The major studios flocked to Las Vegas last week to show off the most promising projects within their upcoming slates at the annual convention known as CinemaCon. Some presentations offered up a generous helping of trailers, clips, and breaking news, while others strategically chose to keep details under wraps, teasing audiences with often ambiguous tidbits in the hopes that a shroud of mystery will translate into a smattering of buzz. One thing is for certain: the rest of 2016 is (unsurprisingly) packed with sequels, reboots and re-imaginings, with a handful of high-profile prestige pictures setting us up for awards season. We’ve put together a few of the highlights from each studio’s presentation.
Universal was eager to push the fifth installment of the Bourne franchise, JASON BOURNE, which sees the return of Matt Damon in the titular role. Second to Bourne, however, was a preview of the highly-anticipated adaptation of the best-selling novel, THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN. The studio also gave spoonful previews of their animated fare, THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS and SING. They also mentioned sequels to DESPICABLE ME, MINIONS, as well as another version of Dr. Seuss’s HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS.
The young STX Entertainment made its first appearance with an impressive showing of the upcoming Gary Ross-directed Civil War drama FREE STATE OF JONES starring Matthew McConaughey. It’s clear the emerging studio is pushing this as one as a potential awards season contender. This didn’t take away from their other films on the slate which includes the teen dramedy, THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN with Hailie Steinfeld as well as a yet-to-be-titled Sylvester Stallone project.
Spider-man took the spotlight of the Sony presentation in that they announced the official name of the co-production with Marvel Studios: SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING. On the drama side, the studio gave a preview of the sci-fi romance, PASSENGERS starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt as well as Ang Lee‘s BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK.
Warner Bros. continued to ride the wave of its stronghold over the Harry Potter franchise, touting the upcoming spinoff (and surefire hit), FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM. The studio, which limped into Las Vegas after the critical onslaught its blockbuster Batman V. Superman has taken in recent weeks, seized on the element of the film that critics and fans have (more or less) agreed on: Ben Affleck works. In what was arguably the biggest piece of news to come out of CinemaCon this year, Warner Bros. confirmed that Affleck will direct and star in a standalone Batman movie.
Another new studio on the CinemaCon scene, Amazon Studios showcased footage of their slate which included Nicolas Winding Refn’s horror THE NEON DEMON, Sundance favorite MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, and Woody Allen’s latest, CAFE SOCIETY.
Disney was generous with their time at CinemaCon. Instead of presenting a bits and pieces of footage and trailers for their upcoming titles, the studio screened 27 minutes of Pixar‘s Finding Nemo sequel, FINDING DORY – as well as CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR in its entirety.
Paramount didn’t show any footage from STAR TREK BEYOND, but the studio did put the spotlight on TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS. Paramount was really have on presentations with their award season bait which included Denzel Washington’s FENCES, ALLIED starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, and THE STORY OF YOUR LIFE with Amy Adams.
Despite the unfortunate bomb threat that disrupted the screening of NOW YOU SEE ME 2, Lionsgate seemed to have their focus set on award season with a preview of Whiplash writer–director Damien Chazelle’s musical LA LA LAND starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Also on their presentation list was Ewan MacGregor‘s directorial debut, AMERICAN PASTORAL, which is getting some very early awards buzz.
Fox‘s presentation was busting at the seams with comic book movies, animated features and a hearty helping of comedy. The studio shared an extended trailers for the upcoming X-MEN: APOCALYPSE, the loud and explosive INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE as well as the first look at Michael Fassbender in ASSASSIN’S CREED. They served up a look at their buzzworthy award film in the form of Sundance Film Festival winner THE BIRTH OF A NATION. On the animated side of things, they showcased a trailer for ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE, the fifth installment of the wildly successful franchise as well as a clip of TROLLS, the movie adaptation of the popular toy starring Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake. For their comedy fare, Fox presented a trailer and a very NSFW clip from the Wedding Crashers-esque MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES also starring Kendrick, Zac Efron, Adam Devine and Aubrey Plaza. We also got the first look at the comedy WHY HIM? with James Franco and Bryan Cranston, a Meet the Parents-type comedy that, based on the trailer, make Franco and Cranston look like a formidable comedic duo. But the Fox takeaway that made the most headlines was James Cameron confirming not one, not two, not three, but FOUR Avatar sequels. Expect to see a lot of Na’vi blue through 2023.
Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer