Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 08-29-11

Sara Paxton and Alyssa Diaz in “Shark Night 3D”

Sara Paxton and Alyssa Diaz in “Shark Night 3D”

Sara Paxton as Sara in “Shark Night 3D”

Sara Paxton as Sara in “Shark Night 3D”

“Shark Night 3D” – In theaters September 2nd

“Shark Night 3D” – In theaters September 2nd

Fall films: It’s hard to believe, but the summer’s flown by and in just a few days we’ll be celebrating Labor Day.

Unlike Memorial Day, which starts summer with a blast, or July Fourth, which keeps the summer going with its fireworks, Labor Day’s the last gasp of summer. But, at the same time, it kick-starts the fall.

And fall typically brings a diverse movie mix to the megaplexes, which means there will be lots to choose from in the coming months — everything from 3D animation, R rated comedies, action thrillers, dramas, romantic comedies and horror films with a few likely awards contenders thrown in, as well.

In upcoming columns I’ll focus in depth on the fall films you don’t want to miss. To start with, here’s a look at Labor Day weekend where three new wide releases will be swimming in boxoffice waters.

For those who’d like to extend the summer as long as possible there are girls in bikinis on the beach and sharks lurking in nearby waters in Rogue Pictures’ PG-13 horror thriller “Shark Night 3D.”

Directed by David R. Ellis (“The Final Destination”) and starring Sarah Paxton (“The Last House on the Left”) and David Milligan (“Slither”), this tale’s about vacationers at a Louisiana lake house suddenly faced with fresh-water shark attacks.

“Shark’s” tracking best with under-25 males. They’re too young to have seen Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” when it opened in June 1975, but have probably caught up with it — and its great white shark — on television.

Sci-fi horror fans can turn to Dimension Films’ PG-13 thriller “Apollo 18” with its seemingly real video footage in the style of “Paranormal Activity.” It’s the story of two astronauts visiting the Moon on a secret mission several years after Apollo 17’s 1972 landing. In brief clips labeled “recovered footage from Apollo 18,” they’re seen reporting that the U.S. flag’s disappeared from the Moonscape and there are now mysterious new footprints visible on the lunar surface.

“Apollo’s” tracking best with under-25 males and nearly as well with 25-plus males.

If you prefer horror-free thrillers, there’s Focus Features’ R rated “The Debt,” directed by John Madden (“Shakespeare in Love”) and starring Helen Mirren (“Red”), Sam Worthington (“Clash of the Titans”) and Tom Wilkinson (“The Green Hornet”).

It’s the story of a team of retired agents for Israel’s Mossad spy agency who reunite in 1997 to kill a Nazi war criminal they thought they’d eliminated 30 years earlier when they first started out. This one’s tracking best with 25-plus males.

Meanwhile, women under and over 25 are helping DreamWorks and Disney’s PG-13 drama “The Help” hold on to first place. After three weeks, “Help’s” about to crack $100 million and it’s going to be playing well into the fall.

Even with many East Coast theatres forced by Hurricane Irene to close last weekend, “Help” still managed to gross over $14 million. Besides being a boxoffice hit, “Help’s” being talked about as a likely best picture contender for Oscars and Golden Globes.

As September moves on, there will be something for everybody coming into the multiplexes. Here’s a quick preview of major studio wide releases to look for:

Warner Bros. and Participant Media’s PG-13 action thriller “Contagion,” directed by Steven Soderbergh (“The Informant”), opens Sept. 9 (including IMAX theatres). It boasts an all-star cast that includes Marion Cotillard (“Inception”), Matt Damon (“The Town”), Laurence Fishburne (“Predators”), Jude Law (“Sherlock Holmes”), Gwyneth Paltrow (“Iron Man 2”) and Kate Winslet (“Revolutionary Road”).

“Contagion’s” story revolves around desperate efforts to deal with the outbreak of a fast-spreading, deadly international epidemic. It’s already tracking strongly with younger and older males as well as with 25-plus females. Films with playability to three demos have a big advantage at the boxoffice.

Also arriving Sept. 9 is Columbia and Happy Madison Productions’ R rated comedy “Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star,” directed by Tom Brady (“The Hot Chick”) and starring Nick Swardson (“Just Go With It”) as a would-be porn star.

“Bucky” follows on the heels of this summer’s string of R rated comedy hits like “Bridesmaids,” “The Hangover Part II” and “Horrible Bosses.”

Disney’s Sept. 16 re-release of its G rated 1994 animated blockbuster “The Lion King” will be in digital 3D for the first time, making it a likely magnet for family audiences.

Screen Gems’ R rated action thriller “Straw Dogs,” opening Sept. 16, is director Rod Lurie’s (“The Contender”) remake of Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 classic.

James Marden (“Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore” /voice) and Kate Bosworth ("Superman Returns") play a married couple relocating from L.A. to the Deep South to sell the wife’s childhood home. Things heat up when they run into life threatening problems with some of the local guys, including her ex-boyfriend.

Columbia’s biographical drama “Moneyball,” opening Sept. 23 and not yet rated by the MPAA, is directed by Bennett Hill (“Capote”). Brad Pitt (“Inglourious Basterds”), Robin Wright (“The Conspirator”) and Jonah Hill (“Get Him to the Greek”) star in this true life story of how Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane built his baseball team despite having very little money to spend.

Pitt, who plays Beane, could wind up with another best actor Oscar nomination. If so, it would be his second as lead actor (after his 2009 nomination for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”). He received a supporting actor nom in 1996 for “Twelve Monkeys.”

Also on deck for Sept. 23 is Warner Bros. and Alcon Entertainment’s PG rated 3D drama “Dolphin Tale” about a young boy’s friendship with a dolphin who’s tail-less thanks to a crab trap. Directed by Charles Martin Smith (“Air Bud”), it stars Harry Connick, Jr. (“P.S. I Love You”), Ashely Judd (“Tooth Fairy”), Kris Kristofferson (“He’s Just Not That Into You”) and Morgan Freeman (“Conan the Barbarian” /narrator).

Fox’s R rated comedy “What’s Your Number?” opens Sept. 30. Directed by Mark Mylod (HBO’s “Entourage”), it stars Anna Faris (“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” /voice), Chris Evans (“Captain America: The First Avenger”) and Chris Pratt (“Bride Wars”).

Faris plays a young woman who after 20 relationships is starting to wonder if one of those guys just might be the true love of her life.

Also set for Sept. 30 is Universal and Morgan Creek Productions’ PG-13 thriller “Dream House,” directed by Jim Sheridan (“The Boxer”) and starring Daniel Craig (“Cowboys and Aliens”), Naomi Watts (“The International”) and Rachel Weisz (“The Lovely Bones”).

Craig and Weisz play a married couple who move with their two young daughters to a quaint New England town. Before long they discover that their perfect new home has previously been the setting for the murder of a mother and her children.

Bottom line: Say goodbye to summer and hello to the fall’s first new films.