LOS ANGELES — The B-list rules Hollywood’s fall and holiday movie season: Bond, Bella and Bilbo.
Daniel Craig is back as James Bond in “Skyfall,” the super-spy’s first adventure in four years, one of the longest 007 hiatuses in the franchise’s 50-year history.
Kirsten Stewart returns for her swan song as Bella Swan, alongside vampire hubby Robert Pattinson and jealous werewolf pal Taylor Lautner in “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2,” the franchise finale.
And Bilbo Baggins goes jewelry shopping for an evil ring in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” the first installment in Peter Jackson’s three-part prelude to his Academy Award-winning adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.”
Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood and others reprise their “Lord of the Rings” roles, but “The Hobbit” hinges on newcomer Martin Freeman as Bilbo. The filmmakers were so set on him that production halted for three months while Freeman worked on “Sherlock,” the British TV hit in which he plays Dr. Watson.
“It was sort of unheard of for a big-budget movie, but because we wanted him so badly, the studio supported us,” Jackson said.
Here’s a look at other upcoming highlights:
SeptemberJoaquin Phoenix stars as a World War II vet mesmerized by a cult leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in “The Master.” For baseball fans, there’s “Trouble with the Curve,” starring Clint Eastwood as an old-timer on a scouting trip with his daughter (Amy Adams).
Time-travel geeks can watch Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a hit man trying to snuff his older self (Bruce Willis) in “Looper,” also featuring Emily Blunt.
Gordon-Levitt underwent three hours of makeup each day to look more like Willis. He repeatedly watched his co-star’s movies and studied Willis’ dialogue on his iPod.
“But the most productive thing was just spending time with him. Having dinner, talking about music or whatever and getting to know each other,” Gordon-Levitt said.
OctoberLiam Neeson returns as a violently overprotective family man in “Taken 2.” Brad Pitt’s a mob enforcer tracking rogue hoods in “Killing Them Softly.” Kevin James goes from lethargic science teacher to mixed martial arts sensation in the comedy “Here Comes the Boom.”
Ben Affleck directs and stars in “Argo,” a rescue thriller about the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis.
And Tim Burton resurrects an old friend with “Frankenweenie,” his animated update of a live action short film he made in the 1980s, centered on a kid who pulls a Frankenstein to revive his cherished, perished dog.
NovemberJudi Dench’s M steps up in a more pivotal role as spy master to Craig’s 007 in “Skyfall,” in which Bond’s loyalty to his boss is tested by revelations from her past.
Steven Spielberg directs Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in “Lincoln.” Keira Knightley and Jude Law star in a new take on Leo Tolstoy’s epic romance “Anna Karenina.”
“Twilight” has been a rarity for male-oriented Hollywood, a blockbuster franchise aimed almost exclusively at women. Bill Condon, director of the final two “Twilight” movies, recalls studio hand-wringing over “Dreamgirls,” his musical that became a hit largely because of female crowds.
“People were so concerned about who was going to go see it,” Condon said. “It was like, well, what if you can make a movie that 15-year-old boys don’t care about and you still have an audience? That turned out to be true. I think it’s exciting when not every movie’s got to be aimed at just that one demographic.”
DecemberIn “Jack Reacher,” Tom Cruise plays a former military cop investigating a sniper case. Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” stars Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio in a pre-Civil War bounty hunter saga.
Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway team for a big-screen adaptation of the stage musical “Les Miserables,” based on Victor Hugo’s classic. A scheduling conflict forced Hathaway out of an earlier movie musical, “The Phantom of the Opera.” She now counts it a blessing, saying “Les Miserables” more than compensates.
“I don’t know if I would have gotten ‘Les Mis’ if I had done ‘Phantom,’ ” Hathaway said. “So maybe it was just the universe’s way of protecting me.”
Highlights of Hollywood's fall, holiday lineup
September• “Arbitrage”: Richard Gere stars in a Wall Street thriller about a deceitful hedge fund manager negotiating a merger.
• “Dredd”: An executioner (Karl Urban) fights a drug epidemic in post-apocalyptic America.
• “End of Watch”: Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are cops minding the mean streets of Los Angeles.
• “Finding Nemo”: The beloved father-son animated fish tale returns in a 3-D version.
• “Hotel Transylvania”: Adam Sandler provides the voice of Dracula in an animated monster mash.
• “The House at the End of the Street”: A dream house becomes a place of terror for a mom and her daughter (Elisabeth Shue and Jennifer Lawrence).
• “Looper”: Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s a hitman assigned to bump off his future self (Bruce Willis) in a time-travel thriller.
• “The Master”: A World War II Navy veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) falls under the spell of a charismatic cult leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman).
• “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”: Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller star in a teen coming-of-age tale.
• “Resident Evil: Retribution”: Milla Jovovich resumes her battle against a plague of zombies.
• “Trouble with the Curve”: An aging baseball scout (Clint Eastwood) enlists his daughter (Amy Adams) on his latest talent trip.
• “Won’t Back Down”: Two moms (Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis) fight to save their kids’ inner-city school.
• “The Words”: A writer (Bradley Cooper) must face the music after plagiarizing a novel.
October• “Argo”: Ben Affleck directs and stars in a rescue thriller set against the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis.
• “Cloud Atlas”: Tom Hanks and Halle Berry lead an ensemble of stars in multiple roles for an epic saga that spans centuries.
• “Frankenweenie”: Tim Burton updates his early short film with an animated feature about a boy resurrecting his dead dog (cover).
• “Here Comes the Boom”: A teacher and ex-wrestler (Kevin James) moonlights as a mixed martial arts fighter to save his school’s music program.
• “Killing Them Softly”: Brad Pitt’s an enforcer tracking three hoods who robbed a mob-protected card game.
• “Paranormal Activity 4”: The supernatural franchise makes its annual return for Halloween.
• “The Sessions”: A polio patient (John Hawkes) in an iron lung enlists a sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) so he can lose his virginity.
• “Sinister”: A collection of home movies unleashes horror on a crime novelist (Ethan Hawke) and his family.
• “Taken 2”: Liam Neeson’s back as a fierce ex-agent protecting his kin against a crime boss.
November• “Anna Karenina”: Keira Knightley and Jude Law star in a new take on Leo Tolstoy’s romantic epic.
• “Life of Pi”: Ang Lee directs a 3-D story of a man stranded in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger (lower left).
• “Lincoln”: Steven Spielberg directs and Daniel Day-Lewis stars as the 16th president.
• “The Man with the Iron Fists”: Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu star with director RZA in a martial arts battle for gold in China.
• “Red Dawn”: Chris Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson are among U.S. youths battling overseas invaders.
• “Skyfall”: Daniel Craig returns as James Bond in a thriller sparked by secrets out of the past of his boss, M (Judi Dench).
• “This Must Be the Place”: Sean Penn’s a reclusive former rock star on a road trip of revenge over his late father (upper left).
• “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2”: Kristen Stewart adjusts to her afterlife as a vampire in the finale of the supernatural fantasy.
December• “Django Unchained”: Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz star in Quentin Tarantino’s pre-Civil War bounty-hunter adventure.
• “The Guilt Trip”: Seth Rogen’s on a cross-country road trip with his overbearing mom (Barbra Streisand).
• “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”: “The Lord of the Rings” mastermind Peter Jackson returns to Middle-earth for chapter one of his three-part prelude.
• “Jack Reacher”: Tom Cruise is an ex-military cop chasing a deadly sniper.
• “Les Miserables”: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway croon in the big-screen adaptation of the musical based on Victor Hugo’s classic.
• “Parental Guidance”: Grandparents (Billy Crystal and Bette Midler) clash with their daughter (Marisa Tomei) over raising her three kids.
• “This is 40”: Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann reprise their “Knocked Up” roles in Judd Apatow’s marital comedy.
• “Zero Dark Thirty”: Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) directs a saga about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.