Fall movie season looking to be a season of repeats 

Whether it’s cause for excitement or a depressing sign of the times, the fall film season looks a lot like summer’s lineup, with as many high-profile follow-ups and reboots as original offerings.

Sequels, prequels, remakes & spinoffs

The Lion King 3-D

Opens Sept. 16

The voices: Matthew Broderick, Niketa Calame, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons
Calling the shots: Roger Allers, Rob Minkoff
The skinny: It’s not a third sequel to the 1994 classic (after 1998’s straight-to-video “Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride” and 2004’s chronologically puzzling “Lion King 1”). It’s the original, restored and given a painstaking 3-D makeover, in theaters for a limited two-week run.
Rated G

The Thing

Opens Oct. 14

The scientists: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Eric Christian Olsen, Joel Edgerton
Calling the shots: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.
The skinny: Set three days before John Carpenter’s 1982 chiller — itself a reimagining of Howard Hawks and Christian Nyby’s “The Thing from Another World” (1951) — Heijningen’s story finds a team of Antarctic-bound researchers struggling to contain an alien infestation that threatens mankind.
Rated R


Opens Oct. 14

The dancers: Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Ziah Colon, Miles Teller
Calling the shots: “Hustle & Flow” director Craig Brewer
The skinny: Eager to cash in on the success of “High School Musical” and, of course, the 1984 original starring Kevin Bacon, Paramount has been pushing another “Footloose” for four years. Wormald (“Center Stage: Turn It Up”) replaces the departed Zac Efron and Chace Crawford; the not-so-eagerly awaited remake about teens rebelling against a small-town ban on dancing is finally ready to kick off its Sunday shoes.
Not yet rated

Paranormal Activity 3

Opens Oct. 21

The spooked: Katie Featherston, Sprague Grayden
Calling the shots: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
The skinny: Directed by Joost and Schulman, whose bold, manipulative “Catfish” simultaneously captivated and polarized Sundance audiences last year, the latest “Activity” prequel seeks to explain further the cheap, forgettable thrills of its ho-hum predecessors.
Not yet rated

The Three Musketeers

Opens Oct. 21

The swashbucklers: Logan Lerman, Luke Evans, Ray Stevenson, Matthew Macfadyen
Calling the shots: Paul W. S. Anderson
The skinny: Charlie Sheen starred in the big screen’s last “Musketeers” in 1993, but the self-aggrandizing warlock of yesterday’s news cycle will not be found in this umpteenth adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ 1844 novel — the first in 3-D — featuring “Percy Jackson & the Olympians” star as the hotheaded d’Artagnan and Oscar winner Christoph Waltz as power-hungry Cardinal Richelieu.
Rated PG-13

Puss in Boots

Opens Nov. 4

The voices: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton
Calling the shots: “Shrek the Third” director Chris Miller
The skinny: A favorite of fans and critics alike since “Shrek 2” (2004), Puss (Banderas) extends the wildly popular DreamWorks franchise with a spin-off adventure the star calls “an epic,” its story echoing Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Westerns and its look inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction.”
Not yet rated

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1

Opens Nov. 18

The angst-ridden: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene
Calling the shots: Bill Condon
The skinny: As if Twihards needed another reason to mope, there’s this: “Breaking Dawn” signals the beginning of the end for author Stephenie Meyer’s saga, with a conclusive “Part 2” arriving in November 2012. For now, they’ll have to make do with Condon’s penultimate chapter, in which Bella (Stewart) and Edward (Pattinson) finally — spoiler alert! — tie the knot.
Not yet rated

Extreme action

Real Steel

Opens Oct. 7

The fighters: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Kevin Durand, Anthony Mackie
Calling the shots: Shawn Levy
The skinny: Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots come to life in this adaptation of Richard Matheson’s 1956 short story, set in a dystopian future where cyborgs have replaced humans in the boxing ring. Jackman, as a one-time pugilist-turned-small-time promoter, agrees to build a bot with his son that can contend for the heavyweight crown.
Rated PG-13

Take Shelter

Opens Oct. 7

The neurotics: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Katy Mixon, Kathy Baker
Calling the shots: Jeff Nichols
The skinny: Chastain, one of the year’s most-prolific actresses (with “The Tree of Life,” “The Help,” “The Debt” and Ralph Fiennes’ upcoming “Coriolanus”), stars in this unbearably tense Sundance favorite about a young husband (Shannon) obsessively preparing for a storm that might be a figment of his paranoia.
Rated R

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Opens Oct. 28

The players: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, John Hawkes, Hugh Dancy
Calling the shots: Sean Durkin
The skinny: Durkin’s stylish debut, involving a troubled woman (Olsen, younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley) who suffers a meltdown after fleeing an abusive Connecticut commune, earned him this year’s Sundance Directing Award. An alliterative mouthful, “Marlene” also seems primed to make a star of Jody Lee Lipes (“Tiny Furniture”), whose stunning cinematography has received early raves.
Rated R


In Time

Opens Oct. 28

The survivors: Justin Timberlake, Olivia Wilde, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy
Calling the shots: “Gattaca” director Andrew Niccol
The skinny: In the not-so-distant future, time is money — literally — allowing the obscenely rich to buy immortality while poor young go-getters like Will Salas (Timberlake) scramble to survive. According to the sometimes singer, it’s his first chance to carry a movie on his own. If he’s lucky, his latest foray into science fiction will fare better than his first, the execrable “Southland Tales.”
Not yet rated


The Rum Diary

Opens Oct. 28

The drinkers: Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckhart, Giovanni Ribisi
Calling the shots: “Withnail and I” director Bruce Robinson
The skinny: Hunter S. Thompson’s second novel — his first, “Prince Jellyfish,” remains unpublished — is the basis for Robinson’s frenetic adventure involving a New York journalist (Depp) whose impulsive move to Puerto Rico thrusts him into the thick of a rum-soaked love story rife with jealousy, violence and betrayal.
Rated R


Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Opens Nov. 18

The Cold War-riors: Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth
Calling the shots: “Let the Right One In” director Tomas Alfredson
The skinny: Adapted once before into a BBC miniseries starring Alec Guinness, John le Carré’s 1974 spy novel arrives on the big screen featuring Oldman as a soft-spoken British intelligence operative recalled from retirement to hunt down a Soviet mole. Oscar-winner Firth co-stars as a field agent modeled on the real-life spy who compromised le Carré’s own Secret Intelligence Service career.
Rated R


Oscar hopefuls


Opens Sept. 23

The ballplayers: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Pratt Calling the shots: “Capote” director Bennett Miller The skinny: How will history judge Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s general manager whose sabermetric approach to Major League Baseball was exhaustively documented (read: championed) in the Michael Lewis best-seller? Pitt stars as the numbers-crunching former outfielder trying to lead a cash-strapped franchise past the game’s moneybags megapowers. Not yet rated

Machine Gun Preacher

Opens Sept. 30

The saints: Gerard Butler, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon, Madeline Carroll
Calling the shots: “Finding Neverland” director Marc Forster
The skinny: Could it be? Butler stepping out of his comfort zone in a movie that’s neither a flaccid romantic comedy like “The Bounty Hunter” nor a cartoonish bloodbath like “Gamer”? Here, the rugged Scot plays Angels of East Africa co-founder Sam Childers, a former gang biker who, following a religious awakening, dedicated his life to rescuing children in war-ravaged Sudan.
Rated R

The Ides of March

Opens Oct. 7

The politicos: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood
Calling the shots: Clooney, behind the camera for the first time since 2008’s “Leatherheads”
The skinny: Based on Beau Willimon’s 2008 play “Farragut North” — itself loosely based on Howard Dean’s Democratic primary bid four years earlier — “March” stars Gosling as an up-and-coming press secretary ensnared in dirty politics on the campaign trail. Producer Clooney, who co-stars, delayed releasing the drama for two years, not wanting to rain cynically on America’s parade during the briefly optimistic period following Barack Obama’s election.
Not yet rated


Opens Nov. 18

The combatants: Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, John C. Reilly
Calling the shots: Roman Polanski
The skinny: The exiled director returns with a highly anticipated adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s 2006 play “God of Carnage,” about two pairs of parents trying to settle a violent dispute between their children in a civilized fashion. The task proves beyond them, as an evening of reasoned dialogue devolves into petty antagonism.
Not yet rated

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