Finding Nemo 3D
Voices of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Release date September 14 (Disney-Pixar)
Tie-in from Disney Press: Finding Nemo Read-Along Storybook and CD, an 8×8 storybook, will be published July 31. From Random House/Golden/Disney: Finding Nemo Big Golden Book, two activity books, and Nemo’s Big Adventure—a 3-D 8×8 storybook—arrive August 7.
The latest Disney film to see a second life in 3-D, 2003’s Finding Nemo won the Oscar for best animated feature, and with an $868 million worldwide gross, it’s Pixar’s second-highest grossing film to date (after Toy Story 3) and Disney’s third-biggest animated release ever. The story follows an overly protective clownfish named Marlin (Brooks), who becomes separated from his son, Nemo (Gould, now 18 and a cast member on the TV series Weeds), and sets out to find him with the help of Dory (DeGeneres), a ditsy Pacific regal blue tang.
Killing Them Softly
Starring Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini
Directed by Andrew Dominik
Release date September 21 (Weinstein Company)
Tie-in from Vintage Crime/Black Lizard: Cogan’s Trade by George V. Higgins
This one is from an author who was considered one of the leading crime writers of his day, often compared to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. The New Yorker called him “the Balzac of the Boston Underworld,” and Life said he could write dialogue “so authentic it spits.” Dominik has assembled an appropriately testosterone-laden cast—including Sam Shepard, Max Casella, and Ray Liotta. Though the New Zealand director has made only two films thus far—Chopper and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, he’s already created a major stir among the movie cognoscenti. And music fans will recognize the pop ditty “Killing Me Softly with His Song,” which was a 1973 hit for Roberta Flack.
Lay the Favorite
Starring Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Vince Vaughn
Directed by Stephen Frears
Release date October 2 (Weinstein Company)
Tie-in from Spiegel & Grau: Lay the Favorite by Beth Raymer
Raymer’s 2010 dramedy, subtitled A Memoir of Gambling, centers on a 30-something woman who becomes involved with a group of geeky 50-ish men who have found a way to work the Vegas sportsbook system to their advantage. Distinguished director Frears has an impressive list of credits, including two Oscar nominations, for The Grifters (1990) and The Queen (2006). Looks like he’s got a bargain on his hands this time out: according to IMDb.com, he acquired Favorite rights for just over
$2 million—these days, a deal.
Starring Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey
Directed by Lee Daniels
Release date October 5 (Millennium Entertainment)
Tie-in from Random House: The Paperboy by Pete Dexter
A reporter returns to his Florida hometown to investigate a case involving a death row inmate. Nicole Kidman’s performance created a major buzz when the film premiered at Cannes to a standing ovation. Her trampy portrayal of a woman who writes letters to death row inmates and participates in some fairly lewd behavior with Efron’s character—interaction that garnered a good deal of media attention. PW’s review of Dexter’s 1995 novel said, “If this isn’t [his] best, it’s still a provocative offering from one of the most exciting novelists around.” Director Daniels was nominated for an Oscar for his work on 2009’s Precious.
Voices of Charlie Tahan, Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara
Directed by Tim Burton
Release date October 5 (Tim Burton Productions, dist. by Walt Disney Pictures)
Tie-ins from Disney Press: a sticker book, a storybook, and a novelization will be published September 4. From Disney Editions: a 256-page art-and-making-of gift book also comes out September 4.
Director Burton has updated his 1984 live-action short of the same name, which reportedly got him fired from Disney on the grounds that it was too scary for kids. The new 3-D–rendered animated release is, like the original, a boy-and-his-dog story with a twist—when his dog dies, a scientifically minded boy named Victor (Tahan) brings his pet back to life, complete with Frankenstein’s monster–style neck bolts and a similar knack for wreaking havoc. Burton has had plenty of live-action misfires of late, this year’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Dark Shadows among them. But with its black-and-white stop-motion animation, Frankenweenie mines the more lauded visual vein of the director’s Oscar-nominated Corpse Bride and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon
Directed by Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, Tom Tykwer
Release date October 26 (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Tie-in from Random House: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Mitchell’s celebrated bestseller explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives affect one another throughout the past, the present, and the future. The film is written and directed by the Wachowski siblings—the team behind the groundbreaking Matrix trilogy—and Tom Tykwer. In addition to the high-wattage starring threesome, check out actor Ben Whishaw, an up-and-coming Brit who’s just finished a TV film of Richard II; a BBC series, The Hour; and a film version of The Tempest, directed by Julie Taymor, in which he played Ariel.
Starring Kaya Scodelario, James Howson, Paul Hilton
Directed by Andrea Arnold
Release date (October, Oscilloscope)
Tie-in from Penguin: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.
Afraid of Heights? Certainly not where Emily B. is concerned. Here’s one of those film classics that are impervious to oft-repeated versions, never wearing out their welcome in foreign-language renditions, TV reworkings that star the screen’s latest romantic duos, etc. IMDb.com lists 15 interpretations, including a 1920 six-reel silent, a Japanese styling (1988), a British film that starred the lovely Claire Bloom (1962), and the Hollywood classic (1939) replete with luminaries David Niven, Merle Oberon, and the great Laurence Olivier.
Voices of John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch
Directed by Rich Moore
Release date November 2 (Walt Disney Animation Studios)
Tie-ins from Disney Publishing Worldwide/Disney Press: a picture book and a storybook/CD set—with sound effects and the voices of voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, and Jane Lynch. Both will be out September 18. From Random House/Disney: a Step into Reading leveled reader, an 8×8 pictureback, and a junior novel will be released September 18, and a Step into Reading leveled reader with stickers will be released January 8. From Random House/Golden/Disney: arriving September 18 are three coloring books, a chapter book, and a Little Golden Book; and on January 8, a 3-D 8×8 pictureback.
Tired of being overshadowed by good-guy character Fix-It Felix (McBrayer), video-game villain Wreck-It Ralph (Reilly) resolves to change his destructive ways, and sets off on a journey through generations of arcade games to prove that he too can be a hero. Director Moore is a two-time Emmy winner for his work on The Simpsons and Futurama, and while there’s no word of a Bart cameo, classic arcade characters like Q*bert, Clyde (the orange ghost from Pac-Man), and Kano from Mortal Kombat make appearances. The digitally animated film will be released in 3-D in select theaters.
Starring Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Judi Dench
Directed by Sam Mendes
Release date November 9 (MGM)
Tie-in from DK: Bond on Set: Filming Skyfall by Greg Williams, photographer
It’s a big Bond bash: not only is Skyfall sure to draw crowds (with Daniel Craig resuming his 007 portrayal from 2008’s Quantum of Solace), but 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the Bond movie franchise, which began back in 1962 with Dr. No. Sean Connery, the original 007, was 32 at the time and not the producer’s or director’s first choice. They accepted him, however, after being rejected, for various contractual impasses, by Richard Johnson, David Niven, James Mason, Trevor Howard, Cary Grant, and Rex Harrison.
Starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Directed by Joe Wright
Release date November 9 (Focus Features)
Tie-in from Vintage: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Like the frequently reimagined versions of film classics (see Wuthering Heights, above), we note the myriad renditions of this 1877 Tolstoy tragedy—some 25 film versions, says IMDb.com, nearly double the Wuthering tally. Knightley’s going into her third role with director Wright—she was Cecilia Tallis in the filmization of Ian McEwan’s memorable Atonement (2007) and portrayed the sensible daughter, Elizabeth Bennet, in Pride and Prejudice (2005). In a recent EW.com post, the actress said, “The rules of a period film have been completely broken.” What makes this adaptation so unusual is Wright’s decision to set much of the action inside a theater. Jude Law plays Knightley’s aristocratic husband, and Taylor-Johnson portrays the cavalry officer with whom she falls into a passionate affair.
Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Directed by Bill Condon
Release date November 16 (Summit Entertainment)
Tie-ins from Little, Brown/Tingley: a trade paperback of Stephenie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn, with a new movie tie-in cover and poster, gets a 400,000 first printing and a September 25 laydown; a mass market paperback, also with a September 25 laydown, receives a 500,000 first printing; and the hardcover The Twilight Saga: The Complete Film Archive: Memories, Mementos, and Other Treasures from the Creative Team Behind the Beloved Motion Pictures, with a 200,000 first printing, gets an October 9 laydown.
This indie sleeper could find some success if . . . Let’s face it, you know the drill. Stephenie Meyer’s galactically popular books have translated into major movie revenue, with the first four films grossing a collective $2.5 billion. Breaking Dawn Part 2, the final installment, picks up where Part 1 left off: with Bella reborn as a vampire, and Renesmee, the child she had with Edward Cullen, in danger from the powerful Volturi coven. Part 2 signals the end of the Twilight Saga on screen (rumors of a reboot notwithstanding), so Meyer fans will need to sit tight until the March 2013 release of the film version of her adult novel, The Host.
Life of Pi
Starring Suraj Sharma, Irrfhan Khan, Tobey Maguire
Directed by Ang Lee
Release date November 21 (Twentieth Century Fox)
Tie-in from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Mariner Books: Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Tie-in from Harper Design: The Making of Life of Pi: A Film, a Journey by Jean-Christophe Castelli
PW’s starred review of Martel’s widely praised novel, which won the 2003 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, called the book “a fabulous romp through an imagination by turns ecstatic, cunning, despairing, and resilient, this novel is an impressive achievement—‘a story that will make you believe in God,’ as one character says.” Lee’s directorial prowess and originality have been consistently praised, with laudatory reviews for The Wedding Banquet; Sense and Sensibility; The Ice Storm; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Best Foreign Language Film); and Brokeback Mountain, which won the 2005 Oscar for Best Direction.
Rise of the Guardians
Voices of Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, Chris Pine
Directed by Peter Ramsey
Release date November 21 (DreamWorks)
Tie-ins from Reader’s Digest Children’s Books: three deluxe pop-up books are available October 2. From S&S/Atheneum: a picture book and a middle-grade novel, both by William Joyce, will be published October 2; a boxed set of three titles, also by Joyce, will be available October 16. From S&S/Simon Spotlight: a trade paperback, a Ready-to-Read (hardcover and paperback), an 8×8 sticker book, and an 8×8 paperback are available October 2.
Based on the Guardians of Childhood series by William Joyce, whose The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore won the 2012 Oscar for best animated short, Rise is a 3-D computer-animated film that imagines an alternative backstory for familiar childhood icons. When Pitch, the Nightmare King (Jude Law), threatens to plunge the world into darkness, the Guardians—Santa Claus (Baldwin), the E. Aster Bunnymund (Jackman), Tooth (Isla Fisher), and the silent Sandman—enlist the help of the rebellious, perpetually cool Jack Frost (Pine) to defeat him.
Starring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe
Directed by Tom Hooper
Release date December 14 (Universal)
Tie-in from Penguin: Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, trans. by Christine Donougher
Yet another literary classic that’s been going strong for years on the silver screen—dating back to a 1909 silent version from the Vitagraph Company of America and a 1935 rendition that starred a trio of movie greats: Fredric March, Charles Laughton, and Cedric Hardwicke. But the big event of decades past was the work’s musical adaptation, which opened on Broadway in 1987 and was quickly dubbed Les Miz, touring the world and raking in astounding box-office numbers. The original New York production ran until 2003, reopened in late 2006, and finally closed its doors in January 2008. The movie musical’s star triumvirate looks exceptionally promising, with cineasts checking out the recently released trailers, eagerly awaiting opening day.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Starring Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom
Directed by Peter Jackson
Release date December 14 (New Line Cinema)
Tie-ins from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Visual Companion by Jude Fisher; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Official Movie Guide by Brian Sibley; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Activity Book by Paddy Kempshall; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Movie Storybook by Paddy Kempshall; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey—The World of Hobbits by Paddy Kempshall
Tie-in from HarperDesign: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey—Chronicles: Art & Design
A curious hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, journeys to the Lonely Mountain with a vigorous group of dwarfs to reclaim a treasure stolen from them by the dragon Smaug. Early reports say that for Lord of the Rings fans it feels like revisiting an old friend.
On the Road
Starring Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund, Viggo Mortenson
Directed by Walter Salles
Release date December (IFC Films)
Tie-in from Penguin: On the Road by Jack Kerouac
This is a historic occasion for film buffs: attempts have been made to film Kerouac’s beat classic in the past, but this is the first to make it to the screen. An interesting sidelight is that, according to IMDb.com, Lindsay Lohan was considered for the role of Mary Lou, which went eventually to Stewart. Before filming began, Salles had the cast do a three-week “beatnik boot camp,” which Stewart described as three weeks of nothing but reading literature about the beat generation and listening to audio interviews from Jack Kerouac.
Starring Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall, Rosamund Pike
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie
Release date December 21 (Paramount)
Tie-in from Bantam: One Shot by Lee Child
Former military investigator Jack Reacher goes back into action to prove that an erstwhile military sniper is not responsible for gunning down five innocent people. This first movie appearance by Reacher is adapted from One Shot, the ninth book in Child’s bestselling series.
The Great Gatsby
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Isla Fisher
Directed by Baz Luhrmann
Release date December 25 (Warner Bros.)
Tie-in from Scribner: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The last time Gatsby and Daisy were trooping around East Egg was in the 1974 film, when the golden couple were portrayed by Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. Baz Luhrmann, after theatrical success in his native Australia, moved into film, and has directed five so far: Strictly Ballroom (1992); William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (1996), starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes; Moulin Rouge! (2001), starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, which was named one of AFI’s top 10 films of the year; Australia (2008), starring Kidman and Hugh Jackman; and now the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic.