The delta variant might have upended your fall plans, but Hollywood still aims to roll out the proverbial red carpet for dozens of new releases — including a batch of potential blockbusters and Oscar-courting dramas that were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Here's a guide to some of the most notable titles set to hit brick-and-mortar theaters and streaming platforms this fall. (Of course, release dates — like most items on your 2021 calendar — are subject to change.)
"The Eyes of Tammy Faye" (Sept. 17)
Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield co-star in this biopic charting the rise and fall of the Reagan-era televangelist power couple Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, whose multimillion-dollar TV empire came crashing down amid fraud charges and other scandals. The film, largely focused on Tammy Faye, offers a relatively sympathetic portrait of a complicated American original who was often fodder for "Saturday Night Live."
"Cry Macho" (Sept. 17)
Clint Eastwood, who turned 91 in May and directed five movies in the last five years, continues to defy anybody who expected he would slow down. In his latest directorial effort, a 1970s-set neo-Western, Eastwood stars as an ex-rodeo star hired to kidnap a young man (Eduardo Minett) in Mexico. (Fun fact: Arnold Schwarzenegger was set to play the lead in an earlier iteration of the project.)
"Dear Evan Hansen" (Sept. 24)
Ben Platt reprises the role that earned him a Tony Award in this big-screen version of the big-hearted Broadway sensation. He is accompanied by an ensemble cast that includes Kaitlyn Dever ("Booksmart"), Amandla Stenberg ("The Hate U Give"), Julianne Moore and Amy Adams. (The film will be released by Universal Pictures, a unit of NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News.)
"The Many Saints of Newark" (Oct. 1)
"The Sopranos" cut to black 14 years ago, but admirers of the landmark mob saga can return to the New Jersey underworld in this prequel film set against the backdrop of 1967 race riots in the title city. Michael Gandolfini, the late James Gandolfini's 22-year-old son, plays a teenage Tony Soprano, a promising but conflicted mafia scion who falls under the influence of his uncle Dickie Moltisanti, played by Alessandro Nivola.
"No Time to Die" (Oct. 8)
Daniel Craig's fifth and final outing as James Bond will finally see the light of day after repeated Covid-related postponements. Ana de Armas and Rami Malek join the cast, but much of the attraction is behind the scenes: Cary Joji Fukunaga, the gifted stylist behind the first season of "True Detective," served as director, and "Fleabag" mastermind Phoebe Waller-Bridge co-wrote the script.
"The Last Duel" (Oct. 15)
Matt Damon, Adam Driver, "Killing Eve" star Jodie Comer (fresh off a key role in the surprise hit "Free Guy") and Ben Affleck head the cast of this medieval drama directed by Ridley Scott, which was partly filmed during the pandemic. Damon and Affleck, who have not teamed up on a screenplay since they won Oscars for "Good Will Hunting," split scriptwriting duties with indie favorite Nicole Holofcener.
"Dune" (Oct. 22)
David Lynch adapted Frank Herbert's epochal, wildly complex sci-fi novel to mixed results nearly 40 years ago. Denis Villeneuve ("Blade Runner 2049") tries his hand in this eagerly anticipated sandswept epic, anchored by a stacked ensemble cast that includes Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista and Zendaya.
"The French Dispatch" (Oct. 22)
Wes Anderson's latest visual confection is a loving homage to journalism, especially The New Yorker magazine. Bill Murray, one of Anderson's most frequent collaborators, plays an editor at the French bureau of a fictional Kansas newspaper, and a sprawling cast of actors (Timothée Chalamet, Frances McDormand, Jeffrey Wright, Benicio Del Toro) are on hand to dramatize the events in articles he publishes.
"Last Night in Soho" (Oct. 29)
Edgar Wright, the infectiously energetic filmmaker behind "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz," clearly enjoys riffing on pop culture and movie lore. The director's latest, a time-hopping horror trip co-starring Thomasin McKenzie ("Jojo Rabbit") and Anya Taylor-Joy ("The Queen's Gambit") and partly set in swinging '60s London, is said to be influenced by Nicolas Roeg's "Don't Look Now" and Roman Polanski's "Repulsion."
"The Harder They Fall" (Nov. 3)
Jonathan Majors (HBO's "Lovecraft Country") embodies Nat Love, one of the most famed Black cowboys and folk legends of the Old West, in this revisionist, vengeance-themed Western co-starring a slew of familiar faces: Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, LaKeith Stanfield, Delroy Lindo and Regina King. The film will be available to stream on Netflix, but you can also catch it in select cinemas.
"Eternals" (Nov. 5)
Chloé Zhao, fresh off her history-making best picture and best director Oscar triumphs for "Nomadland," makes her debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and introduces audiences to the title characters, an immortal alien race hiding out on Earth. The teeming cast includes Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani and Brian Tyree Henry as well as Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie.
"Ghostbusters: Afterlife" (Nov. 11)
Covid forced Sony to repeatedly push back this sequel to the first two installments in the "Ghostbusters" franchise. The trailers, featuring bite-sized versions of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, suggest "Afterlife" blends the family-friendly thrills of the 1984 original with the youthful energy of "Stranger Things." (It may be no accident that "Stranger Things" star Finn Wolfhard plays one of the key roles.)
"Tick, Tick ... Boom!" (Nov. 12)
"How much time do we have to do something great?" So asks the poster tagline for "Hamilton" impresario Lin-Manuel Miranda's feature directorial debut, an adaptation of a musical of the same name by the late Jonathan Larsen of "Rent" fame. Andrew Garfield plays a version of Larsen: an aspiring composer gripped by a midlife crisis as he gets closer to his 30th birthday.
"Top Gun: Maverick" (Nov. 19)
If you're old enough to remember the first time Tom Cruise zipped around on an F-14 Tomcat (35 years ago, to be exact), this big-budget sequel will probably give you a nostalgic adrenaline rush. Cruise and his "Top Gun" nemesis Val Kilmer reprise their roles in this follow-up featuring supporting turns from Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm and Ed Harris.
"King Richard" (Nov. 19)
Serena and Venus Williams are global superstars, but you might know comparatively less about their father, Richard Williams, the uncompromising coach said to have pushed them to reach their athletic potential. "King Richard," starring Will Smith in the title role and directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green ("Monsters and Men"), aims to tell his side of the story.
"House of Gucci" (Nov. 24)
The trailer for Ridley Scott's other fall film lit up the internet this summer, stoking interest in this glamorous true-crime tale about Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga), who was convicted of orchestrating the killing of her ex-husband, Gucci chief Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver). The electric supporting cast includes Jeremy Irons, Al Pacino and a virtually unrecognizable Jared Leto.
"Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Project" (Nov. 26)
The release of a new Paul Thomas Anderson film is an event among cinephiles, and the "Magnolia" auteur's latest (identified on some websites as "Soggy Bottom") will likely be no different. He returns to the sun-splashed 1970s Southern California milieu of "Boogie Nights" and "Inherent Vice" for this portrait of child stardom, starring Bradley Cooper as a director and Cooper Hoffman (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman's son) as a budding performer.
"Nightmare Alley" (Dec. 3)
Guillermo del Toro follows up his Oscar-winning romantic fantasy "The Shape of Water" with this thriller centered on a manipulative carny (Bradley Cooper) and a sinister psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett). They are joined by a cast of critical darlings, including Willem Dafoe, Toni Collette and Richard Jenkins. The film is believed to be a more grounded departure from del Toro's supernatural style.
"West Side Story" (Dec. 10)
Steven Spielberg, working from a screenplay by the Pulitzer-honored playwright Tony Kushner and choreography by Tony-winning artist Justin Peck, breathes new life into the beloved musical. Spielberg is said to have stuck more closely to the original 1957 Broadway version than the 1961 screen adaptation that helped make a star out of Rita Moreno, who appears in the new film.
"A Journal for Jordan" (Dec. 10)
Denzel Washington went into the director's chair for the fourth time for this heartrending drama adapted from a memoir by the publishing executive Dana Canedy. Michael B. Jordan and the relative newcomer Chanté Adams co-star as a young couple separated when Jordan's character is deployed to Iraq. Washington and Jordan are also among the producers of the film.
"Spider-Man: No Way Home" (Dec. 17)
In recent weeks, Marvel aficionados have speculated that the third chapter in the cycle of Spider-Man movies starring Tom Holland could be pushed back until next year — but that would only ratchet up anticipation for a superhero spectacle that has been rumored to feature cameos from actors who played the title character in previous incarnations of the franchise: Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield.