A jackpot of a different sort may await the makers of "Twilight," given that Meyer's books have sold millions of copies and have a fan base as dedicated as Harry Potter's. "Twilight's" story concerns Bella Swan, a new student at a high school in Washington state, who falls in love with the mysterious Edward Cullen -- who turns out to be a vampire ...
The holiday movie season is a chance to see old friends and make new ones.
Among the old pals: James Bond, with Daniel Craig assaying the British secret agent again in "Quantum of Solace"; Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, the "Titanic" duo reuniting for "Revolutionary Road"; Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, once the stars of "Babel" and now pairing off in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; and the king of "Independence Day," Will Smith, who's also carved out a holiday following with such films as "Ali," "The Pursuit of Happyness," "I Am Legend" and -- this year -- "Seven Pounds."
New visitors include the vampires and humans of "Twilight," based on Stephenie Meyer's popular books; "Bolt," an animated tale about a dog who plays a superhero on TV; "The Spirit," a film directed by Frank Miller ("300," "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns"); and the young beggar and game show winner of "Slumdog Millionaire," directed by Danny Boyle ("Millions," "Trainspotting").
By some measures, the season started November 7 with the release of "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa," an animated film that has made more than $118 million in its first 10 days. "Quantum of Solace" reinforced the holiday fever over the weekend, taking in $70.4 million -- the biggest opening of a Bond film ever.
"Slumdog," which opened Friday in limited release and goes wide November 27, may become a sleeper hit. Reviews have been excellent, with the film winning the audience award at the Toronto Film Festival. Watch clips of "Millionaire" and "Quantum" »
The attention has surprised star Dev Patel.
"It's been a roller coaster, to be honest. We've done so much press, so we haven't been able to absorb it all in yet," he told CNN.
Boyle said he was initially skeptical about making the film.
"My agent sent the script and said, 'It's a film about "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" ' and I thought, who would want to make a film about 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?' " he said.
It wasn't until he was told that the script was by "Full Monty" screenwriter Simon Beaufoy that he decided to take on the project.
"[That's] a fantastic film, and I really thought, 'Well, I better read some of it at least to pay some respect,' and I was just 10-15 pages in, I just knew I was going to make the film," he told CNN.
"Slumdog" concerns a Mumbai urchin, played by Patel, who goes in search of his girlfriend. Knowing she's a dedicated watcher of the Indian version of "Millionaire," he goes on the show and wins -- but authorities believe that he has cheated.
A jackpot of a different sort may await the makers of "Twilight," given that Meyer's books have sold millions of copies and have a fan base as dedicated as Harry Potter's. "Twilight's" story concerns Bella Swan, a new student at a high school in Washington state, who falls in love with the mysterious Edward Cullen -- who turns out to be a vampire.
"He's a vampire man who is supposed to attract everybody," Kristen Stewart, who plays Bella, told CNN. "[But] he doesn't know why he feels the way he does about her. ... And for her, initially, it is the physiological draw; it is the magnetic pull. But then, she's able to see him in a way that nobody else can."
The vampires in the movie, which was directed by Catherine Hardwicke ("Thirteen"), are different from the bloodsuckers who have populated filmdom since "Nosferatu" in the 1920s, Stewart added. "You get to see how they live. They're not just the villains in the movie. And you see that they're really sorry characters, that it's really, really, impossibly difficult to live like them."
The characters in "Revolutionary Road" may be equally hard to live with, but not because they're vampires. They're upwardly mobile suburbanites in the 1950s who are papering over a crumbling marriage with dreams of better things -- like chucking their lives and starting over again in Paris.
DiCaprio and Winslet have been wanting to work together again for years, both performers have said, but had trouble finding the right project and the right timing. "Revolutionary Road," with a script by Justin Haythe (based on the novel by Richard Yates), is directed by Winslet's Oscar-winning husband, Sam Mendes ("American Beauty"). It was the kind of challenge they were looking for, DiCaprio told The Associated Press.
"We knew if we were going to do a relationship, a love story again, it would have to be dramatically different" from "Titanic," he said. "This very much is about the disintegration of a relationship."
"Revolutionary Road" is thought to have Oscar possibilities. Among its possible competition: "Doubt," starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman in the film version of John Patrick Shanley's Pulitzer- and Tony-winning play about a nun, a priest and accusations of sexual abuse; "Frost/Nixon," starring Frank Langella as the 37th president, engaging in interviews with David Frost; "Milk," with Sean Penn as the late gay politician Harvey Milk; and "Benjamin Button," starring Pitt and Blanchett in a story about a man who ages backwards.
But though the holidays are known for Oscar bait, the time period will also be full of crowd-pleasers, including the comedies "Yes Man" with Jim Carrey and "Bedtime Stories" with Adam Sandler; the family films "Bolt" and "Marley & Me"; and a remake of the 1951 classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still," starring Keanu Reeves in the role of Klaatu, which Michael Rennie made famous.
What films will rise above the rest? Only time will tell. But "Slumdog Millionaire's" stars say they may need time to get ready if their film is one of the lucky ones.
"I don't think I want to know," Freida Pinto, who plays the girlfriend, told CNN.
"We haven't had time to think about it, really," added Patel.