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Fall’s the season to get serious at the box office

Fall’s the season to get serious at the box office

first_imgDuring the months between the summer blockbusters and the onslaught of holiday-season offerings, Hollywood is getting serious, and then it’s getting scary. September and October may not be the months when box office records are set, but fall is a time of year when more serious films can lure in sizeable audiences and horror-movie franchises absolutely flourish. Such high-profile dramas as “All the King’s Men,” “The Departed,” “The Black Dahlia,” “Babel” and “Hollywoodland” are getting most of the pre-release publicity, and all have big-name casts with Oscars on their mantels. “Fall is supposed to be about quality. This is the fine-dining experience of moviegoing versus the fast-food experience, which is more the summer,” said box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations Co. “This fall, to me, looks really great if these movies live up to the promise of their trailers.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhy these photogenic dumplings are popping up in Los Angeles“The Departed” reunites director Martin Scorsese with star Leonardo DiCaprio. Their previous collaborations, “The Gangs of New York” and “The Aviator,” were critical and commercial successes. The film also stars Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg. “King’s Men,” delayed from last winter, is based on a Robert Penn Warren novel and stars Sean Penn as a politician loosely based on Louisiana Gov. Huey Long. “Penn has a good track record when it comes to these serious dramas with Oscar potential, so that movie might do well,” said Gitesh Pandya, editor of BoxOfficeGuru.com. Co-starring with Penn is a team of heavy-hitters: Jude Law, Kate Winslet, James Gandolfini, Anthony Hopkins, Patricia Clarkson and Mark Ruffalo. “Fall is rarely a time for blockbusters,” said Brandon Gray, president of Box Office Mojo. “In fall 2005, there were no $100million movies, but once in a while, there might be one or two. But it seems like a good time a year to put these kinds of dramas out. `The Departed’ feels like a fall movie.”‘ “Hollywoodland,” which opens today, will explore the life and death of George Reeves, who was television’s Superman. Ben Affleck plays Reeves, Diane Lane is his romantic interest, and Adrien Brody portrays an investigator convinced Reeves’ “suicide” was really murder. On the subject of murder, the Sept.15 release of “The Black Dahlia” is about one of Los Angeles’ most notorious unsolved murder mysteries and stars Scarlett Johanson, Josh Hartnett, Aaron Eckhart and two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank. Gray said he thinks “Dahlia” will be “a hard sell.” But he and other prognosticators agree the movie that will have the most momentum in September, and possibly into October, is the summer word-of-mouth hit “Little Miss Sunshine.” The Fox Searchlight release about a dysfunctional family on a road trip had grossed $33.7million as of Sunday after six weeks of a gradually widening release. It stars Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette and Steve Carell, among others. “It looks like `Little Miss Sunshine’ is gaining steam each week,” Pandya said. “I think it will remain a contender through the month of September and possibly longer. When you catch that kind of lightning in a bottle, you start broadening your audience, and it’s become the `it’ movie.” In the comedy department, Paramount Pictures should have a solid hit with “Jackass: Number Two” out Sept.22, while “Scrubs” star Zach Braff will try to replicate his “Garden State” success with the romantic comedy “The Last Kiss,” which bows Sept.15. In late October, Brad Pitt will show up in the low-key thriller “Babel,” his first big-screen appearance since last year’s “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” which co-starred his real-life love, Angelina Jolie. “Babel” also stars Cate Blanchett and Gael Garcia Bernal. However, October is expected to be ruled by horror franchises with “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” (Oct.4), “The Grudge 2” (Oct.13), and “Saw III” (Oct.27). “All three of these films should clean up, and there is no better month for horror films than October,” Pandya said. “The only thing we have to worry about is if any of them eat into each other’s business.” [email protected] (818) 713-3758160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img