04/04/2017 5 days in Las Vegas with 10 Hollywood film studios – the highlights from CinemaCon 2017
With over 20 hours worth of A-list talent appearances and exclusive film footage from 10 studios, it’s been a long and joyful week at CinemaCon 2017. I wrote some short summaries of day one and day two, now here’s a final round up from this year’s bar-raising, film studio event.
Universal Pictures kicked off day 3, offering an in-depth look at their slate with on stage interviews and discussion panels including talent from THE MUMMY (sadly no Tom Cruise), DESPICABLE ME 3, ATOMIC BLONDE, GIRLS TRIP and a surprise full screening of THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS, introduced by Vin Diesel, Kurt Russell, Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson and Charlize Theron.
Illumination Entertainment, now a $5Bn brand, debuted some brilliant new footage from DM3, introduced by Chris Meledandri and Steve Carell – voice of Gru and long lost twin brother Dru – with an extended clip of the Minions wreaking havoc in a hilarious new prison sequence. GIRLS TRIP led by Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett-Smith looks like a lot of fun, but releasing hot on the heels of Sony’s all-female ensemble ROUGH NIGHT may be a challenge. THE MUMMY looks terrifying – a true homage to the celluloid origins of this story – and should help to propel the eponymous villain played by Sofia Boutella (also co-starring with Charlize Theron in ATOMIC BLONDE) to Hollywood stardom. Personally I’ve loved her since her razor sharp, villainous turn in the first KINGSMAN movie.
Focus Features offered both a retrospective of their outstanding 15 years and previews of their forthcoming releases. Judi Dench introduced VICTORIA & ABDUL, complete with some useful blackjack tips for the audience. Focus also presented footage from THE BOOK OF HENRY, DARKEST HOUR (surely an early Oscar contender for Gary Oldman), an extended clip and trailer premiere of THE BEGUILED – led by the charming Colin Farrell and – for me – one of the absolute highlights of CinemaCon, a 10 minute fight sequence clip from ATOMIC BLONDE. The energy and brutality in this clip is mesmerizing. Charlize Theron gives everything and I cannot wait to see this movie!
Final presentation of day 3 came from Warner Brothers. Trailers for ANNABELLE CREATION and the re-imagining of Stephen King’s IT are breaking records and scaring the shIT out of audiences everywhere, but the shock reaction in the room was priceless. This was a special moment, proving that the shared theatrical experience remains unbeatable.
Warners premiered three extended scenes from WONDER WOMAN focussing on the relationship between Gal Gadot’s character and Steve Trevor played by Chris Pine (who is my favourite Hollywood Chris, btw). Other highlights included second preview of the week for BLADE RUNNER 2049 (Warners have the Domestic distribution rights, Sony has all other territories) this time presented by Jared Leto and Denis Villeneuve; THE HOUSE, a new comedy with Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler; GEOSTORM (it’s about time we had a new environmental disaster movie, right?) and DUNKIRK, presented on stage by the incredible Christopher Nolan. This film was shot entirely on IMAX cameras which brings the visceral reality of World War 2 to the screen in a way I haven’t experienced before. DUNKIRK will be dissected and debated but will undoubtedly be a global cinematic event when it releases on July 21st.
Lionsgate presented some rousing footage from Tupac Shakur bio-pic, ALL EYEZ ON ME with Demetrius Shipp Jr. portraying the rapper and social activist. Dylan O Brien from the MAZE RUNNER franchise and Michael Keaton team up for contemporary terrorism thriller AMERICAN ASSASSIN. One of the highlights from this presentation was WONDER, starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay (the amazing young star of ROOM), which will bring an incredible, touching and very human story to cinemas when it releases later this year. Lionsgate made good use of the stylish Salma Hayek, who appeared on stage twice to present footage from HOW TO BE A LATIN LOVER and introduce the closing screening, THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD.
Amazon Studios did a great job securing their position as both keen-eyed film festival acquirer and highly original film producer. The success of MANCHESTER BY THE SEA didn’t go unmentioned but this was just one of fifteen films that Amazon released in 2016. Some forthcoming highlights for this year include THE WALL, THE LOST CITY OF Z, BRAD’S STATUS and LAST FLAG FLYING starring Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne and Steve Carrell. Amazon showcased a number of Originals in production including Gus Van Sant’s DON’T WORRY HE WONT GET FAR ON FOOT, Terry Gilliam’s DON QUIXOTE, Todd Haynes’ WONDERSTRUCK and THE BIG SICK which is definitely “the best movie you will see about a Pakistani stand up comedian and a girl in a coma”, without a shadow of a doubt (quote credit to screenwriter, actor and funnyman Kumail Nanjiani, from SILICON VALLEY and HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS).
20th CENTURY FOX delivered an exceptional and diverse slate presentation on Day 4, with an unsurpassed level of showmanship.
Opening the show with a slickly choreographed, broadway-worthy dance routine featuring top hats, neon lights and acrobatics, set the tone for a spectacular, high energy 90 minute presentation.
Amy Schumer and Hollywood royalty Goldie Hawn joyfully ad-libbed while presenting new footage from forthcoming SNATCHED and raised a lot of laughs in the Coliseum. Drama THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba and thriller RED SPARROW with Jennifer Lawrence – as an injured prima ballerina turned Russian spy – both look incredible and beautifully shot.
Fox then debuted a 15 minute clip from WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES, introducing a lovable new character ‘Bad Ape’, followed by the global premiere the new trailer. It’s easy to forget the technological brilliance of WETA but the motion capture in this third installment of the rebooted franchise enriches the storytelling because it’s so damn real.
Ridley Scott presented a terrifying new clip from ALIEN COVENANT – although based on the reaction in the room, I think Warner’s IT from day 3 won the scare trophy.
Bringing some quintessential Britishness to Las Vegas, Fox played brand new material from star studded MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS and KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE with more action, more violence, more Colin Firth (back from the dead), more ingenious weapons (a razor sharp lasso – genius), more State-side talent joining the cast and a lot more Eggsy. Cannot wait for this.
In keeping with the theme of the day, the finale was reserved for Hugh Jackman and a spectacular glimpse into THE GREATEST SHOWMAN. The passion and energy behind this project is palpable and – in my humble opinion – just wonderful to see the original musical genre so alive and so vital in Hollywood again.
There’s truly no business like show business and 5 days in the desert just reminded me what a privilege it is to work in the greatest industry in the world. Until next year, farewell Las Vegas and thank you to Mitch Neuhauser and the Cinemacon team. See you in 2018.
Chief Strategy Officer