Movie studios flocked to Las Vegas for CinemaCon last week hoping to prove to theater owners that they had the goods. Not everyone left Sin City a winner: Some high-profile releases fizzled, while others were greeted with a collective “meh.” But a few lucky companies and blockbuster hopefuls left the exhibition industry trade show well positioned to make a box office killing. Here’s a look at which fortunes rose and which collapsed after four days in the desert.
The studio dazzled with a bold and diverse group of upcoming releases. Jennifer Lawrence’s “Red Sparrow” looked sexy and filled with intrigue, Kenneth Branagh’s “Murder on the Orient Express” seemed arch and suspenseful, and Hugh Jackman’s “The Greatest Showman” had the audience literally dancing in the aisles.
Christopher Nolan’s World War II epic is hitting theaters in the heart of summer, a time of year usually reserved for spandex-wearing superheroes. “The Dark Knight” director showed an extended look at a story he promised would celebrate the heroism of the English soldiers who faced annihilation by Nazi forces. The battle sequences he showed theater owners were nothing short of astounding, and the film seems to have the potential to join the likes of “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Thin Red Line” in the pantheon of classic war movies.
The newbie Hollywood player was oddly defensive. Motion Picture Group chairman Adam Fogelson started things off by talking up the fact that his 90-person team was a fraction the size of a major studio, as if theater owners care about its payroll. And STX’s slate was so thin that the company showed the same trailer for “Valerian” twice.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Oft-delayed, this fantasy adventure from Guy Ritchie looks like a hot mess and seems destined to be one of the summer’s biggest bombs.
The “Access Hollywood” host emceed Universal’s presentation, but her hyper-energetic delivery and strained banter didn’t go over so well. She also called the late Christopher Hitchens an “asshole” twice for writing that women weren’t funny nearly a decade ago. So much for not speaking ill of the dead.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Heading into the summer, the latest Jack Sparrow adventure looked like a sequel no one asked to have made. Surprise! After the film screened in its entirety, the buzz around Vegas was that it marked a return to form for Johnny Depp, standing up to the 2003 original.
Studios and exhibitors are trying to reach a deal to release movies on demand within weeks of their theatrical debuts. However, nobody seemed very interested in using the trade show to push the case. Warner Bros. marketing and distribution chief Sue Kroll advocated working together to come up with a new distribution model. She was followed moments later by Nolan, who made it clear he wants his films to be seen in cinemas. Opportunity lost.
Blade Runner 2049
This sequel is a feast for the eyes. Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling appear to have formed a potent on-screen duo, and there are enough visual throwbacks to the 1982 classic to please the fanboy faithful.