Remember when "going to the lobby" was a real thing? We're not singing that tune anymore. Some of the most historic movie houses, like the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles, are still closed.
And yet, with brand-new offerings from big-time directors like Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro and Chloé Zhao, that might be enough to get us back to the multiplex.
"To have this many big movies, of potentially this kind of quality, is exciting," said film critic Elvis Mitchell.
Correspondent Lee Cowan asked, "Do you see any trends this fall?"
"I think the trend is, Please come!" Mitchell laughed.
If audiences do come, they'll see familiar faces, reminding us of the days when theaters were king.
Tom Cruise is scheduled to return in "Top Gun: Maverick" (in theaters November 19, then on Paramount+ 45 days later).
To watch a trailer for "Top Gun: Maverick," click on the video player below:
Keanu Reeves is back in "The Matrix: Resurrections" (December 22):
Jamie Lee Curtis returns, too, in "Halloween Kills" (October 15):
But will big names and nostalgia be enough to get film buffs to brave a still-ongoing pandemic?
Mitchell said, "Well, let me ask you: do you want to go back?"
"I do, yeah, I really miss it," Cowan replied.
"Yeah, yeah. I think there is an audience," Mitchell said. "People do want to go."
That may be because films like the remake of "Dune" (opening October 22) are so expansive, that streaming them on your TV is as frustrating as driving a Ferrari through a never-ending school zone.
Cowan asked, "Is that the debate of the future now, you think?"
"I think that debate is over," Mitchell replied. "I think the streaming has already won."
That said, news of the death of movies, we hope, is an exaggeration. Not even COVID has managed to replace the desire for being swallowed in the dark with strangers experiencing something as one.
"It actually becomes what we've been missing for the last almost two years now – a night out," Mitchell said.
More notable fall releases:
"Dear Evan Hansen" (September 24), an adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical:
"The Guilty" (in select theaters September 24; streaming on Netflix beginning October 1), stars Jake Gyllenhaal in a remake of the acclaimed 2018 Danish thriller.
"The Many Saints of Newark" (October 1) is David Chase's "prequel" to his acclaimed crime series "The Sopranos."
"No Time to Die" (October 8) – Daniel Craig's fifth and final outing as James Bond finally opens, after being delayed several times owing to the pandemic. Billie Eilish's theme song, meanwhile, was unveiled in time for the film's original release date back in Spring 2020, and has already won a Grammy.
"Ghostbusters: Afterlife" (opening November 11), by director Jason Reitman (son of original "Ghostbusters" director Ivan Reitman), stars Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard and Mckenna Grace, and features return appearances by the original film's cast: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts.
"The Harder They Fall" (in select theaters October 22, streaming on Netflix beginning November 3), a tale of revenge in the Old West starring Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba and Regina King.
"The Last Duel" (October 15), from director Ridley Scott ("Alien," "Blade Runner," "Gladiator"), stars Matt Damon, Adam Driver and Jodie Comer in a tale of love and betrayal in medieval France.
"The French Dispatch" (October 22), from director Wes Anderson ("Rushmore," "Moonrise Kingdom," "The Grand Budapest Hotel"), is the story of a New Yorker-style magazine in France and the stories it publishes. Starring Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Timothée Chalamet and Frances McDormand.
"Last Night in Soho" (October 29) stars Thomasin McKenzie ("Jojo Rabbit") in a psychological thriller about a woman who inhabits the body of a 1960s pop idol.
"Eternals" (November 5) is an MCU superheroine film starring Angelina Jolie, Kit Harington and Salma Hayek, directed by Oscar-winner Chloé Zhao ("Nomadland").
"Spencer" (November 5) stars Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana.
"Tick, Tick … BOOM!" (in select theaters November 12, on Netflix November 19) – "Hamilton" creator Lin-Manuel Miranda directs an adaptation of the 1990 Off-Off-Broadway musical by Jonathan Larson, the composer of "Rent."
"Red Notice" (November 12), a heist film starring Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot and Dwayne Johnson.
"King Richard" (opens in theaters and on HBO Max November 19) is a biopic of Venus and Serena Williams' father, Richard (played by Will Smith), who nurtured his daughters' prowess at tennis.
"Encanto" (November 24) is an animated Disney musical, featuring song by Lin-Manuel Miranda
"House of Gucci" (November 24) is Ridley Scott's drama of intrigue surrounding the famed fashion empire, starring Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto and Al Pacino.
"Licorice Pizza" (November 26) by Paul Thomas Anderson ("Boogie Nights," "There Will Be Blood") is a period story of Hollywood in the '70s, starring Bradley Cooper, Sean Penn and Cooper Hoffman (son of the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman). No trailer has been released online yet, but here is a description.
"West Side Story" (December 10) returns in a remake by director Steven Spielberg, starring Rachel Zegler, Ansel Elgort, Ariana DeBose and David Alvarez.
"Don't Look Up" (December 10) is a comedy about the end of the world, starring an apocalyptic cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Timothée Chalamet, Cate Blanchett, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Chris Evans, Tyler Perry and Ariana Grande.
"Nightmare Alley" (Dec. 17) is a thriller starring Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett, directed by Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth"), based on the 1946 novel by William Lindsay Gresham.
"Spider-Man: No Way Home" (December 17) is the latest adventure featuring the web-spinner, and stars Tom Holland, Zendaya, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange.
See you at the movies!
UPDATE: Paramount recently postponed the premiere of "Top Gun: Maverick" to May 2022.
Story produced by Jay Kernis and Robert Marston. Editor: Karen Brenner.
- ("Sunday Morning," 4/25/21)
for more features.