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Falling in Love Again....
by Christopher Stone

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As autumn arrives, Hollywood is wishing and hoping you'll fall in love with the movies again, or, at least be smitten enough to buy the battery of romantic movies that are being released between now and winter.

Fortunately, mercifully, this time, it's not the same old story, a tale of love and glory, a case of do or die. In Hollywood's fall release schedule, as in life, love has many faces, and diversity rules. Among the romantic offerings: we have boy meets ghost, May meets December, love the second time around, love in need of rekindling, and even cowboys in love with one another. How's that for diversity?

This fall, Hollywood hopes you'll be kissing and telling about these love stories around your company's water cooler.

JUST LIKE HEAVEN (9-16-05): Darren Stevens thought that falling in love with a witch was dicey. In truth, it was child's play compared to Mark Ruffolo's predicament. As David Abbott, in JUST LIKE HEAVEN, he's fallen in love with the ghost of a beautiful woman, Reece Witherspoon's Elizabeth Martinson, who used to live in his apartment. Endora's attempts to separate Darren and Samantha pale in comparison to the challenges faced when boy loves ectoplasm. But when the ghost in question looks like Witherspoon, who could blame Ruffolo's character for falling in love with a phantasm? Already a #1 box office hit, JUST LIKE HEAVEN will continue with spirited grosses as the month progresses.

SHOPGIRL (10-21-05): Claire Danes plays May to Steve Martin's December in this R-rated dramedy about a Saks sales girl/artist in love with a glamorous man old enough to be her father. In addition to the May-December romance, SHOPGIRL also explores the torn between two lovers angle. Claire's Mirabelle character is simultaneously pursued by an age appropriate struggling musician named Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman). Steve Martin adapted his novella for the screen. The accomplished cast also includes Sam Bottoms and SIX FEET UNDER'S Frances Conroy. Touchstone Pictures is betting you'll be sold on SHOPGIRL.

THE LEGEND OF ZORRO (10-28-05) Seven years after they buckled their last swash in THE MASK OF ZORRO, Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones return in this sequel. The romantic action-adventure could have been called MR. & MRS. ZORRO. Long wed, with a ten-year-old son, the couple's love is in need of rekindling, as is Zorro's once-legendary career. Hit or miss, this may be Banderas' last time to don Zorro's mask, or wield his sword. At 45, the actor has gone on record as claiming he's too long in the tooth for such athletic antics. We predict the foxy Zorro will again make his mark on box offices worldwide.

YOURS, MINE, AND OURS (11-23-05): Yet again, Hollywood borrows from itself, in this case, remaking a successful motion picture from 1968. The original starred Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda. In this remake, it's love the second time around for widower Dennis Quaid and widow Rene Russo when they meet, then marry. The resulting combined children make for hair-raising antics. If you haven't seen the original, but the plot still sounds familiar, then you may agree with me. I've always believed that THE BRADY BUNCH was little more than YOURS, MINE, AND OURS, played sideways.

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (Selected Cities 12-05-05): Hollywood, and I, are saving the best for last. On September 10, this movie won the highest honor, the Golden Lion, at the Venice International Film Festival. This is director Ang Lee's cowboy meets cowboy romance, or HOMOS ON THE RANGE, as some would have it. The story chronicles a 20-year love affair between hottie cowpokes played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger. Let's just be grateful the title isn't BAREBACK MOUNTAIN. BROKEBACK also wowed audiences at the Telluride Film Festival. Heath Ledger's name is already being bandied about as a possible Best Actor Oscar nominee, as is Lee's for Best Director.

In case you don't fall for these autumnal romances, please don't give up on love. You can expect a fresh batch of romantic epics shortly before Valentine's Day.

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The Business of Show
Every other Friday

Does advertising, public taste, or overindulged stars determine a movie's box office fate? Christoper Stone explores what's going on behind the box office.

Other Columns
Other columns by Christopher Stone:

The Cautionary Box-Office

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up. Part Two

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up, Part 1

Quality Is Independent

Oh, the Horror!

All Columns

Christopher Stone
Christopher Stone is the author of the international best seller Re-Creating Your Self. With Mary Sheldon, he co-authored three highly successful hardcover books of guided meditations.

He is a member of the Writers Guild of America, West.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Christopher Stone by clicking here.

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