Friday , April 12 2024

CinemaCon 2021: Universal Pictures, Focus Features

Universal opening with a little bragging from Jim Orr, President of Domestic Theatrical Distribution, who mentioned that F9 earned $900 million worldwide today, making it the highest grossing film during the pandemic, and it had the biggest domestic opening weekend since 2019.

As far as what’s upcoming, theater workers were appear on video introducing the films. Sing 2 takes place in a new city on a new stage as an old rocker needs to come out of retirement and the gorilla wants to become a dancer. Jamie Lee Curtis returns to battle Michael Myers in Halloween Ends. Not sure anyone believes that to be true, but the kills look spooky in the footage presented. Also spooky is Scott Derrickson’s Black Phone. Set for late January, this supernatural thriller sees ghosts help a young boy against his abductor, played by Ethan Hawke.

The 355 is a female version of Mission: Impossible as Jessica Chastain and Lupita Nyong’o lead a group of female agents from different countries who team up to stop a terrorist organization. Jennifer Lopez plays a big pop star who is embarrassed at a concert and ends up involved with regular guy Owen Wilson, attending with his young daughter, because he is holding a sign that say Marry Me. If the actors have good chemistry, this rom-com looks like it has potential.

Jake Gyllenhaal stars in Michael Bay’s Ambulance about a botched bank robbery. Am not a big fan of Bay, but the story and action look intriguing. The Bad Guys is an animated movie about villains trying to be good. Sam Rockwell voices their leader. Looked like it has potential. Ben Platt returns to the Tony-winning role he played on Broadway in the musical Dear Evan Hansen. I was not a fan of the musical as I found elements of the story poorly handled, but I appear to be in the minority, so we’ll see if they can strike lightning twice.

Focus Features presented a few titles. Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho finds the main character time traveling in her dreams as she sees a murder take place in the ’60s and tries to catch the killer in modern day. Set during the upheaval of 1960s Ireland, Kenneth Brangh’s Belfast is his most personal film. Shot in black and white, it comes out November 12. Robert Eggers’s The Northman is set among the Viking, it’s a savage tale of revenge. Downton Abbey 2 is set in a new era but most of the same characters are coming back.

Universal closed out the panel with Jurassic World: Dominion with old characters returning to assist the current cast as dinosaurs are unleashed upon the rest of the world with typical blockbuster mayhem.

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 Founder and Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at

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