' ' Cinema Romantico: A Trip Down Entertainment Weekly Fall Movie Preview Lane

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A Trip Down Entertainment Weekly Fall Movie Preview Lane

The first day of Fall, astronomically speaking, is today, September 22nd, the Autumnal Equinox, and slated to end on Tuesday December 21st, the Winter Solstice. The first day of Fall meteorologically speaking, however, began back on September 1st and will conclude November 30th, dividing the seasons into three four-month blocks rather than relying exclusively on the position of the Earth. Less well-known yet nevertheless accepted by some weather experts, especially those with a cinephilia bent, is Fall Movie Fall. 

When does Fall Movie Fall begin? Well, that’s where it gets tricky. Some meteorologists tend to cite the Toronto International Film Festival as the beginning of Fall Movie Fall; other meteorologists view the start of Fall Movie Fall like its own kind of ever-shifting equinox, dependent upon when the first Fall-feeling movie is released. That means Fall Movie Fall began Friday September 10 when the new Paul Schrader movie, “The Card Counter” (👍👍), hit theaters. A more outmoded model of Fall Movie Fall,  meanwhile, pinpoints the publishing of the Entertainment Weekly Fall Movie Preview as the first day of Fall Movie Fall. Outmoded, of course, because Entertainment Weekly, now a digital-first entity that oxymoronically only publishes monthly, has lost most of its luster, meaning the Fall Movie Preview has lost its luster too.

For a long time this blog was among those who viewed the Entertainment Weekly Fall Movie Preview as the official start of Fall. That’s all gone now. And if autumn is a time of nostalgia, the beautiful death of all those leaves signaling the end of something even as something else begins, let’s take a brief moment here, to remember a time (the 1990s) when the EW Fall Movie Preview took us into a new season with glossy style...

As it turns out, Entertainment Weekly, which first published in February of 1990, did not even have a Fall Movie preview for its first two years of existence. It had a Holiday Movie Preview, as seen above, with Michelle Pfeiffer shilling for “The Russia House”, taking us back to the waning days of the Cold War and reminding me that I still need to see “French Exit.” 

Remember when transforming an old TV show into a movie felt unique?

Wait, what? The very first EW Fall Movie preview cover was MY FAVORITE MOVIE OF ALL TIME? 

What’s also interesting to note here is that while each subsequent EW Fall Movie Preview cover has a star or stars from the chosen movie posing in a kind of publicity shot, this cover is just a shot culled from the movie. I like imagining EW trying to schedule DDL for a photo shot and the mercurial acting titan simply saying “Nah, I’m not gonna do that.”

Yes, kids, once upon a time Marty Scorsese, bane of the Marvel Universe, could land magazine covers too. And though EW could have gone DDL two years in a row, or played to the Gen X crowd with Winona, it chose Michelle. Because that’s how big she was. Man, I really need to see “French Exit.”

Gump got the Oscar, but Pulp got the EW Fall Movie Preview cover.

Oops! John Woo’s “Broken Arrow” was supposed to be released over the Christmas Holiday of 1995 only to get bumped back when the special effects needed some ironing out. Who would have gotten the cover instead? Brosnan? Pitt? Cindy Crawford in “Fair Game”? Whatever, I’m happy to have this cover in my life, this image of Travolta and Slater palling around, and imagining it as a “Stripes”-ish buddy comedy instead, “Broken Bottles.” 

I’ll always have fond memories of “Ransom” simply because my faux-legendary run working for Carmike Cinemas, gradually working my way up from concessionist to manager, ending just before the turn of the century, kicked off the fall of 1996 with a “Ransom” standee staring me in the face every shift from across the lobby. Also, is “Ransom” the best Ron Howard movie? Is he better at workmanlike, genre-ish stuff than the prestige-ish stuff? A quick Ron Howard Top 5:

1. Ransom
2. Apollo 13
3. The Paper
4. Splash
5. Willow (if only because Howard, of all people, along with John Dahl and “Kill Me Again”, ensured we would always have cinematic evidence that Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley were just so hot) 

This cover will always stir strange feelings in me. After all, the Fall of 1997 was my star-cross’d first semester at the University of Iowa, star-cross’d because I probably was more focused on memorizing all the release dates within this issue than with all that crap in class and spent as much time at the Englert and the Campus III as I did in the library. Did I learn more from a 155-minute movie than I ever learned in school? The floor is open for discussion. 

When I went to the corner bar a couple years ago around Halloween, I noticed “Hocus Pocus” playing on every TV hanging from the wall. “It’s ‘Hocus Pocus’ night!” the server cheerily explained. “’Hocus Pocus?’” I asked incredulously. “I’m a ‘Practical Magic’ man.’” (I did not say that. But I thought it.) Speaking of which, when can we get another Kidman/Bullock vehicle? And don’t tell me because “Practical Magic” was poorly received. I live in world where Hollywood keeps trying to make Ryan Reynolds a thing; you can give me another Kidman/Bullock vehicle. 

What a way to wrap up the century. You just know they were trying to get a cover with crackling sexual chemistry between Harrison Ford and Kristin Scott Thomas, couldn’t make it work, and finally, fed up and desperate, just took them down to the pool of the Four Seasons and shot this.

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