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CinemaCon 2018: Universal Pictures, Focus Features

Held at Caesar’s Palace, CinemaCon is the official convention of The National Association of Theatre Owners.  The movie studios conduct presentations to get their exhibition partners excited about the products they will soon have to offer them.

UNIVERSAL PICTURES

Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish, the stars of Night School, kicked things off handing out some champagne. He needs his GED, and she’s his tough teacher. It looks funny and has a good cast

Illumination is taking a swing at The Grinch, presenting an origin story voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch as the green grumpy one tries (again?) to ruin Xmas. It’s out November 9. Hart and Hadsish can be heard in The Secret Life of Pets 2, which is set for summer 2019. The cast will also include Patton Oswalt and Harrison Ford, but am guessing no Louie CK, who was not mentioned. The company is also working on Sing 2

Director Damien Chazelle and stars Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy, who play Neil and Janet Armstrong, presented the trailer. As a Space Race fan, I am sold even before they ran it. Director Eli Roth and actors Cate Blanchett and Jack Black are hand for House with a Clock in its Walls, an interesting child adventure that has an Amblin ’80s feel.

Producer Jason Blum started with The First Purge, an origin story about an isolated experiment going off and the military secretly sent in. It will be released July 4. October sees the return of Michael Myers and Laurie Stode in Halloween. Director of the original film John Carpenter is a consultant. There’s a true-crime documentary aspect that frames the story from the first footage shown. Laurie hopes to find Michael and kill him, and no doubt the feeling is mutual.

We saw an early work-in-progress clip from Mortal Engines. Looks like it could be a mammoth new franchise if it works. We’ll see in December. M. Night Shyamalan and the cast of Glass (Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, James McAvoy, and Sarah Paulsen) are on hand for this third part of the trilogy, which is set for January. The main trio are locked up for believing they are superheroes/villains and the bad guys team up.

Dreamworks has How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World coming in which they find a white female dragon that might be Toothless’s girlfriend. The makers of Skyscraper wanted to create an experience that audiences around the world would remember the rest of their lives. The trailer looks like it will be a grand adventure but did they give away too much?

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom cast mates Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard but not the director who was just here at CinemaCon accepting an award? The film is set four years after the previous film and a volcano threatens dinosaurs. We got a look at the opening and a trailer. Mama Mia: Here We Go Again closed out the presentation, which seemed anticlimatic with Amanda Seyfried introducing the trailer but then it all makes sense when Cher makes a grand entrance and sings ABBA’s “Fernando”.

FOCUS FEATURES

Jason Reitman, Diablo Cody, and Charlize Theron reunite for Tully about a mother exhausted by motherhood. Pope Francis is a conversation with the Pope by Wim Wenders, out May 18. Johnny English Strikes Again showed a scene Johnny doing silly dances as an assassin tries to take him out. There is also a trailer for Won’t You Be My Neighbor, which will likely melt hearts.

Out August 10, Black Klansman is based on the true story of an undercover operation into the KKK in Colorado Springs. Producer Jason Blum and star John David Washington, son of Denzel, who at 7 appeared in Malcolm X. It looks like absurd comedy as Washington on the phone and Adam Driver in person pose as man interested in joining the KKK. Boy Erased is based on Garrard Conley’s memoir about his experience with conversion therapy. It stars Lucas Hedges and is directed Joel Edgerton.

On the Basis of Sex stars Felicity Jones as Ruth Bader Ginsberg who in her first court case took on the Department of Justice regarding gender discrimination. The film was written by Ginsberg’s nephew and she approved it. Directed by Mimi Leder, the film is out November 9. Inspired by John Guy’s biography, Mary, Queen of Scots explores the relationship between two fierce females, the Queens of Scotland and England. Saoirse Ronan been set to play the titular character since she was 18.

About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS

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