The transition time between the adolescent fare of summer and the serious adult movies of winter, autumn is where you find films difficult to categorize, hard to market or perhaps not the potential crowdpleaser a studio had hoped for.
It's the time when movies that need to find an audience or, conversely, need to have an audience find them, flourish. Every once in a while, a prestige picture looking for a head start in the Oscar run will emerge, but for the most part, the films of fall are a combination of sleepers, keepers and also-rans.
Here's a rundown of some of the films slated for release over the next few months.
The Rocker: A drummer exiled from a successful rock act 20 years ago receives a second musical chance when he joins a high school band. The concept sounds pedestrian, but star Rainn Wilson (The Office) could elevate the proceedings. Aug. 22.
Traitor: A cat-and-mouse movie about an FBI agent (Guy Pearce) pursuing a former Special Forces soldier (Don Cheadle) with possible ties to terrorist organizations. Given the talent involved, expect more than a by-the-book thriller. Aug. 29.
Bangkok Dangerous: Nicolas Cage as a damaged hitman would at one time have been a sure-fire hit. But there's been a lot of water, and duds, under the bridge since then. Still, an interesting director (Hong Kong cinema legend Oxide Pang Chun) and interesting source material might make this a surprise. Sept. 5.
Burn After Reading: The Coen brothers step out of the dark after hitting big with No Country for Old Men and return to their comedy roots with this spy comedy. Coen favorites George Clooney and Francis McDormand star with Brad Pitt, who plays a health-club employee who finds sensitive CIA information in a locker. Sept. 12.
Righteous Kill: Robert De Niro and Al Pacino play New York police detective partners drawn to a case where criminals the system failed to prosecute turn up dead. That's the story. The real show, of course, is watching these two giant talents at work. Sept. 12.
Ghost Town: A man with suspect social skills (Ricky Gervais) discovers he can commune with the dead. In a bid for peace, he agrees to help a deceased husband (Greg Kinnear) squash his widow's (Tea Leoni) impending marriage. Another film where the talent involved could turn a basic concept into something special. Sept. 19.
Igor:Tired of playing second banana to unappreciative mad scientists, a hunchbacked assistant (voiced by John Cusack) decides in this animated film to pursue his dreams by entering the Mad Science Fair. Sept. 19.
Eagle Eye: Shia LeBeouf stars in a thriller about civilians forced into a political assassination plot engineered by a mysterious, unseen woman. Rachel Monaghan plays a coerced plotter, and Billy Bob Thornton is the lawman investigating. Sept. 26.
Flash of Genius: An unlikely underdog tale, this factual film stars Greg Kinnear as Robert Kearns, the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper. When Ford swipes his idea, the college professor enters into an extended legal fray, not only for proceeds from his invention but also an acknowledgment of wrongdoing. Oct. 17.
High School Musical 3: The big-screen debut of the enormously successful Disney TV franchise, this movie is basically bulletproof. It doesn't matter if it is good or bad, the kids will come, money in hand, and make it an enormous hit. Oct. 24.
City of Embers: Two teens seek to unlock the secrets of a dying underground city. Based on a popular series of children's novels, the film stars Bill Murray and Tim Robbins, although not in the teen roles. Oct. 10.
Quantum of Solace: Bond. James Bond. The 007 reboot continues with the super agent (Daniel Craig) tracking down the organization responsible for getting his girl in Casino Royale. Nov. 7.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Half-Blood finds the now nearly grown wizard even more embroiled in the battle against the evil Voldemort. Nov. 21.
The Road: An adaptation of the novel by Cormac McCarthy, who wrote the equally dark No Country for Old Men, The Road is the story of an unnamed father and son who travel across a post-apocalyptic America searching for a better life. With Charlize Theron, Viggo Mortensen, Robert Duvall and Guy Pearce. Nov. 26.