September 4: Dragon Blade
What it's about: In the year 48 B.C., a Chinese military officer (Jackie Chan) teams up with a Roman general (John Cusack) to fend off a third commander who poses a mutual threat (Adrien Brody).
Why you should care: It's already a hit in China, and the movie's backstory is arguably more interesting than the movie itself. Produced in China on a budget of $65 million, Dragon Blade is a reversal of Hollywood's favorite modern-day strategy: Produce a big, blustery blockbuster with the goal of raking it in abroad. Relying on the star power of Chan, Cusack, and Brody, Dragon Blade isn't going to be a Jurassic World-sized hit — but it is an early harbinger of an increasingly global film cycle.
What else is coming out: The Transporter Refueled, a Jason Statham-less reboot of an action franchise that had basically nothing to offer except Jason Statham; A Walk in the Woods, an adaptation of Bill Bryson's nonfiction book of the same name, starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte as a couple of old dudes who hike the Appalachian Trail; Chloe and Theo, a drama about a homeless New Yorker (Dakota Johnson) who befriends an Eskimo (Theo Ikummaq); Break Point, a comedy about a couple of feuding brothers (Jeremy Sisto and David Walton) who reunite for a doubles tennis tournament.
September 11: Sleeping with Other People
What it's about: Years after losing their virginity to one another in college, a pair of serial daters (Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie) reconnect in the wake of a chance encounter at a Sexaholics Anonymous meeting.
Why you should care: Writer/director Leslye Headland delivers the rare "raunchy rom-com" that actually lives up to that billing. Sleeping with Other People is a funny and honest look at the complicated dynamics of a truly candid male/female friendship. The film fully embraces the genre's usual tropes, occasionally to its detriment (by the end, the film is doing backflips to keep its central couple apart). But Sudeikis and Brie have stronger, more natural and magnetic chemistry than any rom-com couple I've seen in ages.
What else is coming out: The Visit, M. Night Shyamalan's latest chiller, which follows a couple of kids who discover their kindly grandparents are hiding a sinister secret; Time of Out Mind, in which Richard Gere makes his latest bid for artistic credibility as a homeless New Yorker; The Perfect Guy, a sleazy thriller about a woman (Sanaa Lathan) who meets "the perfect guy" (Michael Ealy), only to discover — surprise! — that he's actually a psycho.
September 18: Black Mass
What it's about: A based-on-a-true-story biopic about the legendary Boston gangster Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp), with focus on his relationship with the FBI agent (Joel Edgerton) who provided a cover for his crimes.
Why you should care: An early entrant in this year's Oscar race, Black Mass has "Academy Award hopeful" written all over it. The true story behind Bulger's rise to power is strange and fascinating, and Scott Cooper — the director behind 2009's Crazy Heart and 2013's Out of the Furnace — is a solid choice to helm it. Black Mass has also assembled a staggering ensemble cast, many of whom are famous and talented enough to headline movies on their own: Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Corey Stoll, Adam Scott, and Juno Temple. But the biggest name here is Johnny Depp. It's been a long time since Depp delivered a performance that was tolerable, let alone praiseworthy — but early buzz has tipped Black Mass as a return to form, and the trailers show off the kind of transformative performance Depp was once famous for delivering.
What else is coming out: Everest, a star-studded, based-on-a-true-story tale of a group of mountain climbers caught in a nightmarish storm; Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, the second installment in the dystopian blockbuster series based on the YA novel of the same name; Pawn Sacrifice (Sep. 16), a biopic following American chess legend Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) during his legendary 1972 match against Russian grandmaster Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber); About Ray, a family drama about a teenager (Elle Fanning) in the midst of transitioning from female to male; Cooties, a horror-comedy about a bunch of elementary school teachers attempting to survive after their students become zombies.
September 25: Sicario
What it's about: An FBI agent (Emily Blunt) signs up for a United States-Mexico joint task force traveling to Juarez to hunt down a shadowy drug lord.
Why you should care: Months after a very well-received premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Sicario finally arrives in theaters. Emily Blunt is a terrific actress who's long overdue for a meaty leading role, and the rest of the cast — including Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin, Jon Bernthal, and Jeffrey Donovan — is extremely accomplished. Director Denis Villeneuve, best known for 2013's Prisoners, is a fascinating talent, and his distinctive, immersive style of filmmaking should be an ideal match for Sicario's tense blend of action and politics.
What else is coming out: The Intern, a comedy about the unlikely bond between a successful businesswoman (Anne Hathaway) and her septuagenarian intern (Robert DeNiro); Hotel Transylvania 2, a sequel to the Adam Sandler-fronted children's animated comedy of the same name; Mississippi Grind, a drama about a pair of hard-luck strangers (Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds) who decide to gamble their way down the Mississippi River together; 99 Homes, a drama about a desperate young man (Andrew Garfield) who goes to work for a shady real estate broker (Michael Shannon); Before I Wake, a supernatural horror movie about a kid whose dreams come to life; Stonewall, a historical drama about the 1969 Stonewall riots, which are widely viewed as a turning point in the gay rights movement; The Green Inferno, a horror movie about a group of students held hostage by an Amazonian tribe.