-ins—24, to be exact, including fare for grownups and youngsters—than any of our previous listings. From classic to contemporary, from heartrending drama to documentary, this diverse assortment truly offers something for everyone, with big-name stars and directors aplenty.
Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack
Directed by Shane Salerno
Release date September 6 (Weinstein Company)
Tie-in from St. Martin’s: Salinger by Paul Alexander
More than nine years in the making, this eagerly awaited documentary presents an unprecedented look inside the private world of J.D. Salinger, the notoriously reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye. Including the three stars, the film’s 150 interviewees include John Guare, Martin Sheen, David Milch, Robert Towne, Tom Wolfe, E.L. Doctorow, plus Pulitzer Prize winners A. Scott Berg, Elizabeth Frank, and Gore Vidal. PBS will air the film in January as the 200th entry in its American Masters series. Director Salerno was dubbed by Fade In magazine in 2001 as one of the “100 people you need to know in Hollywood.”
Starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones
Directed by Luc Bresson
Release date September 13 (Relativity Media)
Tie-in from Penguin Books: The Family by Tonino Benacquista
Talk about a grade-A cast. In this darkly comedic outing, a Mafia boss and his family are relocated to a sleepy town in France under the witness protection program after snitching on the mob. Despite the CIA’s best efforts to keep the Manzoni clan in line, old habits die hard and fitting in soon becomes challenging. The Manzonis blow their cover by handling their problems the “family” way, allowing their former Mafia cronies to track them down. Not surprisingly, chaos ensues as old scores are settled in the unlikeliest of settings. Bresson, an award-winning French film director, writer, and producer, has been involved with more than 50 films spanning 26 years.
Inequality For All
Starring Robert Reich
Directed by Jacob Kornbluth
Release date September 27 (Weinstein Company)
Tie-in from Vintage: Aftershock by Robert Reich
Kornbluth’s documentary looks at the topic of widening income inequality through the lens of noted economic policy expert Reich. According to the producers, the film asks a simple question: “What is a good society, and what role does the widening income gap play in the deterioration of our nation’s economic health? We are endeavoring for Inequality to be a paradigm-shifting, eye-opening experience for the American public. We want to accurately show through a nonpartisan perspective why extreme income inequality is such an important topic for our citizens today and for the future of America.”CLOUDY WITH
A Chance Of Meatballs 2
Voices of Bill Hader, Neil Patrick Harris, Anna Faris
Directed by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn
Release date September 27 (Sony Pictures)
Tie-ins from Simon Spotlight: a movie novelization with eight pages of images from the film, a keepsake picture book, a leveled reader, a scented sticker book, and a storybook retelling are all available August 27
Not since Honey, I Shrunk the Kids has an invention gotten so wildly out of hand. The second film, loosely based on the foodstuff–focused picture books by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett, catches up with genius Flint Lockwood (Hader) and his brainy companion, an orangutan named Barb. This time around, one of Flint’s machines, which turns water into food, has started creating food-animal amalgamates. Care for a side of “cheespiders” with your popcorn?
Starring Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Jeremy Irvine
Directed by Mike Newell
Release date October 11 (Main Street Films)
Tie-in from Penguin Books: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Call this one “The Battle of the Expectations.” IMDb.com lists 200 versions of the celebrated Dickens novel, ranging from a 2011 BBC miniseries to a 1946 version directed by David Lean, going all the way back to a 50-minute silent film from 1917. Stage musical renditions, too, have proved popular. A musical adaptation played L.A. in 2008, and in 2010 the Utah Shakespeare Festival produced its own musical adaptation as well. In 2006, noted Broadway actress Kathleen Chalfant played Miss Havisham in a production by TheatreWorksUSA, which targets family audiences. Not surprisingly, the Brits, too, produced a musical rendition, which played London’s historic Vaudeville Theatre earlier this year. Though no one sings in Newell’s adaptation (think Les Miz), he’s assembled a distinctly impressive cast of notable Brits.
Romeo And Juliet
Starring Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth, Paul Giamatti
Directed by Carlo Carlei
Release date October 11 (Sony Pictures)
Tie-in from Random/Ember: a trade paperback edition containing the play’s original text, the screenplay, and an eight-page photo insert
Romeo, I don’t think we’re in Baz Luhrmann territory anymore. Italian director Carlei sticks to a traditional telling—in the vein of Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 adaptation—of everyone’s favorite star-crossed love story.
Starring Chloë Moretz, Julianne Moore, Judy Green
Directed by Kimberly Peirce
Release date October 18 (MGM/Screen Gems)
Tie-in from Anchor Books: Carrie by Stephen King
How’s this for a teaser? According to an April Hollywood Reporter article about Peirce’s remake of Brian De Palma’s 1976 horror classic, “Julianne Moore is one creepy mother.... Moore, playing Margaret White, is a standout in the trailer, opening the clip with her haunting singing, as her young daughter screams from the locked closet.” The film also stars Moretz, of Kick-Ass fame, as Carrie, “a quiet girl whose life is made miserable by the mean girls at school.”
Starring Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt,
Directed by Ridley Scott
Release date October 25 (20th Century Fox)
Tie-in from Vintage: The Counselor by Cormac McCarthy
In addition to this film’s impressive trio, other notable performers round out the cast—Penélope Cruz, Dean Norris, John Leguizamo, Cameron Diaz, Rosie Perez, et al. Scott’s outstanding body of work needs no introduction, especially considering his three Oscar nominations—for Black Hawk Down, Gladiator, and Thelma & Louise. And though McCarthy has garnered numerous prizes and awards for his novels (including No Country for Old Men, All the Pretty Horses, and The Road), The Counselor is his first original screenplay. Details of the plot have been kept secret by the studio, but the story is centered on a lawyer (Fassbender) who gets involved with drug trafficking.
Starring Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark
Directed by Stephen Frears
Release date October (Weinstein Company)
Tie-in from Penguin Books: Philomena by Martin Sixsmith
Weinstein acquired North American film rights at Cannes and is expected to make a strong awards season campaign. And why not, with the sublime Dame Judi Dench gracing this moving film? It’s based on the true story of an Irish woman’s 50-year quest for the son she was forced to put up for adoption in the U.S. The book, by former BBC journalist Sixsmith, is titled The Lost Child of Philomena Lee: A Mother, Her Son and a Fifty-Year Search. Coogan, who plays Sixsmith, said, “The film is a comic tragedy or a tragic comedy. It’s about two very different people, at different stages of their lives, who help each other and show that there is laughter even in the darkest places.”
As I Lay Dying
Starring James Franco, Richard Jenkins, Danny McBride
Directed by James Franco
Release date October (Millennium Films)
Tie-in from Vintage: As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Franco, who just finished filming Child of God, based on a book by Cormac McCarthy, doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects. Said a May Variety article, “It somehow makes sense that Franco should turn to Faulkner’s rapturous, punch-drunk experimentalism, given all the early-to-mid-20th-century existentialist, outsider icons dotting the multihyphenate’s resume: He’s directed celebrations of the poet Hart Crane (The Broken Tower) and tragic thespian Sal Mineo (Sal), while elsewhere he’s played James Dean and Beat master Allen Ginsberg. There are even faint Faulknerian echoes detectable in his short-story collection Palo Alto, with its psychogeographic fixation on South Peninsula suburbia.... Franco has been nothing if not perverse in his career choices.”
Starring Kate Bosworth, Josh Lucas, Anthony Edwards
Directed by Michael Polish
Release date November 1 (Ketchup Entertainment)
Tie-in from Penguin Books: Big Sur by Jack Kerouac
The beguiling Central Coast region of California known as Big Sur has been the inspiration behind a wide variety of films and television programs: a 30-minute 2008 short, filmed in Switzerland; a 1971 film documentary, Celebration at Big Sur, starring Joan Baez, Stephen Stills, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, et al.; an April 1969 “NBC Experiment in Television,” starring James Coco, Billy Dee Williams, and Kate Harrington; a nine-minute film narrated by Richard Burton for MGM in 1965, replete with panoramic ocean shots, promoting the studio’s upcoming major release, The Sandpiper, starring Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. We’d say director Polish (Twin Falls Idaho, Northfork) has his work cut out for him. The film is based on Kerouac’s semiautobiographical novel of the same name.
Thor: The Dark World
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings
Directed by Alan Taylor
Release date November 8 (Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Studios)
Tie-in from Marvel: a junior novel with eight pages of action photos and collectible bookmarks, two early readers, and a storybook featuring full-bleed art based on scenes from the film, all to be released November 8
A follow-up to Thor (2011) and The Avengers (2012), this superhero adventure, based on Norse mythology, marks the eighth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise. When Thor was released in 2011, director Kenneth Branagh shared his skepticism with Movieline over whether a second film would or should be made, wishing to first gauge the film’s reception. The movie performed robustly at the box office, grossing more than $180 million domestically. Nevertheless, Branagh jumped ship and Taylor is now steering the brawny enterprise to the big screen.
Voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff
Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Release date November 11 (Walt Disney Pictures)
Tie-ins from Disney: an early reader, a preschool readaloud, and a preschool picture book, all slated for October 1; from Random/Golden/Disney: five coloring/activity books, a novelization, a board book, and two picture books due out October 1; from Random/Disney: two leveled readers, an 8” × 8” sticker book, and a junior novelization all scheduled for release on October 1; from Reader’s Digest: a novelty picture book with a removable snow globe, a novelty picture book with a removable film projector, and a novelty book featuring acetate sheets, all available October 1; from Chronicle: Art of Frozen collector’s book will be published November 30; from DK: a behind-the-scenes guide to the film and a sticker book
Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, this flick exchanges much of the original tale’s darkness for musical comedy–adventure, along with stereoscopic 3-D effects. In Disney’s restaging of the fairy tale, stubborn and spirited Anna (Bell) takes a journey with mountain man Kristoff (Groff) and a reindeer sidekick to find her powerful sister, Elsa (Menzel), who holds the kingdom of Arendelle under a frozen spell—because, have you seen her hair in the humidity?
The Wolf Of Wall Street
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey,
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Release date November 15 (Paramount)
Tie-in from Bantam: The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort
In the 1990s Belfort was one of the most infamous names in American finance, with a brokerage firm, drug dealers on speed dial, and an exorbitant cocaine habit whose cost rivaled the national debt. His wealth was fueled by dodgy stock trades, and in the end it all came crashing down. In this movie tell-all, Belfort dishes up the dirty details of his company and his life—from his days as a wealthy stockbroker living the high life (featuring an abundance of the aforementioned drugs, as well as prostitutes and crazy parties) to his fall involving crime, corruption, and the federal government. Perhaps the film will be just the right morality tale for our times.
The Book Thief
Starring Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nélisse
Directed by Brian Percival
Release date November 15 (Fox 2000 Pictures)
Tie-in from Knopf: The Book Thief by Mark Zusak; hardcover and paperback editions to be released October 15
Since its publication in 2006, Australian author Markus Zusak’s Printz Honor–winning novel has become a YA staple, while also appealing broadly to an adult readership. It’s a tall order to translate the book—with its solemn themes, Nazi Germany setting, and hefty page count—to the screen. In addition, the novel focuses on the raw, unparalleled power of books to alter lives—a message that may be challenging to convey through film. (Oh, and the story is narrated by Death, who can be a bit of a Debbie Downer.) Still, the book’s many fans are eagerly anticipating this adaptation.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Release date November 22 (Lionsgate)
Tie-ins from Scholastic: the original novel with new cover art from the film releases on October 8, and an illustrated movie companion comes out on November 22
Need we preface the upcoming release of Catching Fire? A class-divided postapocalyptic world, teenage gladiators suffering from post-traumatic stress, and a fiery love triangle collide in the second film adaptation based on the Suzanne Collins juggernaut. Grossing over $400 million domestically, the first film was highly praised for its production values and fidelity to the novel. And though the series is revered for its treatment of such weighty topics as violence in the media and social inequality, it’s also okay to get a little excited about Panem’s wildly luxurious couture.
Mandela: The Long Walk To Freedom
Starring Idris Elba, Naomie Harris
Directed by Justin Chadwick
Release date November 28 (Weinstein Company)
Tie-in from Chronicle: Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom: The Book of the Film by Nelson Mandela and Keith Bernstein
The film’s official companion book retraces the life of Nelson Mandela by weaving together his own words about his historic humanitarian efforts with cinematic narrative and behind-the-scenes content. The book features film stills alongside archival photos, commentary from the cast and filmmakers, interviews with Mandela’s own family and comrades, excerpts from his books, and selections from his personal papers with full-color panoramas of the South African landscapes where the film was shot.
Starring Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton
Directed by Peter Landesman
Release date November (American Film Co., Exclusive Media Group, Playtone)
Tie-in from Norton: Parkland (originally published under the title Four Days in November) by Vincent Bugliosi
Landesman’s dramatic film recounts the chaotic events that occurred at Dallas’s Parkland Hospital on November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The movie proceeds almost in real time, following a handful of individuals forced to make split-second decisions that changed their lives and the world: the young doctors and nurses at Parkland Hospital; the chief of the Dallas Secret Service; the unwitting cameraman who captured what has become one of the most closely examined films in history; the FBI agents who had gunman Lee Harvey Oswald within their grasp but allowed him to escape; and Vice President Lyndon Johnson, who suddenly found himself taking control of a country in crisis.
Starring Elizabeth Olsen, Jessica Lange, Tom Felton
Directed by Charlie Stratton
Release date November (LD Entertainment)
Tie-in from Penguin Books: Therese by Emile Zola
Not surprisingly, Zola’s celebrated novel (originally published as Therese Raquin in 1867) has seen many adaptations, dating back to a 50-minute, b&w silent version titled The Marble Heart. (Violet Horner, the versatile leading lady of that 1916 version, also starred in The Girl from Alaska; Tilly, the Terrible Typist; and Ten Nights in a Barroom, along with 54 shorts in 1912 and 1913.) There have been some casting changes since production began on the current film version: the title role, which was originally to be played by Kate Winslet, has been given to Olsen, and Glenn Close was supposed to star as Madame Raquin (now played by Lange). While these casting negotiations were taking place, Felton was off winning two MTV Movie Awards: in 2009 and 2010, respectively, for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Starring Penélope Cruz, Emile Hirsch, Mira Furlan
Directed by Sergio Castellito
Release date December 6 (Entertainment One)
Tie-in from Penguin Books: Twice Born by Margaret Mazzantini
Cruz portrays a single mother who returns from her native Rome with her 16-year-old son to present-day Sarajevo, where her son’s father (Hirsch) died during the Bosnian conflict of the 1990s. The film version of Mazzantini’s novel, which premiered last fall at the Toronto Film Festival, was directed by the author’s husband, Castellito. He also directed the movie adaptation of her previous book, 2004’s Don’t Move, which also starred Cruz. Twice Born, published in 2011, won Italy’s Premio Campiello; Don’t Move won the Premio Strega. The film was originally slated for release in August, but has been pushed back to December.
Starring Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence
Directed by David O. Russell
Release date December 13 (Columbia Pictures)
Tie-in from Penguin Books: American Hustle by Robert W. Greene
Back in print after more than two decades, Greene’s Hustle (originally published as The Sting Man) is the basis for Russell’s film, which reunites Silver Linings Playbook stars Cooper and Lawrence. It’s the story of a con artist and his partner in crime, who were forced to work with a federal agent to turn the tables on other cons, mobsters, and politicians—including the volatile mayor of impoverished Camden, N.J. In a dramatic sidelight, IMDb.com reports that production of the film in Boston was delayed during the citywide manhunt that followed the terrorist bombing of the Boston Marathon. Cooper went to different hospitals in the greater Boston area to visit victims of the attack.
The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug
Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage
Directed by Peter Jackson
Release date December 13 (New Line Cinema)
Tie-in from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: a new edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, a visual companion to the film, an official movie guide, a pocket guide, an activity book, a sticker book, and a movie storybook all pub on November 5
Jackson’s second film based on Tolkien’s preamble to the Lord of the Rings series follows Bilbo Baggins (Freeman), Gandalf (McKellen), Thorin Oakenshield (Armitage), and the rest of the posse as they journey to battle the dragon Smaug. While critical reception for Jackson’s previous film adaptation The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) was middling—especially in comparison to the Lord of the Rings films—the movie nevertheless ranked as the largest December opening in history. A similarly timed holiday premiere bodes well for Smaug. But what we really want to know is this: will Denny’s be offering another Hobbit-themed menu this fall?
Walking With Dinosaurs 3D
Voices of Charlie Row, Angourie Rice
Directed by Neil Nightingale
Release date December 20 (20th Century Fox)
Tie-ins from HarperFestival: a 96-page encyclopedia about the dinosaurs from the film and beyond, a fact-filled dinosaur handbook, a movie sticker book, two early readers, and two 8” x 8” storybooks
Based on a BBC miniseries and subsequent live arena show, this feature-length, computer-animated film brings prehistory to 3-D life. Though we know there’s no happy ending for these extinct behemoths, the movie features dinosaurs in live-action settings. What’s not to like?
12 Years A Slave
Starring Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Directed by Steve McQueen
Release date December 27 (Fox Searchlight/New Regency)
Tie-in from Penguin Books: Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
In the pre–Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Fassbender) as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive but to retain his dignity. The movie has already created tremendous buzz and is expected to snag major awards. Given the terrific cast, which also includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, and Alfre Woodard, it’s no wonder that the film is reported to be a passion project for its director.