Catching you up on some of our favorite things to come out of CinemaCon this week:
Tuesday was a full agenda, starting off with the State of the Industry address, followed by studio presentations from newcomer STX Entertainment and Sony Pictures.
The State of the Industry: Past, Present and Future
MPAA Chairman and Senator Chris Dodd was happy to say that, “The state of our industry is not only strong, but it has never been stronger.” And the numbers don’t lie — worldwide box office revenue clocked in at a record $38.3 billion in 2015, up more than 6 percent over 2014. Cinema still remains the premiere way to experience movies, and Q1 2016 U.S. box office is up 12.7% over last year. And according to President-CEO of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) John Fithian, the next generation is following in the same footsteps of moviegoers before them. “Teenagers remain the strongest segment of moviegoers. Last year per capita ticket sales for Americans aged 12 to 17 was 7.3, with the highest growth rate of any age demographic,” said Fithian. “The small screens of television may hold less appeal for teenagers, but the big screens of cinema, and the personal screens of hand-held devices, can co-exist quite well.”
Fithian also highlighted diversity as a key to Hollywood success, pointing out that, “The more that movie casting reflects the world, the more the world goes to the movies.” He also hit on the hot topic of exclusive theatrical windows, reaffirming that they, “make new movies into events, and success there establishes brand value and bolsters revenue in downstream markets.”
It’s not every day that we get to introduce a new entertainment company, but first timers STX hit the CinemaCon scene and made a big impression. Founded on the idea that audiences don’t just want blockbusters, they also want to see their favorite stars in top-notch mid-budget films, Chairperson Adam Fogelson started off with a guest appearance from Sylvester Stallone (who is working on an untitled project with STX) and highlighted the 10 movies and stars STX will be bringing to the big screen in 2016.
First up was a compelling look at The Free State of Jones, a true Civil War story starring Matthew McConaughey as Newton Knight, an American farmer and soldier who was a legendary example of dissent in the Confederacy. Apparently McConaughey went “super method” for the role, riding and shooting with the best of them. Screenwriter Gary Ross joked that he even had his shotgun at lunch, “and it was loaded!”
The Space Between Us is a unique twist on space exploration, as an unexpected astronaut pregnancy leads to a boy born on Mars and raised in that unique atmosphere. His return to Earth at sixteen years later is fraught with danger from our much-stronger gravity, but he’s determined to find the girl he’s been chatting with online and discover what it really means to be human.
If you were wondering where all the good “Boogeyman” movies have gone, wonder no more…The Bye Bye Man is coming, and, “It’s not a matter of what makes people do horrible things, but who.”
Reigniting the great John Hughes-esque teen movie genre is The Edge of Seventeen, written in a new voice for a new generation and starring Hailee Steinfeld as a teenage girl trying to find her place life alongside her “perfect” brother and popularity-driven best friend. And, the animated movie Uglydolls, based on the popular toy line, could be a family crowd pleaser as well.
STX also has two high-anxiety action films on their slate — Desierto, a modern-day thriller about an immigrant trying to cross the border to join his young son in America who must survive a harsh environment and an anti-immigrant vigilante, and The Foreigner (working title) starring a much darker but no less compelling Jackie Chan, playing a former assassin searching for justice after a bombing kills his daughter.
But leaving the CinemaCon audience smiling was the R-rated comedy Bad Moms, starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn, Annie Mumolo, Jada Pinkett Smith and Christina Applegate in the mother of all playdates. The hilarious women took the stage and shared a few bad parenting stories of their own, and we’re betting that every mom in town is going to need a girl’s night out to see this movie.
The Big Picture started off with a montage reminding audiences what over 90 years of Warner Bros. films looks like (everything from The Wizard of Oz and Casablanca to Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings), all leading up to a diverse 2016-17 slate including DC Comics, LEGO, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, comedies, horror and more.
Host Mario Lopez got the ball rolling with the many new films and characters coming off the pages of DC Comics, beginning with the hit Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the confirmation of a solo Batman movie in the works and continuing with Suicide Squad, the coming-of-age story of Wonder Woman, The Justice League, Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg. To the delight of the audience, the entire Suicide Squad cast arrived on stage to give an extended glimpse of new footage from the movie, featuring their team of “bad people doing a good thing,” opening August 5.
As for the comedy slate, Nice Guys, is a detective comedy set in 1977 as the mob tries to spread its operation to Los Angeles. Russell Crow was there to ignore the prepared script on the teleprompter and have a good time at co-star Ryan Gosling’s expense, noting that Ryan made him crack up on set more times while filming this movie then during his entire career. Kevin Hart was also on the scene to hype Central Intelligence, his new film with “The Rock” with the tag line, “Saving the world takes a little Hart and a big Johnson.” Yup. War Dogs, based on the true story of how two young guys got a $300 million Pentagon contract, stars Miles Teller and Jonah Hill and opens August 19.
On the drama side, fans of the novel by Jojo Moyes can also look forward to the romantic but tear-inducing film Me Before You starring Emilia Clarke and Hunger Games actor Sam Claflin.
A few truly terrifying horror movies are also on the horizon including The Conjuring 2, and Lights Out (it turns out we were right to be afraid of the dark!), about which Lopez rightly quipped he’ll “be going to see that one with the lights on!”
There are a few fun films from Warner Animation Group coming up, including Storks, Small Foot (a yeti who believes humans are real), a Scooby Doo reboot, LEGO movie spinoff Ninjago and of course The LEGO Batman Movie, featuring Will Arnett as the voice of Batman. This next movie in the hit LEGO franchise explores the question of whether or not Batman can be happy, or as Arnett put it, “Sure, his parents were murdered in front of him, but why is he so bummed out?”
But the big hit of the presentation was glorious footage from the highly-anticipated J.K Rowling film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The cast introduced the new clips, and Eddie Redmayne said he was happy to be at CinemaCon because he had, “always wanted an excuse to come to Los Angeles.” But it didn’t matter that the star clearly had no idea where he was in this world — the vivid, lively beautiful, rich world of the film (set in 1926 New York) is sure to thrill Muggles and Wizards alike!
Sony Pictures Entertainment
The Hollywood giant gave CinemaCon audiences an early peek of some of the cool things cooking in the Sony kitchen, striking a programming balance between familiarity and freshness.
Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk tells the story of individual and collective bravery and camaraderie in a 19-year-old soldier’s story, due out in November. Keep this one on your radar as Variety is already speculating some major Oscar buzz.
Then Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt took the stage to introduce Passengers, a space journey that is both intimate and epic as the pair are the only two of over 5,000 star ship passengers that wake up from stasis 90 years too soon. Always wonderful in person, J-Law and Pratt’s chemistry was obvious, and adorable. The film hits theaters this December.
Up next were three prestige pictures from Tristar, including Trainspotting 2 featuring the original cast, crime-based action film Baby Driver starring Ansel Elgort, Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, Lily James and Jamie Foxx, and Jodie Foster’s Money Monster, out next month and starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts as a financial show host and producer who get taken hostage by a disgruntled fan.
Sony Pictures Animation has some exciting new titles coming up, including Smurfs: The Lost Village (a fully-animated sequel), a Hotel Transylvania 3 in 2018, the currently Untitled Nativity Movie (featuring the Christmas story from the donkey’s point of view), and an animated Spider-Man from LEGO movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, and The Emoji Movie, a journey inside your smartphone from the secret Emoji Valley to the World of Wallpaper. With over 6 billion emojis sent every day, one can only wonder how they have time for such epic adventures?
Screen Gems is bringing some genre-specific films to movie theaters this year, including Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, the seductive horror tale Keep Watching, the surrogate-gone-wrong thriller When the Bough Breaks, the vampire flick Underworld: Blood Wars, and Don’t Breathe, when the robbery of a blind man goes horribly wrong.
Columbia Pictures is finally bringing the world of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower to life in what is planned to be the first film in a new franchise. And the ladies of the new Ghostbusters were on hand to answer the call and show scenes from the new reboot (which had a fun cameo from a “ghost of busters past”). Also coming from Columbia is the shark-filled thriller The Shallows (not just another day at the beach), the new Da Vinci Code sequel Inferno from Ron Howard and Tom Hanks, the animated Sausage Party (a movie just so wrong in the right ways) and of course, The Angry Birds Movie, starring Red and his anger issues that help save the day, and the eggs, from the pigs on May 20.
The audience also got a look at the new Magnificent Seven from director Antoine Fuqua and starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Lee Byung-hun and Matt Bomer, a western tale of redemption and the pursuit of justice.
Sony truly intends to leave no audience unserved and finished up by bringing the new Spider-Man, Tom Holland out from Captain America movie premiere in LA to talk about his role as the young Peter Parker with footage from Spider-Man: Homecoming, the latest from the Marvel cinematic universe due out on July 7, 2017.
On deck for tomorrow, CinemaCon recaps from Disney and Universal.