LAS VEGAS - 20th Century Fox brought some showmanship to CinemaCon today as the company's presentation to the nation's theater owners kicked off with a musical performance by Ester Dean and B.o.B of the song "Rio Rio" from "Rio 2." And hey, who doesn't want to see Vegas showgirls doing the samba at 10 AM in the morning? That's a major wake up call.
LAS VEGAS - Sony Pictures took center stage Wednesday afternoon at the 2014 CinemaCon as the Culver City based studio previewed the rest of its 2014 slate. Unlike earlier studio presentations, Sony discussed each released briefly before playing one long feature with previews of all their new films. There were two pictures that stood out above all the rest: Chris Miller and Phil Lord's "22 Jump Street" and David Ayers' World War II thriller "Fury."
"22 Jump Street" is, of course, the sequel to the hit comedy "21 Jump Street" and Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are back as mismatched undercover partners Schmidt and Jenko respectively. The film's early trailers have teased that Lord and Miller (who are coming off "The Lego Movie") haven't lost a step, but the footage Sony played today? No joke, "22" has a chance to be better than the original. You probably already know that Schmidt and Jenko are now heading to college, but the subsequent "Spring Break" aspect of the investigation has barely been touched upon. The jokes appear more self aware than in "21" and Tatum has taken his comedic abilities to another planet. Along with Universal's "Neighbors," movie fans should be excited the they have two guaranteed great comedies coming to theaters over the next few months.
The other picture that made waves was "Fury." An original story by Ayers set during the last days of World War II, the movie finds Brad Pitt playing Wardaddy, the commander of a five-man tank crew who have already been to hell and back again. Make no mistake, Pitt is not playing another version of Lt. Aldo Raine from "Inglorious Basterds." The scenes shown depict Wardaddy as a feared, but loved commander whose entire life is in his tank. Logan Lerman plays Norman, a newbie to the Army who is immediately out of place among a group of veterans portrayed by Pitt, Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal and, yes, Shia Labeouf. In fact, all the actors look at peak form (even Labeouf), but Pitt? From what was shown, this looks very, very special. Ayers has also crafted a grittier and more realistic European Theater than depicted in "Saving Private Ryan" or HBO's "Band of Brothers." Up and coming cinematographer Roman Vasyanov has been impressive previously collaborating with Ayers on "End of Watch" and his look was the best part of "The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman," but "Fury" is going to become into his calling card. It's simply gorgeous work. The trailer should hit theaters sometime this summer and expect "Fury" to quickly land on any many awards season contender lists.
Before getting to the rest of the reel, it should be noted that Sony ended the presentation with three different sequences that constituted 30 minutes of Marc Webb's "Amazing Spider-Man 2." So much of the movie has been seen already (or feels like it's been seen) that it's hard to comment about new footage. Did the action look good? Sure. Do Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone still have great chemistry? You bet. Does Jamie Foxx pull off the Electro transformation? It sure looks like it. At this point, however, it's time to just see how it all fits in the final movie. In a little over five weeks "ASM2" will be in theaters and everyone can judge for themselves.
Here's a quick rundown of the rest of the titles Sony previewed.
Director: Antonine Fuqua
Release Date: Sept. 26
Lowdown: Denzel Washington is a man on a mission in Fuqua's thriller which seems to have little in common with the 1980's TV series of the same name. In the one scene shown, Washington's character takes down four (?) Russian thugs in 19 seconds. It's filmed very similarly to the sequences in "Sherlock Holmes" where Holmes predicts each move he's going to make in a fight before its even begun. It was also very, very violent, but showed potential.
Director: Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen
Release Date: Oct. 10
Lowdown: James Franco is David Skylark, the host of a popular interview show known as "Skylark Tonight" and Rogen plays his top producer. Much to their surprise, they find out that North Korean dictator for life Kim Jung-Un is a huge fan of Skylark's and wants to be interviewed by him. Then the CIA (Lizzy Caplan) comes calling asking them to "take him out" (a very funny bit). The best part of the preview though was an early "Skylark Tonight" interview scene where Rob Lowe (playing himself) admits to the world he's been bald for decades (I will spoil no more). The Franco and Rogen in Korea scenes were more stylish and intentionally bizarre than laugh out loud funny. Goldberg and Rogen have a great look to the picture (something they previously showed in "This Is The End"), but it feels like a very dark comedy (and we're hoping in the best way possible).
LAS VEGAS - Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn presented the upcoming slate of new movies for Walt Disney Pictures, Marvel Studios, Pixar, DreamWorks Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios to the nation's theater owners on Wednesday morning and what was purposely not discussed was just as interesting as what was previewed.
LAS VEGAS - Press attending the hour long Q&A with Christopher Nolan at CinemaCon this afternoon had been warned that the usually secretive filmmaker was not expected to speak substantially about his highly anticipated new epic "Interstellar" and there would be no new footage from the film shown during the event. Moreover, I'd heard from a good source that moderator and Hollywood Reporter film critic Todd McCarthy was well aware it would be tough to get Nolan to say anything about Nolan's followup to "The Dark Knight Returns." Well, kudos to McCarthy for not taking "no" for an answer.
LAS VEGAS - No one really expected Walt Disney Studios to break significant news regarding "Star Wars: Episode VII" during the company's presentation at CinemaCon this morning, and studio chairman Alan Horn didn't disappoint.
LAS VEGAS - Every year the major studios present their upcoming slate to the nation's theater owners at CinemaCon (formerly ShoWest). It's commonplace for a studio head to bring out a few famous faces to drive home the point that they should get behind a particular movie or two. Tuesday morning, Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Pictures, had only one movie star waiting in the wings and it was a big one: Angelina Jolie.
LAS VEGAS - 2013 was the biggest year at the box office for Universal Pictures. They had surprise hits like "The Purge," the studio's highest grossing individual movie ever with "Despicable Me 2," and "Fast and Furious 6" opened to a staggering $97.3 million. The year also ended on a sad note, however, with the unexpected passing of "Fast and Furious" star Paul Walker during a production break from the seventh installment of the franchise.
LAS VEGAS - Universal Pictures ended its presentation to the world's theater owners at the 2014 CinemaCon convention Tuesday morning with an expected "surprise": the first footage from "50 Shades of Grey."
Fans of Veronica Roth's "Divergent" finally got to see their favorite novel come to life on the big screen this weekend as the Neil Burger movie opened to a massive $54.6 million at the box office. That's the second biggest opening of the year after "The Lego Movie" and the film's "A" Cinemascore grade proves that Summit Entertainment has a potent new franchise on their hands. Of course, while the HitFix crew enjoyed "Divergent" more than a majority of nation's critics, the movie has its pros and cons.
HOLLYWOOD - It may have been a PaleyFest for ABC's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," but there was a ton of Captain America swag being worn in the Dolby Theater Sunday afternoon. That was actually quite appropriate considering how much the events in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," opening April 4, affect "MAoS." The television show has done its best to tie into the larger Marvel cinematic universe with one episode focusing on the repercussion of "Thor: The Dark World" in November, a very impressive guest appearance by Lady Sif (Jamie Alexander) earlier this month and a cameo by none other than Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) in October. Things will become even more interesting after what transpires in Marvel's latest big screen effort.