A refreshed Sony put on a spectacular opening night show at CinemaCon as it took a well-deserved round of victory Spider-Man: No Way Home and teased the upcoming slate with impressive images of bullet train and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse†
Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Tom Rothman was in rare form as he reviewed the studio’s lineup, including announcing that next installments are in the pipeline. Ghostbusters and venom franchises (no details have been disclosed). Sony first made a lot of noise by showing more than 10 minutes bullet train, followed soon after by the announcement that Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, best known as global superstar Bad Bunny, will be playing the Marvel antihero comic character El Muerto. He will be the first Latino actor to direct a Marvel live-action film. “This is the perfect role for me. It will be epic for me,” Bad Bunny said as he took the stage alongside Sony’s Sanford Panitch. (Bad Bunny’s first feature film is bullet train.) Panitch announced the Death film will hit theaters on January 12, 2024.
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While most of the studio’s presentation focused on releasing exclusive footage, a confident Rothman took a quick walk through memory to last year’s event. “I stood here in August and said that the heart and soul of our company remains theatrical. What happened? he asked more than 3,000 seated guests at the Colosseum, doubling down on how the naysayers projected the death of the exhibition business (“Don’t you know you’re dead? Can you read? You’re done!”) made $3.3 billion at the worldwide box office at the time.”
To enthusiastic applause, Rothman then welcomed writers/producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller to show off their work in progress from Sony Pictures Animation, including storyboards, of the first 15 minutes of Spider-Man: About the Spider-Verse, the highly anticipated first chapter in a two-part sequel to 2018 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Versewho pushed the boundaries of animation and won an Oscar for best animation for his efforts.
Shameik Moore again voices Miles Morales, a teenage Spider-Man who is transported to another universe, where he comes into contact with Miguel O’Hara, aka Spider-Man 2099, voiced by Oscar Isaac. Miles Morales will also re-team with Gwen Stacy/Spider-Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) and a new roster of Spider characters, including Spider-Woman/Jessica Drew, voiced by Issa Rae.
The clip starts in Gwen Stacy’s dimension, with Gwen and her police chief father, when he gets a call. Gwen follows and meets Vulture. O’Hara’s Spider-Man and Spider-woman/Jessica Drew are introduced from another dimension. At the scene, Gwen’s father arrives and tries to arrest her for the murder of Peter Parker, and she removes the mask and reveals her identity. Next, we move on to the world of Miles Morales, who introduces Miles at a parent-teacher meeting at his school.
Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson direct the sequel from a screenplay by Lord, Miller and David Callaham. The film was slated to release on October 7, 2022, but the studio announced last week that the theatrical release had been delayed to June 2, 2023. Spider-Man: Behind the Spider-Verse is the name of the second of the sequels, which is scheduled for release on March 29, 2024.
Rothman concluded the segment of the presentation: “To the Opposition, ‘Watch Out.”
He wasn’t alone in promoting Sony’s dedication to the theater. “I spoke about Sony’s commitment to protecting exclusive cinema windows. When I was last here, I said it would thrive and it did and we did it together,” said John Greenstein, president of Sony Motion Pictures.
Greenstein welcomed the “visionary director” driving bullet train, David Leitch. When he took the stage, he said he and production partner Kelly McCormick were on their way with lofty goals to create something “incredibly original,” something that would get people back to the cinema. “I believe we did.”
Leitch’s film, out July 29, is described as a fun, frenzied action thriller starring Brad Pitt leading an ensemble cast of eclectic, diverse hitmen – all with connected but conflicting objectives – set against the backdrop of a non-stop drive through modern-day day Japan. It’s a Pitt “like you’ve never seen him before,” Leitch praised. And the footage backed up that claim with Pitt walking the streets of Tokyo talking to Sandra Bullock’s character on the phone as she explained his mission: to retrieve a briefcase with a train sticker on it.
Meanwhile, Aaron Taylor Johnson and Brian Tyree wait for Henry on the train with Logan Lerman after rescuing him from a kidnapping. After the latter wakes up, the two killers offer a bloody summary of the 17 people they had to kill to free him. That energetic sequence started with cheers and laughter, as did the entire 10-minute footage ending with Bad Bunny’s explosive fight scene with Pitt.
Sony’s presentation also shed light on the expected The woman king from the TriStar Pictures label. Division topper Nicole Brown took the stage to recall the short story of when Viola Davis came to her office to present the story of “all-female badass warriors.” Brown said she couldn’t believe it was true. “They were real Amazons,” she explained. “A real world Black Panther† She credited the Oscar, Emmy and
Tony Award-winning talent with a producer who defended the film “like a general”. Brown then welcomed Wife king director Gina Prince-Bythewood on stage. The filmmaker, who said it was “incredibly cool” to attend her first CinemaCon, touted her star as someone every director wants to work with. Marrying the material to a much sought-after star allowed Prince-Bythewood to “touch greatness.”
“She is everything we all believe she is,” Prince-Bythewood said of Davis. “She kicks ass in the movie.”
To honor her contributions, Prince-Bythewood revealed she would present Davis an inaugural Trailblazer Award, noting that the trophy will now be presented each year at CinemaCon. The bar was set high when Davis was welcomed onstage with a standing ovation.
“The five words I don’t want to take to my grave are that I wasn’t brave enough. I didn’t risk jumping through a sheet of glass to risk discomfort, failure, exposure,” Davis said to begin her acceptance speech. She then credited the late legend Cicely Tyson with inspiring her career choice when she first saw her at the age of 9. “The transformative, radical power it gave me to believe in something bigger than even my world. It touched and landed in me. I landed and got into a generation of artists and that’s what I wanted to do with my work. As an actor, I wanted to play characters that had never been seen before in a body that resembled mine.”
Davis said when? The woman king crossed her path, she believed it was “divine intervention.” She called the film her “magnum opus,” the same for her director. “I felt this was the absolute channel to introduce a whole new area of storytelling to the world.” She then introduced an exclusive clip-reel of never-before-seen footage featuring fierce action sequences.
Set for release on September 16, the film revolves around the untold story inspired by true events that took place in the kingdom of Dahomey, one of Africa’s most powerful states in the 18th and 19th centuries. Based on a story by Maria Bello with a screenplay by Dana Stevens and Prince-Bythewood, The woman king cast Davis opposite Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim, Hero Fiennes-Tiffin and John Boyega.
Reese Witherspoon appeared on the big screen via a video message to introduce Where the crayfish sing† Based on the bestseller, the film, out on July 15, tells the story of Kya, an abandoned girl who grew herself into adulthood in the perilous swamps of North Carolina. “It’s a beautiful film,” praised Witherspoon. “Everyone has worked so hard to bring this to life. … Beautiful scenery and wonderful acting, beautifully told.”
Sony closed the presentation with footage from George Tillman’s upcoming George Foreman biopic. The real Foreman made a special appearance via video and Rothman offered him the last words of the evening. “It took me a long time to be ready to tell my story on the big screen. But I felt comfortable in Tilman’s hands,’ Foreman. “When you get knocked down, you get back up, both in life and in the ring. Have fun in Vegas – not too much fun – and God bless you all.”
Hollywood studios and movie theater operators are gathering in Las Vegas this week for CinemaCon, the annual convention hosted by the National Association of Theater Owners. This year is especially crucial for exhibitors as they try to get out of the ravages of the COVID-19 crisis and compete with streamers.
CinemaCon was canceled altogether in 2020, while last year’s event was a stripped-down version held in late August, as opposed to the traditional late-spring slot.
This year, all five major Hollywood studios plus Lionsgate and Neon are celebrating their upcoming slates during their time on stage at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace.
CinemaCon 2022 runs April 25-28.
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