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    Friday, June 21, 2024

    Coming soon to a theater (or couch) near you

    The next couple of months are as busy as they get at theaters — and at the theater in your living room.

    We’re being treated to everything from holiday fare to Academy Award hopefuls to a long-awaited trip to Pandora.

    Here’s some of what’s coming now through early January, but, as always, release dates are subject to change:


    Due to the behavior of its star, Will Smith, in March at the Academy Awards, Apple Studios reportedly gave serious consideration to delaying the release of this historical action drama from “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua. However, the subsidiary of the tech giant is forging ahead with plans to put it in theaters on the second day of December and make it available a week later to Apple TV+ subscribers. Based on the story of a real slave, “Emancipation” sees Smith portray a Black man trying to make his way to the North from Louisiana in the 1860s. The film also features Ben Foster (“Hell or High Water”) and Charmaine Bingwa (“The Good Fight”). In theaters Dec. 2 and Apple TV+ Dec. 9

    “Violent Night”

    “Stranger Things” star David Harbour plays Santa Claus, who must kick a little Christmas butt to stop an attack on a wealthy family in this comedy-action romp. (We’re hoping for a nod to “Die Hard” — “Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.”) In theaters Dec. 2

    “White Noise”

    “The Squid and the Whale” director Noah Baumbach leads this adaptation of Don DeLillo’s award-winning 1985 novel. The black comedy stars Adam Driver (a star of Baumbach’s excellent “Marriage Story”) as a college professor and family man who must deal with a potentially apocalyptic event. The cast also boasts Don Cheadle, “The Many Saints of Newark” star Alessandro Nivola and Greta Gerwig. In theaters Dec. 2 and Netflix Dec. 30

    “Women Talking”

    This well-received adaptation of Miriam Toews’ 2018 novel — it won the People’s Choice Award at the Windsor International Film Festival — is the latest drama from Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley (“Away From Her,” “Take This Waltz”). The horrors committed by men in a Mennonite colony are told by the females who suffered them, women played by the talented likes of Rooney Mara, Claire Foy and Jessie Buckley. The impressive cast also includes Ben Whishaw and Frances McDormand. In theaters Dec. 2

    “Empire of Light”

    The latest film from Sam Mendes (“American Beauty,” “Skyfall”) is a tale of romance and race, as well as a love letter to movies and theaters, set in the 1980s. Coliva Colman and Michael Ward portray coworkers at an English coastal cinema who, despite being from vastly different backgrounds, make a connection. In theaters Dec. 9

    “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio”

    The year of the wooden puppet come to life continues. With director Robert Zemeckis’ Disney+ live-action-meets-CGI remake for Disney+ of the House of Mouse’s 1940 animated classic out of the way, another well-known filmmaker gets his shot with this stop-motion version already in theaters. Expect plenty of the personality of the auteur behind “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “The Shape of Water” to shine through. Ewan McGregor, Christoph Waltz, Tilda Swinton, Finn Wolfhard and Cate Blanchett are among the bigger names providing voice work, while the titular character is voiced by the little-known Gregory Mann. On Netflix Dec. 9

    “Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical”

    Alisha Weir portrays the movie’s young namesake character, while Emma Thompson inhabits scary headmistress Agatha Trunchbull in this adaptation of the stage musical by Tim and Kelly Minchin, based on Dahl’s 1998 novel. On Netflix Dec. 9

    “Something From Tiffany’s”

    Zoey Deutch leads a cast that also includes Ray Nicholson, Shay Mitchell and Kendrick Sampson in this rom-com about a shopping mix-up with big ramifications. On Prime Video Dec. 9

    “Spoiler Alert”

    Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”) portrays entertainment journalist Michael Ausiello, while Ben Aldridge portrays the man with whom he falls in love in this adaptation of Ausiello’s memoir, “Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies.” Based on his work behind the camera on the acclaimed 2017 film “The Big Sick,” director Michael Showalter would seem to have the right touch for this delicate tale. Interestingly, the screenplay is co-written by Dan Savage, author of the syndicated Strange Love column. In theaters Dec. 9

    “Avatar: The Way of Water”

    We’re finally getting the first of four — FOUR! — planned sequels from director James Cameron to his 2009 science-fiction epic, “Avatar,” which, in taking us to the planet Pandora and introducing us to the Na’vi race, blended live-action and motion-capture performance and leaned heavily on folks’ willingness to wear 3D glasses to get all the bang from the computer-generated dazzle. (When was the last time you did that?) This film — featuring returning cast members Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver — reportedly costs a whopping $250 million, and it’s said that its box-office performance will go a long way to determining whether we actually get a film series stretching all the way into 2028. In theaters Dec. 16

    “Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths”

    Already in select theaters, the latest effort from Mexican writer-director Alejandro G. Inarritu is his first film made fully in his homeland since 2000’s acclaimed “Amores perros.” The black comedy-drama starring Daniel Gimenez Cacho and Griselda Siciliani so far has earned only mixed reviews, but is a filmmaker responsible for two of the most memorable movies of the last 10 years in 2014’s “Birdman” and “The Revenant” the following year, so we’ll hold out hope it will reside in their lofty air. On Netflix Dec. 16

    “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish”

    “Puss in Boots,” a 2011 spinoff of the “Shrek” franchise about a cat voiced by Antonio Banderas and sporting distinctive footwear, finally gets a sequel. Also providing voice work are Olivia Colman, John Mulaney, Florence Pugh and the returning Salma Hayek. Joel Crawford (“The Croods: A New Age”) directs. In theaters Dec. 21

    “The Whale”

    Brendan Fraser has been earning kudos for his lead performance as a 600-pound man trying to reconnect with his daughter in the latest film by director Darren Aronofsky (“Requiem for a Dream,” “Mother!”). Based on the 2012 play of the same name by Samuel D. Hunter, the psychological drama is also penned by Hunter. In theaters Dec. 21


    Gifted writer-director Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash,” “La La Land”) looks to bounce back from 2018’s underwhelming Neal Armstrong movie “First Man” with this “tale of outsized ambition and outrageous excess” set in 1920s Los Angeles. The ensemble looks to sizzle with Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Jean Smart, Tobey Maguire, Samara Weaving and many other recognizable names, with Mexican actor Diego Calva also in a key role. In theaters Dec. 23

    “Glass Onion: A Knives out Mystery”

    Given its title, there’s no mystery — this is a sequel to writer-director Ryan Johnson’s 2019 hit “Knives Out.” Daniel Craig is back as master detective Benoit Blanc, but this time the surrounding players include Edward Norton, Leslie Odom Jr., Kathryn Hahn, Janelle Monae, Dave Bautista and Madelyn Cline. “Glass Onion” is set at a rich man’s murder mystery party. Sounds killer. On Netflix Dec. 23

    “The Son”

    In 2020, writer-director Florian Zeller gave us the excellent drama “The Father,” based on his own play and co-written by Christopher Hampton. Now comes another film based on a play in the same trilogy of works, also co-penned by Hampton. And while, like “The Father,” “The Son” features Anthony Hopkins, the Academy Award winner would seem to have a smaller role this time. The new film centers around a character played by Hugh Jackman, a man with an infant and new partner (Vanessa Kirby). HIs reinvented life is upended when his ex-wife (Laura Dern) appears to tell him their son (Zen McGrath) has been missing school and is deeply troubled. In theaters Dec. 23

    “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”

    Naomi Ackie (“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”) stars as the late pop singer Whitney Houston in this biographical drama. Kasi Lemmons (“Eve’s Bayou,” “Harriet”) directs from a screenplay by Anthony McCarten (“Darkest Hour,” “Bohemian Rhapsody”). A producer on the film, Houston’s record producer Clive Davis is being portrayed by Stanley Tucci. In theaters Dec. 23


    Some movies strive to offer a thought-provoking take on the possibilities of artificial intelligence offering more harm than good … but we’re getting more of a “Child’s Play” vibe from this tale of a doll-like android designed to be a wonderful companion to a child (Violet McGraw). Produced by horror vet James Wan (“Saw,” “Insidious”), the movie also features Allison Williams (“Get Out”). In theaters Jan. 6

    “The Pale Blue Eye”

    Scott Cooper already has directed Christian Bale in “Out of the Furnace” (2013) and “Hostiles” (2017), and he’s at the helm for this drama in which Bale portrays a detective hired to solve a murder of a cadet at West Point in 1830. Bale’s character enlists the help of another cadet, a young Edgar Allan Poe (Harry Melling), to assist him in this adaptation of Louis Bayard’s 2003 novel. In theaters Jan. 6

    “House Party”

    Filmmaker Calmatic, maker of the “Old Town Road” music video, is at the helm for this remake of the 1990 comedy. This LeBron James-produced version stars Tosin Cole and Jacob Latimore. In theaters Jan. 13

    “A Man Called Otto”

    Tom Hanks puts on his grumpy pants to play the titular character in this adaptation of Swedish author Fredrik Packman’s 2012 novel. Otto has suffered loss, but his life begins to take a turn after a family moves in next door. The comedy-drama is getting a limited release on Christmas Day but goes wide early in 2023. In theaters Jan. 13


    A follow-up to 2018’s “Searching,” “Missing” is another screenlife thriller, this one telling a new story and starring Storm Reid. In theaters Jan. 20

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