As summer comes to a close, vacations end, and kids head back to the classrooms, so ends the summer blockbuster season in order to make way for Oscar hopefuls as well as the films looking to entertain moviegoers this coming holiday season. It also means it’s time once again for the Fall Movie Preview. What can movie fans expect to see up on the big screen this fall and holiday season? Among the films headed to the theaters in the last few months of 2016 are a remake of a classic Western, the story of a pilot who became a worldwide hero, a permanently injured surgeon who becomes a superhero, a wizard hunting magical creatures, a WWII epic, and another new adventure in a galaxy far far away.
SULLY – Starring Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, and Laura Linney (Release Date 9/9)
The Plot – On January 15, 2009, the world witnessed the “Miracle on the Hudson” when Captain “Sully” Sullenberger (Hanks) glided his disabled plane onto the frigid waters of the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 aboard. However, even as Sully was being heralded by the public and the media for his unprecedented feat of aviation skill, an investigation was unfolding that threatened to destroy his reputation and his career.
Outlook – Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart, Sully looks to be a stirring drama that just might lead to a few Oscar nominations for both its star and director. The story is still fresh in potential ticket buyers’ minds, and with Hanks in the lead Sully should perform strong at the box office. The only thing potentially holding it back are Clint Eastwood’s recent highly controversial comments on racism.
SNOWDEN – Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Rhys Ifans, and Melissa Leo (Release Date 9/16)
The Plot – Snowden reveals the incredible untold personal story of Edward Snowden, the polarizing figure who exposed shocking illegal surveillance activities by the NSA and became one of the most wanted men in the world. He is considered a hero by some, and a traitor by others. No matter which you believe, the epic story of why he did it, who he left behind, and how he pulled it off makes for a compelling story.
Outlook – Directed by Oliver Stone and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the film hopes to capture the paranoia and fear that drove the main character to become the most wanted man in U.S. history. But will it draw in moviegoers who are tired of Stone’s conspiracy films and his style of filmmaking? The buzz hasn’t been quite as loud for this particular film as you’d expect.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN – Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Byung-Hun Lee, Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Vincent D’Onofrio, Peter Sarsgaard, and Haley Bennett (Release Date 9/23)
The Plot – With the town of Rose Creek under the deadly control of industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Sarsgaard), the desperate townspeople employ protection from seven outlaws, bounty hunters, gamblers and hired guns – Sam Chisolm (Washington), Josh Farraday (Pratt), Goodnight Robicheaux (Hawke), Jack Horne (D’Onofrio), Billy Rocks (Lee), Vasquez (Garcia-Rulfo), and Red Harvest (Sensmeier). As they prepare the town for the violent showdown that they know is coming, these seven mercenaries find themselves fighting for more than money.
Outlook – With a great cast and the director of the film Training Day at the helm, this remake might be an above average Western. However, it’s going to be compared to the 1960 original film which starred Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen and Eli Wallach and is still considered by movie fans and critics to be one of the best Westerns ever made. What may save it is its appeal to a younger demographic that likely hasn’t seen the classic film.
STORKS – Voiced by Andy Samberg, Kelsey Grammer, Keegan-Michael Key, and Jordan Peele (Release Date 9/23)
The Plot – Storks deliver babies…or at least they used to. Now they deliver packages for a global internet retail giant. Junior, the company’s top delivery stork, is about to be promoted when he accidentally activates the Baby Making Machine, producing an adorable and wholly unauthorized baby girl. Desperate to deliver this bundle of trouble before the boss gets wise, Junior and his friend Tulip, the only human on Stork Mountain, race to make their first-ever baby drop – in a wild and revealing journey that could make more than one family whole and restore the storks’ true mission in the world.
Outlook – The trailer looks like combo of silly and zany, but at least it does boost a talented voice cast. There’s a possibility this goofy animated film will draw in families who are desperate for another animated movie to fill some weekend hours. However, the trailer for Storks just doesn’t hold up when compared to earlier 2016 animated offerings. Hopefully, the bird-friendly, family-friendly film is better than its promotional videos.
QUEEN OF KATWE – Starring Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, and Madina Nalwanga (Release Date 9/23)
The Plot – Queen of Katwe is based on the true story of a young girl from the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess, and, as a result of the support she receives from her family and community, is instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion.
Outlook – Based on a truly inspirational story, Queen of Katwe could be the inspiring underdog film of the year or it could be another forced misfire like the film Hands of Stone. Working in its favor are two award-winning lead actors and critically acclaimed director Mira Nair at the helm.
DEEPWATER HORIZON – Starring Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriguez, and Dylan O’Brien (Release Date 9/30)
The Plot – On April 20th, 2010, one of the world’s largest man-made disasters occurred on the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. Directed by Peter Berg, this story honors the brave men and women whose heroism would save many on board, and change everyone’s lives forever.
Outlook – The Deepwater Horizon disaster is still relatively fresh in our minds and the movie based on the devastating event may wind up being one of 2016’s best action films. Wahlberg reunites with his The Lone Survivor director Peter Berg who brought out the best in the rapper-turned actor, and the rest of the cast is also strong. Also working in its favor in building up momentum as it heads into theaters is an impressive trailer.
MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN – Starring Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, and Chris O’Dowd (Release Date 9/30)
The Plot – When Jake discovers clues to a mystery that spans alternate realities and times, he uncovers a secret refuge known as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As he learns about the residents and their unusual abilities, Jake realizes that safety is an illusion, and danger lurks in the form of powerful, hidden enemies. Jake must figure out who is real, who can be trusted, and who he really is.
Outlook – Tim Burton returns and his fans have been waiting for another Burton fantasy adventure, but is Miss Peregrine’s the right match of director and story? Also, for those who haven’t read the book series by Ransom Riggs the trailers thus far have made it seem like the world of Miss Peregrine’s is a lot like that of the X-Men franchise. This will be a real test to see if Burton has found his footing again and if Miss Peregrine’s is the launch a successful new film franchise.
THE BIRTH OF A NATION – Starring Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Aunjanue Ellis, Dwight Henry, and Aja Naomi King (Release Date 10/7)
The Plot – Set against the antebellum South, The Birth of a Nation follows Nat Turner (Parker), a literate slave and preacher, whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner (Hammer), accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. As he witnesses countless atrocities – against himself and his fellow slaves – Nat orchestrates and uprising in the hopes of leading his people to freedom.
Outlook – The Birth of a Nation was a hit at Sundance and started off as a sure Oscar contender following its successful festival screenings. However, the film’s box office and awards season run will take a hit after Parker’s alleged involvement in the rape of a fellow college student once again has become a hot button topic.
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN – Starring Rebecca Ferguson, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux, and Luke Evans (Release Date 10/7)
The Plot – In the thriller, Rachel (Blunt), who is devastated by her recent divorce, spends her daily commute fantasizing about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a house that her train passes every day, until one morning she sees something shocking happen there and becomes entangled in the mystery that unfolds.
Outlook – The trailer perfectly captured the story and the tone of the best-selling novel. The Girl on the Train is possibly this year’s Gone Girl – that rare film that remains true to the source material and entertains audiences who have not yet picked up the book.
THE ACCOUNTANT – Starring Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal, and J.K. Simmons (Release Date 10/14)
The Plot – Christian Wolff (Affleck) is a math savant with more affinity for numbers than people. Behind the cover of a small-town CPA office, he works as a freelance accountant for some of the world’s most dangerous criminal organizations. With the Treasury Department’s Crime Enforcement Division, run by Ray King (Simmons), starting to close in, Christian takes on a legitimate client: a state-of-the-art robotics company where an accounting clerk (Kendrick) has discovered a discrepancy involving millions of dollars. But as Christian uncooks the books and gets closer to the truth, it is the body count that starts to rise.
Outlook – There really hasn’t been much of a theatrical release promotional campaign yet for The Accountant, which is unusual given the film’s star power. It’s tough to tell if this thriller will deliver the goods, but at least the premise sounds interesting.
AMERICAN PASTORAL – Starring Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly, and Dakota Fanning (Release Date 10/21)
The Plot – American Pastoral follows a family whose seemingly idyllic existence is shattered by the social and political turmoil of the 1960s. Ewan McGregor stars as Seymour “Swede” Levov, a once legendary high school athlete who is now a successful businessman married to Dawn (Connelly), a former beauty queen. But turmoil brews beneath the polished veneer of Swede’s life. When his beloved teenage daughter, Merry (Fanning), disappears after being accused of committing a violent act, Swede dedicates himself to finding her and reuniting his family. What he discovers shakes him to the core, forcing him to look beneath the surface and confront the chaos that is shaping the world around him.
Outlook – Directed by first-time feature film helmer Ewan McGregor and based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, American Pastoral may be an Oscar contender judging solely on its impressive first trailer. Philip Roth’s bestselling novel was published in 1997 but the story that unfolds is just as timely today as it was 20 years ago.
JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK – Starring Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders, and Aldis Hodge (Release Date 10/21)
The Plot – Major Susan Turner (Smulders) is the Army Major who heads Reacher’s old investigative unit. She is arrested for Treason and knowing that she is innocent, Jack Reacher (Cruise) must break her out of prison and uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy in order to clear their names and save their lives. On the run as fugitives from the law, Reacher uncovers a potential secret from his past that could change his life forever.
Outlook – Like him or not, Cruise knows how to make a high-energy action thriller, something he’s proven with the Mission Impossible franchise. 2012’s Jack Reacher made $218 million worldwide before exiting theaters and given the lack of real action hits in 2016, this Jack Reacher sequel may even do better.
KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES – Starring Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm, and Gal Gadot (Release Date 10/21)
The Plot – An ordinary suburban couple (Galifianakis, Fisher) finds it’s not easy keeping up with the Joneses (Hamm, Gadot) – their impossibly gorgeous and ultra-sophisticated new neighbors – especially when they discover that Mr. and Mrs. “Jones” are covert operatives.
Outlook – If the film is half as funny as the trailer, this will be the comedy hit of the fall season. Please don’t let the funniest parts be in the trailer.
INFERNO – Starring Tom Hanks, Ben Foster, and Felicity Jones (Release Date 10/28)
The Plot – Inferno finds the famous symbologist (Hanks) on a trail of clues tied to the great Dante himself. When Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Sienna Brooks (Jones), a doctor he hopes will help him recover his memories. Together, they race across Europe and against the clock to foil a deadly global plot.
Outlook – 2006’s The Da Vinci Code made $758 million worldwide and the sequel, 2009’s Angels and Demons, exited theaters after only ringing up $485 million. There wasn’t much of a demand for a third film, but with Hanks and director Ron Howard back on board Inferno moved forward. But at this point do we really need another Robert Langdon story? It’s likely the other Langdon novel, The Lost Symbol, will never see the light of day as a feature film if Inferno doesn’t match or best Angels and Demons.