After stockpiling films for more than 16 months, Hollywood is practically bursting with prestige attractions ready to premiere.
Summer popcorn pictures primed the pump, getting roughly 90% of North American cinemas open. Now, with much of the public vaccinated — especially older audiences who tend to patronize the sort of films that open in the fall — the flow is finally getting back to something approaching normal.
Yes, things are still in flux, and well have to wait a little big longer for some other anticipated movies. But with Hollywood in the enviable position of having kept its biggest guns holstered, autumn looks to be flush with potential awards contenders (Dear Evan Hansen, House of Gucci), intriguing indies (Passing, Language Lessons), and obvious crowd-pleasers (No Time To Die) that would normally have been busting blocks midsummer.
With the caveat that some of these release dates could still change, heres some crystal-ball gazing at what looks most promising.
Dear Evan Hansen (Sept. 24 in theaters)
The 2015 Tony Award-winning musical arrives in movie theaters a couple of months before it returns to Broadway, and the film version boasts original star Ben Platt reprising his performance as a socially anxious teen tasked by his therapist with writing letters to himself. When one letter goes astray, Hansen gets caught in a web of well-intentioned lies that spiral out of his control.
The Many Saints Of Newark (Oct. 1 in theaters and on HBO Max)
A prequel to The Sopranos, with James Gandolfinis son Michael portraying Tony Soprano as a high school student. Alessandro Nivola plays his uncle, Dickie Moltisanti, the father of Christopher Moltisanti (who was played in the TV series by Michael Imperioli). It should attract a veritable mob of Sopranos fans.
The Harder They Fall (Oct. 6 in theaters)
Some 25% of cowboys were Black, but there have been few Westerns that have looked remotely like the fiery revenge tale director Jeymes Samuel has cooked up, with Idris Elba, Regina King, Zazie Beetz, Jonathan Majors, Delroy Lindo and LaKeith Stanfield.
No Time To Die (Oct. 8 in theaters)
Daniel Craigs final crack at 007 was among the first films to delay opening because of the pandemic. It was originally set to open in April of last year, then April of this year, and now its finally hit a date that looks like itll stick. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation) will pit him against Rami Maleks diabolical (just check out the name) Lyutsifer Safin.
The Last Duel (Oct. 15 in theaters)
One of two Ridley Scott period pieces this fall to star Adam Driver, this 14th century epic finds Driver accused of raping Matt Damons wife, leaving the hubby with just one option — a duel to the death. Conceived by Damon and Ben Affleck (who plays a count), and co-written by Nicole Holofcener, the story is the tale of the last royally sanctioned duel in France.
Dune (Oct. 22 in theaters and streaming on HBO Max)
Timothée Chalamet is king-in-training Paul Atreides in director Denis Villaneuves take on Frank Herberts novel (the bestselling in sci-fi history). The spice trade is booming, the planet Arakis is a deathtrap, and the supporting cast includes Zendaya, Jason Momoa, Charlotte Rampling and Javier Bardem. No wonder theres talk of a whole Duniverse to come.
The French Dispatch (Oct. 22 in theaters)
Wes Andersons tribute to old-school journalism, though its set in a French town among American expat writers, draws its inspiration from the rarefied magazine culture of The New Yorker. Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Timothée Chalamet, Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand and Owen Wilson are on hand to aid and abet Andersons characteristically charming weirdness.
Tick Tick Boom (Nov. 12 in theaters and Nov. 19 on Netflix)
The autobiographical musical that Jonathan Larson wrote before he penned Rent is the opus Lin-Manuel Miranda chose for his directing debut. The Hamilton creator has frequently cited Larson as his inspiration. He cast Andrew Garfield as Larson, and Bradley Whitford as Stephen Sondheim (who was Larsons inspiration). Quite the pedigree.
King Richard (Nov. 19 in theaters and on HBO Max)
Will Smith is Richard Williams, a tenacious dad whos convinced, despite what everyone keeps telling him, that his daughters are going to be great at tennis. Their names? Venus and Serena.
Other films to keep your eyes on
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”
The theatrical release of Marvels “Shang-Chi” was initially uncertain. The launch was announced on February 11, 2021 at San Diego Comic-Con 2019. However, this had to be postponed several times due to the corona pandemic. The new theatrical release for “Shang-Chi” is on September 2, 2021.