10 must-see Hollywood movies this fall
It is difficult to think of any film this fall that is more eagerly awaited than Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh film in the world's most successful franchise. The $150 million film hits over 10,000 screens worldwide November 19, but before that there are a number of small and medium budget films to watch out for.
At stake are the reputations of filmmakers like Clint Eastwood, Danny Boyle and Oliver Stone, who has suffered a number of flops, is hoping for a comeback hit with his new political saga.
Among the first fall films to hit the theaters is Never Let Me Go (September 15) -- a story of three childhood friends (Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and the-soon-to-play-Spider-Man Andrew Garfield). They discover a disturbing truth about themselves as they edge into adulthood following life at a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. They find that they have to come to terms with the strength of the love they feel for each other, while preparing themselves for the haunting reality that awaits them, says the scriptwriter.
Admirers of literary adaptations will look forward to the film -- based on Booker winning author Kazuo Ishiguro's 2005 bestseller of the same name -- from director Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo). It has been adapted by Alex Garland (The Beach, 28 Days Later).
Image: Never Let Me Go trailer
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
The left-leaning and often controversial filmmaker Stone (best known for JFK) tackles yet another conspiracy drama in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (September 24). A sequel to his 1987 hit Wall Street, the film's spirited trailer has garnered a lot of attention.
Michael Douglas returns as Mr Gekko, a greedy broker who is just released from prison. He faces a new adversary -- Josh Brolin as an unethical investment banker, and wants to fight him with the help of a young trader (Shia LeBeouf).
Stone says the film is tautly made and is timely because of the Wall Street collapse two years ago. Though skeptics say people have forgotten the collapse, the buzz for the film, which boasts a talented cast, is strong. The Daily News has called it 'the big-event movie of the fall.'
Image: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps trailer
The Social Network
Also creating a buzz is The Social Network (October 1). Director David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Zodiac) has described the film, adapted by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing) from the international bestseller The Accidental Billionaires, as a cautionary tale about the founding of one of Internet's biggest success stories -- Facebook.
'There is almost a fantasy aspect of these college kids in a dorm room (helping create) a billion-dollar company. It's the American myth,' Ben Mezrich, the author of The Accidental Billionaires told USA Today last week.
'(Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg), who started as a Harvard whiz kid, is an anti-hero, which Americans love, but he is so much more: A socially odd guy, who sweats, is arrogant, confident, brilliant. Facebook is him showing the world what he can do.'
Fincher has said he is fascinated by the conflict between the old school traditions of Harvard's social life and business culture, 'resting on fortunes made over decades of invention, innovation or investment (and then handed down to future generations), and the fame and/or wealth generated in months by someone like Zuckerberg.'
'What did it feel like for someone like him to be 17 to 21 and have all these venture capitalists tapping him on the shoulder and saying, "Come over here?"' Fincher added.
Though Facebook spokesperson Larry Yu described the film as 'fiction,' the firm is not suing the filmmakers.
The film opens the 48th New York Film Festival, which runs September 24 to October 10.
Image: The Social Network trailer
Closing the festival will be Eastwood's Hereafter (October 22).
This is Eastwood's fourth film to secure a berth at the festival. With Hereafter, Eastwood meditates on life, death and close brushes between them, according to press notes. The film touches on the London bombings of 2005 and the 2004 tsunami in Asia. It stars Matt Damon as a San Francisco factory worker, who's able to talk to the dead.
Eastwood films are typically made on modest budgets; most of them cost about $50 million, while the average cost of a Hollywood film is $90 million. Yet rarely do they flop. Even his last film, Invictus, which was not a big success in America, had a strong run abroad.
Image: Hereafter trailer
Another small budget film to watch out for is the sequel to Paranormal Activity. The original was made on a ridiculously small budget -- $10,000, but grossed $150 million worldwide.
Paranormal Activity 2 (October 2), still small by Hollywood standards, has a much larger budget of $10 million.
And Oren Peli, the producer, writer and director of the first film, has let an associate -- Tod Williams -- direct this one, which insiders say can be seen as a stand-alone film.
The plot details and the premise have been kept under tight wraps. 'All fans know is that there's a baby and a creepy something in a hood, plus a dog,' said Chicago Sun-Times.
Image: Paranormal Activity trailer
Boyle, the maker of Slumdog Millionaire, also returns with another small budget film. After Slumdog earned over $600 million overall (a grand achievement for a film made for $15 million), he could have made any film he fancied. Instead, he chose one -- 127 Hours (November 5) -- that he wanted to make for a long time. Before Slumdog, he had feared that he wouldn't be able to raise the $25 million he needed for it.
The film, which unites Boyle with Slumdog writer Simon Beaufoy and composer A R Rahman, is inspired by the true story of mountaineer Aron Ralston (James Franco), who had to cut his arm with a blunt blade after he was trapped by the crash of a boulder in a remote Utah canyon.
'I love films inspired by real life, but getting money to do such films is not always easy,' Boyle has said. 'Once Slumdog kicked off, Christian (Colson, the producer) and I thought this is our chance to make this. There's no other moment in our careers when we'll get a chance to make something like this, which is a tricky prospect for any studio or financier.'
Hollywood insiders have good things to say about 127 Hours, which will be shown at many festivals, including in Toronto, where Slumdog began its journey two years ago. Even if the film, which will have a limited release and add more cities and theaters worldwide based on the response, does one-tenth of the business of Slumdog, it will be a safe venture.
Image: 127 Hours trailer
After the intense Boyle movie, comes Due Date (November 5). The film from director Todd Phillips (The Hangover) was to release in summer, but Robert Downey Jr, who teams up in it with Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover), had Iron Man 2 in the theaters. He would not have had the time to promote Due Date, which could become one of the biggest hits of the season.
Phillips is known for making medium-budget films ($40 to $60 millions) like Road Trip, which pay huge dividends at the box-office. He has said Due Date is about an unlikely pair that goes across the country together. Downey Jr, who has to attend the birth of his child, carpools with Galifianakis.
The pressure to deliver after the huge success of The Hangover didn't faze Phillips. 'I think pressure is always a good thing,' he told MTV News.
'A lot of guys make a big hit movie on the size of The Hangover and they get gun-shy. They wait a few years in a weird way, and I wanted to do the opposite. I wanted to do something again and not worry if it was going to be as big as The Hangover because The Hangover was lightning in a bottle... That was part of the reason for striking out and doing something real quick like Due Date.'
Image: Due Date trailer
Also coming November 5 is Megamind.
Brad Pitt, Will Ferrell and Tina Fey combine voice talents for the animated comedy about a super villain with a void in his life after defeating the superhero, his arch-nemesis. Pitt plays the good guy and Ferrell, the super villain.
To fight his depression the villain creates a new hero, who turns evil. The super villain then sets out to defend the people he had once sought to enslave.
Image: Megamind trailer
Coming November 12 are Unstoppable and Morning Glory.
Denzel Washington teams up with director Tony Scott for the fifth time (Deje vu, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3) in Unstoppable, a story of stopping a runaway freight train loaded with toxic chemicals from destroying a city.
Image: Unstoppable trailer
In Morning Glory, a TV producer (Rachel McAdams) hires a famous anchorman (Harrison Ford) to revive the ratings of her station's morning news show, but the reporter has issues with the co-anchor (Diane Keaton).
Ford has tried comedy several times, but has rarely been successful.
Image: Morning Glory trailer