Hollywood Goes To War

Hollywood is going to war. "The Kingdom," starring Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner, came in second place at the box office this weekend.

It is one of the new movies hoping to win over audiences with stories centered on the crisis in the Middle East.

Tom Cruise, Charlize Theron, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts are all starring in war movies, from the brutality of combat, to the emotional devastation at home.

John Cusack is the producer and star of "Grace Is Gone." he plays a dad whose wife is killed in Iraq.

Reese Witherspoon stars in "Rendition" as a pregnant woman whose Egyptian-born husband goes missing. He is secretly interrogated as a possible terrorist.

"The war is inspiring filmmakers to find dramatic stories and they are coming at it from different points of view," Anne Thompson, deputy editor of Variety.com, told The Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman.

Post traumatic stress disorder is the focus of "In the Valley of Elah," as well as "Badland."

Photos: "The Kingdom"
"I decided to write this because I put myself in the place of those troops and I couldn't figure out what I would do," said Paul Haggis, director of "In the Valley of Elah." "These decisions they have to make are horrific."

Filmmakers feel the time is right to tell these personal stories. But are moviegoers already war weary?

"The risk is that people are gonna say, 'I read it on the news. I'm fed up with it. I don't want to hear it anymore,' " said Kenneth Turan, film critic for the Los Angeles Times.

Moviegoers were divided about the new batch of war movies coming out this fall.

"I'm not interested in seeing war movies, there's too much in the news already," Patty Higgins said.

"I'll be interested," Shariff Cousin said. "I want to see the new Jamie Foxx movie coming out anyway about the war."

To ensure the success of "The Kingdom," cast and crew played it up as a murder mystery.

"There's actually a killer in the Middle East who is hiding behind the veil of Islam to commit these murders," star Jamie Foxx said on "The Late Show with David Letterman."

But these new movies are not like the traditional World War II films that Thompson said were characterized by "gung-ho" patriotism.

"This is not the same situation," she said. "This is a lot of movies saying. 'Look at how terrible this is.' "

Moviegoers can be fickle with films "ripped from the headlines." Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911" did blockbuster business. But "United 93," "A Mighty Heart" and "Home of the Brave" bombed at the box office.

Films on the Vietnam war fared much better. But "Platoon," "Apocalypse Now" and "Born on the Fourth of July" did not hit theaters until several years after the real war ended. This time Hollywood isn't waiting for the war to end.

"I really, truly wanted to ask difficult questions," Haggis said. "I think that's what artists should be doing. I tried to make a political film that was not partisan."

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