'Twas the month before Christmas When all through the studios Execs were stirring, with high hopes and fear, Giant posters were hung and trailers rolled out All in hopes that the public would soon be in the movie houses.
Come this December moviegoers can expect Flicks from Kevin Costner, as well as from Mel, But let's not forget there're also Meg and Russell Plus other big names like Hanks and Cage.
So without further ado Here's our list Of all the high-profile films that are coming To accompany you through the month of December.
DEC. 1 No major releases are coming out on the first Friday of the month.
"Proof of Life": From the set of this movie came the romance between Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe. If that's not enough to go see the film, it's about an American hostage negotiator (Crowe) who falls in love with the wife (Ryan) of the man he's trying to rescue.
"Vertical Limit": But didn't Sylvester Stallone already do this in "Cliffhanger"? Oh well. In this mountain-climbing flick, Chris O'Donnell plays a retired climber who's sucked back to the sport after his sister becomes trapped on K-2, the world's second-highest mountain.
"Dungeons and Dragons": Geeks rejoice. The live-action adaptation of the role-playing game stars Jeremy Irons as the evil wizard who's trying to dethrone the young empress played by "American Beauty's Thora Birch.
Also look for in limited release: Director Ang Lee's Chinese swordsmen pic with Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh -- "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." It was an audience favorite at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
"What Women Want": No, it doesn't star Christina Aguilera (she's a girl, after all), but it does have Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt, Bette Midler and Lauren Holly in a comedy wherein an ad exec (Gibson) gains the ability to hear what women are thinking.
"Dude, Where's My Car?": It's "Beavis and Butthead" meets "Road Trip." After a late night of heavy partying, two stoners (Ashton Kutcher and "Road Trip" alumnus Seann William Scott) realize that they have forgotten where they parked their car.
"The Emperor's New Groove": Featuring the voices of David Spade and John Goodman, Disney's 39th full-length animated feature follows a ruthless emperor who's been transformed into a llama. Go figure.
Also look for in limited release: "Chocolat" starring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche and directed by "The Cider House Rules'" Lasse Hallstrom.
"Thirteen Days": Rusty on the history of U.S.-Cuban relations? The Kevin Costner starrer is an intense look at the two-week Cuban Missile Crisis that took place in October 1962.
Also look for in limited release: "Finding Forrester" with Sean Connery playing mentor to an aspiring writer, and "The Gift", which marks the return of Oscar winner Hilary Swank ... and Keanu Reeves as a wife beater.
"Cast Away": Tom Hanks plays a FedEx worker stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash, and Helen Hunt plays his fiancee. Hanks lost weight for this role, which is likely to draw audiences still keen on CBS' summer phenomenon "Survivor."
"Wes Craven Presents: Dracula 2000: Director Wes Craven would like you to know that Christmas inspires horror. His Y2K Dracula reinterpretation has Christopher Plummer tangling with the bloodsucking one over his kidnapped daughter.
"Family Man": Sounds like an "It's a Wonderful Life" redux. In this "what if" flick, Nicolas Cage plays a man who gets the chance to see what his life would have been like had he married his college sweetheart, as played by Mrs. David Duchovny, Tea Leoni.
"Miss Congeniality": She's baaack! After taking on a dramatic role in the alcohol rehab film "28 Days," Sandra Bullock returns to comedy by playing an FBI agent who goes undercover in a beauty pageant to thwart a terrorist attack. Guess the real acting stretch will be transforming cutesy Bullock into an ugly duckling.
Also look for in limited release: The Coen Brothers' "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" with George Clooney and renowned playwright-director David Mamet's new comedy State and Main with Alec Baldwin, Sarah Jessica Parker and William H Macy.
"All the Pretty Horses": Directed by Billy Bob Thornton," this cowboy tale stars Matt Damon (in a role passed on by Leonardo DiCaprio) as a young, rebellious youth who falls in love with the daughter of a wealthy Mexican rancher (Penelope Cruz), but with not so happy results.
Also look for in limited release: "Erin Brockovich" helmer Steven Soderbergh's new drug trade flick "Traffic" with newlyweds Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones and the Oscar buzz gothic "Shadow of the Vampire" with John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe.
Move over, Grinch, for Mel Gibson is in the house.
That said, looks like Jim Carrey's "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" will finally meet its match this weekend in the form of Gibson's romantic comedy "What Women Want."
With a big opening (playing on 3,000-plus screens) and "The Grinch's" natural decline, Mel and his "Women" should be able to take the box office crown this weekend.
Here's a look at the films opening this weekend .
"What Women Want"
THE SKINNY: After playing a stuffy revolutionary-type in this summer's "The Patriot," Mel Gibson switches gear in a comedy about a guy (Gibson) endowed with the ability to hear what women think. Helen Hunt plays one of those lucky females he mind-reads, and the cast also includes Marisa Tomei, Bette Midler and Delta Burke. THE UPSIDE: Pun intended: Women want Mel Gibson. And don't just take our word for it: "I think 'What Women Want' is pretty much guaranteed the No. 1 spot. The star and the premise should be strong enough to carry the picture. It's a high-concept movie, I say high teens to $20 million is quite feasible," Brandon Gray, editor of boxofficemojo.com, told Hollywood.com. THE DOWNSIDE: 'Tis the season not so jolly for the movies. Gray explains, "It very rare for a movie to have a huge opening at this time of the year, and that is what the film has going against it."
"The Emperor's New Groove"
THE SKINNY: Disney's newest venture to regain the crown in animated features. This particular one has to do with a young emperor who fights to return to human form after he is transformed into a (yes) llama in an act of treason committed by his adviser. THE UPSIDE: It's a Disney animated film. And everyone loves that! THE DOWNSIDE: Or, do they? Let's not forget that recent Disney flicks -- "Dinosaur," for one -- have not fared so well in the new animation game.
And then there's "The Grinch."
"The Grinch" is its only competition, but that's a behemoth," Gray said. "I will place my bet in the low teens, less than 'The Grinch' probably. It could be in the No. 3 spot, depending how 'Vertical Limit' do. We have a bunch of movies here that are very close this weekend, including this one, ''Vertical Limit' and 'Dude, Where's My Car?'"
"Dude, Where's My Car?"
THE SKINNY: "That '70s Show" hottie Ashton Kutcher and "Road Trip" and "American Pie" guy Seann William Scott are a couple of stoners a la "Beavis and Butthead" who wake up one day and can't remember where they parked their car. And yes, the rest of the film is about them looking for it by retracing the night's events. THE UPSIDE: It has got the dedication of a core audience, namely the type of boys embodied by lowbrow fare such as the "Bill and Ted" flicks, "Road Trip" and "American Pie." THE DOWNSIDE: "There's no indication that this would be another "Road Trip" and "American Pie," but it's certainly not going to be another 'Whatever It Takes," Gray says. "It could come within range with 'Vertical Limit' and 'Emperor.' It's definitely going to be in the Top Five, but which movie is going to do better is a flip of the coin. But I'm leaning toward the fifth place for this film."
Also, if you happen to be in Los Angeles or New York this weekend, check out Chocolat with Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche, and Pollock, about the life of Abstract Expression painter Jackson Pollock, with Ed Harris as both the star and the director. Both films are opening in those cities today.
And don't forget holdovers such as "The Grinch," "Vertical Limit" and "Proof of Life."
Director John Woo has left Sony and signed a three-year movie and TV deal with MGM, according to Entertainment Weekly Online.
Woo didn't end up making any films with his resident studio, planning two other projects instead with MGM. The projects include "Wind Talkers," starring Nicolas Cage. For now, Woo's got another action flick on his plate: "Mission: Impossible 2," starring Tom Cruise, opens this summer.
SECRET AGENT MAN: John Dahl, who directed the noirish Matt Damon poker pic "Rounders," is in talks with Mandalay Pictures to direct "End Game," a spy flick starring Sean Connery, reports Daily Variety. Written by Adi Hassock and Stuart Kelban, Connery will play an old-fashioned CIA agent who goes on a special undercover assignment to expose illegal arms dealing. In the process, he discovers that he's been set up to take the fall in a conspiracy. Connery then teams up with a young counterpart to prove his innocence.
LET'S HOPE IT'S TEMPORARY: "Cruel Intentions" director Roger Kumble is in final talks to helm Columbia Pictures' romantic comedy "Screenplay Without a Title Yet." The story follows a club-hopping hipster who believes she's finally met her soulmate. The next morning at a wedding party, she is horrified to find that he's the groom. According to Variety, "Screenplay" was purchased for $1.5 million from "South Park" staff writer Nancy Pimental.
WHAT, NO FOUL-MOUTHED ANGELS?: As if he's just asking for "Dogma"-like religious controversy, "King of the Hill" creator Mike Judge will direct "Messiah Complex," a comedy about a pious college student who starts to believe he was cloned from the Shroud of Turin. No word on whether Beavis and Butthead will co-star.
SPELLING BEE: Catherine Zeta-Jones, who's been a busy bride-to-be lately, is in talks to star in "Traffic," a film that looks at the high-revenue industry of drug trafficking. According to EW Online, the film is based on the acclaimed British miniseries "Traffik," but American studios had to change the title. But we're still afraid moviegoers will think it's a film about the Los Angelesfreeways.
REAL TRAFFIC: Jamie Foxx, fresh from his success in "Any Given Sunday," will star in "National Security," a buddy-cop comedy. Foxx will play a man beaten by a white cop, who then teams up with the officer wrongly accused of the beating.
ADDITIONS: Liev Schreiber, a recent Golden Globe nominee for the cable film "RKO 281," will join the cast of "Pay it Forward," starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment... Tim Guinee ("Blade") has been added to Dimension Films' "Impostor," whichstars Gary Sinise and Madeleine Stowe ... Lisa Thornhill ("Ally McBeal") has been tapped to co-star with Nicolas Cage in "Family Man," to be directed by Brett Ratner ("Rush Hour") ... Alexandra Paul ("Baywatch") will co-star with Ron Silver in the independent film "Exposure," to be film in NewZealand.