CinemaCon Days 3&4 Recap
If screenings of clips from Star Trek Into Darkness and Fast & Furious 6 weren’t cool enough, we still had two days worth of studio presentations (Disney, Sony, 20th Century Fox, and Lionsgate) at CinemaCon 2013. Generally the presentations went two ways: either the presenters would briefly mention a bunch of projects but not show anything from them and then show more extensive clips from a few select projects, OR they would show brief clips (or trailers) for many different projects.
The first presentation of day three, Disney’s, decided to go for the former strategy. While they mentioned many upcoming projects coming from Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars, they didn’t actually show any clips to go along with them. While Disney’s line-up for the next next few years sounds impressive (Star Wars, Finding Dory, Tomorrowland, Muppets 2, Malificient), it is hard to truly judge, since it is mostly on paper at this point.
What Disney did do was show about 15 minutes or so from The Lone Ranger. In support of the footage, they brought out Jerry Bruckheimer, Gore Verbinski, Armie Hammer, and Johnny Depp to do a quick intro. It’s hard to say that the footage did anything more to change the impression created by the trailer of the film being sort of like Pirates of the Caribbean in the West. The clips did show a bit of the relationship between Armie Hammer and Ruth Wilson. Say what you will about the Pirates movies, but they did have a strong female lead with Keira Knightly, and I hope that this film uses Ruth Wilson as more than just a damsel in distress. She is so good on Luther that she deserves better. Depp and Hammer didn’t feel quite as schtick-ish as the trailer makes them out to be, but this does still feel like it will be a standard CGI-driven action film.
The more remarkable thing that Disney did was screening an unfinished version of Monsters University, presented by director Don Scanlon and producer Kori Rae. While I’m not allowed to review it, I can say it was pretty close to finished, with only music/audio tweaks to go. There has been concern about Pixar starting to do prequels and sequels, and I can say that if this is the direction they are headed with that, then people have nothing to be concerned about.
The Sony Pictures presentation definitely had a good sense of humor and probably some of the best balance in terms of showcasing short peeks at some movies and more extended peeks at others. The presentation started out with a bang by bringing out Adam Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade, and Salma Hayek in support of Grown Ups 2. Whatever you think about the first movie, they were incredibly funny in person. As far as the movie, they just showed a trailer, but it looked pretty much identical to the original…so it will probably make a ton of money.
The Sony presentation was also marked with a lot of highs and lows. I’m still not particularly interested in After Earth or Smurfs 2, but they did have a lot of other strong-looking performers. There has already been one White House action movie this year (Olympus Has Fallen), so it seems like less than ideal timing to release another one, but White House Down actually looks quite fun. Sony showed an extended look at it, and it had a sort of Under Siege feel. While the footage clearly wasn’t done, it gave a pretty good feel for what to expect—maybe not one of the highlights of the summer, but certainly a solid performer. It isn’t really clear why Jamie Foxx took his role as the President, but Channing Tatum continues to look like a true action star.
A few films had just tidbits shown, but they looked great. American Hustle (David O. Russell’s next) and The Monuments Men (George Clooney’s next) both had 20-30 seconds shown, but the casts are star-studded and the art direction looks great. Additionally, the stories sound intriguing, so it is hard to imagine either of these missing, and both should be solid contenders during the run-up to the awards season. There was also a slightly extended look at the new Carrie. I have been somewhat skeptical thus far—though I don’t think the original Carrie is above being remade, I wasn’t persuaded on the new version, other than being a big fan of Chloë Moretz. Getting a chance to see more footage really made me feel more comfortable with the direction Kimberly Peirce has taken the project. Additionally, her track record shows a good history of character-driven projects, and the action looks good here, so perhaps it will surprise people with how good it is.
The real star of the Sony showcase, though, was This Is The End. This is the faux-reality comedy about the end of the world, starring the Judd Apatow crew (James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, etc.) as themselves during the apocalypse. From the previews so far it had looked like it would be funny, but after seeing an extended look I think it looks to be one of the best comedies of the year. Since 2007, Apatow has produced a lot of funny films, but nothing as noteworthy as Superbad or Knocked Up. This has the chance to put him back on the top of the heap. Additionally, there were a couple of films that had trailers shown that looked so-so (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones), but it feels like it’s too early to level judgment on those until we see more.