It's going to be series business this holiday season at the movies. One of Hollywood's biggest franchises is nearing an end. Others are returning after long absences. Still more Yuletide releases are taking baby steps toward becoming their own brand of sequels.
Despite the recession, blockbuster franchise flicks have rung up killer box-office returns. Studios hope that continues this year with such familiar names as "Harry Potter," "Hannah Montana," and "Star Trek."
While "The Dark Knight" also should score well in technical categories, its Oscar prospects are slim for other key awards, among them an acting honor for Christian Bale, reprising his "Batman Begins" lead role with an exceptional delivery as the comic-book superhero.
Thanks to the long lead time for big-screen productions, the 2008 film schedule will unspool largely uninterrupted despite the writers strike. With a solid range of prospects, the 2008 lineup offers plenty of intriguing questions.
Hollywood may not have a Harry Potter, Spider-Man, Shrek or Capt. Jack Sparrow on its upcoming lineup. Yet the fall and holiday schedule does offer filmgoers a chance to catch up with some familiar characters, stories and movie-making teams.