CinemaCon Days 3&4 Recap
The final presentation of CinemaCon was Lionsgate, which made a big point of calling itself the “seventh studio.” Given its past track record and upcoming line-up, it is really hard to argue with that assessment. Lionsgate pulled out all the stops, making it the most star-studded event—arguably as much so as all of the previous presentations combined. The event was hosted by Kevin Hart, who made a point of repeatedly noting that his latest concert movie Let Me Explain comes out July 3rd. As a host and comedian Kevin Hart is hilarious, but his last movie Laugh at My Pain was underwhelming, and the footage they showed from the new one wasn’t particularly remarkable…but I would love to be proven wrong.
Some of the biggest surprises were Lionsgate’s smaller films, including Now You See Me and You’re Next. Now You See Me is a magician thriller starring Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson. In support of the movie, Lionsgate brought out Isla Fisher and Morgan Freeman; unfortunately, all they showcased was a trailer, but magic feels like the perfect premise for a thriller. That is what makes films like The Usual Suspects so good—using the concept of illusions so effectively. There hasn’t been much buzz about the movie so far, but it looks excellent. Additionally, one of the less buzzed-about projects was the sequel to RED, which was one of the most pleasant surprises of 2010. The sequel reunites the cast from the original (as well as adding Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones), and looks to continue the fun action-comedy vibe. While it might be one of the less anticipated comic book films, it could be one of the more solid ones.
A surefire film of contention will be Escape Plan, starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger as wrongly imprisoned convicts attempting to get out of an inescapable prison and escape a sadistic warden. They showed a trailer in support of it, and while I felt like it looked relatively fun, it probably is geared towards fans of The Expendables, so if you were a fan of that then you probably want to put this on your radar. Most likely the film is going to be bashed by criticism, but I don’t know what people really expect from a movie like this.
One of the things that impressed me the most was Lionsgate’s balance between large films and small films. In terms of smaller projects, You’re Next is a horror film from Adam Wingard that has been working to get released for a few years now. It was a hit at this year’s SXSW, so the buzz has been excellent. The trailer looks extremely creepy, and it supposedly has some great twists. Another low-budget project with huge potential is Much Ado About Nothing, Joss Whedon’s follow-up to The Avengers. While they are completely different projects, the goodwill from The Avengers has drawn Whedon huge acclaim, and his appearance in support of the movie drew among the biggest applause of the convention. Shot in only twelve days, this modern adaptation of the Shakespeare classic keeps the original dialogue and features many of the Whedon regulars (Alex Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker, etc). It looks like it probably will catch the interest of a lot of non-Shakespeare fans, and the scene Lionsgate showed was quite funny.
In terms of blockbusters coming out in 2013, Lionsgate has potentially two of the biggest ones. First up is the sequel to The Hunger Games, for which they only showed the trailer that has been already released online. They did bring out Elizabeth Banks, Liam Hemsworth, and director Francis Lawrence. The first film was one of the top three most successful films from last year, so with the increased anticipation building, this one looks to raise it to the next level.
With the end of Twilight, Lionsgate has a big hole to fill, and they appear to be doing it with Ender’s Game, based on the hugely successful book series and starring Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, and Harrison Ford (who all were there in support of it). A futuristic sci-action movie, they showcased the first trailer, which will be attached to Star Trek Into Darkness. It feels like a no-brainer to be a hit, but I’m not completely sold on the project (and I will admit I haven’t read the book series). The action looked decent and I like a lot of the actors, but I didn’t really see a “hook” in the trailer, other than that it looked fun. At this point, my interest continues to lean towards The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
That wrapped up all the studio presentations. The only thing remaining during CinemaCon was the Big Screen Achievement Awards, NATO’s annual awards presentation. The list of winners is easily available and thankfully the awards ceremony was a fairly brisk and star-studded event, a fun way to put a wrap on CinemaCon. I already can’t wait to see what is on the docket for the 2014 show.