Day 3 in Vegas – Universal, Focus Features, Paramount… and Cher

Day 3 in Vegas – Universal, Focus Features, Paramount… and Cher

Day 3 at Cinemacon

If I had to sum up today’s highlights in a few words….. Bumblebee, Boy Erased, Jamie Lee Curtis and Cher. Day 3 at Cinemacon will certainly be one to remember.

Universal Pictures began the day with a strong presentation, featuring a rich and eclectic slate of comedy, animation, fantasy, horror, adult drama, thrillers, epic future tent-poles and legendary performer, Cher.

Exclusive clips and footage from big event movies such as summer tent-pole JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM, new Peter Jackson epic MORTAL ENGINES and SKYSCRAPER (‘Die Hard’ meets ‘The Towering Inferno’) with Dwayne Johnson defying all laws of gravity to save his beloved family from the top floor of an unfathomably tall burning building, heavily emphasized that Universal is making films to be seen at the cinema.

Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy and Damian Chazelle presented an exclusive early look at FIRST MAN, the story of Neil Armstrong and his journey to the moon. Another grand scale movie, for the big screen. James McEvoy, Samuel L Jackson and Bruce Willis are joining the worlds of SPLIT and UNBREAKABLE in M. Night Shyamalan’s new psychological thriller GLASS, with Jackson taking on the title role.

Moving into the growth genre of horror, Jason Blum declared that “being scared is one of the greatest reasons to go to the movie theatre”. Universal’s horror slate – including THE FIRST PURGE and HALLOWEEN with the original cast reassembled 40 years later and led by Jamie Lee Curtis in the role of Laurie Strode – will create two stand out reasons to sit in the dark with a group of strangers and be absolutely terrified!

Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish brought the laughs with new footage from NIGHT SCHOOL and Eli Roth, Jack Black and Cate Blanchett brought a rich and classy new IP in the form of fantasy-adventure THE HOUSE WITH THE CLOCK IN ITS WALLS.

But before drawing to a close, Universal had a surprise in store. After presenting some extended footage from forthcoming MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN which is clearly sticking to a winning formula, the lights dimmed, a small stage complete with steps was quickly assembled and Amanda Seyfried introduced Cher to the stage, to sing Abba’s ‘Fernando’. This is not something I was expecting to see on the stage of the Colosseum at 11AM on a Tuesday morning. Cher was incredible, lived up to her legendary status and truly brought the house down. There was definitely something in the air that night…



Next up, lunch with Focus Features. Their presentation began with a retrospective of 2017, celebrating 14 Academy nominations, half a billion dollars in box office revenue and a reaffirmation of their commitment to deliver films that inspire and entertain. Their 2018 slate certainly delivers.

Focus shared new footage from from forthcoming releases WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?, the heart warming story of Mr Rogers who used his children television show to spread messages of kindness, compassion and tolerance, becoming a cross generational role model and JOHNNY ENGLISH STRIKES AGAIN, the return of Rowan Atkinson as the super spy with questionable dance moves. BLACKKKLANSMAN will become a genre defining movie. Helmed by Spike Lee and starring John David Washington, the film tackles racism and the KKK head-on, but somehow infuses comedy into an otherwise dark setting. Next up, BOY ERASED. Based on the best-selling true story of Garrard Conley whose parents sent him to a gay conversation therapy centre, BOY ERASED is written and directed by Joel Egerton and stars Lucas Hedges in the leading role, with his parents played by Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe. The first look footage was striking, tender and teased some complex performances as Lucas’s character and his strict, religious family struggle to deal with his emerging sexuality.

Focus has a leading reputation for strong stories about women and shared some powerful footage from ON THE BASIS OF SEX, starring Felicity Jones and directed by Mimi Leder and MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS. The historical drama stars Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie and is directed by Josie Rourke in her film making debut following a highly successful stint as the Creative Director of the Donmar Warehouse Theatre in London. These vibrant, talent led films are certain to draw huge industry prose and plenty more awards nominations for Focus Features next year.



The third and final studio presentation of the day was from Paramount Pictures and they certainly know how to put on a show. Proceedings began with a comedic clip of Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos apparently missing his flight to Vegas and hitching a ride with a hen / bachelorette party. Jim most definitely has a future in the movies. His comic timing is spot on.

Paramount kicked off with Transformers spin-off BUMBLEBEE, set in the 1980’s and telling the origin story of everyones favorite car/robot. The film is directed by LAIKA’s Travis Knight and stars Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena and Jorge Lendeborg Jr (recently in LOVE, SIMON). From the exclusive footage shared tonight, the film will be very character driven, with lots of emotion, spectacle and huge explosions. The opening scene was played in full and felt like a perfectly played homage to ‘Back To The Future’. It also featured ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ by The Smiths playing in the background, which had me completely sold from the opening bars.

Paramount’s slate featured a heavy dose of comedy, with INSTANT FAMILY starring Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne, WHAT MEN WANT with ‘Empire’ star Taraji P. Henson, ACTION POINT with Johnny Knoxville hurting himself in a theme park with some very painful rides and the absolutely hilarious and unstoppable Tiffany Haddish promoting new Tyler Perry vehicle, THE LIST. Reflecting on all the talent that has graced the Cinemacon stage over the past few days, Tiffany is one of the funniest and most memorable of the week.

Riding on the huge success of A QUIET PLACE, Paramount is continuing to invest in the horror genre, confirming – but not sharing any footage from – PET SEMATARY and ELI. Other announcements for movies going into production included new TERMINATOR, new STAR TREK, new SPONGEBOB, SONIC THE HEDGEHOG MOVIE and …. drum roll … new TOP GUN which was met with grand applause in the Colosseum.

JJ Abrams presented new footage from Bad Robot’s first R-Rated movie, OVERLORD a violent and visceral story set during World War II. But the final act went to Tom Cruise, on stage to promote MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT. When it comes to promoting his movies, Tom is the master.

During their presentation Paramount highlighted it’s new label structure with ‘Paramount Players’ now established to encourage more genre-led film-making and support emerging writers. This was a confident and assertive slate presentation, very much putting Paramount and its new leadership in control of a strong future with a varied and high quality film slate.

One more day to go. Tomorrow it’s the turn of Fox, Amazon Studios and Lionsgate.


Originally published on LinkedIn