Formerly known as ShoWest until it was renamed in 2011, CinemaCon is the trade show held by The National Association of Theatre Owners at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Over four days, the movie studios make presentations about the latest and (hopefully) greatest films they are about to release to their partners, the theater exhibitors.
Before the big sales pitch by Paramount, a sweet 91-year-old women, who has been a ticket seller for 47 years at a theater in Colorado, was brought out on stage and honored for her service. Then, the studio presented a few of their upcoming features. The latest remake of Ben Hur, starring Jack Huston, has an intense chariot scene, but I am not sure anyone is looking for sword-and-sandal films anymore.
There are sequels coming to action and horror franchises with Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Rings, and Vin Diesel returning to the xXx franchise. More prestigious films they hope do well during award season include Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins, Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard in Robert Zemeckis’ Allied, and Fences starring and directed by Denzel Washington. Story of Your Life is a cool-looking science fiction film, and there was a tease of Baywatch, their big blockbuster coming out in 2017.
The company intends to fill the gap between major studio releases and indies. Long-term plans include Gypsy with Barbra Streisand, an unnamed Sylvester Stallone project, a film involving the Ugly Dolls.
Gary Ross’ Free State of Jones is the first movie they greenlit. Starring Matthew McConaughey, it tells an what should be a compelling, true story about people who had enough of the Civil War and tried to secede from the South, which is ironic. The Space Between Us stars Asa Butterfield as a young boy born in space who returns to Earth but his body has trouble sustaining in the atmosphere. As frequently happens with young boys, things get complicated when he meet a young girl.
James L. Brooks produced The Edge of Seventeen, a touching coming-of-age comedy starring Hallie Steinfeld and written/directed by Kelly Fremon Craig. Desierto is a timely thriller set at the U.S.’ southern border with Jeffrey Dean Morgan trying to stop illegal aliens from entering the country. Martin Campbell directs Jackie Chan in The Foreigner. Chan’s daughter is killed and he seeks revenge against Pierce Brosnan, who may know who in the IRA is responsible.
From the writer of The Hangover comes Bad Moms, what looks to be a raunchy comedy starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Jessica Hahn as ladies rebelling against the prim and proper PTA ladies led by Christina Applegate and Jada Pinkett Smith.
Warner Bros. Pictures
Without getting specific, the studio intends to compete with Marvel Studios by releasing 10 more DC Comics films over the next five years. The audience was then shown an extended trailer for Suicide Squad, which should please those already excited about the film, but likely won’t bring in anyone indifferent.
Russell Crowe wasn’t interested in what was on the monitors and went off script (thankfully) in his introduction to Shane Black’s The Nice Guys, his upcoming buddy comedy co-starring Ryan Gosling. Based on a book, Me Before You is a love story between a handicapped guy and his nurse.
Conjuring 2 sees the return of the paranormal investigators and authors Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga). The horror movie Lights Out, which has a creature(s) reminiscent of the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who, has an overly loud trailer, so it makes one wonder if the film is scary or just going to startle the audience.
Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson team up in the action comedy Central Intelligence. Edgar Rice Burroughs’ King of the Jungle returns to the screen in Legend of Tarzan starring Alexander Skarsgard. In presenting his movie War Dogs, Todd Phillips made a point of extolling the virtues of movies over TV, which was such a common refrain by participants it grew laughable as the week progressed because it came off scripted and phony.
On the animation front, the studio has Storks where the birds work at a sorting facility similar to Amazon. There’s going to be Lego Movie 2 sequel and a Lego Batman spin-off. S.C.O.O.B. features the well-known Hanna-Barbera characters all returning to animated form in their latest mystery-solving incarnation.
The Harry Potter franchise also expands with Magical Beasts and Where to Find Them. Based on J.K. Rowlings’ first screenplay, the story is set in 1920s New York and stars Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander .
Sony Pictures Entertainment
Two of big titles coming from the studio are Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, shot in 120 HFR, and Passengers, a big science fiction where the two main characters, played by Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, wake up early on a 120-year journey. A dig was taken at Netflix, continuing the trend of puffing up the theatrical experience over watching TV at home in front of the owners, though I wish the audience had been polled to see how many use the streaming service. Also upcoming are Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver and Jodie Foster’s Money Monster starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts.
Animation films coming next year include the Smurfs’ Lost Village and The Emoji Movie. That’s right; after audiences have been taken into the world of toys, video games, and Legos, they will now enter the world of emojis. The success of those past films indicate one needs an open mind, but it’s hard not to be skeptical. Also on the horizon are an untitled Nativity Scene story told from the animals’ point of view, and in 2018, How to Train Your Dragon 3 and an animated Spider-Man movie. The Affirm Films label will continue releasing religious titles and Screen Gems will continue with horror, such as the “final” Resident Evil, another Underworld title, and Don’t Breathe.
Columbia brought out director Paul Feig and the Ghostbusters women. With Feig’s past successes and the comedic talent of Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones, I honestly have no idea why there’s a backlash online. Well, aside from the insecurities and lack of self worth by a bunch of immature “men”.
Also on the slate are The Shallows with Blake Lively versus a shark, the Angry Birds movie, Seth Rogen’s adult cartoon Sausage Party, Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven remake, and a return of Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon in Inferno. Farther on the horizon are the adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, the space-set adventure Life co-starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds, and Spider-Man: Homecoming.