Catching you up on some of our favorite things to come out of CinemaCon:
20th Century Fox, Amazon Studios and Lionsgate finished up the week for 2016:
20th Century Fox
If there’s one studio who knows how to put the “show” in show business, it’s 20th Century Fox! The studio woke everybody up on Thursday morning with a rousing rendition of Ice Age Baby, featuring Vanilla Ice and a company of backup dancers! Domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson took the stage resplendent in a sequin jumpsuit and frosted wig, which was torn off to reveal a business suit underneath as he got down to kick off the presentation, saying, “Now that’s what I call a cold open. Word to your mother!”
And there was plenty of action on Fox’s film slate as well. Ice Age: Collision Course is the latest film in the second-highest grossing animated franchise of all time (now that’s worth rapping about!), and this next bang looks like a big one! Kingsman fans will be excited for the sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, currently in production. The latest poster teases that a very important character assumed dead from the first film might not be so dead after all. CinemaCon audiences were the first to see the new X-Men: Apocalypse trailer, and it looked super cool. New Regency’s Assassin’s Creed, based on the video game, looks sure to please that crowd on December 21 with lush visuals and mad fighting. But the biggest super news was that the studio announced that the entire Deadpool creative team is currently hard at work on a sequel!
Turning to comedy, Zac Efron’s new R-rated Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates certainly won the day for hilarious inappropriateness as Zac, Anna Kendrick and Adam Devine hit the stage to show the new trailer and a spa massage scene that really has to be…um…seen to be believed. Why Him?, another adult comedy, stars James Franco as the internet billionaire nightmare who wants to marry Bryan Cranston’s daughter, and it looks good for a laugh as well, directed and co-written by Meet The Parents and Zoolander scribe John Hamburg.
It will be 20 years to the day when Independence Day: Resurgence returns to the big screen on June 24. As Jeff Goldblum’s David Levinson character points out, “They love to get the landmarks!” — much of the original cast is back plus a few newcomers (Liam Hemsworth, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Jessie Usher, Sela Ward, Vivica A. Fox and Brent Spiner) to save the world once again from an older and wiser alien invasion, reminding the extraterrestrials that Earth is not for the taking.
Next up was animation, with a clip from the new Trolls movie musical, featuring Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake that actually looked adorable. Fox Searchlight Pictures is also bringing the Sundance Film Festival hit The Birth of a Nation, a true story of a slave rebellion shot by Nate Parker in an incredible 27 days, to the big screen this year.
And if you thought the first trailer for Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children looked good, you won’t be disappointed — the new scenes shown at CinemaCon look even better!
Closing out the presentation was a surprise visit from James Cameron, who announced a whopping four upcoming sequels of his mega-hit, Avatar. Cameron said each of the four sequels will be able to stand alone, but will together create a saga. We’ll get to return with him to Pangea for Avatar 2 at Christmas 2018 and then again with new films in 2020, 2022 and 2023. As he told exhibitors, “Together, we’re going to continue to make this industry the greatest show on earth. That’s what we do.”
Amazon Studios, an NCM content partner, made its CinemaCon debut this year, with marketing chief Bob Berney promising theater owners that its movies are intended to be seen in theaters before they ever stream to smaller screens. While the exhibitor audience seemed skeptical at first, they soon warmed to the new idea of Amazon as a partner, not the competition, as the new studio repeatedly highlighted the high-profile marketing and publicity campaigns planned for each film to drive audiences to the multiplex.
Amazon’s 2016 slate was decidedly artsy and thoughtful, with “a wide range of prestigious and imaginative films from the world’s top filmmakers.”
Highlights included the Cannes Film Festival opener Cafe Society from Woody Allen with Jesse Eisenberg; the Australian production The Dressmaker starring Kate Winslet, Love & Friendship, Whit Stillman’s funny film take on Jane Austen featuring a sharp Kate Beckinsale on May 13; and two Jim Jarmusch films: Paterson, the story of a poetic New Jersey bus driver played by Adam Driver, and Gimme Danger, a documentary about the Stooges, Iggy Pop’s legendary band.
One film that looked particularly fun was Elvis & Nixon, based on what is the most requested photo in the National Archive. Starring Michael Shannon as the King and Kevin Spacey as Nixon, the film will be released on April 22 following its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. Elvis gets Nixon all shook up, eating his M&Ms, drinking his Dr. Pepper and requesting to become a secret agent in what looks like one heck of a meeting.
The Neon Demon director Nicolas Winding Refn appeared via Skype from Copenhagen to introduce a clip of Elle Fanning making the transition from young girl to supermodel. The star then arrived on stage for the world premiere of the trailer, and it was a virtual love fest.
Amazon acquired a number of big films from Sundance this year, including Manchester by the Sea, the Kenneth Lonergan-directed drama featuring Michelle Williams and Casey Affleck and produced by Matt Damon, Todd Solondz’s Wiener-Dog, documentaries Author: The JT Leroy Story and Gleason, about former New Orleans Saints player Steve Gleason, who has ALS. Complete Unknown, starring Michael Shannon and Rachel Weisz, is also being released via IFC later this summer.
Amazon also has two movies currently in production — American Express shooting in Mexico with Charlize Theron and Amanda Seyfried, and Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck, based on the children’s novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, with Julianne Moore.
“Theatrical runs position a movie as a real movie in customers’ eyes,” Amazon Studios head Roy Price said from the stage. “Our goals are aligned with exhibition.” If they add in the movie theater drone delivery of popcorn that they joked about, count us in!
Last up for the week was Lionsgate, which kicked off with Tyler Perry and his latest Boo! A Madea Halloween, which was apparently inspired by a joke in a Chris Rock film. “In Top Five, he jokes about a Madea Halloween movie selling out with a line down the block,” Perry said. “So I got a call from Lionsgate executives who thought it was a good idea.”
Perry then turned it over to Lionsgate’s motion picture co-chairs Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger, who continued the program with announcements of Power Rangers, a new retelling of Robin Hood by developed Leonardo DiCaprio, and Monopoly, based on the best-selling board game.
For voyeurs, Nerve asks movie audiences, “Are you a watcher, or a player?” as it takes them through an increasingly terrifying game of online truth of dare that has Emma Roberts and Dave Franco fighting for their lives.
Inspired by one of the worst man-made disasters in history, Deepwater Horizon looks compelling and horribly realistic. Star Gina Rodriguez was on hand to share stories of the filming on location in New Orleans, co-starring with alongside Dylan O’Brien and Mark Wahlberg. She calls hers a strong woman role. “I pray that the people on the oil rigs, that people watching this film walk away stronger from this film.”
Based on another true story, Patriot’s Day, based on the Boston Marathon bombings, currently being filmed by Peter Berg and again featuring Mark Wahlberg.
Lionsgate is also releasing a good old fashioned movie musical this year — La La Land. “It’s (director) Damien Chazelle’s love letter to L.A.,” said Emma Stone via video as she introduced the trailer, featuring her walking into a swanky nightclub, dressed in blue, to find Ryan Gosling at the piano.
And Keanu Reeves fans can look forward to John Wick: Chapter Two, also with Laurence Fishburne in a new action-packed adventure.
The Lionsgate presentation then wrapped up with a big finish — Las Vegas legend David Copperfield performing a few live illusions leading up to a screening of Now You See Me 2, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco and Lizzy Caplan as the Four Horsemen. The illusionists resurface for a comeback performance in hopes of exposing the unethical practices of a tech magnate. The man behind their vanishing act is none other than Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), a tech prodigy who threatens the Horsemen into pulling off their most impossible heist yet. At least that was the way it was supposed to be…unfortunately due to a security threat, the screening was cut short and the audience only got to see the first 20 minutes of the new film. But, it looked good!
CinemaCon Big Screen Achievement Awards
Thursday night finished up with the CinemaCon Big Screen Achievement Awards and The Coca-Cola Company After Party at the Pool of the Gods, and everyone went home excited about what 2016-17 have in store at the movies.