CinemaCon Days 1&2 Recap
Two days into CinemaCon—the convention formerly known as ShoWest—the studio presentations have been full of action and surprises. CinemaCon is the yearly convention for the National Association of Theater Owners, but it has also become a platform for the major studios to showcase their upcoming lineups. I’m going to give a taste of the sights and sounds, but try to keep as much of the mystery box intact as possible.
The convention got off to a spectacular start with the star-studded presentation from Paramount, which featured 18 minutes of footage from Star Trek Into Darkness and a mashup of footage from World War Z, as well as a screening of Pain & Gain.
It is hard to say anything about Star Trek that hasn’t already been said. The footage looked beautiful (though JJ will still probably be tagged for the lens flares), the use of 3D was decent but more subtle, and Benedict Cumberbatch was as delightful as you would imagine him to be. In support of the film, Paramount sent out Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Alice Eve, John Cho, and Damon Lindelof, who were all as charming and funny as you would hope. It looks bigger and more intense than the original, and looks like it takes advantage of not having to retread the origin story again. The scenes already shown look to dwarf the original in terms of scale.
On the flipside, World War Z was a bit more of a surprise. I’ve had modest expectations up until now, and I’m not much of a zombie fan. The buzz coming out of the production was of trouble in the last third…but after seeing the footage, I was blown away. The violence looks intense, the scale looks immense, and it looks to be quite fun. The story wasn’t particularly heavily showcased, so that is yet to be determined. This presentation was highlighted by a quick one-minute intro by Brad Pitt in person, and the film looks to be heavily carried by him.
I won’t say much about Pain & Gain, since it comes out in a couple of weeks, but it is remarkable that while having only a 25 million dollar budget, it retains the look and feel of Michael Bay’s past work. And the fact that it’s based on a true story is just flabbergasting and terrifying.
Day two brought the Universal and Warner Bros presentations, and both of them were stockpiled with potential gems. Universal decided to focus their time on five films and show more extensive footage, while Warner Bros ran through their whole slate and showed shorter clips.
Universal’s first film was RIPD, an afterlife buddy cop comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges. The best way to describe it is as a mashup of Men in Black and True Grit on steroids. It looks action-packed, and the Bridges/Reynolds combo has some interesting chemistry. It appears to have a good amount of comedy in it, with some solid supporting cast work done by Mary-Louise Parker. Universal followed that up by showing 2 Guns, which is essentially Lethal Weapon, but this time starring Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington. Of these two buddy cop movies, I enjoyed the look and feel of 2 Guns more, but they both look like solid contenders that should perform well.
Next up was a slightly extended look at Kick Ass 2. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the original, but it did grow on me over time, and I think the sequel looks fun. Jim Carrey is a little quirky, but Chloë Moretz looks awesome again, and that is all that’s needed to sell me…more Hitgirl is a no-brainer.
Finally, Universal wrapped up with extensive looks at two of their major blockbusters coming this summer: Despicable Me 2 and Fast and Furious 6. Despicable Me was one of the most pleasant surprises in the world of animation the last few years, and it looks like this time Steve Carell’s Gru gets some real character development, as he becomes a hero and learns to be a father. It looks to be incredibly sweet, and I can’t wait to see it in its entirety. They even showcased the Frankenstein-esque purple Minion…who appears to perhaps be a villain. This probably sets up nicely for the Minion spinoff coming in 2014.
The big showcase of the event, though, was for Fast & Furious 6. This was made abundantly clear, as they flew out almost the entire cast (minus Ludacris and Dwayne Johnson). They showed a huge chunk of action footage that was awesome, and the life of this franchise continues to amaze. If you were a fan of Fast Five, this footage is sure to please, along with the announcement that the next chapter will come out next year on 7/11/2014.