''Batman Returns,'' ''Housesitter,'' and ''Patriot Games'' are some of the films coming out this month

The dark knight’s $55 million comeback vehicle, fuel-injected with high-octane villainy by Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) and the Penguin (Danny DeVito) as an evil mayoral candidate, is guaranteed to own the box office road its opening weekend. But can this tale of a Gotham Christmas possibly motor past Batman‘s $250 million domestic gross? Industry pundits say no, even though director Tim Burton feels he has built a better bat trap. ”I gave Batman my all, and I liked parts of it,” he says, ”but I feel these new characters are more interesting.”
Inside Story: Michael Keaton, driven batty by the elaborate plaster head cast required to fit his eared cowl in the first film, was remeasured with laser beams for a new, more comfortable, formfitting cowl. DeVito, however, had to endure four full-body casts as costumers tinkered with his bulky, silicone-enhanced penguin outfit, and Pfeiffer found herself purring me-ow as she was corseted into her one-piece catsuit skin. ”It was like roping a wild animal,” says Burton. ”We’d get updates: Michelle’s at checkpoint B now checkpoint C. I have to hand it to the actors, because what will be perceived as a lighthearted romp was Chinese water torture to do.”

Eddie Murphy is back as a womanizing ad exec who gets his comeuppance when he falls for his stunning, love-’em-and-leave-’em boss, Robin Givens. David Alan Grier is Murphy’s sensitive best buddy, and Halle Berry plays Murphy’s first female friend, who in the end wins everybody’s heart. Reginald and Warrington Hudlin, who directed and produced the 1990 sleeper hit House Party, were handpicked by Murphy to make the movie.
Inside Story: Murphy’s last two films, 1990’s Another 48 HRS. and 1989’s Harlem Nights, certainly weren’t box office disasters — they chalked up $80 million and $60 million respectively. But they weren’t up to the magic of 1984’s Beverly Hills Cop (more than $230 million) or 1988’s Coming to America ($128 million). So Boomerang is widely perceived as his comeback, the film that will introduce Eddie Murphy the romantic leading man. ”It’s the first movie where I’m acting with other actors, where everybody is playing off each other,” he says, ”rather than a bomb exploding and me making a wisecrack or doing my stand-up routine.” Still, there have been enough reports about tension on the set to have Paramount execs doing some nail-biting.

Kid ‘N Play star in this teenage Trading Places: A bookworm without any cool (Kid) finds himself in classes with a new breed of student when his school records are switched with those of a juvenile delinquent (Play).
Inside Story: A Class Act spends a lot of time re-defining the word cool. MTV’s Pauly Shore, for instance (who also stars this summer in his own high school high jinks movie, Encino Man), turns up at one point: ”He’s a white, surfer-buddy-type cool guy, and Kid ‘N Play are black cool,” says first-time director Randall Miller. ”So in the movie, Kid ‘N Play don’t understand him at all — they think he’s totally stupid. The funny thing was, when they first met Pauly, it was almost like that — they didn’t know what he was talking about.”