There was no James Cameron this year at 20th Century Fox’s CinemaCon presentation, nor was there an update on those Avatar sequels. However, the studio more than made up for that lack of goods with truly riveting reels of this year’s product,. Let’s just say the overall theme for Fox’s session here in Las Vegas and for how their year will end is on a note of music.
Last year, domestic distribution boss Chris Aronson arrived onstage dressed like Vanilla Ice, as a nod to the ’90s rapper who kicked off the 20th Century Fox session with a performance of “Ice, Ice, Baby.” Fox’s presentation this morning began with a crowd-pleasing dance team in the dark, lit with various colored lights moving in unison, break-dancing and kick-dancing to a remix of “There’s No Business Like Show Business” in a visual delight.
One of the dancers turned out to be Aronson, who took off his lighted jacket and hat and took to the podium. “I hope everyone is awake now,” he joked, receiving the biggest cheers here at CinemaCon, more than any other studio executive who has taken the stage.
Fox’s event ended with an appearance by Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman, who thanked exhibition for keeping Logan in theaters. Jackman then threw it to a clip from the period musical he stars and produces The Greatest Showman about P.T. Barnum, which was followed by a chorus of singers taking the stage to perform one of the pic’s tunes “Come Alive.”
Before the clip flashed on the screen, Jackman told the roomful of exhibitors, “I need to address the elephant in the room. Just because I was a producer on the film, didn’t mean I had the role in the bag. I had to audition and I was up against Chris Aronson for the role.” Jackman said that director Michael Gracey is still filming the pic which opens on Christmas Day.
In regards to the trailer, let’s just say that La La Land looks to be upstaged in regards to original musical revivals. Jackman’s Barnum is let go from his dull accounting job and starts the circus with his wife Charity, played by Michelle Williams. He meets a small guy who looks to be Tiny Tim. “I’m putting together a show and I need star,” Barnum tells the man. “Everyone is special and no one is like anyone else,” says Jackman’s Barnum in the voice-over. Zac Efron’s trapeze artist asks Barnum “What’s show business?” Barnum responds, “I just made it up.” Trailer’s end musical number “Alive” carried over into the brief live performance by the chorus at Caesars Colosseum.
On the top of Fox’s sesh, Aronson touted the studio’s 2016 success that included Deadpool and, most recently, Logan (which he said will gross in excess of $600 million worldwide) and the inspirational film Hidden Figures.
He also talked about The Boss Baby which releases this weekend from its partnership from DreamWorks Animation; its last picture from that relationship will be Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. Attendees were then shown a clip from the latter film (Ed Helms, Kevin Hart) which hits theaters June 2.
Chairman and CEO of 20th Century Fox Stacey Snider took the stage and asked the crowd to keep the applause going for Aronson. Unlike Warner Bros’ worldwide marketing and distribution chief Sue Kroll yesterday who was very thorough on how exhibs need to embrace new opportunities and windows, Snider glossed over the subject and said the studio’s M.O. is putting filmmakers first.
Here’s some takeaways from Fox’s product reel:
Snatched: Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn surprised the audience with their attendance to introduce Snatched. “You used to be a dancer here,” Schumer said, and continued, “Even if you have triggering Mom issues, you’ll still enjoy it,” said Schumer of the film. “Goldie Hawn is up here! She is such an inspiration to me … I love the way you live. I hope I can be you, well, double of you. Do I look like a fat girl going to temple?”
Hawn said, “I saw your face and you said I really want you to do this movie … and I said I would love to work with you. I hadn’t worked for 14 years … so after coming back, you were my girl and you were my baby.”
“OK, enough of us gushing about each other. My character is about a girl who is very beautiful and very thin, but not you’re not worried about her thin …” Schumer said to laughs. They then bantered before introducing the clip. The movie opens May 12.
Elizabeth Gabler, president of Fox 2000 Pictures, took the podium over to introduce her banner’s slate of films. She focused on two: The first was Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul with Tom Everett-Scott and Alicia Silverstone portraying the parents. Gabler mentioned that the old fans are “now in college,” and so a reboot was necessary. The film comes out May 19. The next film she introduced was the drama The Mountain Between Us, which stars Idris Elba and Kate Winslet. The story about two strangers who survive a plane crash and must survive together will be released October 20. It was a truly gripping clip, showing off a bloodied Winslet taking refuge in the carcass of an aircraft, and another moment where she is drowning. Oscar fodder.
Vice chairman and president of production Emma Watts arrived at the podium and also thanked exhibition for “keeping Logan in theaters as long as you have.” The film has logged a whopping $204.7M at the domestic box office through yesterday. Watts introduced five films from Fox, starting with:
War For The Planet Of The Apes. This was a very different clip than what Fox showed off in December to the press: It’s Caesar and his gang atop a radio tower. They then drop on their horses and chase after a young girl in a snowy forest nestled in a ski resort. It screams Western. The apes come across a smaller ape who is surprised to see them. He’s with the girl that they’re chased down in the woods. Smaller ape tells them that “humans kill ape” and that he is a ‘bad ape.” The smaller ape tells the gang about a “human zoo,” a military encampment. Caesar thinks Woody Harrelson’s Colonel, who has been pursuing, might be there. Pic opens July 14. The clip segued to a trailer: “Are you coming to save your apes?” Harrelson asks Caesar. “I came for you,” says the ape.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Was the same shoot-’em up and car chases that we have seen in previous films in the successful feature franchise, with special effects that blow up an entire castle. Same witty dialogue and humor infused into the picture. They end up in Kentucky at a fine alcohol distillery run by Channing Tatum. The high-octane trailer was met by hoots and applause by those in attendance. On September 29 the noise begins.
Red Sparrow. Jennifer Lawrence’s spy film is as sexy as all hell. Read our breakout coverage here of what we saw. It will be awhile before the trailer hits, but the studio seems on target for a release this year despite the fact they’re still in production.
The Murder On The Orient Express. For those Gen-Xers who thought Kenneth Branagh raised the bar with 1991’s black-and-white homage noir Dead Again, Murder‘s trailer makes that movie look like child’s play. The clip introduced by its director-star-producer Branagh via video showed his (very) impressive cast and their roles and how they’re all suspects on this ritzy turn-of-the-century train: Judi Dench, Michelle Pfieffer, Johnny Depp, Daisy Ridley, Penelope Cruz, Josh Gad, Leslie Odom and Willem Dafoe. Also warmly received. November 22 this steely, white and grey toned colored movie comes out.
Alien: Covenant. Ridley Scott had a pre-recorded message for exhibs: “I’m sorry I couldn’t join you at CinemaCon this year…I hope this film scares the sh*t outta you.” From the new trailer, which shows Michael Fassbender’s android looking over a black lotus-man-eating swarm descending upon a Byzantine city with a large piazza and coliseum, it’s obvious that Scott has extended this franchise to be far more than a large-jaw alien running after astronauts. Don’t worry, there’s a lot of that too in the trailer with Katherine Waterston and her crew screaming through industrial spaceship hallways with blood, but there’s a mythology here. The button? Fassebender’s albino humanoid beaming that he actually created the alien. Pic opens May 19.