It looks like Will Smith chose a great year to take July fourth weekend off.
A story in the New York Times points out that a string of summer flops has a number of Hollywood megastars looking a bit dimmer. On the box office bomb list are films starring such usual shoo-ins as Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Will Ferrell, Denzel Washington, John Travolta, Russell Crowe, Eddie Murphy and Adam Sandler.
Filling in for them at the top of the box office is a slew of up-and-comers, many of whom also have movies coming out this fall. Their odds are up to the viewing public -- so watch the trailers below, and see if you think these autumn releases will help the summer's unlikely stars keep their winning streaks alive.
If women didn't know Butler after P.S. I Love You, they know him now -- The Ugly Truth, with a gross of $77 million, was one of the season's runaway hits. This fall, Butler plays to the guys and gets back to kicking ass, a la his turn as King Leonida in 300. In September, he stars in the sci-fi flick Gamer; in October, he plays opposite Jamie Foxx as a man avenging his family's murders in the crime thriller Law Abiding Citizen.
With a $158 million gross, The Proposal was the summer's blue-ribbon romantic comedy -- and Bullock still has two films to go before the year is through. September brings All About Steve, in which she'll play a kooky borderline-stalker; in November, she stars in The Blind Side, a buzzy adaptation of Michael Lewis's football book by the same name.
ZACH GALIFIANAKIS, BRADLEY COOPER AND ED HELMS
These three are the season's true kings -- they led The Hangover to a gross of $265 million (and counting). It's now the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time. Galifianakis's bushy mug also popped up in the solid guinea pig blockbuster G-Force ($99 million). He'll next be seen on the big screen in October release Youth In Revolt, which stars Michael Cera -- who could use some of Galifianakis's luck, since his Year One was yet another summer dud.
Cooper will be back even sooner, teaming up with Bullock in All About Steve (see above) -- the film's producers must be praying that the coupling of two of the summer's top draws will spell box-office gold. Helms, who's currently buried in the ensemble cast of The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, will take a break from the big screen -- but he will be back as the incorrigibly-collegiate Andy Bernard on "The Office." After the success of their Vegas romp, all three will likely have new eyes on them, so the pressure is on for them to live up to the Hangover hype separately -- without comic support from their snarling, sharp-fanged co-star. Or from that tiger.
Will Hollywood underdogs win this fall, too?