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Some of the movies Hollywood has in store this fall

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

With a little help from a hot-pink comedy...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BARBIE")

RYAN GOSLING: (As Ken) Hi, Barbie.

MARGOT ROBBIE: (As Barbie) Hi, Ken.

SHAPIRO: ...Hollywood finally recovered from the pandemic this summer. North American cinemas have sold roughly $4 billion worth of tickets since Memorial Day. Now with writers and actors on strike and some films delaying openings, the question is whether the film industry can keep up the momentum. In his fall film preview, critic Bob Mondello says the answer is yes - for a while.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Among the potential blockbusters you will not see this fall because they've hightailed it to 2024 are "Dune 2"...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DUNE: PART TWO")

TIMOTHEE CHALAMET: (As Paul Atreides) I am Paul Muad'Dib Atreides.

MONDELLO: ...And the superhero origin story "Kraven The Hunter."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "KRAVEN THE HUNTER")

FRED HECHINGER: (As Dmitri Smerdyakov/Chameleon) Just another man hunting for a trophy.

MONDELLO: But as the year's hot-pink heroine could have told you, when the patriarchy runs for cover...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE MARVELS")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) What the...

MONDELLO: ...Women will be happy to save the day. Actually, three women, in the case of Marvel's "The Marvels," who are working together because they sort of have to.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE MARVELS")

TEYONAH PARRIS: (As Monica Rambeau) Our powers are entangled.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

PARRIS: (As Monica Rambeau) So we switch places whenever we use them.

IMAN VELLANI: (As Kamala Khan) I could totally show you.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters) No.

VELLANI: (As Kamala) We're a team?

PARRIS: (As Monica Rambeau) Oh, no, no, no, no. We're not a team.

BRIE LARSON: (As Carol Danvers) We're not a team.

MONDELLO: The Marvels aren't the only women filling the blockbuster gap. The heroine of a "Hunger Games" prequel...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE HUNGER GAMES: THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) From District 12, Lucy Gray Baird.

MONDELLO: ...Will be fighting for her life decades before Katniss Everdeen took down the regime of President Coriolanus Snow. Ironically, Lucy will be mentored by that same Corio Snow as an 18-year-old.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE HUNGER GAMES: THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES")

RACHEL ZEGLER: (As Lucy Gray Baird) And what does my mentor do besides bring me roses?

TOM BLYTH: (As Coriolanus Snow) I do my best to take care of you.

ZEGLER: (As Lucy Gray Baird) You really want to take care of me in that arena? Start by thinking I can actually win.

MONDELLO: "Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds And Snakes" is a dystopia, and so is "The Creator," which also centers on a woman - well, a child...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE CREATOR")

MADELEINE YUNA VOYLES: (As Alphie) Are you going to heaven?

JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON: (As Joshua) No.

MONDELLO: ...Sort of a child.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE CREATOR")

WASHINGTON: (As Joshua) You got to be a good person to go to heaven.

MADELEINE: (As Alphie) So we're the same. We can't go to heaven because you're not good, and I'm not a person.

MONDELLO: She is artificial intelligence.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE CREATOR")

STURGILL SIMPSON: (As Drew) Do you have any idea what that thing is?

MARC MENCHACA: (As McBride) She looks like a little girl now, but she's growing.

MONDELLO: And she's a weapon...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE CREATOR")

MENCHACA: (As McBride) Whoever has that kid wins the war.

MONDELLO: ...A super weapon, which won't surprise parents who attend "The Creator." Elsewhere, men will still have a foothold in blockbusters - Joaquin Phoenix as an egotistical French emperor in Ridley Scott's "Napoleon"...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "NAPOLEON")

JOAQUIN PHOENIX: (As Napoleon Bonaparte) I'm the first to admit when I make a mistake. I simply never do.

MONDELLO: ...And Robert De Niro and Leo DiCaprio conspiring to steal from the Osage Nation...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON")

EVERETT WALLER: (As character) They're like buzzards circling our people.

MONDELLO: ...In Martin Scorsese, 1920s crime drama "Killers Of The Flower Moon."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON")

ROBERT DE NIRO: (As William Hale) The land had oil on it. Money flows freely here now.

LEONARDO DICAPRIO: (As Ernest Burkhart) I do love that money, sir.

MONDELLO: Those are the only big-budget epics braving a season when actors and writers can't promote them because they're on strike. But there's an upside to a thinned-out blockbuster schedule. It makes space for midbudget films, say the Meg Ryan, David Duchovny rom-com "What Happens Later" about ex-lovers stranded by a snowstorm in a tiny regional airport...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WHAT HAPPENS LATER")

DAVID DUCHOVNY: (As Bill) They're saying this could be the storm of the century.

MEG RYAN: (As Willa) What are you worried about?

DUCHOVNY: (As Bill) Everything - I was diagnosed with anticipatory anxiety.

RYAN: (As Willa) Is that a real thing?

DUCHOVNY: (As Bill) Oh, yeah.

RYAN: (As Willa) Relax. You're already living out your worst-case scenario.

DUCHOVNY: (As Bill) What, being stuck here with you?

RYAN: (As Willa) Yeah.

DUCHOVNY: (As Bill) You make a good point.

MONDELLO: ...Also, biopics like "Maestro," in which Bradley Cooper plays symphony conductor Leonard Bernstein...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MAESTRO")

CAREY MULLIGAN: (As Felicia Montealegre) Are you itching to move?

BRADLEY COOPER: (As Leonard Bernstein) No, I'm not.

MULLIGAN: (As Felicia Montealegre) Mmm, good.

COOPER: (As Leonard Bernstein) Actually at all.

MONDELLO: ...Or "Rustin" about civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, who was instrumental in coordinating the 1963 March on Washington...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "RUSTIN")

COLMAN DOMINGO: (As Bayard Rustin) We are committed to altering the trajectory of this country towards freedom.

MONDELLO: ...Or "Cassandro," in which Gael Garcia Bernal plays a rule-breaking professional wrestler from the 1980s who was openly gay.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CASSANDRO")

GAEL GARCIA BERNAL: (As Saul "Cassandro") They don't let exoticos win. I want to flip it.

MONDELLO: Other modestly budgeted films are based more loosely on true stories - the comedy "Dumb Money," about what happened when a guy with a Reddit page called Wall Street Bets went up against some big hedge funds.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DUMB MONEY")

PAUL DANO: (As Keith Gill) What up, everybody? Roaring Kitty here. I'm going to pick a stock and talk about why I think it's interesting. And that stock is GameStop.

MYHA'LA HERROLD: (As Riri) I love this guy.

MONDELLO: The hedge funds were betting that GameStop shares would fall in value.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DUMB MONEY")

VINCENT D'ONOFRIO: (As Steve Cohen) Dumb money, man.

SETH ROGEN: (As Gabe Plotkin) Happy to take it.

MONDELLO: But when the Reddit page kept plugging it, small investors kept buying...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DUMB MONEY")

SHAILENE WOODLEY: (As Caroline Gill) How much did we make today?

DANO: (As Keith Gill) Five million.

MONDELLO: ...And the hedge funds got squeezed.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DUMB MONEY")

OLIVIA THIRLBY: (As Yaara Bank-Plotkin) How much did we lose today?

ROGEN: (As Gabe Plotkin) A billion.

NICK OFFERMAN: (As Ken Griffin) Do you have a minute?

ROGEN: (As Gabe Plotkin) I, uh, um...

MONDELLO: There's also "Radical," the inspiring true story of a Mexican elementary school teacher...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "RADICAL")

EUGENIO DERBEZ: (As Sergio, speaking Spanish).

MONDELLO: ...And a raft of inspiring documentaries about artists from Joan Baez in "I Am A Noise" to Carlos Santana in "Carlos"...

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "CARLOS")

CARLOS SANTANA: They said, hey, we want to take you to this place. It's called the Fillmore - nothing better.

MONDELLO: ...Also "Lift" about a dancer from an unorthodox background...

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "LIFT")

STEVEN MELENDEZ: I came out of this shelter here because I joined ballet. I've come back to continue that program.

MONDELLO: ...And "Invisible Beauty" about pioneering Black model Bethann Hardison.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "INVISIBLE BEAUTY")

TRACEE ELLIS ROSS: Whether people know or not, she has changed the way beauty is defined.

MONDELLO: But maybe with strikes turning fall TV into a reality show dumping ground, you prefer escapism at the cineplex. How about a third installment of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," where the whole family heads for Greece?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 3")

ANDREA MARTIN: (As Aunt Voula) Who wants Souvlaki?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Paging Souvlaki. Anybody by the name of Souvlaki on this flight?

MONDELLO: Another road comedy, "Quiz Lady," centers on a gameshow-obsessed Awkwafina, who's trying to pay off her mom's gambling debts. And an Irish mother tries to connect with her teenager through music...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FLORA AND SON")

EVE HEWSON: (As Flora) It's like a club in here. Turn it down a second. Was that yours? How did you make that? It sounded epic.

MONDELLO: ...In "Flora And Son."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FLORA AND SON")

OREN KINLAN: (As Max, rapping) Let's get in trouble - shaken not stirred, the James Bond from Dublin...

HEWSON: (As Flora, singing) We got something real.

MONDELLO: While we're talking families, Hollywood's got smaller kids covered. There's Disney's animated "Wish"...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WISH")

ARIANA DEBOSE: (As Asha) I wish...

MONDELLO: ...About a land where wishes come true.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "WISH")

DEBOSE: (As Asha) What was that?

MONDELLO: ...Though not always in the way you expect. The "PAW Patrol" critters are back in "Mighty Movie," this time with superpowers.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PAW PATROL: THE MIGHTY MOVIE")

MARSAI MARTIN: (As Liberty) Great. Now the clumsy pup shoots fireballs out of his paws.

MONDELLO: And in "Trolls Band Together," trolls will get their old band back together.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "TROLLS BAND TOGETHER")

TROYE SIVAN: (As Floyd) We're out of sync. We've gone from boys to men. And now there's only one direction for us to go - the back streets.

MONDELLO: Films that are definitely not for kids include the horror comedy "Dream Scenario," in which Nicolas Cage discovers he's haunting the dreams of millions, and a musical...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "[EXPLETIVE]: THE MUSICAL")

JOSH SHARP: (As Craig Tiddle, singing) Money just keeps rolling in.

MONDELLO: ...That I hesitate to bring up because I'm not sure I'm allowed to say the title. It stars Megan Thee Stallion, Megan Mullally and Nathan Lane and has subject matter and lyrics that are, let's say, blue.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "[EXPLETIVE]: THE MUSICAL")

MEGAN THEE STALLION: (As character, rapping) Y'all just service. This is my palace, built it brick by brick. So get in the line, drop on your knees...

MONDELLO: And I'll just fade away here.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "[EXPLETIVE]: THE MUSICAL")

NATHAN LANE: (As character) Should I open another bottle? I know it's our second, but we're not Baptists.

MONDELLO: Decidedly adult fare, it's called "[Expletive]: The Musical." I guess you'll have to look that one up. Now let's shift gears to drama, which takes many forms this fall - science fiction in "Foe"...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FOE")

AARON PIERRE: (As Terrance) We're going to ensure Hen has company while you're away.

MONDELLO: ...About a husband offered a way off our dying planet.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FOE")

PIERRE: (As Terrance) We're going to replace you.

MONDELLO: The year in "Foe" is 2065.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FOE")

PAUL MESCAL: (As Junior) I don't want a robot living with my wife.

MONDELLO: Then there's "Aristotle And Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe" with Latino teens puzzling out relationships.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE")

REESE GONZALES: (As Dante Quintana) Are there going to be rules for us?

MAX PELAYO: (As Aristotle Mendoza) Guess so.

GONZALES: (As Dante Quintana) If you can't stick by me, it would kill me.

MONDELLO: In "All Dirt Roads Taste Of Salt," there's a poetic lilt to a decade-spanning portrait of Black southern life, which contrasts with the businesslike chill of the murder mystery "Anatomy Of A Fall," which won the top prize at Cannes by putting marriage on trial.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ANATOMY OF A FALL")

SWANN ARLAUD: (As Maitre Vincent Renzi) You had a fight the day before he died. You need to start seeing yourself the way others are going to perceive you.

MONDELLO: Another mystery, "A Haunting In Venice," finds Kenneth Branagh's Hercule Poirot...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "A HAUNTING IN VENICE")

KENNETH BRANAGH: (As Hercule Poirot) I do not believe in psychics.

MONDELLO: ...Matching wits with Tina Fey...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "A HAUNTING IN VENICE")

TINA FEY: (As Ariadne Oliver) Come with me to a seance. Spot the con I can't.

MONDELLO: ...And Michelle Yeoh.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "A HAUNTING IN VENICE")

MICHELLE YEOH: (As Mrs. Reynolds) Detective, you are here to discredit me. But I can talk to the dead.

MONDELLO: And just four days ago, Taylor Swift announced that a film of her sold-out stadium concert would open in October and in 24 hours racked up $37 million in movie ticket sales.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE ERAS TOUR: CONCERT FILM")

TAYLOR SWIFT: People come up to me, and they'd be like, you're going to just, like, do a show with, like, all the albums in it? And I was like, yeah, it's going to be called The Eras Tour.

MONDELLO: All of which adds up to a more robust lineup than you might expect for a strike-dampened fall. No sign of bottom-of-the-barrel scraping yet. I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CRUEL SUMMER")

SWIFT: (Singing) I'm drunk in the back of the car, and I cried like a baby coming home from the bar. Said, I'm fine, but it wasn't true. I love you - ain't that the worst thing you've ever heard? Cruel summer... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.