Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
January 14, 1994 AT 05:00 AM EST

Hollywood made plenty of mistakes last year involving last action heroes, Coneheads, and Macaulay Culkin in tights. Now studios are making their New Year’s resolutions-and they seem to favor baseball players, blown-up buildings, and Kevin Costner in spurs. Here are the big topics to look for in movies this year: 1. MONSTER MASHES Forget schlocky horror flicks. These projects threaten to transform the genre into Art: Jack Nicholson’s sinister smile grows fangs in Wolf (March), a modern tale of werewolves, costarring Michelle Pfeiffer. A blond Tom Cruise moves to the dark side in Interview With the Vampire (November), based on Anne Rice’s neck-biter epic, and Robert De Niro plays the title role, bolts and all, in Kenneth Branagh’s Frankenstein (November).

2. KEVIN COSTNER A Perfect World has been a surprise disappointment at the box office, but in 1994, Costner’s performances will shoot for both critical acclaim and big bucks. He gets top billing in the Western biopic Wyatt Earp (July) and in the postapocalyptic undersea thriller Waterworld (winter) and has a supporting role in The War (fall), about a group of Southern kids in the post-Vietnam era. Costner is also producing Rapa Nui (spring), a drama about Easter Island’s ancient history, starring Jason Scott Lee.

3. KIDS’ STUFF America’s first family of contract negotiations is out in full force: Macaulay Culkin stars with Ted Danson in the comedy Getting Even With Dad (June), while brother Kieran stars in My Summer Story, a follow-up to 1983’s A Christmas Story (August). Macaulay won’t come back from the dead for My Girl 2 (February), but his costar Anna Chlumsky does return, with a new boy in her life. Elijah Wood wants to divorce his parents (Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus) in Rob Reiner’s North (June).

4. PLAYING THE FIELD After Cool Runnings and Rookie of the Year proved to be sleeper hits, sports movies are predictably hot projects. Nick Nolte is a college basketball coach involved in illegal recruiting in William Friedkin’s Blue Chips (February), with Shaquille O’Neal. And in a remake of Angels in the – Outfield (July), starring Danny Glover, a boy pins his hope for his parents’ reconciliation on the California Angels’ winning the pennant. Next winter will bring a biopic of Detroit Tiger batting champion Ty Cobb, starring…

5. TOMMY LEE JONES As the casting of Cobb proves, the success of The Fugitive has elevated Jones to the A list: He’ll be seen as a district attorney in The Client (July), with Susan Sarandon, based on John Grisham’s thriller about a boy who witnesses a mob hit; as a prison warden in Natural Born Killers (June), a Bonnie and Clyde-type crime drama directed by Oliver Stone (see story on page 28); and as the villain of Blown Away (July), about a Boston bomb-squad cop, played by Jeff Bridges.

6. NEWSPRINT Suddenly journalism is sexy stuff, with Julia Roberts and Nick Nolte starring as dueling reporters who trade their pens for passion (very Tracy and Hepburn) in this summer’s I Love Trouble. More comic than romantic is The Paper (March), in which Michael Keaton plays a frazzled editor at a New York City tabloid. And the thriller Selling the War (winter), starring Dustin Hoffman, will fictionalize the politics of the Washington press during the Gulf War.

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