In the trailer for the (sort of) new James Bond movie No Time To Die, there is a bit of Bond dialogue that seems directed at the teetering movie theater industry and this year’s make-or-break fall film slate.
“If we don’t do this,” says James, “there will be nothing left to save.”
Sounds like a plea for the survival of the in-theater experience, now suffering its second year of dismal pandemic attendance, which led gun-shy Hollywood to hold bigger titles in reserve until now. The 007 movie, set for Oct. 8, had been on the shelf with the Spam and the survival seeds for a year.
But will these blockbuster titles stay on the schedule? Top Gun: Maverick, once set to open in November, decided not to take the highway to the danger zone, and will instead arrive sometime in 2022.
As of this writing, there are plenty of other blockbusters queued up — a Marvel movie, a reimagined Ghostbusters, and another expensive attempt to make a definitive film version of Dune.
We’re also promised new work from Clint Eastwood, Will Smith, and writer-director David Chase, who’s bringing back Tony Soprano as a teenager.
Here’s a look at the fall’s biggest titles, with dates obviously subject to change. Even some of the names are subject to change. There is a Bradley Cooper movie, Licorice Pizza, a hush-hush indie due to arrive around Thanksgiving, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.
There were no arguments between director and star in this new western, because Clint Eastwood is the director, and Clint Eastwood has the lead role. He’s adapting an N. Richard Nash novel about a broken down rodeo performer (Eastwood) hired by a wealthy man (Dwight Yoakam) to locate and retrieve his missing and estranged son in Mexico. In theaters and on HBO Max Sept. 17.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Jessica Chastain has the title role as legendarily weepy televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker, who along with budding fraudster husband Jim (Andrew Garfield) established a lucrative media empire, until scandal brought them low. The star of their popular cable TV ministry was Tammy Faye, who pioneered the art of performing inauthentic emotions on cue in order to attract followers, thereby paving the way for Instagram and other forms of social media. In select theaters, Sept. 17.
Dear Evan Hansen
Film version of the Broadway musical from songwriter/composer Benj Pasek (the music for La La Land), an Ardmore native who based the story (touching on teen loneliness and suicide) very loosely from events at his Friends Central high school. Featuring Ben Platt, Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, directed by Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower). In theaters Sept. 24.
The Many Saints of Newark
David Chase gives us the formative years of Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini’s son Michael. Previews show Soprano matriarch Livia (Vera Farmiga) expressing astonishment when a teacher tells her Tony has a high IQ, and that sounds about right. We also see young T locked in passionate embrace with … is that the actress who plays Chris-Tuh-Fuh’s mom? Saints alive! Set during the Newark race riots of 1967, adding a new layer of social observation and relevance. In theaters and on HBO Max Oct. 1.
No Time To Die
Another Bond movie, another threat to humanity, another megalomaniac, this one a bad-skinned Rami Malek, who has a Thanos-like plan to reduce the surplus population of planet Earth, which, he notes in the trailer, is something 007 does on an individual basis. Bond (Daniel Craig) teams with a new Double 0 (Lashana Lynch) and there are expansive roles also for Lea Seydoux and Ana de Armas. Cowritten by Fleabag writer and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge. In theaters Oct. 8.
The Last Duel
In 14th century France, a woman accuses a nobleman (Adam Driver) of rape, so her husband (Matt Damon) demands that the king (Ben Affleck) declare a trial by combat and fight to the death. A true story, based on the last sanctioned duel in France, in which each fellow was armed with a lance, broadsword, battle ax and dagger, and because it’s France, a few devastating put-downs. Shaping up to be a tough fall season for Adam Driver characters (see House of Gucci, below) in Ridley Scott movies. In theaters Oct. 15.
Director Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Blade Runner 2049) adapts the first half of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel — a sort of Game of Space Thrones (Jason Momoa is among the cast) set in a feudal galaxy where ruling families battle for resources and territory. Timothée Chalamet stars as a potential heir to galactic power. Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, and Dave Bautista costar. In theaters, including 3D and IMAX, and available on HBO Max Oct. 22.
The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun
Perhaps you can deduce by the hyper-precious title that this is the work of writer-director Wes Anderson, billed as his whimsical tribute to literary journals and an age when they mattered. Expect diorama-like production design, as well droll and mannered performances from Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Christoph Waltz. In theaters Oct. 22.
Remember Prancer, the family film about the girl who has a special bond with one of Santa’s reindeer? Well, this isn’t that. It’s a horror movie about a boy who has a special bond with a homicidal woodland horror creature with horns and other appendages. Directed by Scott Cooper and produced by Guillermo del Toro, who once made an Oscar-winning movie about a woman who had a very special bond with a fish. In theaters Oct. 29.
Last Night in Soho
Writer-director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) tries his hand at horror with this story of a young woman (Thomasin McKenzie) who finds herself immersed in the imaginary London of the 1960s, except it might not be imaginary, and she might not be immersed so much as trapped. With Anya Taylor-Joy, and, in the spirit of swinging ‘60s London, Diana Rigg. In theaters Oct. 29.
Oscar-winning director Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) gets a big Marvel paycheck, helming this story of an epic power struggle among groups of immortals. The good immortals are the Eternals (Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Gemma Chan, Brian Tyree Henry) the bad ones are the (spoiler alert) Deviants, and the whole thing takes place on earth just after events in Avengers Endgame, when all the people who vanished in The Snap suddenly return to life, causing a power surge and a disturbance called The Emergence, which hopefully heralds the emergence of a plot. In theaters Nov. 5.
Director Jason Reitman aims for a haunting resurrection of father Ivan’s classic 1980s classic comedy. This one is set in the contemporary Midwest, where the children and grandchildren of the original crew members encounter ghosts and round up some of the old Ghostbusters gear to meet the new threat. Rumor has it that Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Annie Potts return for cameos. In theaters Nov. 19.
Autobiographical musical by the late playwright and composer Jonathan Larson (Rent), about a man (Andrew Garfield) struggling to make it on Broadway, brought to the big screen by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, In the Heights), making his feature directing debut. In theaters Nov. 12, streaming on Netflix Nov. 19.
Will Smith stars in this biopic about Richard Williams, a tough-love father who turned two of his daughters, Venus and Serena, into tennis champions. The film is focused on Richard, his confrontational style, his unusual motivational methods, and covers the Williams sisters’ rise through the junior ranks. In theaters and HBO Max Nov. 19. 🍿 Watch the trailer
House of Gucci
Hell hath no fury like a woman adorned. When a social climber (Lady Gaga) finds that her husband (Adam Driver) and heir to the Gucci fashion empire has dumped her for a younger woman, she hires assassins to kill him. With Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino, and Jared Leto. Directed by Ridley Scott. Wide in theaters Nov. 24.
The Beatles: Get Back
Filmmaker Peter Jackson is getting the band back together, deploying the restoration techniques he used in the WWI documentary They Shall Not Grow Old to revivify rare archival footage, this time of the Beatles’ Let It Be recording sessions. The restored/augmented video and audio are said to present John, Paul, George, and Ringo at the peak of the powers, in the full flower of youth. On Disney+ beginning Nov. 25.
Reportedly a movie structurally similar to Boogie Nights and built around an aspiring actor (Cooper Hoffman, son of Philip Seymour Hoffman), and starring Bradley Cooper as a director. The Paul Thomas Anderson movie is set to arrive before Christmas, as is Nightmare Alley, starring Cooper as a scheming carnival worker on a downhill slide.
» READ MORE: Find more in our complete fall arts guide