So you’ve caught all the big movie releases of last year and you’re ready to move on. “Slumdog Millionaire”? Saw it, got the soundtrack. “Australia”? Been there, bought the dingo.

So here are some of the movies coming for this year that may have tongues wagging in ’09. It could be an interesting 12 months, what with the return of some mega-name directors (Peter Jackson, Michael Mann, James Cameron) and the next chapters in some of the hottest franchises on tap (Harry Potter, Transformers, Star Trek, Terminator). And, remember, release dates, especially if they’re more than a few weeks out, are subject to change.

–“He’s Just Not That Into You”

Director: Ken Kwapis

Stars: Ben Affleck, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Aniston, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Connelly

Story: A romantic comedy based on the bestseller about women who chase men they can’t have.

Buzz: While the cast and the popularity of the book will no doubt spark interest in the movie, this production has been sitting on the shelf for a while. Ken Kwapis’ last film was the less-than-acclaimed “License to Wed.”

Release date: Feb. 6

–“Confessions of a Shopaholic”

Director: P.J. Hogan

Stars: Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy, John Goodman, Joan Cusack

Story: Based on Sophie Kinsella’s popular chick-lit books, it’s a romantic comedy about a New York woman who deals with an out-of-control shopping addiction while juggling her love life.

Buzz: It already has name recognition and director P.J. Hogan, although he hasn’t had a hit in some time, has done well in the past with giddy romances such as “Muriel’s Wedding” and “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”

Release date: Feb. 13

–“Gomorra”

Director: Matteo Garrone

Stars: Salvatore Abruzzese, Simone Sacchettino, Salvatore Ruocco

Story: A contemporary tale about the Mafia in Naples, Italy, based on the book by Roberto Saviano that reportedly struck such a nerve that he had to go into hiding.

Buzz: This bleak, gritty, Cannes grand-prize winner supposedly makes “The Sopranos” look like “The Flintstones.” It has earned a ton of awards (including Best Film at the European Film Awards) and nominations for a Golden Globe, Independent Spirit and British Independent Film Award. Reviews have generally been rapturous.

Release date: Feb. 13

–“Madea Goes to Jail”

Director: Tyler Perry

Stars: Tyler Perry, Keshia Knight Pulliam, Derek Luke, Vanessa Ferlito

Story: The title says it all. Perry’s alter ego, Madea, ends up behind bars.

Buzz: After branching out with the domestic drama “The Family That Preys,” Perry returns to the character that made him a household name in the first place.

Release date: Feb. 20

–“Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience”

Director: Bruce Hendricks

Stars: The Jonas Brothers (duh!)

Story: Concert documentary of the Burning Up tour.

Buzz: It’s the Jonas Brothers (duh!).

Release date: Feb. 27

–“Watchmen”

Director: Zack Snyder

Stars: Matthew Goode, Carla Gugino, Billy Crudup, Jackie Earle Haley, Matt Frewer

Story: It’s 1985 but not our 1985, it’s one in a different, darker world where superheroes exist but are hounded by the government. After one of the heroes is slain, an investigation by his remaining brethren leads to some disturbing answers.

Buzz: “Watchmen” is a graphic-novel classic whose fans are legion. They’ve been waiting for this movie for two decades, and director Snyder is coming off the mega-hit “300.”

Release date: March 6

–“I Love You, Man”

Director: John Hamburg

Stars: Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Andy Samberg, Jon Favreau, Rashida Jones

Story: A guy goes on a hunt for a new male best friend so he can have a best man for his wedding.

Buzz: While the cast and full-on bromantic plot suggest a Judd Apatow connection, he’s not involved. But with Apatow vets Rudd and Segel and “SNL’s” popular Samberg on board, it will definitely tap into the same audience.

Release date: March 20

–“The Soloist”

Director: Joe Wright

Stars: Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr., Catherine Keener

Story: A journalist befriends a homeless man who turns out to be a brilliant musician.

Buzz: Based on the real-life columns by Los Angeles Times writer Steve Lopez, this movie was originally scheduled for release last year.

Release date: April 24

–“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”

Director: Gavin Hood

Stars: Hugh Jackman, Ryan Reynolds, Liev Schreiber, Lynn Collins

Story: It offers the back story on how Wolverine became involved with the X-Men.

Buzz: It’s the latest in the successful X-Men franchise, although South African director Hood is best known for the low-budget Oscar winner, “Tsotsi.”

Release date: May 1

–“Star Trek XI”

Director: J.J. Abrams

Stars: Zachary Quinto, Chris Pine, Eric Bana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Winona Ryder

Story: It’s the young, hot Enterprise crew as this film takes us back to Captain Kirk and Spock’s twentysomething days.

Buzz: Talk about highly anticipated. Take the creator of “Lost,” “Alias” and “Cloverfield,” one of the stars of “Heroes” (Quinto), the writers of the “Transformers” movies (Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman) and one of the most enduring franchises in film/TV history, and you’ve got fanboy gold.

Release date: May 8

–“Terminator: Salvation”

Director: McG

Stars: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Common, Helena Bonham Carter

Story: In a post-nuclear Earth, surviving humans have to keep the predatory machines from destroying what’s left of mankind.

Buzz: With several Terminator movies and the “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles TV” show, this sturdy series has a built-in audience.

Release date: May 22

–“Up”

Directors: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson

Stars: Voices of Christopher Plummer, John Ratzenberger, Ed Asner

Story: The latest Pixar animation effort focuses on a balloon trip taken by 78-year-old Carl and his 8-year-old stowaway, Russell.

Buzz: It’s Pixar (“WALL-E,” “Cars,” “Ratatouille”) so it will have a built-in audience, especially since it hits when schools are getting out for summer.

Release date: May 29

–“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”

Director: Michael Bay

Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Josh Duhamel

Story: After losing the war with humans and their friends the Autobots the last time around, the Decepticons – with Starscream and Megatron back in the mix – return to Earth looking for vengeance.

Buzz: Dude, it’s Transformers. The last movie raked in more than $700 million worldwide. Note: There will be an IMAX version. Get ready to rock.

Release date: June 26

–“Public Enemies”

Director: Michael Mann

Stars: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Giovanni Ribisi, Marion Cotillard, Channing Tatum

Story: Crime ran rampant in the ’30s with the likes of John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson, and the feds had to try to take them down.

Buzz: Great cast, a director who flirts with greatness (“Thief,” “Last of the Mohicans,” “Heat,” “The Insider,” “Ali”), and a juicy, violent plot based on a true story should make this one of 2009’s most talked-about films.

Release date: July 1

–“2012”

Director: Roland Emmerich

Stars: John Cusack, Thandie Newton, Danny Glover, Woody Harrelson, Amanda Peet

Story: According to the Maya, not Mayan calendar, the world supposedly ends in December 2012. Even if it doesn’t, it allows – in best disaster-movie fashion – for a group of disparate Hollywood stars to deal with all sorts of cinematic cataclysms.

Buzz: The one thing you can say about any Emmerich movie is that they’re spectacles – “Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” “10,000 B.C.,” “Stargate,” “Godzilla.” Too bad they’re not always good.

Release date: July 10

–“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

Director: David Yates

Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Jim Broadbent

Story: In this sequel to “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” Harry learns more about Lord Voldemort’s past.

Buzz: Originally scheduled for release in 2008, it’s been pushed to this summer. No matter the year, it will still be a hit.

Release date: July 17

–“Julie & Julia”

Director: Nora Ephron

Stars: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci

Story: The life of renowned TV chef Julia Child, based on the memoir, “My Life in France.”

Buzz: As a writer (“When Harry Met Sally,” “Sleepless in Seattle”) and director (“Sleepless in Seattle,” “You’ve Got Mail”), Ephron has been adept at whimsical, middle-age romance. And hearing Streep do the Child accent should prove interesting.

Release date: Aug. 7

–“The Lovely Bones”

Director: Peter Jackson

Stars: Susan Sarandon, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli

Story: A girl who has been killed watches over her family from the beyond.

Buzz: Loud. It’s based on Alice Sebold’s bestseller and is director Jackson’s first non-“Lord of the Rings” project, other than his “King Kong” remake, in ages. Although this qualifies as fantastical, it’s not of the sword-wielding, orc-killing variety, so it remains to be seen what he can do with regular humans again.

Release date: Dec. 11

–“Avatar”

Director: James Cameron

Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Sam Worthington, Giovanni Ribisi, Michelle Rodriguez, CCH Pounder

Story: It’s war between the people of Earth and the humanoid Na’vi from Alpha Centauri.

Buzz: This is Cameron’s first full-length feature fictional film since “Titanic” 12 years ago.

Release date: Dec. 18


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