Well, at least that’s over.
A summer that began with a string of hits in “Iron Man 3,” “Fast & Furious 6,” even the surprising “Now You See Me,” whimpered to its conclusion after a run of underachievers (“The Hangover Part III,” “Pacific Rim,” “Elysium”) and outright flops (“After Earth,” “White House Down,” “The Lone Ranger,” “R.I.P.D.,” and on and on).
But with the arrival of autumn, grown-ups are finally welcomed back to the multiplexes. (Adam Sandler’s “Grown Ups” franchise, meanwhile? Still not welcome.)
Sure, movies such as this weekend’s “Riddick” would stand out — if that’s the right phrase — in any season.
And there’s a little upcoming movie you may have heard of called “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”
But fall is increasingly becoming the home of prestige pictures, from heavy hitters like “Captain Phillips,” “Rush,” “Gravity” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” to smaller awards hopefuls such as “12 Years a Slave,” “Nebraska,” “Dallas Buyers Club” and “The Fifth Estate.”
Here’s a look at some of what’s in store before the Thanksgiving crush of holiday releases. And, as always, dates are subject to change.
An escaped convict (Vin Diesel) battles aliens and mercenaries on a sun-scorched planet in “Riddick,” the second sequel to 2000’s “Pitch Black.”
It wouldn’t be a Friday the 13th without a few scares, so Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne are back for more supernatural mayhem in “Insidious: Chapter 2.”
A Mafia boss (Robert De Niro) and his family (Michelle Pfeiffer, Dianna Agron) enter witness protection in France in Luc Besson’s action comedy “The Family.”
A young woman (Keri Russell) spends her life savings to visit a Jane Austen-themed resort in the romantic comedy “Austenland.
The last 56 years of the reclusive “The Catcher in the Rye” author’s life are explored in the nine-years-in-the-making documentary “Salinger.”
A desperate father (Hugh Jackman) and a police detective (Jake Gyllenhaal) search for two missing girls in “Prisoners.”
A basketball coach (Josh Holloway) tries to help some of the country’s best dancers gel into a winning team in “Battle of the Year.”
Three men (Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, “The Book of Mormon’s” Josh Gad) bond over their addictions and recoveries in “Thanks for Sharing.”
Getting a jump on its 75th anniversary, “The Wizard of Oz” returns to theaters for a week in IMAX 3-D.
There’s nothing formulaic about the 1970s Formula 1 rivalry between drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) in Ron Howard’s “Rush.”
Flint Lockwood (voiced by Bill Hader) battles “foodimals,” including tacodiles and shrimpanzees, in the animated “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.”
A ladies man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) obsessed with online porn might have met his match in an old-fashioned girl (Scarlett Johansson) in the comedy “Don Jon,” written and directed by Gordon-Levitt.
The late James Gandolfini romances Julia Louis Dreyfus in the comedy “Enough Said.”
A flight attendant (Paula Patton) who has 30 days to get engaged before her sister’s wedding flies the friendly skies in search of romance in the comedy “Baggage Claim.”
During a concert by James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich and the boys, a roadie (Dane DeHaan) is transported into a post-apocalyptic riot in the IMAX 3-D extravaganza “Metallica — Through the Never.”
Disaster strikes during a spacewalk, leaving two astronauts (George Clooney, Sandra Bullock) floating deeper into the blackness in writer-director Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity.”
A Princeton grad student (Justin Timberlake) falls under the sway of an online gambling tycoon (Ben Affleck) in the thriller “Runner Runner.”
The commanding officer (Tom Hanks) of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama is held hostage by Somali pirates in the fact-based “Captain Phillips.”
The only thing wilder than the cast — Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson?! Together?!?! — is the action as Danny Trejo returns as the titular former Federale in “Machete Kills.”
Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld star as Shakespeare’s doomed lovers in “Romeo and Juliet.”
When a security expert (Sylvester Stallone) is wrongly held after being hired to test a secret, high-tech prison, he enlists a fellow inmate (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to help him bust out in “Escape Plan.”
The secret’s out. Benedict Cumberbatch portrays Julian Assange in the WikiLeaks saga “The Fifth Estate.”
Robert Redford is set adrift in the Indian Ocean when his yacht collides with a shipping container in “All Is Lost.”
Chloe Grace Moretz steps into the classic bloody prom dress in “Carrie.”
Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt headline “The Counselor,” from Cormac McCarthy and Ridley Scott, about a lawyer who gets in over his head with drug traffickers.
Octogenarian Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) and his “grandson” Billy (Jackson Nicholl) travel the country in the hidden-camera comedy “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.”
When one of them gets engaged to a much younger woman, four childhood friends (Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline) party it up on the Strip in the comedy “Last Vegas.”
A young boy (Asa Butterfield) deemed Earth’s next great hope is trained to lead the military into battle with an alien race in “Ender’s Game.”
Two turkeys (voiced by Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson) travel back in time to get their kind removed from the Thanksgiving menu forever in the animated comedy “Free Birds.”
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is back to hammer in the morning, hammer in the evening, all over this land and all the Nine Realms in “Thor: The Dark World.”
A young Brit (Domhnall Gleeson) uses his recently discovered power of time travel to woo an insecure beauty (Rachel McAdams) in the comedy “About Time,” from writer-director Richard Curtis.
Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a corrupt New York stockbroker, alongside Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey, in Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
Rivalries and romances are reignited in “The Best Man Holiday,” the 14-years-later sequel to “The Best Man.”
A young girl is sent to live with a foster family in Germany during World War II in “The Book Thief,” based on the acclaimed novel.
Just like the Jacksons in 1984, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) embark on their victory tour in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”
A habitual sperm donor (Vince Vaughn) is sued by 142 of the 533 20-somethings he fathered in the comedy “Delivery Man.”
An old coot (Bruce Dern) drags his son (Will Forte) across four states to claim a sweepstakes prize in Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska.”
TO BE ANNOUNCED
A free black man (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is sold to a cruel slave owner (Michael Fassbender) in the historical drama “12 Years a Slave,” co-starring Brad Pitt.
Diagnosed with HIV in 1985, a Texas electrician (Matthew McConaughey) gathers a stash of alternative treatments, legally and otherwise, and distributes them to others living with HIV in the fact-based “Dallas Buyers Club.”
During the last two years of her life, the Princess of Wales (Naomi Watts) carries on a secret affair with a Pakistani heart surgeon (Naveen Andrews) in “Diana.”
A small-town office worker becomes an overnight sensation as a contender for the title “Fastest Typist in the World” in “Populaire,” a French homage to 1950s-era romantic comedies.
The true story of French President Francois Mitterand’s private chef (Catherine Frot) is explored in the drama “Haute Cuisine.”
And when their small town is flooded, a family’s horrible secret is revealed in the horror tale “We Are What We Are.”
Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@ reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567.