LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Social media" is among today's most popular catch phrases thanks to the success of, among other things, networking website Facebook -- the favored way for today's youth to communicate on a global level.
Now Facebook is the subject of what's expected to be the fall's most anticipated movie, "The Social Network," which is among a slew of titles including "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" and the Clint Eastwood-directed "Hereafter" that Hollywood will usher into theaters this fall movie season.
With the summer season coming to an official close over this weekend's Labor Day holiday in the United States, it's back to school for kids, back to work for adults, back to dramas in movies, and onto Oscar season for Hollywood.
"It's a heavy, early fall," said Entertainment Weekly movie writer Dave Karger. "Once Labor Day hits, things get pretty heavy, pretty quickly."
There is the Ben Affleck-directed bank heist film "The Town," which opens September 17 with an all-star cast that includes Affleck himself, "Mad Men's" Jon Hamm and "The Hurt Locker" Oscar nominee, Jeremy Renner.
One week later on September 24, Michael Douglas is back as shifty financier Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone's "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps." Douglas, who won an Oscar with Gekko in the original 1987 "Wall Street," reprises his role alongside a young cast that also includes Shia LaBoeuf and Carey Mulligan.
"The movie is a hell of a ride and you don't know what's going to happen in the end," Stone told Reuters. "Gekko is a charming devil. You never know what he's going to do next."
That same weekend, Ryan Reynolds plays a man trapped inside a coffin with only a cell phone and a lighter in "Buried," a breakout success at his past Sundance Film Festival.
"Social Network," starring Jessie Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake, opens October 1 and recounts the story of how the website was founded by a college student in his dorm room.
Of course, just who came up with the idea for Facebook depends on which kid you talk to. That's why filmmaker David Fincher tells the story from multiple viewpoints to find out how a young techie named Mark Zuckerberg became a visionary while gaining friends, enemies and lawsuits.
Just like Facebook can be a place for drama and betrayal, expect plenty of that in "Social Network."
"It's an exciting movie because it tells a complicated story in a very entertaining way," says the film's star, Jesse Eisenberg. "There are several characters claiming to be right. In a way, they all are."
Joining "Social Network" on October 1 is "Let Me In," about a viciously bullied kid who teams up with another outcast that happens to be a vampire.
On October 8, Robert De Niro and Edward Norton test each other as a parole officer and murderer, respectively, in "Stone," and that same weekend, "Secretariat," about the famed Triple Crown-winning racehorse gallops into theaters.
Ben Affleck appears on-screen again October 22 as a man whose world crumbles when he gets laid off in "The Company Men," another past Sundance flick. That same weekend, Clint Eastwood shows people dealing with tragedy in "Hereafter" with a cast that includes Matt Damon and Bryce Dallas Howard.
Whereas the summer brought animated family fare like "Toy Story 3," silly comedies such as Will Ferrell's "The Other Guys" and mindless action like "The Expendables," Hollywood tends to put on a more serious face in the fall.
Instead of movies for kids, there is a documentary about kids -- more to the point, about the sad state of the U.S. public education system and what might be done to fix it in the documentary "Waiting for Superman."
Realism gets a dramatic make-over with "127 Hours" on November 5. Filmmaker Danny Boyle, who last directed Oscar winner "Slumdog Millionaire," takes on the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston (James Franco) who is trapped in a Utah canyon for five days when a boulder falls on his arm. His choice is to die -- or to free himself by cutting off his trapped limb with a pocket knife.
As always, a few exceptions counter the seriousness. On September 17, there is the animated "Alpha and Omega" about two wolves trying to get home. That same weekend, Hollywood's newest 'it' girl, Emma Stone, stars in the high school comedy "Easy A" as a girl who lies about losing her virginity.
Meanwhile, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich play retired federal agents forced out of retirement and back into action alongside Bruce Willis in "Red," based on a comic book mini-series, opening October 15.
As Halloween approaches later that month, the scare and gore is rolled out in films like "Saw 3D," "Paranormal Activity 2" and "Monsters."
November sees some lighter fare and family friendly movies timed to the Thanksgiving holidays. Getting a jump on what is surely to be a crowded season, the animated "Megamind" opens November 5 starring Will Ferrell as a blue skinned alien in a life-long struggle with the vain Metro Man (Brad Pitt).
Also that weekend, "The Hangover" director Todd Phillips brings out a new comedy, "Due Date." In this road trip movie, Zach Galifianakis plays an aspiring actor to Robert Downey Jr.'s man trying to get home for the birth of his child.
"Todd Phillips is someone that Hollywood looks to make a real crowd pleaser," said Karger.
The fall season also boasts past several Academy Award favorites, among directors, including Fincher, Stone, Eastwood and Boyle, whose films the studios hope might resonate with Oscar voters.
Among other movies hoping to generate some buzz in November and December include "Love and Other Drugs" with co-stars Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal, and the Coen Brothers' "True Grit" starring last year's best actor winner Jeff Bridges alongside Matt Damon.
There is also director Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan" with Natalie Portman, and "Blue Valentine" is said to boast powerful performances by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte