Screen icons and real-life legends are about to make their annual pilgrimage to the cineplex during the holidays. USA TODAY'S Brian Truitt looksat some of the titles headed to theaters in December (release dates are subject to studio changes).
Stars: Josh Lawson, Ron Perlman, Edward Furlong
Director: Charles de Lauzirika
Plot: After seeing the aftermath of way too many murders on the job, a crime-scene photographer (Lawson) decides to work outside of the law and turns to vigilantism to help keep his community safe, to morally questionable effect.
'Inside Llewyn Davis' (opens limited)
Stars: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake
Directors: Ethan and Joel Coen
Plot: The Coen brothers return to old-timey music and follow young singer Llewyn Davis (Isaac) as he navigates one wintry week in 1961 and struggles in the even colder Greenwich Village folk scene.
'Out of the Furnace'
Stars: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana
Director: Scott Cooper
Plot: When his younger brother (Affleck), an Iraq War vet, goes missing, a steelworker (Bale) ventures into the world of underground bare-knuckle brawlers with gun in hand and sights set on a local criminal (Woody Harrelson).
'American Hustle' (limited)
Stars: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper
Director: David O. Russell
Plot: In the disco-era 1970s, Bale and Adams play a pair of grifters who are sucked into the New Jersey sting operation of an out-of-control FBI agent (Cooper) involving the mayor of Camden (Jeremy Renner) and the Mafia.
'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug'
Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Evangeline Lilly
Director: Peter Jackson
Plot: With the One Ring secretly tucked away, Bilbo (Freeman) continues with Gandalf (McKellen) and the company of dwarves to take back their home from the intimidating, treasure-hoarding dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch).
'Saving Mr. Banks' (limited)
Stars:Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell
Director: John Lee Hancock
Plot: To fulfill a promise to his daughter, Walt Disney (Hanks) pulls out all the stops to convince prickly author P.L. Travers to let him make a movie of her novel Mary Poppins, which was inspired by Travers' own childhood.
'Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas'
Stars:Tyler Perry, Tika Sumpter, Chad Michael Murray
Director: Tyler Perry
Plot: Perry's over-the-top old lady returns to the big screen for a comedic adventure where Madea is persuaded by a friend (Anna Maria Horsford) to help her surprise her daughter (Sumpter) during a lead-up to her town's Christmas Jubilee.
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams
Director: Spike Jonze
Plot:A recently heartbroken and antisocial guy finds a new lease on life when his computer is upgraded with an artificially intelligent operating system (voiced by Johansson) and he falls in love with it.
'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues'
Stars: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig
Director: Adam McKay
Plot: Look out, 1980s - here comes Ron Burgundy. The charismatic newsman, he of the jazz flute and lush 'stache, moves with his news team (Carell, Paul Rudd and David Koechner) from his local San Diego station to the big time of a 24-hour New York cable channel.
'Walking with Dinosaurs 3D'
Stars: Justin Long, John Leguizamo, Karl Urban
Directors: Barry Cook and Neil Nightingale
Plot: The family-friendly computer-animated movie centers on a trio of Pachyrhinosauruses, who go from babies to adulthood as they encounter a variety of dino species in their quest toward a temperate climate.
'August: Osage County'(limited)
Stars: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor
Director: John Wells
Plot: A death in the family leads to an impromptu reunion - and subsequent airing of grievances - of a dysfunctional Oklahoma clan with estranged couples, emotional individuals and a pill-popping matriarch (Streep).
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Rinko Kikuchi, Hiroyuki Sanada
Director: Carl Rinsch
Plot: Reeves knows kung fu and is quite handy with a sword. He plays a warrior who bands with a group of samurai to deal with fantasy beasts, witches and a warlord who's banished and dishonored the Ronin.
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Kim Basinger
Director: Peter Segal
Plot: Aging, out-of-shape boxers Henry "Razor" Sharp (Stallone) and Billy "The Kid" McDonnen rekindle their rivalry after running into each other at a video-game shoot and decide to settle a 30-year score in the ring.
Stars: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Clark Gregg
Director: Jason Reitman
Plot: A single mom (Winslet) and her son give a ride to a wounded man (Brolin), an escaped convict wanted by the police who reveals his true story when he takes the Good Samaritans hostage.
'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty'
Stars: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn
Director: Ben Stiller
Plot: In the latest retelling of the James Thurber short story, ordinary office worker Walter (Stiller) harbors a crush on a co-worker (Wiig) and daydreams of being thrown into fantasy scenarios to escape his mundane existence.
'The Wolf of Wall Street'
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill
Director: Martin Scorsese
Plot: The Oscar-winning filmmaker digs into 1990s excess with the story of Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio), a Wall Street stockbroker who enjoys the riches of money, booze and women until the FBI shows up wanting his help with a case of fraud and corruption.
'Lone Survivor' (limited)
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Eric Bana
Director: Peter Berg
Plot: The military drama casts Wahlberg as Marcus Luttrell, the only survivor of a real-life Navy SEAL team that was tasked in 2005 with taking out a high-level al-Qaeda leader. Instead, the team found itself surrounded in Afghanistan by a large Taliban contingent.