Now that the summer of sequels finally has ended, Hollywood has a message for adults: It's safe to get back in the theaters again.
The fall always looks great from a Labor Day perspective as the studios and indie distributors prepare to unveil their Oscar hopefuls. Stars such as Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman (x2), Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Anthony Hopkins and Renee Zellweger will be back in the game, as will directors Quentin Tarantino, Ron Howard, Tim Burton, Edward Zwick, Anthony Minghella, Jane Campion and Peter Jackson (who made the one follow-up we really want to see: "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King").
Of course, we won't know whether the movies live up to the buildup until we actually see them. So here's the lineup of what looks like a typically crowded fall field. For what it's worth, the director's previous movie, if there is one, is listed in parentheses, and as always, the dates are subject to change.
"Alien."Director: Ridley Scott ("Matchstick Men"). Stars: Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright. Will those hideous slimy creatures burst out of anyone else's skin in this "director's cut" of the 1979 space chiller? One can only dream. Oct. 31.
"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." Directors: Kim Bartley, Donnacha O'Briain ("9/11"). Documentary detailing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's chaotic 48 hours in 2002 that found him briefly deposed and local government in upheaval. Oct. 31.
"Brother Bear."Directors: Aaron Blaise & Robert Walker. Voices: Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Suarez, Jason Raize. A boy magically transformed into a bear befriends a bear cub in this animated tale driven by Phil Collins songs. Nov. 1.
"The Matrix Revolutions."Directors: The Wachowski Brothers ("The Matrix Reloaded"). Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss. The final chapter in this leather-and-cyberspace trilogy with comic book sensibilities and philosophical underpinnings. Nov. 5.
"Anything But Love." Director: Isabel Rose. Stars: Rose, Andrew McCarthy, Cameron Bancroft. This throwback Technicolor-style fable finds a striving female singer of old pop standards torn between her fiance and her accompanist. Nov. 7.
"Elephant." Director: Gus Van Sant ("Gerry"). Stars: Alex Frost, Eric Deulen, John Robinson. Working in his experimental mode, Van Sant won the Cannes Palme d'Or for his naturalistic take on the Columbine high-school shooting tragedy. Nov. 7.
"The Flower of Evil."Director: Claude Chabrol ("Merci pour le Chocolat"). Stars: Nathalie Baye, Benoît Magimel, Suzanne Flon. Venerable director's latest finds French politics and family histories clashing to reveal a scandalous past. Nov. 7.
"21 Grams." Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ("Amores Perros"). Stars: Benicio Del Toro, Sean Penn, Naomi Watts. The story intertwines three emotionally and physically troubled people. The title refers to how much weight your body supposedly loses when you die. Nov. 14.
"The Embalmer."Director: Matteo Garrone ("Roman Summer") Stars: Ernesto Mahieux, Valerio Foglia Manzillo. An aging taxidermist finds an energetic young apprentice. Nov. 14.
"Hukkle." Director: György Pálfi. Stars: Ferenc Bandi, József Forkas, Attila Kaszás. A Hungarian filmmaker follows the residents of a small town while murder brews in the background. Nov. 14.
"Looney Tunes: Back in Action."Director: Joe Dante ("Small Soldiers"). Stars: Brendan Fraser, Jenna Elfman, Steve Martin. Warners cartoon critics team up with live-action Fraser and Elfman to the battle evil, buck-toothed Martin and to find the mythical Blue Monkey Diamond. Nov. 14.
"Love Actually."Director: Richard Curtis. Stars: Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Laura Linney. Directorial debut of "Four Weddings and a Funeral"/"Notting Hill" screenwriter Curtis is a sprawling romantic comedy interweaving multiple storylines on Christmas Eve in London. Nov. 14.
"Honey." Director: Bille Woodruff. Stars: Jessica Alba, Mekhi Phifer, Joy Bryant. A dancer/choreographer hits the big time but tries to keep it real in this R&B flavored flick from a Britney Spears video director. Nov. 14.
"Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World."Director: Peter Weir ("The Truman Show"). Stars: Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany. The usually fab Weir tries to revive the high-seas adventure tradition with this adaptation of the 10th book in Patrick O'Brian's "Aubrey/Maturin" series. Nov. 14.
"Shattered Glass."Director: Billy Ray. Stars: Hayden Christensen, Peter Sarsgaard, Chloe Sevigny. The man who would be Darth Vader plays disgraced New Republic journalist Stephen Glass in this Tom Cruise-produced biopic. Nov. 14.
"Tupac: Resurrection." Director: Lauren Lazin. Star: Tupac Shakur. Told entirely in the slain rapper's own words, this film celebrates the life and legacy of Tupac Shakur. Nov. 14.
"Dr. Seuss' The Cat In The Hat." Director: Bo Welch. Stars: Mike Myers, Alec Baldwin, Kelly Preston, Dakota Fanning. Charming kids book becomes big studio package directed by the "Men in Black" production designer. Nov. 21.
"Gothika."Director: Mathieu Kassovitz ("The Crimson Rivers"). Stars: Halle Berry, Penelope Cruz, Robert Downey Jr. Thriller about a woman (Berry) convicted of a murder of which she has no memory. Nov. 21.
"To Be and To Have."Director: Nicolas Philibert ("Qui Sait"). A French documentary about an understaffed, overcrowded school in the countryside. Nov. 21.
"Bad Santa." Director: Terry Zwigoff ("Ghost World"). Stars: Billy Bob Thornton, Lauren Graham, John Ritter, Bernie Mac. Two con men pose as Santa and his elf, intent on rampant thievery until the true meaning of Christmas interferes. Nov. 26.
"Big Fish." Director: Tim Burton ("Planet of the Apes"). Stars: Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup. Burton works with higher primates and a talented cast in a surreal story about an estranged father and son. Nov. 26.
"The Haunted Mansion."Director: Rob Minkoff ("Stuart Little"). Stars: Eddie Murphy, Terence Stamp, Wallace Shawn. Another Disneyland attraction becomes a movie as Murphy plays a realtor who gets stuck inside a you-know-what with his family. Nov. 26.
"In America." Director: Jim Sheridan ("The Boxer"). Stars: Samantha Morton, Paddy Considine, Djimon Hounsou. Last year's Toronto Film Festers dug Sheridan's immigration tale about an Irish couple who settles in New York City. Nov. 26.
"Timeline."Director: Richard Donner ("Lethal Weapon 4"). Stars: Paul Walker, Frances O'Connor, Gerard Butler. Based on Michael Crichton's bestseller, a team of modern day student archaeologists find themselves in medieval France. Nov. 26.
"New Suit."Director: François Velle ("Comme des Rois") Stars: Jordan Bridges, Marisa Coughlan, Heather Donahue. A writer inadvertently creates Hollywood buzz with the mention of a mysterious new screenplay. Nov. 28.
"Highwaymen."Director: Robert Harmon ("They"). Stars: Jim Caviezel, Rhona Mitra. A killer's only surviving victim (Mitra) helps a man (Caviezel) hunt down her attacker, who also murdered his wife. Dec. 3.
"Japanese Story." Director: Sue Brooks. Stars: Toni Collette, Gotaro, Tsunashima. A geologist takes a Japanese businessman around Western Australia's desert with surprising, dangerous results. Dec. 5.
"The Last Samurai."Director: Edward Zwick ("The Siege"). Stars: Tom Cruise, Timothy Spall, Billy Connolly. Cruise plays an American military officer in the 1870s caught between the ancient samurai class and the modern army he was sent to train. Dec. 5.
"The Missing."Director: Ron Howard ("A Beautiful Mind"). Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Cate Blanchett, Evan Rachel Wood. Jones searches every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse for his grandchildren, who have been kidnapped by a mystical cult. Dec. 10.
"Love Don't Cost a Thing." Director: Troy Beyer ("Let's Talk About Sex"). Stars: Nick Cannon, Christina Milian, Steve Harvey. A remake of 1987's "Can't Buy Me Love" in which a high school misfit gets to hang with the popular girl - by financial arrangement, of course. Dec. 12.
"Stuck on You."Directors: Bobby and Peter Farrelly ("Shallow Hal"). Stars: Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Eva Mendes. Farrellys try to regain wacky touch with comedy about conjoined twins who get split apart - well, not really - when one of them (Kinnear) wants to make it as an actor. Dec. 12.
"The Lord of the Rings: The Return of The King."Director: Peter Jackson ("LOTR: The Two Towers"). Stars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, Cate Blanchett. Frodo (Wood) faces the task of destroying the One Ring in Jackson's final installment in J.R.R. Tolkien's mythic battle of good vs. evil. Dec. 17.
"The Barbarian Invasions."Director: Denys Arcand ("Stardom"). Stars: Remy Girard, Stephane Rousseau, Dorothee Berryman. Arcand's sequel to "The Decline of the American Empire" about the economic, personal and sexual interplay among a group of friends. Dec. 19.
"Calendar Girls."Director: Nigel Cole ("Saving Grace"). Stars: Helen Mirren, Julie Walters, John Alderton. Middle-aged women bare all for a fundraiser in a comedy that looks like one of those cutesy British confections. Dec. 19.
"The Cooler."Director: Wayne Kramer ("Crossing Over"). Stars: William H. Macy, Alec Baldwin, Maria Bello. A sad-sack casino gambler (Macy) finds that love cures his chronic bad luck in this offbeat romance that had some naughty bits trimmed out thanks to the MPAA. Dec. 19.
"Something's Gotta Give." Director: Nancy Meyers ("What Women Want"). Stars: Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves, Amanda Peet. Nicholson is torn between two lovers, one his own age (Keaton), one not (Peet), in this comedy that lifted its title from Marilyn Monroe's last uncompleted film. Dec. 19.
"Mona Lisa Smile."Director: Mike Newell ("Pushing Tin"). Stars: Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, Maggie Gyllenhaal. In 1953, an art history professor (Roberts) at Wellesley College encourages her all-female students to want more than just to marry well. Dec. 19.
"The Alamo."Director: John Lee Hancock ("The Rookie"). Stars: Dennis Quaid, Billy Bob Thornton, Jason Patric. Fewer than 200 Americans try to fend off thousands of American soldiers in this 1836 confrontation. You remember. Dec. 25.
"Cheaper by the Dozen."Director: Shawn Levy ("Just Married"). Stars: Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, Piper Perabo, Hilary Duff. Twelve kids, wacky hijinks - Martin's not exactly exploring his "edgy" side, is he? Dec. 25.
"Cold Mountain."Director: Anthony Minghella ("The Talented Mr. Ripley"). Stars: Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger. Based on Charles Frazier's best-selling novel, with Law playing a wounded Confederate soldier walking home to his mountain community and sweetheart Kidman. Dec. 25.
"The Company." Director: Robert Altman ("Gosford Park"). Stars: Neve Campbell, James Franco, Malcolm McDowell. Shot in Chicago, this Altman movie focuses on an ensemble drama a group of ballet dancers. Dec. 25.
"Paycheck."Director: John Woo ("Windtalkers"). Stars: Ben Affleck, Aaron Eckhart, Uma Thurman. Woo illuminates a futuristic Philip K. Dick ("Blade Runner," "Total Recall") tale of a high-tech engineer who has his memory erased so he doesn't reveal company secrets. Predictably, our hero has to piece together his past under duress. Dec. 25.
"Peter Pan."Director: P.J. Hogan ("My Best Friend's Wedding"). Stars: Jason Isaacs, Jeremy Sumpter, Richard Briers, Olivia Williams. Touted as the first live-action "Pan" since the silent era, this latest version of J.M. Barrie's classic story features the delectable Ludivine Sagnier from "Swimming Pool" as Tinkerbell. Dec. 25.
"The Young Black Stallion."Director: Simon Wincer ("Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles"). IMAX prequel to the 1979 kids fave unites a girl and a wild stallion in Northern Africa at the end of World War II. Dec. 25.
"The Triplets of Belleville." Director: Sylvain Chomet. French animated tale about a young bicyclist who's kidnapped and must be saved by his grandmother and dog. Dec. 26.
"House of Sand and Fog." Director: Vadim Perelman. Stars: Ben Kingsley, Jennifer Connelly, Ron Eldard. A bureaucratic boo-boo spurs an exiled Iranian official (Kingley) and a recovering addict (Connelly) to fight over a house in this adaptation of Andre Dubus III's book. December.
"Girl with the Pearl Earring." Director: Peter Webber. Stars: Colin Firth, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Wilkinson. It's clash of the classes in 17th Century Holland, as director Webber explores the love and scandal behind one of Vermeer's most famous paintings. Jan. 9.