EXCLUSIVE: Sony will be taking a break from this year’s CinemaCon, which isn’t unusual as other major studios, such as Universal and Disney, have skipped the exhibitor confab in the past.
Sony will certainly be missed this year at CinemaCon, which runs April 1-4 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas: With Men in Black International, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Zombieland 2, Charlie’s Angels, the Mister Rogers movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Greta Gerwig’s Little Women and the Jumanji sequel, the Culver City lot has a really cool slate.
But that’s partly why they’re skipping, and it’s strategic decision. Given how prolific their slate is, we hear the studio would prefer to drop footage, and create buzz about their event titles at various intervals throughout the year, rather in one big swoop. Even though trailers aren’t typically dropped to the press by the majors at CinemaCon, the trades as well as national and fanboy press are there to write every adjective up in their description of a movie. Sony works closely with their exhibition partners, but this year they’ll direct their efforts toward other campaign strategies to lead more directly to ticket sales.
Sony has continually wowed at CinemaCon, dropping great film sequences that the rest of the world doesn’t get to see until months later. In recent years, the room has relished early footage from the studio’s 2016 Ghostbusters and Baby Driver, met the new Spider-Man Tom Holland, and were treated to Tarantino last year taking up his Leonardo DiCaprio-Brad Pitt-Margot Robbie movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood . “I love movies and I love movies in movie theaters” said Tarantino and thanked the crowd for “keeping the show alive.”
After dropping the first awesome sequences of Blade Runner 2049 at CinemaCon 2017 (the studio handled overseas), Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group chairman Tom Rothman turned to the crowed and quipped to great applause “Netflix my ass”. The point being, Sony enjoys the CinemaCon stage, and they’ll be back down the road. In the past, Marvel has sat out of the holiest of fanboy conventions, San Diego Comic-Con, in order to take a different marketing tact, and they always come back.
Another major studio which is still determining its presence at this year’s CinemaCon is 20th Century Fox, and again that hinges on when the Disney merger goes through. For any studio, CinemaCon can be a pricey stunt, particularly with the flying in of various stars and their entourages. Quite often, given how majors occupy the Coliseum’s main stage space, other distributors’ presentations are pushed the ballrooms during lunchtime. What this means now with Sony offstage, is that Amazon Studios, Annapurna or Focus Features can now take the spotlight.