Thursday, 30 March 2017

Warner movies dazzle CinemaCon but preview lacks pizzazz

LAS VEGAS, NV – MARCH 29: (L-R) Regal Entertainment Group President/COO Greg Dunn, honoree Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Annapurna Pictures executive Erik Lomis, and Warner Bros. President of Domestic Distribution Jeff Goldstein at the 2017 Will Rogers “Pioneer of the Year” Dinner Honoring Cheryl Boone Isaacs at Caesars Palace during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, on March 29, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Alberto E. 

Rodriguez/Getty Images for CinemaCon/AFP<br />Alberto E. Rodriguez / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP.

Warner Bros. previewed its stunning slate of some of the most hotly anticipated upcoming movies at CinemaCon Wednesday — but its tightly scripted format lacked the personality of many rival shows.

Warner is among ten studios presenting its output for the coming months at the four-day Las Vegas convention, where studios tend to allow their stars off the leash to improvise, banter and reveal secrets behind their productions.

The studio flouted that convention, however, eschewing Q&A panels and having its actors read scripted speeches voicing excitement with little in the way of insight or revelation.

For the lion’s share of the presentation, at the Caesar’s Palace hotel, the celebrities were either relatively obscure or were beamed in from elsewhere by video link.

Even the big finish — a personal appearance by Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller and Ray Fisher to promote D.C. movie “The Justice League” — turned into a damp squib.

The stars, who play Batman, Superman, Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg respectively, left the stage after only a few minutes without uttering a single word, leaving director Jack Snyder to make prepared comments.

“That was lame,” said one delegate as the lights went up and people began to file out of the hotel’s packed Colosseum theater.

It’s not that the footage of the movies themselves failed to live up to expectations; the crowd shrieked with fright during previews for upcoming horrors films “Annabelle Creation” and “It.”

And they howled with laughter during previews of comedies “The House,” starring Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler, and “Bastards,” the directorial debut of Larry Sher, the cinematographer on “The Hangover” and its sequels.

The presentation started promisingly, with Christopher Nolan (“The Dark Knight,” “Interstellar”) introducing stunning footage from his World War II movie “Dunkirk.”

– Breakneck pace –
The film, starring Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy and due for release on July 21, tells the story of the evacuation of Allied soldiers surrounded by the German Army on the beaches on Dunkirk.

“They were faced with the choice between surrender and annihilation and the fact this story ends in neither surrender nor annihilation is why I believe Dunkirk to be one of the greatest stories in human history,” said Nolan, 46.

But the director’s appearance also produced an awkward moment as he appeared to distance himself from studio policy on home entertainment. “The only platform I’m interested in talking about is theatrical exhibition,” Nolan said, to warm applause from the audience of mainly theater operators.

His comment came less than 10 minutes after worldwide marketing and distribution president Sue Kroll had argued the case for shortening the gap between theatrical releases and DVD and Blu-ray debuts.

Host Maria Menounos rattled though the next eight films at breakneck pace before a preview of eagerly awaited “Blade Runner 2049,” a sequel to Ridley Scott’s iconic 1982 sci-fi classic.

The movie is being distributed internationally by Sony’s Columbia Pictures and had already been previewed earlier in the week. But the segment still turned out to be a highlight, with personal appearances by director Denis Villeneuve and Jared Leto, one of its stars.

There was also a behind-the-scenes featurette including interviews with Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling, as well as new footage. “It’s fun to play a character 30 years later and trying on old clothes, and luckily they still fit,” Ford says.

Another highlight was an extensive look at “Wonder Woman,” starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, with plenty of new footage of the warrior princess in battle. There was also a more detailed glimpse than before of the burgeoning relationship between Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Pine’s Steve Trevor.


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