Exhibs go ape for ‘Kong’

Preview preem closed UIP's 150-minute showreel

AMSTERDAM — Cinema Expo Intl. opened Monday with the world preem of the “King Kong” trailer, which received a wildly enthusiastic applause from attendees of the exhibition trade show.

Introducing the teaser, David Kosse, U prexy of international marketing and distribution, promised “this movie is epic in both scale and tone. It is going to get people to the cinema who are out of the habit.” The trailer closed UIP’s 150-minute showreel.

UIP brass reminded all that their biz this year has bucked the worldwide downward trend. Powered by “Meet the Fockers,” “The Ring 2” and “The Interpreter,” UIP president and chief operating officer Andrew Cripps said the org has scored $820 million as of June 24, up 35% on the same period last year.

The excitement generated by the “Kong” trailer was matched by the positive response to first-look clips of Nick Park’s “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit,” which DreamWorks’ Jeffrey Katzenberg introduced alongside Park. “Wallace & Gromit” is the Brit helmer’s follow-up to “Chicken Run” (2000), which grossed $227 million worldwide.

Katzenberg was also in town to assist director Tim Johnston in tubthumping for his animated pic “Over the Hedge.” Although “Hedge” will not be released domestically until May 19, UIP wants to build international buzz early. Katzenberg promised that members of the voice cast, which includes Bruce Willis, William Shatner, Nick Nolte, Gary Shandling and Avril Lavigne, have pledged to tour extensively to support the pic’s worldwide release in summer 2006.

A lengthy presentation of clips from Cameron Crowe’s “Elizabethtown,” which stars Orlando Bloom alongside Kirsten Dunst, was less well received. Some exhibs were unconvinced of the pic’s commercial potential.

Among other notable titles showcased were Wes Craven’s “Red Eye”; Gore Verbinski’s “The Weather Man,” starring Nicolas Cage; Working Title’s Keira Knightley starrer “Pride & Prejudice”; and Par/Nickelodeon animations “Charlotte’s Web” and “Barnyard.

UIP’s showreel was followed by a screening of “War of the Worlds” which ran concurrently with the official Dutch preem.

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