Hollywood is preparing an uncommon number of films based on theatre works, from Shakespeare to contemporary American authors.
Nearly all the films feature major dramatic and musical stars. Here is a rundown, with release dates scheduled as of Oct. 16, 1996. Schedule subject to change:
ROMEO AND JULIET: Leonard DiCaprio and Clare Danes star in a modern-dress version of Shakespeare's star-crossed love story. (Oct. 18)
TO GILLIAN ON HER 37th BIRTHDAY: Peter Gallagher stars in the film version of his Off-Broadway play about a man who can't let go of his dead wife's memory. (Oct. 18)
TWELFTH NIGHT: Trevor Nunn, who directed Les Miserables, Cats and other megamusicals of the 1980s, directs this adaptation of Shakespeare's play, starring Richard Grant, Ben Kingsley and Helena Bonham Carter. (Oct. 25) I'M NOT RAPPAPORT: Herb Gardner's Tony-winning hit comedy about a spirited old man surviving in a dangerous world with a little help from his friends (and family) stars Walter Matthau and Ossie Davis. (Nov. 15)
THE CRUCIBLE: Daniel Day Lewis and Winona Ryder star as colonials in the grip of a Puritan witch hunt in Arthur Miller's McCarthy-era allegory of loyalty, conscience and betrayal. (Nov. 27)
THE SUBSTANCE OF FIRE: Jon Robin Baitz called on his major interpreter, actor Ron Rifkin, to star as a chilly patriarch who becomes locked in battle with his grown children over the fate of the family's publishing company. This film version of the Off-Broadway drama also stars Sarah Jessica Parker, Timothy Hutton, Ronny Graham, Elizabeth Franz and Tony Goldwyn. (Dec. 6)
MARVIN'S ROOM: Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio star in this filming of Scott McPherson's black comedy about a woman caring for her dying father, who discovers she has cancer. (Dec. 13)
HAMLET: Kenneth Branagh stars in his latest Shakespeare filmization.
-- By Robert Viagas