CinemaCon has been over for about a week now, but I’m still ruminating over what I saw at the various studio presentations. I can’t really write much about the full movies I saw, except that I really liked Wild Rose and Long Shot, and at least the latter I know I’ll be writing more about here at the Beat.
But what about the overall presentations and how each of the studios fared? I never got around to writing up Paramount’s presentation, although it was very entertaining, beginning with a taped comedy piece between CEO and Chairman Jim Gianopulos and President of Distribution Kyle Davies that led to lots of fun between Arnold Schwarzenegger going off on a ramble and Jim Carrey doing some funny stuff to promote Sonic the Hedgehog.
I generally feel like there was a tie between Warner Bros. and Universal for “Best of the Fest,” at least in terms of the variety of movies they’re releasing this year. Paramount did get added points for mentioning a LOT of movies they have in various stages of development and production for 2020 and beyond. The list included everything from John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place 2 to a very well-received first tease of Coming 2 America, starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall. Tom Cruise’s sequel Top Gun: Maverick also was teased, even though there was no mention of either of the planned Mission: Impossible movies, following the success of Fallout last summer. (Also, not even a mention of the future of Transformers, although a third G.I. Joe movie was confirmed.)
Paramount even showed a funny scene between the stars of the recently-wrapped The Lovebirds, Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae. Warner Bros. did show sizzle reels for both Birds of Prey and Wonder Woman 1984, but Universal’s presentation only went up to this December.
Credit definitely needs to be given to Lionsgate, NEON, Amazon Studios and New Line for showing full movies: Long Shot, Wild Rose, Late Nightand Blinded by the Light, respectively. This is always a ballsy move, but of the movies I saw, these are lower-profile movies that could deliver big rewards.
Out of everything I saw, I’ve decided to pick ten of the movies/presentations/footage that I felt had the biggest impact, at least on me, if not the exhibitors in attendance:
Ford v Ferrari (20th Century Fox/Disney)
The Disney presentation focused on only three of Fox’s movies in production or post, and seeing what James Mangold (Logan) has planned for this historic racing film, starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale. I wasn’t aware of the story about how designer Caroll Shelby (Damon) pulled out all the stops to make the world’s fastest car, but the footage looks exciting and possibly better than Ron Howard’s Rush(of which I was already a huge fan). This not only was one of the biggest surprises of CinemaCon, but it might be the biggest surprise of the year.
Knives Out (Lionsgate)
Likewise, Rian Johnson’s first original film since 2012’s Looper looks like another fun twist on a genre, in this case the Agatha Christie “whodunit” with an amazing ensemble cast that includes Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Plummer, Toni Collette and many more. The humor seemed dark and snarky, and while I’m not 100% sure American audiences are ready for this sort of movie, I’m definitely on board, even if I’m not sure Thanksgiving is the best weekend to release it.
Good Boys (Universal)
Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen’s upcoming comedy from The Office writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, the latter making his directorial debut, looks like the type of R-rated mayhem we’ve come to expect from the creators of Superbad, Pineapple Express and so many more. In fact, this looks like a throwback to Superbadwith the already well-known Jacob Tremblay joined by Brady Noon and Keith L. Williams. The movie killed at SXSW and so did the presentation at CinemaCon.
The Gentlemen (STXfilms)
Probably the nicest surprise from the STX presentation was seeing British filmmaker Guy Ritchie returning to the realm of his earlier films Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. The Gentlemen looks like another terrific ensemble crime-comedy romp, the first since Ritchie’s little-seen Rocknrolla, and this should make a nice counterpoint to his venture into Disneyworld with the summer’s Aladdin remake. The cast includes Charlie Hunnam, Matthew McConaughey, Hugh Grant, Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey), Henry Golding and Colin Farrell, but sadly, we won’t be seeing this one until next year.
Godzilla, King of the Monsters (Warner Bros.)
I’m a sucker for Kaiju, and any worries that Michael (Trick ‘r Treat) Dougherty’s sequel to the 2014 Legendary Pictures reboot – which less face it, some liked more than others –won’t suffer some of the same issues. The key thing was that Warner Bros. showed a key segment of the movie that introduced the three-headed Ghidira aka Monster X (who looks amazing!) and gave us just enough of a tease for Rodan, Mothra and other Kaiju that this quickly became my most anticipated movie of the summer. Yes, even over Avengers: Endgame.
Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (Universal)
I’ve been fully on-board with this one since seeing the first trailer, but honestly, the ongoing feud between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham led to some of the best scenes in the last few Fast and Furious movies, so giving them their own movie was a no-brainer. The new footage shown at Universal’s panel makes it look like a movie that’s all about having fun and exciting action set pieces, which shouldn’t be too big a surprise for those who loved director David Leitch’s amazing work in Deadpool 2. If the movie is half as good as it looks, this is the one everyone is going to be talking about in August.
It: Chapter Two (New Line/Warner Bros.)
Maybe some feel that the huge box office for the 2017 Stephen King adaptation was an anomaly, but the footage shown at the culmination of the Warner Bros. panel proved that Andy Muschietti’s ability to channel King was no fluke. We saw an extended scene with Jessica Chastain as the older Beverly returning to her childhood home, and it was as freaky and creepy as fans of the first movie are expecting. Not sure if New Line will release the first trailer with next week’s The Curse of La Llarona or wait until the summer’s Annabelle Comes Home, but the horror Renaissance isn’t stopping anytime soon.
I’m a sucker for Danny Boyle and his diverse filmography, and like most, I love Richard Curtis’ Love, Actually, too, so the idea of these two great filmmakers collaborating on a high-concept musical comedy about a world where only one musician knows the music of the Beatles? I would be sold even before I saw an extended trailer from the movie and heard lead Himesh Patel sing “Yesterday” live. (I’m kind of bummed that I’m going to have to miss the Tribeca Film Festival World Premiere of this, since I’m sure it will be an amazing event.)
The studio went all out for this presentation, even having a full-on singing and dancing routine to the tune of Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing.” Director Dexter Fletcher and star Taron Egerton came out to talk about the project, but the footage shown made it seem like the movie might be more in line with what fans were expecting, compared to Bohemian Rhapsody (which Fletcher “ghost-directed” after Bryan Singer was fired). What’s cool about the movie is that there’s a great cast around Egerton that I didn’t even recognize, from Bryce Dallas Howard to Jamie Bell and Stephen Graham. The movie comes out in late May (against Godzilla, no less) and I think it will find many fans as summer counter-programming.
Terminator: Dark Fate (Paramount)
I never thought I’d be excited about another Terminator movie after the last two duds, but maybe Deadpool director Tim Miller was the right guy to bring James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cyborg back to the screen. A big part of why this movie might work while others didn’t is that they also brought back Linda Hamilton, and she looked great in the footage shown. Sadly, the movie won’t be out until November.
I’ll also give an honorable mention to Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog, because I honestly thought this was going to be horrible, like so many other live action-CG hybrids such as Scooby-Doo or Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Jim Carrey seems to be bringing his A-game to Doctor Robotnik, his first movie role in many years.
The biggest loss for CinemaCon was the lack of presentations by Sony and the newly-formed United Artists Releasing, both of whom have great wares this year that should have been on display.
That’s it for this year’s CinemaCon coverage. If you like what you’ve read, make sure to let us know in the comments below, so maybe The Beat will send me back to Las Vegas next year!
Edward Douglas has been writing about movies and other forms of entertainment for over 25 years, so he’s probably older than you.