Here are some of what we have to look forward to this Fall film season.
The long-awaited adaptation of the best seller “Memoirs of a Geisha,” director Rob Marshall’s follow-up to “Chicago,” stars Ziyi Zhang as a poor Japanese girl who becomes a geisha goddess.
Other big films include Steven Spielberg’s “Munich,” a thriller about the slayings of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics; “All the King’s Men,” starring Sean Penn as the Southern political boss of Robert Penn Warren’s classic novel; “Jarhead,” a Gulf War tale with Jake Gyllenhaal and Jamie Foxx; “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride,” an animated yarn featuring the voices of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter; “The New World,” Terrence Malick’s epic set in colonial America with Colin Farrell; and “Elizabethtown,” Cameron Crowe’s romance starring Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom.
Also, “The Weather Man,” with Nicolas Cage as a TV forecaster who has a stormy personal life; “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” starring 50 Cent as a street hood aiming for a rap-music career; “Oliver Twist,” Roman Polanski’s fresh take on the Charles Dickens orphan-boy classic, featuring Ben Kingsley; the animated “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”; and “In Her Shoes,” a sister-act tale from director Curtis Hanson (who also directed “L.A. Confidential”).
“In Her Shoes” follows two sisters, one a knockout (played by Cameron Diaz) who has leeched all her life off her workaholic sibling (Toni Collette), and the grandma (Shirley MacLaine) who helps them reconnect after a long and bitter estrangement.
Science-fiction and fantasy are shaping up as some of the season’s biggest attractions, led by Peter Jackson’s new take on “King Kong,” starring Naomi Watts as the beauty who steals the heart of the big ape.
The fourth “Harry Potter” tale casts the young hero (Daniel Radcliffe) into an international wizardry competition that leads him to another showdown with dark sorcerer Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).
Fantasy films continue with “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” adapted from C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” series.
The film, whose cast includes Tilda Swinton and Jim Broadbent, follows the adventures of four English children in World War II who battle an evil witch enslaving a magical land of giants, talking animals and centaurs.
Also included are the video-game adaptation “Doom,” starring The Rock as part of a commando force taking on creatures from another realm on Mars; and “Serenity,” a sci-fi adventure whose behind-the-scenes story is a drama unto itself.
Sarah Jessica Parker also returns to the big screen in “The Family Stone.” After her TV series “Sex and the City,” Parker is on familiar turf as a Manhattan woman in love, though her character is the flipside of Carrie Bradshaw. Parker plays a career woman who makes a terrible impression on her fiance’s relatives when meeting them for the first time.
Also trying something different are Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon as Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash in director James Mangold’s “Walk the Line,” a portrait of the early years of the country star who died in 2003.
Also on the musical front: “Rent,” director Chris Columbus’ follow-up after making the first two “Harry Potter” flicks; and “The Producers,” Susan Stroman’s adaptation of Mel Brooks’ Broadway show that won a record 12 Tonys. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick reprise their roles.
Charlize Theron and Keira Knightley each have two wildly different films coming. Both actresses step into full action mode, Theron with “Aeon Flux,” adapted from the animated sci-fi TV show, Knightley with “Domino,” a casino-heist caper inspired by the real-life story of actor Laurence Harvey’s daughter, who quit her modeling career to become a bounty hunter.
Theron also stars in “North Country,” a drama about a single mother who takes groundbreaking legal action over sexual harassment by co-workers at a Minnesota mining company in 1989.
Steve Martin also has a twofer season with “Cheaper By the Dozen 2,” reprising his role from the 2003 family hit as patriarch of a family of 12 kids, and “Shopgirl,” adapted from his short novel.
“Shopgirl” stars Claire Danes as a Saks clerk wooed by a rich older man (Martin) and a younger guy (Jason Schwartzman). The story originated with Martin’s interest in how people go about looking for love.