After a September and October filled with forgettable movie releases, the film studios have now lined up their bigger guns to take aim on the holidays. Between now and the end of the year, local theaters will be filled with big-budget films along with a few productions looking to get attention from Oscar voters.
It all starts Nov. 4 when the latest comic book movie, “Doctor Strange,” opens against the war drama “Hacksaw Ridge” and the animated offering of “Trolls.” All three will look to set the tempo for this holiday season.
Here’s a quick look at some of the movies that are scheduled to open in the Valley over the next two months.
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- Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen
- Director: Scott Derrickson
- Premise: The top neurosurgeon in the world is injured in a car wreck. He believes his days of helping are over until he’s introduced to a strange, new mystical world.
- Prediction: Won’t be as big as other Marvel comic book movies because Doctor Strange isn’t as well known.
- Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Gwen Stefani
- Director: Mike Mitchell, Matt Dohrn
- Premise: Two very different Trolls go on an adventure that takes them into a world of the unknown.
- Prediction: Will be the big family movie of the Christmas season.
- Cast: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Vince Vaughn
- Director: Mel Gibson
- Premise: Desmond Doss saved 75 men without firing or carrying a gun during the bloodiest battle of World War II. He was the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon because he believed killing was wrong.
- Prediction: Audiences will stand up and salute this effort.
- Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker
- Director: Denis Villeneuve
- Premise: An elite team searches for answers when spacecraft land around the globe. They must decide if this is a threat or a potential move forward for mankind.
- Prediction: Close encounters movies have not always done well.
“Bill Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”
- Cast: Joe Alwyn, Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin
- Director: Ang Lee
- Premise: Events that happened during a major battle in Iraq are shown in flashbacks when a young soldier returns home.
- Prediction: This contrast of the realities of war with perceptions will turn off some moviegoers.
- Cast: Naomi Watts, Jacob Tremblay, Oliver Platt, Charlie Heaton
- Director: Farren Blackburn
- Premise: Widowed child psychologist must find a way to rescue a young boy while living in an isolated area of rural New England that is being pounded by a winter storm.
- Prediction: Don’t expect large crowds to warm up to this production.
“Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them”
- Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller
- Director: David Yates
- Premise: Newt Scamander has completed a global excursion in 1926 to find and document magical creatures. The escape of some of Newt’s fantastic beasts are a problem for both the wizarding and No-Maj (American for Muggle) worlds.
- Prediction: If only half the “Harry Potter” fans show up, this should be a major hit.
“The Edge of Seventeen”
- Cast: Woody Harrelson, Blake Jenner, Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson
- Director: Kelly Fremon Craig
- Premise: High school is tough enough on Nadine. It gets worse when her best friend starts dating her older brother.
- Prediction: Will get smashed by bigger titles.
“Bleed for This”
- Cast: Miles Teller, Katey Sagal, Ted Levine, Aaron Eckhart
- Director: Ben Younger
- Premise: World champion boxer Vinny Pazienza makes a return to sports after a near fatal car crash leaves him not knowing if he will ever walk again.
- Prediction: Comeback stories do well.
- Cast: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Lizzy Caplan, Matthew Goode
- Director: Robert Zemeckis
- Premise: Intelligence officer encounters French Resistance fighter during a deadly mission behind enemy lines. They reunite in London but the relationship is threatened by the pressures of the war.
- Prediction: Box office may be affected by all of the negative Brad Pitt news.
“Bad Santa 2”
- Cast: Tony Cox, Billy Bob Thornton, Kathy Bates, Christina Hendricks
- Director: Mark Waters
- Premise: Willie gets back together with his angry sidekick, Marcus, to take on a job to rob a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve.
- Prediction: Won’t be as big a holiday gift as first film.
- Cast: Auli’l Cravaho, Dwayne Johnson, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk
- Director: Ron Clements, John Musker
- Premise: Moana is a tenacious and compassionate 16-year-old struggling to find her true self. Her efforts include setting sail for a fabled island.
- Prediction: Should get the same kind of response as “Lilo & Stitch.”
- Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Bella Thorne, Chandler Riggs, Natalie Martinez
- Director: Sean Carter
- Premise: Intruders force a family to play a life-and-death game where the rules only become clear as the game continues.
- Prediction: Would have been better to open for Halloween.
- Cast: Halle Berry, Christopher Berry, Lew Temple
- Director: Luis Prieto
- Premise: There is nothing stronger than a mother when she tries to recover her son after he’s been kidnapped.
- Prediction: Dark story not a great fit for the holidays.
- Cast: Jessica Chastain, Mark String, Gugu Mbatha-Raw
- Director: John Madden
- Premise: A lobbyist is willing to go to any extreme when she’s trying to get something done. That something may take her to places she doesn’t want to go.
- Prediction: Will get more attention for Oscar voters than regular moviegoers.
- Cast: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Isla Fisher, Michael Shannon
- Director: Tom Ford
- Premise: This romantic thriller takes a look at the thin line between love and cruelty.
- Prediction: Could be the surprise hit of the Christmas film season.
“Office Christmas Party”
- Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Courtney B. Vance, Vanessa Bayer, Jamie Chung
- Directors: Josh Gordon and Will Speck
- Premise: The CEO tries to close her hard-partying brother’s branch. He rallies co-workers and hosts an epic office Christmas party in an effort to impress a potential client and close a sale that will save their jobs.
- Prediction: Will work if Aniston and Bateman bring the energy they showed in “Horrible Bosses.”
“La La Land” (could be Dec. 16)
- Cast: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Thom Shelton, Terry Walters
- Director: Damien Chazelle
- Premise: An aspiring actress and a devoted jazz musician fall in love. The question is whether their love will last when it gets in the way of their individual plans.
- Prediction: All depends on the chemistry between Stone and Gosling.
- Cast: Will Smith, Edward Norton, Keira Knightley, Michael Peña, Naomie Harris
- Director: David Frankel
- Premise: New York ad executive finds a very different way to deal with a personal tragedy. His friends push him to confront the truth in surprising and human ways.
- Prediction: Looks like sentimental favorite for the holidays.
- Cast: Natalie Portman, Caspar Phillipson, Peter Sarsgaard
- Director: Pablo Larrain
- Premise: First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy tries to put her life in order after the assassination of her husband.
- Prediction: Look for close Oscar attention on this film.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”
- Cast: Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Forest Whitaker, James Earl Jones, Warwick Davis, Alan Tudyk
- Director: Gareth Edwards
- Premise: The Rebellion launches a risky plan to steal the plans for the Death Star.
- Prediction: Will be the biggest box office hit of the Christmas film season.
“The Space Between Us”
- Cast: Gary Oldman, Asa Butterfield, Carla Gugino, Britt Robertson
- Director: Peter Chelsom
- Premise: Space shuttle heads to Mars only to discover one of the astronauts is pregnant. Shortly after landing, she dies from complications while giving birth to the first human born on the red planet.
- Prediction: There’s not enough space for this tale and “Rogue One.”
- Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Michael Knneth Williams
- Director: Justin Kurzel
- Premise: A man, while exploring the memories of his ancestor, gains the skills of a Master Assassin.
- Prediction: Movies based on video games have not been major hits.
- Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, Laurence Fishburne
- Director: Morten Tyldum
- Premise: Two passengers on a space mission to a new world are awakened 90 years too early. Faced with living out their lives alone, the pair soon discover that the lives of all 5,000 passengers are in danger.
- Prediction: Never bet against Lawrence and Pratt.
- Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Seth MacFarlane, Reese Witherspoon, John C. Reilly
- Director: Garth Jennings
- Premise: Koala has one last chance to restore his theater by producing the world’s greatest singing competition.
- Prediction: If nothing else, Simon Cowell will like it.
- Cast: Viola Davis, Denzel Washington, Russell Hornsby, Stephen Henderson
- Director: Denzel Washington
- Premise: Film adaptation of the August Wilson play about an African American father struggling with race relations in the United States in the 1950s.
- Prediction: Washington’s best chance this year for an Oscar nod.
- Cast: Keegan-Michael Key, Zoey Deutch, James Franco, Bryan Cranston
- Director: John Hamburg
- Premise: Father doesn’t get along with the rich boyfriend of his daughter.
- Prediction: Will be fallback movie for families trying to get out of the house on Christmas Day.