The following list isn't meant as a definitive tabulation because many film projects are still in planning. But this is an ample sampling of what will grace our marquees this year.
Some of the details are subject to change. That includes cast, directors and producers, and even studio designations, because many films have been known to bounce from studio to studio.
Calendar asked publicists to provide details on some films, but information was sometimes difficult to come by, as if we had asked for the combination to the studio safe. For example, when we asked for the plot on "Ishtar," the high-priced Dustin Hoffman-Warren Beatty-Elaine May comedy, a spokesman for Columbia Pictures said, "We don't know." Calendar replied, "You mean you're spending millions and millions of dollars--and you don't know what it's for?" The spokesman replied, "Well, I know --but I can't tell."
Especially tentative are the release dates, because those often depend on when films are finally completed, edited and ready to roll (as opposed to when producers and directors say they'll be done), in addition to the mysterious ways in which studios try to outflank the competition. In fact, any similarity between the release date printed and the actual release date is, well, probably lucky.
In the case of Warner Bros., the studio declined to indicate even approximate release dates. One explanation from a Warners spokesman: "It makes some directors nervous if they see that their picture is pegged to come out in summer and they aren't even done with it."
While Southern California is the movie capital of the world, not all movies play here. Some are released in the smaller towns and the drive-in circuits. Some movies are released in test patterns, sometimes region by region . . . and sometimes never make it to the next region. . . .
JANUARY & FEBRUARY
"The Adventures of the American Rabbit"--That rabbit with the red, white and blue markings (and the roller skates) and other characters created by Stewart Moskowitz stars in this animated feature. (Atlantic)
"The Adventures of Mark Twain"--Fantasy-adventure written/directed by Will Vinton in his Claymation process. (Atlantic)
"The Best of Times"--Robin Williams longs for a second chance on the football field to make good his blunder, years earlier, when he dropped the winning pass. So he tricks the opposing team into a rematch--which means he's got to whip his squad of middle-age beer guzzlers into shape. With Kurt Russell. Directed by Roger Spottiswoode. (Universal)
"Bliss"--Best-picture/best-director winner from the Australian Film Institute. Black comedy on a successful ad executive who dies (for four minutes), is revived, then sets out on a quest to discover Truth. Directed by Ray Lawrence. (New World)
"The Boy in Blue"--Nicolas Cage is the bootlegger who became a champion rower (and Canadian hero) in the late 19th Century. With Christopher Plummer. Directed by Charles Jarrott. (20th Century Fox)
"Critters"--Campy thriller about the invasion of a small Oklahoma town by alien carnivores with razor-sharp teeth and porcupine quills and a pair of alien bounty hunters (from their galaxy) on their trail. Billy Green Bush, Dee Wallace, M. Emmett Walsh. (New Line Cinema)
"Cut and Run"--Two TV reporters journey to South America in search of a military colonel, long presumed dead, who may have planned the Guyana massacre. Lisa Blount, Willie Aames, Karen Black. (New World)
"The Delta Force"--Chuck Norris and Lee Marvin head an elite U.S. operations unit that goes into action when a planeload of passengers is taken hostage in a Middle Eastern country. Martin Balsam, Joey Bishop, Kim Delaney, Robert Forster, Lainie Kazan, Shelley Winters. Directed by Menahem Golan. (Cannon)
"Desert Hearts"--Helen Shaver is a New York City prof who goes to Reno for a divorce (it's 1959) and--much to her surprise--falls in love with another woman (Patricia Charbonneau). Audra Lindley. (Goldwyn Co.)
"The Dirt Bike Kid"--Not unlike Jack of "Jack and the Beanstalk," a boy (Peter Billingsly) disobeys his mom's instructions when he's sent to the store and buys a magical dirt bike. Adventures follow. (Concorde/Cinema Group)
"Down and Out in Beverly Hills"--Homeless bum Nick Nolte creates havoc for a wealthy Beverly Hills couple (Richard Dreyfuss and Bette Midler) after they save him from drowning in their swimming pool. Little Richard plays record producer Orvis Goodnight. Directed/co-scripted by Paul Mazursky. (Touchstone)
"Dream Lover"--Alan Pakula directs a psychological thriller in which Kristy McNichol is haunted by a recurring nightmare. (MGM/UA)
"The Eliminators"--Half-human android (named Mandroid), a beautiful scientist, a mercenary and a ninja exact revenge on a mad scientist. (Empire)