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MARK WAHLBERG--A FIGHTER WHO'S MAKING THINGS HAPPEN

Once he was known to us as Marky Mark, a pop singer who wasn't ashamed to be seen in his undies. But, gradually, he got respect for his forceful acting in roles ranging from proud porn star Dirk Diggler in "Boogie Nights" to the cop who gave Matt Damon exactly what he deserved in "The Departed." Below, promising new Wahlberg films, including one in which his ex-con brother Brad Pitt teaches him how to become champ in the boxing ring. --GUY FLATLEY

THE FIGHTER: Brad Pitt, Mark Wahlberg (Directed by Darren Aronofsky; Written by Paul Attanasio, Lewis Colick, Eric Johnson and Paul Tamasy; Paramount) Here come Micky and Dickie. And we do mean Micky Ward and Dickie Eklund. As an avid sports fan, you undoubtedly know that hard-punching “Irish” Micky Ward from Lowell, Massachusetts, played here by Mark Wahlberg, was a wow in the ring during the 1990s, thanks largely to the wise coaching of his half-brother Dickie, a former boxer who lost a battle with drugs, did time in the pen, and became an exemplary inmate before his release. Brad Pitt signed up for the role of Dickie when it became clear to Matt Damon that he himself had signed up for so many flicks that he had to drop out of this one. It was probably ditto for Leo DiCaprio. To read about more new biopics, click here. Opening date to be announced

THE HAPPENING: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo, Spencer Breslin, Betty Buckley, Tony Devon, Jeremy Strong, Victoria Clark (Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan; Fox) There’s a new Philadelphia story on the way to your neighborhood cineplex. But don’t expect the kind of witty, urbane frolic that proved the perfect 1940 vehicle for director George Cukor and the deft starring trio of Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart. We’re in a whole new century now, one in which Philadelphia and the rest of the planet seem to be on the way out. In this eco-shocker from M. Night Shyamalan, the prankster who teased and rattled us so mercilessly in “The Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable,” “Signs,” “The Village” and “Lady in the Water,” takes us to a Philly where the vast majority of citizens are deliberately driving through plate glass windows, slashing their wrists, or hanging themselves from trees. Apparently, this mass madness has been caused by a form of air pollution unknown even to Al Gore. Mark Wahlberg can’t figure out how he’s going to keep his family alive--but he does know he must get the hell out of Philadelphia. Opens 6/13/08

THE LOVELY BONES: Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli, Saoirse Ronan (Directed by Peter Jackson; Written by Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh; DreamWorks) In a welcome change of pace, Peter Jackson is taking a vacation from the tricky, sometimes tedious special-effects world of the “Rings” trilogy and “King Kong.” His new film will be an audacious attempt to mix reality and fantasy. As readers of Alice Sebold's imaginative, deeply disturbing 2002 novel know, the heroine of “The Lovely Bones” (played here by newcomer Saoirse Ronan) is raped, murdered and dismembered by a neighbor at the age of 14. But that is not the end of the story; in her afterlife, the girl focuses intently on the torment of her grieving family, including her parents, played by Mark Wahlberg (who replaced Ryan Gosling the day before shooting began) and Rachel Weisz, and her grandmother, played by Susan Sarandon. And, on occasion, the murdered girl pays very close attention to the fiendish scheming of her unrepentant killer (Stanley Tucci). Jackson, whose finest achievement is “Heavenly Creatures”--the haunting 1994 film in which two emotionally entwined adolescents (Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey) commit an especially horrific murder--seems the perfect person to bring “The Lovely Bones” to flesh-and-blood life. To read about more new movies based on books, click here. Opening date to be announced

THE BRAZILIAN JOB: Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Seth Green, Mos Def (Directed by F. Gary Gray; Written by David Twohy; Paramount) Wahlberg, Theron, Statham, Green and Def--the slick, stylish quintet of thieves who thrilled us with their bravado in 2003’s “The Italian Job”--are set to thrill us again, this time by pulling a red-hot heist in Rio de Janeiro. All they need is a director who can whip up the smart combination of humor, action and sexiness that made crime pay the last time around. And presumably that’s what they’ve got, since this sequel is being masterminded by F. Gary Gray, the man in charge of the original caper. Actually, the “original” was a remake of 1969’s “Italian Job,” directed by Peter Collinson, Noel Coward, Raf Vallone, Rossano Brazzi and Margaret Blye. And that was good criminal fun, too. Opening date to be announced