Clowns, cards, criminals, courts – tennis and judiciary – and covert operations are being counted on to turn around a movie industry that is coming off one of its worst summer seasons in recent memory, as the past three months saw a nearly 16% decline in revenue for a season that generally provides a boost. Will the fall season be better than this summer? Let’s put it this way: it can’t possibly be worse. With the star power that’s hitting the silver screen over the next three months, the industry has a chance to be golden again.
Opens: Nov. 3
Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchet, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Jaimie Alexander
Why it’s worthy of a spot: Well, there are about 1.1 billion reasons why this film deserves a spot, as that’s how much money the first two installments of Thor made at the world wide box office. It’s been four years since we lasts saw Hemsworth smash bad guys with his hammer. “Thor” The Dark World” made $644 million at the box office – about $200 million more than 2012’s “Thor.”
Why it may not be: There’s only so much you do with Thor and his nemesis, Loki. Waititi takes over as director from Alan Taylor, which is puzzling after Taylor’s sequel was one of the few superhero films that was better than the original.
Opens: Sept. 22
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, Pedro Pascal
Why it’s worthy of a spot: Because if this sequel is even close to being as good as 2015’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” which grossed more than $410 million at the worldwide box office, it will all but guarantee “Kingsman” will become a franchise.
Why it may not be: Because Tatum is entering the fray and he’s a wildcard and Samuel L. Jackson, isn’t retuning for the sequel. That’s a risky. It’s tough to see Berry, Firth, Moore and Bridges all failing to deliver, regardless what Tatum does.
9. Battle of the Sexes
Opens: Sept. 22
Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Starring: Steve Carell, Emma Stone
Why it’s worthy of a spot: Carell gets back to doing what he does best – make people laugh, but “Battle of the Sexes” isn’t a comedy. The tennis match between chauvinist and aging tennis champ Bobby Riggs and tennis champion Billie Jean King uses gender inequality as the backdrop for a tennis match in 1973 that changed the perspective of women.
Why it may not be: Because this story has been told so many times is it really worth a movie? Riggs mocked women, while King stood up for them, so they settled their differences in perhaps the most famous tennis match ever played.
Opens: Nov. 22
Director: Eli Roth
Starring: Bruce Willis, Elisabeth Shue, Camila Marrone, Vincent D’Onofrio
Why it’s worthy of a spot: Willis is at his best when he’s killing bad guys and that’s exactly what he does in this remake of director Michael Winner 1974 film. He teams with Roth who’s terrific at turning murder into an artform, as evident in his work in “Hostel.”
Why it may not be: Willis is no Charles Bronson, who starred in the original. Will moviegoers shell out big bucks to basically see an updated version of a film in which the main character goes around shooting criminals because the police are too busy with other cases?
Opens: Nov. 17
Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Amy Adams, Willem Dafoe, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, J.K. Simmons.
Why it’s worthy of a spot: Because there are too many superheroes for it to not be good. Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, The Flash and Aquaman will try to do what The Avengers has done – destroy villains and box office records, not necessarily in that order. After Spider-Man and Wonder Woman did extremely well at the box office this summer by collectively grossing more than $1.5 billion, Hollywood couldn’t crank out another superhero movie fast enough.
Why it may not be: Snyder has yet to prove he can do an even above average superhero movie, as “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” could have easily gone straight to Netflix.
Opens: Oct. 13
Director: Reginald Hudlin
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Dan Stevens, Jussie Smollett
Why it’s worthy of a spot: Because if any actor out there can portray Thurgood Marshall – the country’s first African-American Supreme Court Justice and the lawyer who desegregated public schools – it’s Boseman. His two best films are “42” and “Get On Up,” when he played Jackie Robinson and James Brown.
Why it may not be: Marshall’s story of how he rose from the streets of Baltimore to a spot on the Supreme Court is so complex that it can’t be confined to a two-hour film. Hudlin’s recent directorial work has been mainly for TV, which is a vastly different medium than movies.
Director: Andy Muschietti
Why it’s worthy of a spot: Because Pennywise, the clown who has been killing kids in Derry, Maine since Stephen King introduced him in his bestselling 1986 novel, might dismember me if I don’t put it on the list. If there’s one author whose books tend to translate well on film, it’s King, who has been terrorizing audiences in print and in theatres for decades.
Why it may not be: Lack of star power. Skargard, who plays America’s favorite diabolical clown, has certainly made a name for himself. But can you name one film that stars any of the supporting cast. Lieberher’s performance as the leads of the “Losers’ Club” who seeks revenge for his younger brother’s murder could make or break this film.
Opens: Nov. 22
Director: Aaron Sorkin
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera
Why it’s worthy of a spot: Because Sorkin doesn’t get involved in bad films, as The Social Nework,” “Moneyball,” “Steve Jobs” and “A Few Good Men” prove he knows what he’s doing. Chastain – an Academy Award nominee – stars as a real-life secretary (Molly Bloom) turned underground “Poker Princess” who becomes so good at setting up high-stakes card games she could make Las Vegas blush, and it’s up to Elba to defend her when she’s busted by the feds.
Why it may not be: Let’s hope Costner doesn’t detract from this film. The Oscar winner is coming off a good performance in 2016’s “Hidden Figures,” which came after about six years of average or mediocre ones.
Opens: Sept. 29
Director: Doug Liman
Starring: Tom Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Wright, E. Roger Mitchell, Jesse Plemons, Lola Kirke
Why it’s worthy of a spot: Because Cruise can’t possibly have three subpar films in a row. This summer, “The Mummy” underwhelmed at the box office by his standards after “Jack Reacher: Never Look Back” made $50 million less at the box office than the first installment of “Reacher” in 2012. Now, Cruise is doing what he does best – mixing action with humor – as he stars as an unlikely pilot flying secret missions for the CIA.
Why it may not be: Do moviegoers really want to see yet another politically-driven movie? Presumably, Cruise’s character plays a major role in the success of Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel and the near demise of the Reagan Administration. The story – even if it is based on a true story – may be so outlandish that it drives audiences away.
Opens: Nov. 3
Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell, Laurence Fishburne
Why it’s worthy of a spot: Three Academy Award nominees in a one film – enough said. Cranston, Carell and Fishburne are three friends who have gone their separate ways since serving together in the military, only to be reunited after Carell’s son is killed in action overseas.
Why it may not be: Cranston isn’t playing Walter White. Carell isn’t playing Michael Scott. Fishburne isn’t playing a butt-kicking authority figure. This film represents a major change in genre for all of them and just because they are great on their own doesn’t mean they can be great together.
Opens: Nov. 10
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Starring: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kenneth Branagh, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Penélope Cruz, Josh Gad, Leslie Odom Jr., Daisy Ridley
Why it’s worthy of a spot: Did you see who’s in it? No movie this fall has this much star power, which means a story that’s more than 80 years old could experience a rebirth. There’s just too much talent on screen for this movie to fail.
Why it may not be: Because everyone knows how the movie ends since Agatha Christie’s book has sold millions of copies since being published in 1934. The book was made into a movie in 1974 and TV series in 2001, but the cast wasn’t anywhere near this good. Still, the audience knows what to expect, and how the movie should end.
Jon Gallo is an award-winning journalist and editor with 18 years experience, including stints as a staff writer at The Washington Post and sports editor at The Baltimore Examiner. He’s also an editor for CBSSports.com. He’s crossing his fingers the only baseball team in Baltimore that will contend for a title this summer won’t be his fantasy squad, the Catonsville Cartel. He also believes the government should declare federal holidays in honor of the following: the Round of 64 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament; the Friday of the Sweet 16; the Monday after the Super Bowl; and of course, the day after the release of the latest Madden NFL video game.