It's “for intelligent film goers,” said one critic about Brideshead Revisited, the Merchant-Ivory clone that opened last month amid summer's typically more lightweight offerings. For the fall, here come adaptations of bestselling novels (Nights in Rodanthe, The Secret Life of Bees); films from the works of major authors (F. Scott Fitzgerald, David Ignatius, Robert B. Parker, Stephenie Meyer); and those helmed by first-class directors (Ridley Scott, David Fincher, Spike Lee). There'll be several blockbusters here, sure; but do all these pedigrees make them any smarter?

MoviesSEPTEMBERThe DuchessStarring Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Hayley AtwellDirected by Saul DibbRelease date: Sept. 19 (Paramount Vantage, limited)Based on the biography by Amanda Foreman (formerly published as Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire) (Random House, Aug.; 91,500 trade paper)This Duchess has a distinguished lineage: Foreman's book won the 1998 Whitbread Prize for Biography and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.IgorVoices of John Cusack, Steve Buscemi, Christian SlaterDirected by Anthony LeondisRelease date: Sept. 19 (MGM, Exodus Film Group, wide)Tie-ins from S&S: Eight titles, including The Official 51st Annual Evil Science Fair Program by Eliza Elliot (Simon Spotlight, Sept.; 100,000 paper); and Igor's Inventions by Tina Gallo (Simon Scribbles, Sept.; 75,000 paper)Tie-in from Weinstein Books:Igor by Kitty Richards (Sept.; 50,000)Will a superstar roster of comic actors (including John Cleese, Arsenio Hall, Eddie Izzard, Jay Leno and Molly Shannon) mean big laughs for this CGI-animated film about a lab assistant with big aspirations?Miracle at St. AnnaStarring Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz AlonsoDirected by Spike LeeRelease date: Sept. 26 (Touchstone, wide)Based on the novel by James McBride (Riverhead, Sept.; 65,000 trade paper)McBride's debut novel follows his acclaimed memoir, The Color of Water. Set in 1944 Italy, Miracle centers on four black U.S. soldiers who get trapped in a Tuscan village during WWII.ChokeStarring Anjelica Huston, Sam Rockwell, Kelly MacdonaldDirected by Gregg ClarkRelease date: Sept. 26 (Fox Searchlight Pictures, wide)Based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk (Anchor, Aug.; trade paper)The movie opened to great reviews at Sundance in January, where it won the Special Jury Prize.Nights in RodantheStarring Richard Gere, Diane Lane, James FrancoDirected by George C. WolfeRelease date: Sept. 26 (Warner Brothers Entertainment, wide)Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central, Aug.; 460,000 trade paper; 1.3 million mass market)Nights marks the fourth filmization of a Sparks novel and the third Gere-Lane pairing (Unfaithful, 2002; The Cotton Club, 1984). Franco returns to a typical hero role following his stoner turn in the current Pineapple Express.OCTOBERSynecdoche, New YorkStarring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michelle Williams, Catherine KeenerDirected by Charlie KaufmanRelease date: Oct. TBA (Sony Pictures Classics, limited)Tie-in from Newmarket Press:Synecdoche, New York: The Shooting Script by Charlie Kaufman (Oct.; 7,500 trade paper)Can Kaufman direct as well as he writes? The Oscar-winning screenwriter (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation, Being John Malkovich) makes his debut behind the camera.AppaloosaStarring Viggo Mortensen, Renée Zellweger, Jeremy IronsDirected by Ed HarrisRelease date: Oct. 3 (Warner Brothers, New Line Cinema, wide)Based on the novel by Robert B. Parker (Berkley, 2006; 80,000 mass market)Triple-threat Harris directed, wrote the screenplay and acts (along with his co-writer, Robert Knott) in this western that's studded with big names.The ExpressStarring Dennis Quaid, Charles Dutton, Clancy BrownDirected by Gary FlederRelease date: Oct. 3 (Universal, wide)Tie-in from Ballantine:The Express: The Ernie Davis Story by Robert C. Gallagher (Sept.; 50,000 trade paper)Fleder, who helmed the 2003 adaptation of John Grisham's Runaway Jury, directs the moving story of the football hero who lost his fight with leukemia 18 months after winning the Heisman Trophy.How to Lose Friends & Alienate PeopleStarring Simon Pegg, Kirsten Dunst, Jeff BridgesDirected by Robert B. WeideRelease date: Oct. 3 (MGM, wide)Based on the memoir by Toby Young (Da Capo, Sept.; 75,000 trade paper)The new edition of Young's memoir includes a postscript on the making of the movie—a process during which Young continued his alienation tactics.Nick and Norah's Infinite PlaylistStarring Michael Cera, Kat Dennings, Alexis DzienaDirected by Peter SollettRelease Date: Oct. 3 (Sony Pictures Entertainment, wide)Based on the novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (Knopf, Aug.; 100,000 paper)Cohn and Levithan's novel about two teenagers' nightlong adventure through New York City jumps to the big screen; Cera's (Juno; Arrested Development) alt-heartthrob appeal may help make the film a big fall date movie.Body of LiesStarring Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Carice van HoutenDirected by Ridley ScottRelease date: Oct. 10 (Warner Brothers, wide)Based on the novel by David Ignatius (Norton, Sept.; 150,000 trade paper)PW's starred review (“one of the best post 9/11 thrillers yet”) hit the nail on the head: “should possibly attract Hollywood interest.” (And it should be a doozy, with two über-stars working under Scott's direction.)The City of EmberStarring Bill Murray, Tim Robbins, Saoirse RonanDirected by Gil KenanRelease Date: Oct. 10 (Fox-Walden, wide)Based on the novel by Jeanne DuPrau (Random/Yearling, Aug.; 226,000 paper)Kenan (Monster House) helms this steampunk adaptation of the first book in DuPrau's series. Tom Hanks is on board as a producer: his production company, Playtone, bought film rights in 2004.Flash of GeniusStarring Lauren Graham, Dermot Mulroney, Greg KinnearDirected by Mark AbrahamRelease date: Oct. 17 (Universal, wide)Based on the nonfiction book by John Seabrook (St. Martin's/Griffin, Sept.; 25,000 trade paper)Seabrook's book explores the moment when inspiration strikes in an otherwise average life, and what happens when that idea takes on a life of its own.The Secret Life of BeesStarring Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer HudsonDirected by Gina Prince-BlythewoodRelease date: Oct. 17 (Fox Searchlight Pictures, wide)Based on the novel by Sue Monk Kidd (Penguin, Aug.; 570,000 trade paper)Kidd's long-running bestseller has been picked up for school course adoptions and numerous community reads throughout the country.Disney High School Musical 3:Senior YearStarring Zac Efron, Vanessa Anne Hudgens, Ashley TisdaleDirected by Kenny OrtegaRelease date: Oct. 24 (Walt Disney Pictures, wide)Tie-ins from Disney Press: Eight titles, including Disney High School Musical 3: Junior Novel by N. B. Grace (Sept.; 1 million paper); and Disney High School Musical 3: Reader #1: Take a Bow (Jan.; 150,000 paper)Tie-ins from DK Publishing:High School Musical: The Essential Guide (Sept.); The High School Musical Ultimate Sticker Book (Sept., paper)The third installment in Disney's blockbuster franchise hits the big screen for the first time. High School Musical 2 (2007) had 17.2 million viewers in the U.S., which set a cable TV record.NOVEMBERMadagascar: Escape 2 AfricaVoices of Ben Stiller, Sacha Baron Cohen, David SchwimmerDirected by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrathRelease date: Nov. 7 (DreamWorks Animation, wide)Tie-ins from HarperEntertainment: Six titles, including Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa: The Gang's All Here! by Annie Auerbach (Oct.; 150,000 paper); and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa: The Junior Novel by J.E. Bright (Oct.; 200,000 paper)This CGI film's 2005 predecessor about a rowdy group of animals' escape from the Central Park Zoo grossed close to $200 million.Quantum of SolaceStarring Daniel Craig, Mathieu Amalric, Judi DenchDirected by Mark ForsterRelease date: Nov. 7 (MGM/United Artists, wide)Tie-in from Titan Books:James Bond: Polestar by Ian Fleming, Jim Lawrence, Yaroslav Horak and John McLusky (Nov., 4,000 graphic novel, paper)Tie-ins from DK:James Bond: The Secret World of 007 by Alastair Dougall (Oct., hardcover reference guide); Bond on Set: Filming Quantum of Solace by Greg Williams (Sept., trade paper)For his sophomore effort as the super-suave 007, Craig faces a new director: Forster (The Kite Runner) takes over from Casino Royale's Martin Campbell. (Trivia fans take note: appearing in a small role is Oona Chaplin, granddaughter of the great comic actor Charlie Chaplin.)The RoadStarring Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Guy PearceDirected by John HillcoatRelease date: Nov. 7, limited; Nov. 26, wide (Dimension Films/Weinstein Company)Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy (Vintage, Oct.; trade paper)McCarthy's last movie, No Country for Old Men, won last year's Best Picture Oscar. Can the Pulitzer Prize—winner make it two in a row?BoltVoices of Miley Cyrus, John Travolta, Malcolm McDowellDirected by Byron Howard and Chris WilliamsRelease date: Nov. 21 (Walt Disney Pictures, wide)Tie-ins from Random House: Seven titles, including Bolt Read-Aloud Storybook (RH/Disney, Sept.); and Bolt Little Golden Book (RH/Golden, Sept.). Combined first printing for Random House tie-in program: 800,000.Tie-in from Disney Press:One Ridonculous Adventure by Catherine Daly (Sept.; 50,000)Disney's CGI feature film got a bit of breathing room—and a slightly earlier release date—when Warner Bros. announced that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince would be pushed back from a November release until July 2009.The SoloistStarring Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx, Catherine KeenerDirected by Joe WrightRelease date: Nov. 21 (Paramount/DreamWorks, wide)Based on the memoir by Steve Lopez (Berkley, Oct.; 150,000 trade paper)With Atonement's Wright at the helm, Downey goes from his lauded Iron Man turn to playing Steve Lopez, an L.A. columnist who befriended a homeless violinist struggling with schizophrenia. PW gave the “inspiring story of heartbreak and hope” a starred review.TwilightStarring Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor LautnerDirected by Catherine HardwickeRelease date: Nov. 21 (Summit Entertainment, wide)Based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer (Nov.; 1.5 million mass market paper; 500,000 trade paper)Tie-ins from Little, Brown:Twilight: The Complete Illustrated Movie Companion by Mark Cotta Vaz (Oct.; 300,000 paper); The Twilight Saga: The Official Guide by Stephenie Meyer (Dec.; 500,000 hardcover)Anticipation for this film may equal or surpass that of Meyer's recent novel, Breaking Dawn; the release date was bumped up by a few weeks, welcome news for fans, be they “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob.”DECEMBERGomorraStarring Salvatore Cantalupo, Gianfelice Imparato, Maria NazionaleDirected by Matteo GarroneRelease date: Dec., TBA (IFC Films, limited; Jan., wide)Based on the novel by Roberto Saviano (Picador, Dec.; 35,000 trade paper)Move over, Don Corleone. Saviano's novel, a bestseller in Italy, traces the decline of Naples under the Camorra, a crime network that makes the mafia look like a social club. Earlier this year the movie won the Grand Prix at Cannes.The Other ManStarring Antonio Banderas, Liam Neeson, Laura LinneyDirected by Richard EyreRelease date: Dec. 3 (Rainmark Films, limited; Dec. 25, wide)Based on the short story by Bernhard Schlink (Vintage collection The Other Man, Nov.; trade paper)What are the odds of two Bernhard Schlink movies (see below) being released in the same month?The ReaderStarring Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, Alexandra Maria LaraDirected by Stephen DaldryRelease date: Dec. 12 (The Weinstein Company, limited)Based on the novel by Bernhard Schlink (Vintage, Nov.; trade paper)Daldry's impressive track record includes The Hours and Billy Elliot; he's also helming next year's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. The novel was an Oprah Book Club pick.The Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonVoices of Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Tilda SwintonDirected by David FincherRelease date: Dec. 19 (Paramount, wide)Tie-in from Scribner:The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Story to Screenplay; includes the F. Scott Fitzgerald story, screen story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord, and screenplay by Eric Roth.Tie-in from Quirk Books:The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: A Graphic Novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, adapted by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, illus. by Kevin Cornell (Oct., hardcover)Fincher has famously directed such hard-hitting fare as The Fight Club, Zodiac and The Panic Room. We assume he's somewhat trimmed his sails for this Fitzgerald tale of an old man who ages in reverse until he reaches babyhood.The Tale of DespereauxVoices of Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Sigourney WeaverDirected by Sam Fell, Robert StevenhagenRelease date: Dec. 19 (Universal Pictures, wide)Based on the novel by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick, 2003)Tie-ins from Candlewick Press: Eight titles, including The Tale of Despereaux Junior Novelization by Jamie Michalak (Oct.; 125,000 paper); and The Tale of Despereaux: The Graphic Novel, adapted and illus. by Matt Smith and David Tilton (Oct.; 5,000 hardcover; 45,000 paper)DiCamillo's Newbery Award—winning novel about a mouse with courage as big as his ears hits the big screen in this CGI-animated feature, which departs from Timothy Basil Ering's original artwork for the book.Bedtime StoriesStarring Adam Sandler, Keri Russell, Courteney CoxDirected by Adam ShankmanRelease date: Dec. 25 (Walt Disney Pictures, wide)Tie-ins from Disney Press: Six titles, including Bedtime Stories: The Junior Novel (Nov.; 100,000 paper); and Bedtime Stories: Movie Storybook by Annmarie Harris (Nov.; 75,000)This live-action film stars Sandler as a babysitter whose bedtime stories start to come true. Disney's 2007 film Enchanted demonstrated that such a mix of fantasy and reality can work—that film grossed nearly $128 million.Marley & MeStarring Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Alan ArkinDirected by David FrankelRelease date: Dec. 25 (20th Century Fox, wide)Based on the memoirMarley and Me by John Grogan (Morrow, 2005)Tie-ins from HarperCollins:Marley Movie Tie-In Edition by John Grogan (HarperEntertainment, Oct.; 250,000 paper); and Marley & Me: Marley to the Rescue! by M.K. Gaudet (HarperTrophy, Oct.; 175,000 paper)Grogan's bestselling memoir about life with a hyperactive Labrador retriever spawned children's book adaptations and now this feature film, directed by Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada).The SpiritGabriel Macht, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. JacksonDirected by Frank MillerRelease date: Dec. 25 (Lionsgate, wide)Tie-in from Palace Publishing Group/Insight Editions:Will Eisner's The Spirit: A Pop-Up Graphic Novel (Oct., 18,000 hardcover)Tie-in from Titan Books:The Spirit: The Movie Visual Companion by Mark Cotta Vaz (Nov., 2,500 hardcover)Miller's splashy direction (his 2005 Sin City is already set for two sequels) should be a great match for Eisner, who's been dubbed “the most influential comic book artist of all time.”Revolutionary RoadStarring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy BatesDirected by Sam MendesRelease date: Dec. 26 (Paramount/DreamWorks, limited)Based on the novel by Richard Yates (Vintage, Nov.; trade paper and mass market)The movie reunites Titanic's lovebirds, and Winslet works with her husband, Mendes. Everyman's Library will publish a Yates omnibus (Road, Easter Parade, Eleven Kinds of Loneliness) to coincide with the movie.TV—Ongoing
Charlie and Lola
(Playhouse Disney)
Tie-ins from Penguin:Charlie and Lola: An Extremely Wintery Winter Activity Kit (Dial, Sept.; 40,000); I Am Really, Really Concentrating (Grosset, Sept.; 40,000 paper); I Am Collecting a Collection Sticker Stories (Grosset, Sept.; 40,000 activity)
Tie-in from Candlewick Press:Charlie and Lola's I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go to Bed Pop-Up by Lauren Child (Oct.; 15,000 novelty)
Curious George
Tie-ins from HMH/Houghton Mifflin:Curious George The Surprise Gift (Oct.; 50,000 paper); Curious George Seasons (Sept.; 50,000 board)
Tie-in from Vintage:Dexter in the Dark (Sept.; trade paper)
Dora the Explorer
(Nick Jr.)
Tie-ins from Simon Spotlight: Five titles, including Dora Saves the Snow Princess by Phoebe Beinstein (Sept.; 250,000 paper); and The Snow Fairies Skating Party by Irene Kilpatrick (Sept.; 250,000 board)
Ghost Whisperer
Tie-in from Titan Books:Ghost Whisperer Spirit Guide by Kim Moses and Ian Sander (Oct.; 7,500 paper)
Go, Diego, Go!
(Nick Jr.)
Tie-ins from Simon Spotlight: Four titles, including Dinosaur Hide-and-Seek (Sept.; 250,000 paper); and Diego's Animals on the Move by Lisa Rao (Sept.; 150,000 novelty)
Handy Manny
(Disney Channel)
Tie-ins from Disney Press: Eight titles, including Handy Manny: The New Kid by Marcy Kelman, illus. by Alan Batson (Nov.; 100,000 board); and Handy Manny: Tool for Sale by Susan Ring, illus. by Alan Batson (Oct.; 100,000 paper)
Hannah Montana
(Disney Channel)
Tie-ins from Disney Press: Five titles, including Hannah Montana: Backstage Pass by M.C. King (Oct.; 750,000); and Hannah Montana: Book #14: On the Road by Kitty Richards (Sept.; 300,000 paper)
How I Met Your Mother
Tie-in from Fireside:The Bro Code by Barney Stinson with Matt Kuhn (Oct.; 75,000+ trade paper)
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
(Disney Channel)
Tie-ins from Disney Press: Seven titles, including Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: The Mystery of the Messy Clubhouse by Thea Feldman (Oct.; 125,000 novelty); and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Clubhouse Christmas by Susan Amerikaner (Sept.; 175,000 board)
(USA Network)
Tie-in from NAL/Signet:Mr. Monk Goes to Germany by Lee Goldberg (July; 19,000 hardcover)
(BBC America)
Tie-in from Titan Books:Primeval: The Lost Island by Paul Kearney (Nov.; 5,000 hardcover)
Tie-in from Grand Central:Privileged by Zoey Dean (Sept.; 50,000 trade paper; reissue of 2007's How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls)
Ripley's Believe It or Not!
Tie-in from Scholastic Licensed Publishing:Ripley's Believe It or Not! Special Edition 2009 (Sept.)
Sesame Street
(PBS Kids)
Tie-ins from Candlewick Press: Four titles, including Happy and Sad, Grouchy and Glad by Constance Allen, illus. by Tom Brannon (Oct.; 4,000 paper); and Hooray for Our Heroes! by Sarah Albee, illus. by Tom Brannon (Oct.; 4,000 paper)
Tie-in from Titan Books:Smallville: The Official Companion Season 7 by Craig Byrne (Oct.; 7,500 paper)
Stargate: Atlantis
(Sci-Fi Channel)
Tie-in from Titan Books:Stargate: Atlantis: The Official Companion Season 4 by Sharon Gosling (Oct.; 7,000 paper)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
(Cartoon Network, TNT)
Tie-ins from Grosset & Dunlap: Five titles, including Decide Your Destiny: #1 The Way of the Jedi by Jake Forbes (Oct.; 150,000 paper); and Paper Model Making Kit (Oct.; 150,000 activity)
(BBC America)
Tie-in from Titan Books:Torchwood: The Official Magazine Yearbook (Sept.; 5,000 hardcover)
True Blood
Tie-in from Ace:Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (Sept.; mass market)
What Not to Wear
Tie-in from St. Martin's/Griffin:Great Hair by show stylist Nick Arrojo (Sept.; 75,000 trade paper)
Wizards of Waverly Place
(Disney Channel)
Tie-ins from Disney Press:Wizards of Waverly Place: Book #3: In Your Face by Heather Alexander (Sept.; 150,000 paper); Wizards of Waverly Place: Book #4: Spellbound by Beth Beechwood (Dec.; 50,000 paper)
Wonder Pets!
(Nick Jr.)
Tie-ins from Simon Spotlight: Four titles, including Save the Bengal Tiger! by Billy Lopez (Sept.; 200,000 paper); and We Can Help! by Melinda Richards (Sept.; 200,000 paper)
Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!
(Nick Jr., Noggin)
Tie-in from Scholastic Licensed Publishing:Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!: O' Figgity Fig Tree: A Holiday Story (Oct.; paper)
Of Memory and Murder
Starring Annabeth Gish, Chandra West, Jane McLean
Directed by David Wellington
Air date: Sept. (Lifetime Network)
Tie-in from Anchor:Who Named the Knife by Linda Spalding (Oct., nonfiction trade paper)
The Rape of Europa
Starring Joan Allen
Directed by Richard Berge
Air date: Nov. 24 (PBS)
Based on the nonfiction book by Lynn Nicholas (Anchor, 1995; trade paper)
Flirting with Forty
Starring Heather Locklear, Robert Buckley
Directed by Mikael Salomon
Air date: Dec. (Lifetime Network)

Based on the novel by Jane Porter (Grand Central, Nov.; 30,000 trade paper)