Fall movie preview 2017: Jennifer Lawrence, Denzel Washington, Julia Roberts and ‘Thor’ vs. ‘Justice League’

Clint O’Connor
Akron Beacon Journal (TNS)

Hollywood’s calendar-makers meticulously plot the release schedule for maximum profits. They snag key dates — beginning of summer, Thanksgiving week, Christmas Day — often years in advance to stake a claim and avoid obvious conflicts.

Which is why it’s beyond bizarre that on Nov. 3 we will be marveling at Marvel’s latest superhero stomper, “Thor: Ragnarok” with Chris Hemsworth, and just 14 days later, be expected to hyperventilate over DC Comics’ massive assemblage in “Justice League.”

Who will own November?

Considering that Marvel has been trouncing DC at every turn, I have no clue why Batman and crew would want to follow so closely in Thor’s wake.

One thing “Justice League” has going for it is Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. The star of the summer will no doubt lend the boys a box office boost, but my money is on Thor and Loki.

The same day “Justice League” premieres in November with Wonder Woman, Julia Roberts will star in “Wonder,” and in late October, Luke Evans fronts “Professor Marston & The Wonder Woman.”

Confused? Me, too.

To help unravel the multiplex puzzle, here is a look at the next three months of new films headed our way.


Jennifer Lawrence in the film, "Mother!" (Niko Tavernise/Paramount Pictures)

Sept. 15: Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem star in “Mother!,” a horror-mystery about a married couple tangling with their mysterious guests. “13 Minutes” charts the true story of Georg Elser, the man who tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1939, and Dylan O’Brien and Taylor Kitsch battle in the action-thriller “American Assassin.”

Sept. 22: Colin Firth and Taron Egerton return for more spy-jinks in “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.” This time, the gents must align with their American counterparts, including Channing Tatum and Halle Berry. Because we don’t all spend enough time on Facebook, here comes the Facebook horror movie “Friend Request,” about a college girl who unfriends a mysterious woman and is haunted by a demonic presence. The animated Lego gang returns with a Ninja twist in “The Lego Ninjago Movie,” with the voices of Jackie Chan and Olivia Munn.

Sept. 29: Once upon a time, blustery blowhard Bobby Riggs and tennis star Billie Jean King squared off on the court for a heavily hyped sports spectacle. While not quite as lucrative as the recent Mayweather-McGregor bout, the 1973 match became a “Women’s Lib vs. Male Chauvinists” event and drew massive prime-time ratings on ABC. “The Battle of the Sexes,” with Emma Stone as King and Steve Carell as Riggs, chronicles the hoopla and delves into the players’ off-court lives.

FILE - In this Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, file photo, actor Jake Gyllenhaal, left, and subject of the film, Jeff Bauman pose for a photo before a press conference for the movie "Stronger" at the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto. The U.S. premiere of a film chronicling the story of Boston Marathon bombing survivor Bauman is taking place at the hospital where he and others who were injured in the 2013 deadly attack were treated. The movie, "Stronger,” will screen at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston on Tuesday. (Chris Donovan/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Also in September: Tom Cruise stars as real-life drug smuggler turned CIA operative Barry Seal in “American Made.” Jake Gyllenhaal is Jeff Bauman in “Stronger,” the story of the man who lost his legs in the Boston Marathon bombing. Ben Stiller reconsiders his life choices in “Brad’s Status.” “Victoria and Abdul” stars Judi Dench and Ali Fazal as Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim. Kirsten Dunst stars in the psychological thriller “Woodshock,” and “Flatliners,” about death-experimenting med students, gets the remake treatment with Ellen Page and Diego Luna.


This image released by warner Bros. Pictures shows Ryan Gosling, left, and Harrison Ford in a scene from "Blade Runner 2049." (Stephen Vaughan/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

Oct. 6: One of the most anticipated films of the fall is “Blade Runner 2049.” Set 30 years after Ridley Scott’s original, director Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”) picks up the sci-fi saga as Officer K (Ryan Gosling) goes in search of Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). Kate Winslet and Idris Elba star in the survival drama “The Mountain Between Us,” and the animated adventure “My Little Pony: The Movie” features the voices of Emily Blunt and Kristin Chenoweth.

Oct. 13: Chadwick Boseman (who has already played legends Jackie Robinson in “42” and James Brown in “Get On Up”) stars as Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall.” We follow the groundbreaking Supreme Court justice during his years as a crusading lawyer. “Goodbye Christopher Robin” looks inside the world of Winnie the Pooh creator A.A. Milne. Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan square off in the thriller “The Foreigner” and, in honor of Friday the 13th, there is also “Happy Death Day,” in which a college student (Jessica Rothe) “relives” her murder in order to catch the killer.

Oct. 20: Climate calamity arrives in “Geostorm.” Made well before Hurricane Harvey, the film looks at what happens when satellites, set up to control global weather, start attacking the Earth. Michael Fassbender and Rebecca Ferguson are on the trail of a serial killer in the crime thriller “The Snowman.” Tyler Perry’s “Boo 2! A Madea Halloween” finds Madea, Bam and Hattie venturing to a haunted campground, and if nothing else, “Loving Vincent,” about Vincent van Gogh, will be unique: It’s billed as the world’s “first fully oil painted feature film.”

This image released by Paramount Pictures shows  Julianne Moore, left, and Matt Damon in a scene from "Suburbicon." (Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/Paramount Pictures via AP)

Oct. 27: George Clooney reworked an old Coen brothers script and directed “Suburbicon,” a dark tale of a home invasion starring Matt Damon and Julianne Moore. Luke Evans and Rebecca Hall star in “Professor Marston & The Wonder Woman,” the story of the man who created the Wonder Woman comics and helped invent the lie detector test. A group of soldiers returning from Iraq struggle to adjust to civilian life in “Thank You for Your Service.” Liam Neeson stars as Mark Felt, aka “Deep Throat” of Watergate fame, in “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House.”

Also in October: “Breathe” charts the inspirational true story of Robin and Diana Cavendish as they tackle a devastating disease. A serial killer with gruesome methods is on the loose in “Jigsaw.” A young girl flourishes while living at a budget motel in “The Florida Project,” and firefighters battle wildfires in Arizona in “Only the Brave.”



Nov. 3: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and the gang return in Marvel’s latest marvel, “Thor: Ragnarok,” with the mighty one hammerless and imprisoned on the other side of the universe. “My Friend Dahmer” charts the high school years of future serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer (Ross Lynch). Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell star in the heavy-duty drama “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” and Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn regroup for more naughty-not-nice misadventures in “A Bad Mom’s Christmas.”

Nov. 10: Kenneth Branagh, who also directed, is Agatha Christie’s master detective Hercule Poirot in the remake of “Murder on the Orient Express.” For “Daddy’s Home 2,” the battling dudes (Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell) take on added anxiety with the arrival of their fathers (Mel Gibson and John Lithgow) for Christmas. Writer-director Martin McDonagh (“In Bruges”) cooked up the crime comedy-drama “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” which pits an outraged mom (Frances McDormand) against the local sheriff (Woody Harrelson).

Nov. 17: The mash-up of DC Comics heroes in “Justice League” includes Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg, The Flash (and, we assume, Superman back from the dead). Julia Roberts stars in “Wonder,” a drama about a young boy with Treacher Collins syndrome. Denzel Washington is an idealistic defense in “Roman J Israel, ESQ,” and Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne play three Vietnam vets who reunite in “Last Flag Flying.”

Nov. 22: A musician and a hustler team up for a journey through the Land of the Dead in “Coco,” the latest animated adventure from the wizards at Pixar … Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing,” “The Social Network”) takes the director’s chair for “Molly’s Game,” the true story of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), who ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game. Bruce Willis stars as the mild-mannered man turned vigilante in “Death Wish” (derived from the 1974 original with Charles Bronson), and “Darkest Hour” finds newly minted Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) rallying England against the Nazis in 1940.

Also in November: “The Star” takes an animated look at the very first Christmas through the eyes of a donkey. Actress Greta Gerwig turns writer-director for “Lady Bird,” and Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) and the story behind A Christmas Carol come to life in “The Man Who Invented Christmas.”