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Surplus of cinema

Plenty of films heading our way

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Whether the state of the union requires Americans to make personal sacrifices and cut back in 2007 remains to be seen, but don't expect Hollywood to take a similar approach. Between now and the start of the summer movie season (Spider-Man 3 opens May 4), the movie capital plans to release over 50 motion pictures. And this doesn't even take into account the 2006 limited releases that have yet to open here (Venus, Peter O'Toole's potential Oscar vehicle, is slated to debut locally on February 9, while The Good German, starring George Clooney, and Miss Potter, with Renee Zellweger, should make their way here within the next few weeks). Here, then, is a checklist of what we can expect to flood our multiplexes.

JANUARY 26: A teenage werewolf (Agnes Bruckner) is torn between loping with her pack and hanging with her regular-joe boyfriend (Hugh Dancy) in Blood and Chocolate... In Catch and Release, a woman (Jennifer Garner) mourning the sudden death of her fiancé finds comfort by bonding with his friends (Timothy Olyphant, Kevin Smith and Sam Jaeger)... Like Date Movie and the Scary Movie franchise, Epic Movie riffs on every recent blockbuster, including ones featuring characters named Harry Potter, Wolverine and Borat... In Smokin' Aces, Jeremy Piven plays Buddy "Aces" Israel, an unctuous magician whose decision to testify against the Vegas mob finds him the target of assorted thugs; Ben Affleck, Andy Garcia and Alicia Keys also star.

FEBRUARY 2: A protective mom (Diane Keaton) tries to insure that her youngest daughter (Mandy Moore) ends up with the perfect man in the comedy Because I Said So.

FEBRUARY 9: The formative years of Hannibal Lecter are explored in Hannibal Rising, starring Gaspard Ulliel as the budding cannibal... Eddie Murphy essays at least three roles in Norbit, playing the title sad sack, a domineering Big Momma and a Chinese restaurant owner.

FEBRUARY 14: Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls is the latest release from you-know-who; here, he puts aside his Madea dress and concentrates on writing and directing this film about the romance between a lawyer (Gabrielle Union) and a mechanic (Idris Elba)... A former 80s pop star (Hugh Grant) and an eccentric plant lady (Drew Barrymore) team up in an attempt to write a hit song in the romantic comedy Music and Lyrics.

FEBRUARY 16: Writer-director Billy Ray, whose Shattered Glass deservedly landed on numerous 10 Best lists, returns with Breach, with Ryan Phillippe as a novice FBI agent ordered to spy on a seasoned operative (Chris Cooper) suspected of being a mole... Based on Katherine Paterson's award-winning children's book, Bridge to Terabithia centers on two kids (Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb) who create their own magical kingdom... The popular Marvel Comics hero Ghost Rider arrives on the big screen in the form of Nicolas Cage; he plays Johnny Blaze, the motorcycle daredevil whose pact with Satan turns him into a flaming-skull creature at night.

FEBRUARY 23: A former NASA employee (Billy Bob Thornton) courts controversy when he builds a rocket on his own property in The Astronaut Farmer... Abandoned by his wife, a bluesman (Samuel L. Jackson) tries to heal -- and reform -- the battered town wildcat (Christina Ricci) in Black Snake Moan, writer-director Craig Brewer's first film since his acclaimed Hustle & Flow... The comedy Gray Matters centers on two close siblings (Heather Graham and Tom Cavanagh) who decide they each need to spend less time together and more time seeking ideal partners... Taking his periodic break from slapstick comedy, Jim Carrey headlines The Number 23, a psychological thriller about a man who's convinced that the book he's reading -- the one that ends badly -- is based on his own life... A spin-off of Comedy Central's Reno 911!, Reno 911!: Miami finds the wacky band of cops heading to Florida to tackle terrorists.

MARCH 2: A high school student (Ryan Pinkston) adept at telling lies is startled when his fibs start coming true in the comedy Full Of It... The Hills Have Eyes 2 returns to the New Mexican mountain range where a clan of cannibalistic mutants resides; this time, their potential dinner consists of members of the National Guard... Four middle-aged men (John Travolta, Tim Allen, Martin Lawrence and William H. Macy) decide to head out on the highway on motorcycles in the comedy Wild Hogs... Inspired by a true story, Zodiac, directed by David Fincher (Seven, Fight Club), focuses on the efforts of the police (repped by Mark Ruffalo) and a pair of journalists (Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr.) to track down a serial killer roaming the streets of San Francisco.

MARCH 9: Forced to earn money when his wife (Amanda Peet) quits her job to raise their baby, a stay-at-home dad (Zach Braff) has trouble adjusting to the working world in Fast Track... Recently arrived in the United States, a young man (Kal Penn) from Calcutta tries to merge his new home with his Indian heritage in The Namesake... Writer-director Mike Binder, whose feature The Upside of Anger was one of 2005's best (and most unsung) releases, returns with Reign Over Me, in which a dentist (Adam Sandler) who lost his family on 9/11 tries to get back on track with the help of his former college roommate (Don Cheadle)... Based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller (Sin City), 300 centers on an epic battle between the Spartan and Persian armies.

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