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Fall Movie Preview: Also in December

”Scream” and ”The Pest” are among those films also heading to theaters this December

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Scream

What better name for a Wes Craven flick? Formerly called Scary Movie, this Christmas Day stocking stuffer follows high schoolers Drew Barrymore and Neve Campbell (Party of Five), who are being stalked by a sociopath. (Courteney Cox plays a reporter.) ”The movie is very self-referential,” says Craven, ”because not only is it scary, it’s about kids who like scary movies.” (Dec. 25)

The Substance of Fire

Playwright Jon Robin Baitz’s portrait of a family and a publishing house that collapse when the patriarch (Ron Rifkin) clashes with his kids was an Off Broadway smash in 1991. For the film (also starring Tony Goldwyn, Timothy Hutton, and Sarah Jessica Parker), Baitz and director Daniel Sullivan raised the stakes: ”The consequences that were emotional in the play,” says Sullivan, ”are now mortal.” (Dec. 6)

The Whole Wide World

”How we got a film with no sex or violence made is a f—in’ miracle,” says director Dan Ireland. His adaptation of Novalyne Price Ellis’ memoir about her relationship with suicidal pulp fiction writer Robert E. Howard (Conan the Barbarian) can claim other miracles: It cost just $1.3 million, was shot in 24 days, and snagged Tom Cruise’s next leading lady (Jerry Maguire‘s Renee Zellweger) when pregnant costar Olivia d’Abo had to be replaced. (Dec. 25)

The Pest

Nobody said comedy was easy — especially not John Leguizamo, the coproducer-star of this antic goof about a scam artist stalked by a hunter (Jeffrey Jones). Leguizamo got a snakebite and a chipped clavicle — but the schedule (32 days) and budget ($8 million) meant the show had to go on: ”They’d massage me and throw me back in the ring.”