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When it comes to stocking megaplexes this season, Hollywood hopes it has saved the best for last.

Holiday Highlights

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'Tis the holiday season, and traditionally a box-office bonanza for actors, producers and studios. But this year there's more at stake. Hollywood's hoping it has treats enough to pull out of the current box-office slump. Fall ticket sales are a staggering 17 percent off from a year ago. And summer sales were no picnic, either, down more than 7 percent. But more frightening to Hollywood is this: total attendance is off for the second year in a row. Here's what Hollywood hopes will put your seat in their seats: Nov. 22
"Unbreakable" — Bruce Willis reunites with "The Sixth Sense" writer-director M. Night Shyamalan for this story of a man who discovers he's indestructible. Samuel L. Jackson plays a mysterious, angelic character who leads him on a journey to discover his destiny. "102 Dalmatians" — Glenn Close reprises her role as Cruella De Vil in this sequel to the live-action remake of the Disney classic. Features a new spotless Dalmatian named Oddball and several other talking critters. But, once again, Cruella is still hankering for a coat of puppy fur. Of course, the pups and animals outthink, outsmart and out-cute the humans. Dec. 8
"Vertical Limit" — Chris O'Donnell is a mountain climber who comes out of retirement to try to rescue his sister (Robin Tunney) when she's trapped in a vertical cave on the world's second-tallest mountain. Scott Glenn co-stars in what could be this holiday's big action-adventure. "Dungeons & Dragons" — Jeremy Irons stars as the evil wizard Profion in this long-awaited, live-action adaptation of the oft-maligned, but extremely popular fantasy role-playing game. Marlon Wayans and Thora Birch co-star. "Proof of Life" — It wouldn't feel like Christmas without men chasing Meg Ryan, but this time they're terrorists from Latin America. You see, her hubby's been kidnapped and Russell Crowe comes to her rescue. But will most moviegoers be looking for signs of the well-documented romance between Ryan and Crowe? Dec. 15
"The Emperor's New Groove" — An animated twist on the "Prince and the Pauper" tale, this Disney charmer offers up an arrogant emperor who finds himself transformed into a llama by an evil-minded rival. Features the voices of John Goodman, Patrick Warburton, Eartha Kitt and David Spade, as well as a soundtrack by Sting. "Dude, Where's My Car?" — Banking on the popularity of "That '70s Show" star Ashton Kutcher, this odd holiday entry follows Kutcher and another hapless pothead who can't find their car after a night of partying. "What Women Want" — A freak accident gives Chicago ad executive Mel Gibson the ability to read women's minds. Helen Hunt and Marisa Tomei are just a few of the beauties Gibson finds himself mentally eavesdropping on in this romantic comedy. This ability, of course, makes him quite popular. As if Mel ever had any problem connecting with women! Dec. 22
— Nicolas Cage stars in this romantic comedy that's yet another twist on Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life." A heavy-hitting Wall Street broker, Cage awakes one Christmas morning to find himself married to his college sweetheart (Tea Leoni) and living in the New Jersey suburbs. Don Cheadle plays a guardian angel-type who tries to explain to Cage the lesson this experience is supposed to be teaching him. "Cast Away" — Tom Hanks has been an AIDS patient, a prison guard, an idiot savant and a WWII soldier. This holiday season he's left for dead on a deserted island after a plane crash. But will viewers embrace hours of Hanks alone on the screen in this redo of "Robinson Crusoe"? "Miss Congeniality" — Sandra Bullock is a tough, tomboy FBI agent who finds herself having to go undercover as a beauty contestant. If the trailer holds true, this is classic Bullock — cute, spunky and simply irresistible. Benjamin Bratt co-stars. "13 Days" — Kevin Costner stars in this political drama about the Cuban missile crisis during the Kennedy administration. Bruce Greenwood is JFK; Steven Culp, brother Bobby. But the movie is told from Costner's perspective, who plays JFK's chief of staff. "Wes Craven Presents Dracula 2000" — The "Scream" master himself takes a stab at a modern remake of Bram Stoker's vampire classic. Taking a page from Anne Rice, Craven sets this updated tale in New Orleans. Cast includes Christopher Plummer, Justine Waddell and Omar Epps. Dec. 25
"All the Pretty Horses" — Matt Damon stars as cowboy who feels displaced when his mother sells their ranch in this '40s-era Western based on Cormac McCarthy's novel of the same name. So he hops on his horse and rides into Mexico, finding a job breaking horses. Billy Bob Thornton directs; Penelope Cruz and Ruben Blades co-star. In The New Year
The following films will open on a limited basis either to qualify for Oscar consideration or because they are deemed too "artsy" for wide release. We should get them sometime after the new year. For "An Everlasting Piece," Baltimore's Barry Levinson heads to Belfast for a hair-raising tale of two barbers trying to get ahead in the turbulent, '80s era Belfast. "Moulin Rouge" serves up Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor in this "reinvention" of the musical form. McGregor is an innocent poet swept up in the Bohemian underworld of Paris, circa 1899; Kidman is the popular courtesan he falls for. In "Shadow of the Vampire," John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe co-star as director and actor filming the silent classic "Nosferatu." Cate Blanchett plays a small-town widowed mom of three with psychic powers in "The Gift." Sam Raimi directs this Southern thriller. "Quills" brings Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet and Joaquin Phoenix together for a complex and infamous love triangle. Rush plays the notorious Marquis de Sade; Winslet, his chambermaid; and Joaquin Phoenix a priest intent on saving the controversial

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