Sony At CinemaCon: Will Ferrell Sings Celine Dion; ‘Holmes & Watson’, ‘White Boy Rick’ & More

By Anthony D'Alessandro, Amanda N'Duka

Sony Pictures

At last year’s CinemaCon, the highlight for Sony was the jaw-dropping footage from Blade Runner 2049 (Sony had foreign rights). This year, the studio had a lot more starpower to get exhibitors excited, from Holmes & Watson star Will Ferrell to an end session that included Tom Hardy and Michelle Williams from Venom and Quentin Tarantino and Leonardo DiCaprio and their next collaboration, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood due out Aug. 9, 2019.

The studio’s emphasis to its exhibition partners was “a diverse slate with cutting edge filmmakers,” said Sony worldwide marketing and distribution president Josh Greenstein, “that’s our passion getting people off the couch and into your movie theaters.”

Greenstein took a moment to emphasize to those exhibs in the room the importance to “draw on data in digital platforms to drive ticket sales,” said the exec, “it’s crucial for our mutual success.”

Ferrell got the vibe going as the first person to hit the stage, belting out the Celine Dion Titanic theme My Heart Will Go On and shouting to the crowd that they’re in “The House that Celine built!” after which he led them in a series of “Hail Caesar!” cheers.

Ferrell then confessed, “I had an hour to kill before and I probably shouldn’t be sharing this, but I was doing some gambling and I literally won $50K playing roulette. I know I’m a person of means, but I won $50K and I’m not giving any of it back.”

He then faked an introduction, “Ladies and gentleman — Mr. John C. Reilly! — could not be here tonight and thank God, because then I would have to share my winnings with him.”

The SNL alum threw it to a sizzle of his Sony Talladega Nights and Step Brothers work with Reilly which segued into their Holmes & Watson trailer. If Warners couldn’t pull off a Sherlock Holmes three-quel, it looks like Sony is going to pull off a hysterical Sherlock Holmes and Watson period parody. We see these crackpots go wild in jolly old England, cracking a case of killer bees and battling them in a room. It provided one of the standout moments in a Sony sizzle reel that included a clip from Hotel Transylvania 3, Miss Bala and Goosebumps: Haunted Halloween. 

Another great first look tonight: the trailer to the Sept. 21 Studio 8 release White Boy Rick, about the young drug hustler who doubled as a government informant. Gritty, raw, reminiscent of Martin Scorsese crossed with John Singleton. Matthew McConaughey and Studio 8 boss Jeff Robinov introduced the clip. McConaughey said they found Richie Merritt, the actor who plays the title character, in the principal’s office of a Baltimore school — and the principal vouched he’d be bad enough for the part. McConaughey’s Richard Wershe Sr. is a “schemer, not the best dad” whose son Rick Jr. “becomes the breadwinner” of the family. Lots of coke cutting, dollars bills building and a fierce Jennifer Jason Leigh keeping the team in place.

Other highlights: Antonie Fuqua’s Equalizer 2, Director X’s Superfly, Venom,  Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and the reboot of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl in the Dragon Tattoo franchise. The Crown’s Claire Foy stars in  The Girl in the Spider’s Web. Sony Motion Pictures group boss Tom Rothman said Foy’s portrayal of Lisbeth Salander “makes Wonder Woman look like a Powerpuff Girl”


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