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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Exclusive! First Look at 12 Big Movies Coming In 2009

Compliments of EW


In theaters July 1

You could say being an outlaw runs in Johnny Depp's blood. After all, his grandfather ran moonshine on the back roads of Kentucky during Prohibition. So it shouldn't come as any surprise that the actor jumped at the chance to play John Dillinger in Public Enemies. ''Dillinger was one of those guys, like Charlie Chaplin and Evel Knievel, that I was fascinated with at a young age,'' says Depp. ''And because of my grandfather, the character was pretty easy for me to connect to. In a way, this movie was a salute to him.''

Based on a book by Bryan Burrough, Enemies is a cat-and-mouse thriller about the early days of the FBI, and one agent's pursuit of the Depression-era bank robber whose dizzy reign of stickups and near escapes ended in a hail of bullets outside of Chicago's Biograph Theater in 1934. Dillinger lived fast, died young, and left not only a handsome corpse but a legacy as one of the most notorious criminals of the 20th century.



Directed by Michael Mann (Heat, The Insider), and costarring Christian Bale as the dashing federal agent Melvin Purvis, Public Enemies might sound like a blood-soaked chapter of ancient history. But the film's themes couldn't be more timely: Dillinger was sticking up banks at a time when people weren't exactly rooting for the banks. As a result, he became something larger than life—a rock star with a tommy gun. ''Some people might disagree, but I think he was a real-life Robin Hood,'' says Depp, who just finished playing the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, due 2010. ''I mean, the guy wasn't completely altruistic, but he went out of his way not to kill anybody. He definitely gave a lot of that money away. I love the guy.''

Still hip-deep in the editing stage of the film, which he's readying for its July 2009 release, Mann remains in awe of his two leading men. ''Johnny has courage and immense power. It's all about the spontaneity of the moment for him. Christian works in a totally different way. He becomes the character so totally that he's that person 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The accent, everything.''



Mann shot on the actual locations where Dillinger and Purvis made headlines, because, he says, ''when your hand touches the same doorknob Dillinger's did, it starts to talk to you.'' The director even managed to get his hands on a still-preserved suitcase left behind by Dillinger after one of his narrow getaways. ''All of the dress shirts were still folded perfectly,'' says Depp. ''It was a real insight into the guy. Because everything was ready to go at a moment's notice. It was just economical and beautiful.''

Depp even got to wear the pair of pants that Dillinger had on when he was finally caught and riddled with bullets. ''It was amazing,'' he says. ''And—get this—we're the same size!'' Like we said, the man was born to play the part.


In theaters May 22

Sci-fi nerds can be a tough crowd. But after this year's Comic-Con, where they got a peek at the Dark Knight himself, Christian Bale, playing a grown-up John Connor roaming a post–Judgment Day (and post-James Cameron) wasteland, the geek hordes crying Sacrilege! were appeased. What to look for: Stan Winston studio eye-candy F/X galore, and this ''old school'' T-600.


TERMINATOR - Continued

Will it work? All signs point to yes, since the producers have already signed on for two more Terminator installments. And having the hottest leading man in Hollywood right now doesn't hurt either. ''It was important for me to get the most credible actor of his generation to come and add gravitas to what we were trying to achieve,'' says director McG. ''I wanted to respect the audience, and be very mindful of the mythology. We take this very seriously.''

Watch the interview with the cast at Comic-Con


In theaters April 3

Playing an uptight singleton with a list of boyfriend requirements made Katherine Heigl realize an ugly truth about herself: she once did the same thing. ''I was like, 'Oh my god, I had a checklist, too. This is so sad,''' she says. ''I didn't even realize that I was doing that.'' But the similarities stop there: In the film, directed by Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde), Heigl plays a morning-show producer who—thanks to a bet—finds herself following love advice from her chauvanistic co-worker (Gerard Butler). ''They embark on this ridiculous pairing of two people who are from polar opposite sides of the issue,'' Heigl says. ''The whole men are from Mars, women are from Venus thing.'' But Heigl cautions fans to not expect Truth to be as sugar-coated as her last rom-com, 27 Dresses. ''It's not so soft, and everything isn't so perfect,'' she says. ''This movie was just a little more edgy...enough to make it at least more interesting to the guys who take their girlfriends.''

Watch the trailer


In theatres Oct. 16

Australia. That's where the wild things are. Director Spike Jonze made extensive use of Down Under locales for his long-awaited take on Maurice Sendak's classic children's tale. ''The look and feel is very naturalistic—when our creatures knock down trees, they really knock down trees,'' says Jonze. ''When I was a boy, reading this story, I imagined myself really being there—not in front of a bluescreen.''



Jonze has been in production since 2006 and admits ''none of it was easy.'' Among the challenges: evoking the rich interior life of a precocious child (newcomer Max Records, left). ''The movie rests on Max's performance,'' says Jonze. ''It's all about taking this 9-year-old seriously as a person.''


In theaters March 6

In the acclaimed comic book's world, the slogan ''Who watches the Watchmen?'' becomes the rallying cry for a public fed up with vigilantes like the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). But director Zack Snyder's adaptation coyly comments on another culture saturated with spandex. ''When we first posted our costume designs on the Internet, people went, 'The costumes have nipples! It's going to be like a Joel Schumacher Batman movie!' But that's exactly the point! Look, I saw those Batman movies. I know how they affected pop culture and what the kid next door who's never read a comic book thinks about them. It would be a mistake to think we missed that—we didn't.''

Watch the 4-part interview with the cast at Comic-Con


In theaters June 12

Denzel Washington and Tony Scott have conquered submarines (Crimson Tide) and ferryboats (Déjà Vu), so it was just a matter of time before the actor-director duo turned their attention to subway trains. Their remake of the 1974 classic pits Washington as an NYC transit worker against a hostage-taking John Travolta.


In theaters June 12

Denzel Washington and Tony Scott have conquered submarines (Crimson Tide) and ferryboats (Déjà Vu), so it was just a matter of time before the actor-director duo turned their attention to subway trains. Their remake of the 1974 classic pits Washington as an NYC transit worker against a hostage-taking John Travolta.



Washington hadn't seen the original, but that didn't stop him from suggesting his character get demoted from cop to dispatch operator. ''He's not a guy familiar with weapons,'' explains Washington. ''So when he's put in the middle of this hostage situation, he's in over his head.''


In theaters July 17

Imagine making out with your sister. Now imagine something less taboo, and you'll know what it was like for Daniel Radcliffe to mack on Bonnie Wright, who plays Harry Potter's future wife Ginny Weasley in the sixth installment of the magical series. ''Harry's got a real thing for her, and that is slightly odd, because when we met, I was 11 and she was 9, and she was only ever Ron's little sister,'' says Radcliffe, now 19. ''But that all changed, and here we are snogging.''

Shooting Dumbledore's funeral was another tough scene for Radcliffe, as it took on the personality of an Irish wake thanks to some not-so-mournful extras: ''Because there's a lot of people there, it's one of those things that takes on a party atmosphere.''


In theaters Feb. 27

After helping pack multiplexes as the opening act in last year's 3-D Miley Cyrus concert film, the Brothers are inviting their adoring fans to strap on those special glasses all over again—this time for an all-Jonas feature. ''We had a great time being part of Miley's movie, but to be able to see what we liked in that movie and do more of it in our own movie was exciting,'' says oldest brother Kevin, 21. So what was on the Jonases' wish list? Tons of eye-popping arena footage from their summer '08 Burning Up Tour, plus a handful of scripted sequences and all-new performances. For one scene (pictured), they visited New York City's Central Park to play ''Love Is on Its Way,'' a tune that didn't make the cut for their platinum-selling A Little Bit Longer. ''It's been a dream of ours forever to film a music video in Central Park,'' says brother Nick, 16. ''And to see it in 3-D is amazing. We've always said we wish we could watch ourselves play, but obviously that's impossible!'' At least, it was until now.


In theaters Aug. 7

Ever the pro, Meryl Streep willed herself to grow eight inches to play 6'2'' superchef Julia Child. Just kidding! But the 5'6'' star did nail the part instantly when director Nora Ephron mentioned the project, a mix of the chef's memoirs and the true-life story of a bored secretary (Amy Adams) who spices up her life by tackling Child's recipes. ''Meryl turned into Julia Child and did two sentences in her voice,'' recalls Ephron. ''And I thought to myself, 'Well, look no further.'''

For the real thing, you can stream full episodes of Julia Child's instructional and highly entertaining cooking segments at


In theaters May 29

They've explored the depths of the sea, the edges of the earth, and the farthest reaches of outer space. So for their 10th feature film, Pixar's animation team had nowhere to go but...up. This flight of fancy tells the story of a curmudgeon (voiced by Ed Asner) who tries to escape his life by floating away in a house buoyed by balloons—only to find a chirpy 8-year-old stowaway onboard. Co-director Pete Docter says the team considered a deserted island for the pair's destination before settling on Venezuela's tabletop mountains (which inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World). So, for research purposes, Docter and 11 Pixar artists journeyed to the site in 2004. ''We hiked up to the top of the mountain and stayed there for three nights, painting and sketching. It was great,'' says Docter. Best of all? ''Everybody made it out alive.''


In theaters April 24

A Los Angeles businessman (The Wire's Idris Elba) has a beautiful wife (Beyoncé Knowles) who used to be his beautiful assistant. But when said businessman gets another beautiful assistant (played by Heroes' Ali Larter), things get complicated, once she makes it clear she'd like the wife's position, too. ''We did look at girl fights on YouTube,'' says director Steve Shill, hinting at the turn the story takes. ''There's a lot of hair pulling, shouting, and rolling around on the ground. We didn't really want to do that.'' Still, we know this much: You do not want to come between Sasha Fierce and her man.


In theaters June 19

Comedy legend Harold Ramis (Caddyshack, Groundhog Day) first started noodling with the idea of setting a comedy in the ancient world back in, well, pretty much the Stone Age. ''I did an improv a long time ago with Bill Murray and John Belushi, where Bill was a Cro-Magnon man and Belushi was a Neanderthal,'' Ramis says. ''Putting a modern sensibility in an ancient context always seemed very funny to me.'' Flash forward approximately one eon and the Judd Apatow-produced Year One pairs Jack Black and Michael Cera as Zed and Oh, hunter-gatherers who are banished from their village and wander through scenes from the Old Testament, encountering the likes of Cain and Abel (David Cross and Paul Rudd) and Abraham (Hank Azaria). Asked if he expects the film's religious satire to offend, Ramis laughs: ''I hope so!''


In theaters June 5

Take a beloved '70s Saturday morning kids' show about a family trapped in an alternate universe populated by dinosaurs, reptilian Sleestaks, and caveman-like Pakuni, stir in Will Ferrell, ditch the cheesy effects, and the Gen-Xer mind reels at the possibilities for a summer blockbuster. ''We thought it was better served if it errs more on the side of Jurassic Park in terms of realism, and the dinosaurs are just scary as s---, and the comedy plays off of that,'' Ferrell says. ''You're not going to see the zipper up the back of the Sleestaks' costumes.''


In theatres May 1

The claw-pawed man-mutant cuts in front of his fellow X-Men with his own creation story, which traces how Logan's macho rivalry with Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber) and his thwarted love affair with Silver Fox (Lynn Collins) set the stage for his tranformation into Wolverine. So why did Hugh Jackman's character get the first Origins nod? ''It wasn't always part of the plan, but Hugh brought that character to vivid life,'' says producer Lauren Shuler Donner, recalling the endurance test he faced filming this water-tank scene where his character is injected with a substance that makes him impenetrable. ''We tortured the man. he is an animal. A normal person could not do that.''

Watch the interview with Hugh Jackman at Comic-Con


In theaters May 15

Don't worry: No clergy were harmed in the filming of this scene from the sequel to 2006's The Da Vinci Code. And yes, we said ''sequel.'' While Dan Brown wrote the novel Angels & Demons before The Da Vinci Code, the filmmakers decided not to go the prequel route onscreen, to keep continuity in the character of Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks, right, with newcomer Ayelet Zurer).


Like Da Vinci, Angels is already irking the Catholic Church—which made filming around the Vatican tricky. ''On [shoot] day, the police would say, 'This location is no longer available to you,''' recalls producer Brian Grazer. ''Rome is very small. When you're shooting a big movie, you can't be covert.''

Watch the trailer

Written by Leah Greenblatt, Jeff Jensen, Adam Markovitz, Chris Nashawaty, Josh Rottenberg, Nicole Sperling, Christine Spines, Adam B. Vary, Simon Vozick-Levinson, Kate Ward