Fall films: It's 'Wakanda Forever,' while 'Halloween Ends' and ensemble dramas carry the load

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Sep. 2—Autumn technically doesn't begin for a few more weeks, and it may not feel like the time of color leaves and breezes, pumpkins and cider. However, Labor Day weekend says goodbye not only to the vibes of summer but also to the summer movie season.

We now are looking at a couple of months of family favorites, Halloween scares and compelling dramas — many of them with impressive casts and some of them perhaps contenders for next year's Academy Awards.

And we will be reminded that even in a world without the late Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther, Wakanda is, indeed, forever.

Here is just some of what's coming to a big screen near you — and the big-ish screen in your living room, with dates subject to change:

"Pinocchio" — Sept. 8 — Disney+ >> Director Robert Zemeckis has enlisted his "Forest Gump" and "Cast Away" star, Tom Hanks, to portray woodcarver Gepetto, the man who creates the story's namesake puppet in this update of Disney's 1940 animated classic. Like Zemeckis' "The Polar Express" — which also featured Hanks — this new musical-fantasy version of the tale appears to be a blend of live-action and computer animation. Benjamin Evan Ainsworth ("The Haunting of Bly Manor") voices the wooden puppet who wants to be a real boy, while Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who starred in "The Walk" for Zemeckis, provides the voice of Jiminy Cricket. The colorful-looking adventure also gets contributions from Cynthia Erivo and Luke Evans.

"Clerks III" — Sept. 13| Theaters >> Filmmaker Kevin Smith's second sequel to his 1994 indie hit, "Clerks," sees the gang together again and dealing with a heart attack suffered by Randal Graves (Jeff Anderson). After the experience, Randal decides he wants to make a movie with pal Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran). The film is receiving a usual theatrical release from a partnership between its studio, Lionsgate, and premium content provider Fathom Events.

"Confess, Fletch" — Sept. 16 — Theaters and digital on-demand >> Attempts to reboot the franchise around novelist Gregory Mcdonald's investigating journalist character Irwin Maurice "Fletch" Fletcher — portrayed by Chevy Chase in two movies from the 1980s — have been going on so long that you sort of assumed it would never happen. But here we finally have this adaptation of Mcdonald's 1976 novel, with "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm as Fletch. Greg Mottola ("Superbad") directs.

"Do Revenge" — Sept. 16 — Netflix >> High school students Drea (Camila Mendes of "Riverdale") and Eleanor (Maya Hawke of "Stranger Things") form an alliance to punish their bullies in this dark comedy written and directed by Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, the co-writer of "Thor: Love and Thunder."

"Goodnight Mommy" — Sept. 16 — Prime Video >> Naomi Watts stars in this remake of a 2014 psychological horror film from Austria, in which brothers make what may be a terrifying discovery about their mother.

"See How They Run" — Sept. 16 — Theaters >> A really solid cast — we're talking Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Royan, Adrien Brody, David Oyelowo and Ruth Wilson, among other top talents — are the selling point of this mystery set in 1950s London.

"The Woman King" — Sept. 16 — Theaters >> Viola Davis stars in this historical work about the all-female unit of fighters, the Agojie, that protected the African kingdom of Dahome in the 1800s. Gina Prince-Bythewood ("The Old Guard") directs from a screenplay by Dana Stevens ("Fatherhood").

"Don't Worry Darling" — Sept. 23 — Theaters >> The latest directorial effort from Olivia Wilde ("Booksmart"), this movie has been getting all kinds of recent attention due to actor Shia LaBeouf's exit, whatever shape that actually may have taken. However, the film — with Wilde's partner, Harry Styles, stepping in for Shia LaBeouf and the cast also boasting Florence Pugh, Chris Pine, Wilde herself and other notable names — looks all kinds of interesting on its own. The engrossing trailer strongly suggests there is more than meets the eye to the lives of some folks living in 1950s California.

"Blonde" — Sept. 28 — Netflix >> Ana de Armas portrays a fictionalized version of Marilyn Monroe in this adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates' novel. Andrew Dominik ("The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford") directs a cast that also boasts Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale and Julianne Nicholson. Expect this film to go to some dark corners of the late cultural icon's life, as the film earned an NC-17 rating — the first streaming film with that distinction.

"Bros" — Sept. 30 — Theaters >> Billy Eichner (2019's "The Lion King") co-wrote and stars in this romantic comedy, said to be the first gay rom-com with a predominantly LGBTQ main cast. Eichner's Bobby falls for the hunky, possibly out-of-his-league Aaron (Luke Macfarlane). ("I don't think I'm his type," Bobby says in the trailer. "He's a gay Tom Brady.") The film's other writer, Nicholas Stoller ("Neighbors"), directs.

"The Greatest Beer Run Ever" — Sept. 30 — Apple TV+ and select theaters >> Writer-director Peter Farrelly follows up his 2018 Academy Award winner, "Green Book," with another film based on a true story — and a wild one at that. Zac Efron stars as a man who, during the war in Vietnam, travels to the frontline to bring soldiers their favorite beer from back home. The movie gets supporting work from Russell Crowe and Bill Murray.

"Hocus Pocus 2" — Sept. 30 — Disney+ >> Stars Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy are back to this straight-to-streaming sequel to 1993 witch-based fantasy-comedy "Hocus Pocus." Director Anne Fletcher ("27 Dresses," "The Proposal") is steering the broom here.

"Amsterdam" — Oct. 7 — Theaters >> David O. Russell can be hit ("American Hustle," "The Fighter") and miss ("I Heart Huckabees," "Joy"), but you've got to like the look of his latest, a mystery-comedy set about a century ago. And, oh man, the cast is impressive. It's led by "American Hustle" star Christian Bale but also boasts Margo Robbie, Anya Taylor Joy, Michael Shannon, Chris Rock, John David Washington and others — those "others" including Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook" alum Robert De Niro.

"Catherine Called Birdy" — Oct. 7 — Prime Video >> In select theaters two weeks before its streaming date, this adaptation of Karen Cushman's children's book "Catherine, Called Birdy" is written and directed by Lena Dunham of "Girls" fame. Bella Ramsey — so memorable on "Game of Thrones" and a star of HBO's highly anticipated series adaptation of acclaimed video game "The Last of Us" — stars in the medieval comedy.

"Luckiest Girl Alive" — Oct. 7 — Netflix >> Mila Kunis and Finn Wittrock ("Stranger Things") lead the cast in this adaptation of Jessica Knoll's bestselling 2015 mystery novel. Knoll has penned the film, which is slated for select theaters one week earlier.

"Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile" — Oct. 7 — Theaters >> Music star Shawn Mendes is front and center in this musical comedy that blends live action and animation. The adaptation of a children's story, it also features Javier Bardem and Constance Wu in its cast.

"Tár" — Oct. 7 — Theaters >> The oh-so-intriguing and increasingly unsettling teaser for this psychological drama — the latest film from gifted director Todd Field ("In the Bedroom," "Little Children") — reveals Cate Blanchet as a renowned German musical conductor obsessed with time.

"Halloween Ends" — Oct. 14 — Theaters and Peacock >> It's hard to imagine this will be the last time we get stabbed by masked murderer Michael Myers on the screen, but director David Gordon Green is poised to conclude his trilogy with this slash-fest. He launched it in 2018 with the solid "Halloween," which served as a direct sequel to the 1978 original of the same name and brought back Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode. He followed that with the lackluster if nostalgia-filled "Halloween Kills" last year. Let's hope Green is slicing with a sharper blade this time.

"Till" — Oct. 14 — Theaters >> In this biographical drama, Danielle Deadwyler ("The Harder They Fall") portrays Mamie Till-Mobley, who sought justice after the 1955 lynching of her son Emmett Till (Jalyn Hall). Chinonye Chukwu ("Clemency") directs from a screenplay she co-wrote.

"White Bird: A Wonder Story" — Oct. 14 — Theaters >> A follow-up to 2017's heartwarming "Wonder," "White Bird" sees supporting actor Bryce Gheisar's character, Julian, take center stage. Julian visits his grandmother (Helen Mirren) and learns about her childhood during World War II as a Jewish girl living in Nazi-controlled France. Marc Forster ("Christopher Robin") directs this adaptation of R. J. Palacio's 2019 graphic novel.

"The School for Good and Evil" — Oct. 19 — Netflix >> The cast of this adaptation of Soman Chainani's 2013 fantasy novel — about a pair of best friends (Sophia Anne Caruso and Sofia Wylie) taken to the movie's namesake school — also boasts actors Kerry Washingtoon, Charlize Theron, Michelle Yeoh and Laurence Fishburne, with Cate Blanchett offering narration. Consider veteran director Paul Feig ("Bridesmaids," "A Simple Favor") this movie's headmaster.

"The Banshees of Inisherin" — Oct. 21 — Theaters >> Writer-director Martin McDonagh ("Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri") has brought back the two main lads from his beloved 2008 black comedy, "In Bruges," Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, for this comedy about a falling out between two friends living on a remote Island off the west coast of Ireland. (The trailer features accents so thick that you may want to wait to watch this one at home with the subtitles turned on.)

"Black Adam" — Oct. 21 — Theaters >> The large-and-in-charge Dwayne Johnson joins the DC Extended Universe as this antihero and nemesis of Shazam. Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, who's done horror ("Orphan," "The Swallows") and Liam Neeson action romps ("Unknown," "The Commuter"), the movie also boasts actors Aldis Hodge, as Hawkman; Sarah Shari as Isis; and Pierce Brosnan, as Doctor Fate. It's a good bet we will see Black Adam again in March, when "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" is slated to be in theaters.

"Raymond & Ray" — Oct. 21 — Apple TV+ and select theaters >> Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke portray brothers in this crime film helmed by Colombian director Rodrigo Garcia.

"Ticket to Paradise" — Oct. 21 — Theaters >> Old "Ocean's Eleven" pals George Clooney and Julie Roberts — who also shared the screen in "Oceans Twelve," "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" and "Money Monster" — are together again in this rom-com. They play a divorced couple out to stop their daughter (Kaitlyn Dever of "Dopesick") from making the same mistake they believe they made years ago.

"The Good Nurse" — Oct. 26 — Netflix >> In this adaptation of Krysty Wilson-Cairns' 2013 novel, Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne portray nurses who develop a bond. However, the attitude of Chastain's Amy changes toward Redmayne's Charlie's after a series of mysterious deaths at the hospital in this thriller adapted by the author and helmed by Danish director Tobias Lindholm ("The Investigation"). It's slated to be in select theaters one week prior to its streaming date.

"Call Jane" — Oct. 28 — Theaters >> Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver head the ensemble cast in this comedy-drama about housewives in the 1960 becoming invested in the fight for women's rights. Phyllis Nagy ("Mrs. Harris) is in the director's chair.

"Enola Holmes 2" — Nov. 4 — Theaters >> OK, so 2020 may not have offered much in the way of fun, but "Enola Holmes" — with "Stranger Things" star Millie Bobby Brown as the titular younger sister of brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill) — bypassing theaters and rolling into the living rooms of Netflix subscribers was a nice little treat. The sequel to the charming mystery adventure brings back Brown and Cavill — as well as director Harry Bradbeer and screenwriter Jack Thorne — for another case based on the book series by Nancy Springer.

"My Policeman" — Nov. 4 — Prime Video >> Set for a limited theatrical release on Oct. 21, this adaptation of Bethan Roberts' novel set in 1950s England involves a gay officer (Harry Styles), his school teacher wife (Emmo Corrin) and the museum curator with whom he's having a relationship. Michael Grandage ("Genius") directors.

"Armageddon Time" — Nov. 11 — Theaters >> Anthony Hopkins, Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong are members of the ensemble cast of this period drama written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker James Gray ("The Lost City of Z," "Ad Astra").

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" — Nov. 11 — Theaters >> It would seem Letitia Wright's brainy Shuri will be front and center in this sequel to 2018 Marvel Cinematic Universe smash hit and cultural phenomenon "Black Panther." Her character's part in the long-planned sequel was said to have been expanded after, of course, the sad death of "Black Panther" star Chadwick Boseman in 2020 from colon cancer, with Disney wisely deciding not to recast the role of Boseman's King T'Challa. Much will be different, unavoidably, but returning from "Blank Panther" are director Ryah Coogler; his co-writer, Joe Robert Cole; and cast members Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong'o, Winston Duke, Martin Freeman and Angela Bassett. The teaser released a few weeks ago has us bracing for an emotional ride.

"Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes" — Nov. 18 — Theaters >> Ready to go back to Panem? This adaptation of author Suzanne Collins' 2020 prequel to her wildly successful "Hunger Games" trilogy is helmed by Francis Lawrence, who directed the final three of the four "Hunger Games" movies. With the story taking place decades before the adventure of Katniss Everdeen, we will get a bunch of new characters, portrayed by, among others Tom Blyth ("Benediction"), Rachel Zegler ("West Side Story") and Hunter Schafer ("Euphoria").

"The Menu" — Nov. 18 — Theaters >> Did the FX on Hulu series "The Bear" have your mouth watering at the food being prepared? Did you also think one of the characters may actually kill another? Well, "The Menu" may satiate your appetite for deaths of the most delicious variety. We're expecting dark comedy to pair nicely with horror in this story set on a remote island where a celebrity chef played by Ralph Fiennes has quite a night planned for guests, including a couple portrayed by Nicholas Hoult (so terrific in "The Great") and Anya Taylor-Joy (so terrific in everything). Director Mark Mylod ("Game of Thrones") is the executive chef leading the cinematic kitchen crew.

"The People We Hate at the Wedding" — Nov. 18 — Prime Video >> Allison Janney, Kristen Bell and Ben Platt comprise the appealing trio at the top of the cast of this fun-sounding comedy adaptation of the novel Grant Ginder's 2016 novel.

"She Said" — Nov. 18 — Theaters >> Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan portray Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, respectively, journalists who worked to reveal the sexual misdeeds by disgraced Hollywood industry giant Harvey Weinstein, in this drama from director Maria Schrader ("Unorthodox"). The cast also boasts talented actors Patricia Clarkson and Andre Braugher, with Mike Houston ("Boardwalk Empire") portraying Weinstein. Here's hoping this is the next great film about strong journalism.

"Slumberland" — Nov. 18 — Netflix >> Set for the same day director Francis Lawrence's "Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes" hits the big screen, this adaptation of fantasy comic strip "Little Nemo in Slumberland" also sees Lawrence at the helm. It stars Jason Momoa as an outlaw who tries to help a young girl, Nema (Marlow Barkley), search for her father.